Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Love Affair With Learning

Last week, six other instructors and I taught at the Michigan League of Handweavers 2012 Summer Workshops event at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. And what did the teachers talk about outside of class? What good students we all had! When a guild consistently gets 25 percent of its members into its 3-day workshops, you know it's a group that places a high value on learning.

In my Digital Fabric class, there was hardly a minute to spare for taking pictures of the class, bud I did catch a couple of my students (and volunteer event organizers) on the way to lunch one day. And I got some shots of the buildings behind them to use in a class demo.

During a quick tour of the studios on Saturday night, I managed to take a few more photos.

Wynne Mattila taught a Finnish rag rug workshop. I became a fan of Wynne's last year, when I was on the awards committee at Midwest Weavers Conference. Her Aurora won the prestigious Handwoven magazine "Weaving For The Home" award.

Her very cool alternating 3-shuttle technique had me thinking of ideas for looping, and her students' color choices had me thinking of palettes for digital fabric design.

Juliane Anderson taught Becoming A Confident Weaver. This kind of personalized skill-building class is a great addition to a conference schedule, and Juliane seems to project an aura of gracious calm and resourcefulness perfect for this type of class.

The gorgeous freeform knitting she showed during the Friday night "meet the teachers" program had me anything but calm! I love freeform looping but haven't spent any time on freeform knitting. That's a workshop I'd love to take with Juliane.

Rebecca Mezoff was visiting other classrooms when I popped into hers that night, so no picture of her. But her students' work with color gradations in tapestry was amazing, and I really enjoyed her Friday night presentation about her own work and her work with James Koehler.

I have a feeling the wool she dyes is a pretty accurate reflection of Rebecca: You know it's lovely with just a glance, and a closer look reveals even greater depth and complexity, which certainly shows in her work. Since none of my pictures do any kind of justice, do go to her gallery page and see for yourself.

At the end of the conference I had hoped to get back to Jennifer Moore's Doubleweave classroom to see her students' work off the looms, but didn't make it. I Gimped this too-dark photo a bit and hope you can get a sense of how very exciting it was to see her class's works in progress. Hang on -- it gets even better:

Here are the doubleweave samples Jennifer brought to class. And that photo shows only one side of the collection, so it's twice as exciting in person.

It was a treat to teach with fellow Sievers instructors Mary Sue Fenner and Chad Alice Hagen, but of course we never got a picture of us together. Mary Sue let me try on a vest from the sample collection she brought for her One-of-a-Kind Fiber Arts Jacket class, and I almost didn't take it off.

She's making a vest with some of my Spoonflower fabrics for The Gathering at Sievers the last weekend in September, and we hatched a plan for a steampunk ensemble for later. She'll do the corset and bubble skirt with my fabric, I'll make the bowler and goggles, and unless I become taller and thinner I'm counting on her to model the ensemble.

Chad Hagen and I were teaching practically next door, but I only got into her classroom twice -- once to steal a marker I never returned and late the last day, when I stole in to take this shot of an Airey Fairey Scarf WIP. But as always it was great fun to see her and hear tales of her adventures. Chad is a gifted storyteller, and she had the audience in stitches on Friday night talking about her felting. Then she starts talking about what she's been learning. Papermaking. A natural dye workshop with Michel Garcia. You can practically see sparks flying off the wheels turning, and I suck that up like an energy vampire.

And that's just the instructors at this event. Every time I sat down at a meal and talked with someone new I found more love of learning, more excitement, more inspiration.

The drive back north to Mackinaw and across the Upper Peninsula gave me time to reflect on some of that and plot my fall and winter. More on that soon. In the meantime, it's great to be home!


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