Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fabric Printing + Lampshade Creative Retreat Wrap-Up

I have finally recovered from my big week last week and weekend. Between the cleaning of the house and studio, the New England Weaver's Seminar tour here at the farmhouse on Thursday (I didn't realize I had chairs for 22 people) and the Creative Retreat this past weekend, I had to rest up on Monday (and catch up on all the things I missed while I was in prep mode). 

We are in the middle of a heatwave here with high humidity and temps in the 90s and upper 80s. It really zaps any energy I have by noon. Yesterday, Julia and I were at the Farmers Market in Northampton on the pavement behind Thornes Marketplace. I was toast by the end of that day! This morning I continued working on my garden. All the sunflowers are in and I'm hoping the critters don't chomp on them as they emerge as little seedlings. 

I took some photos of the weekend. It is really hard to remember to do that between all the teaching and the chatter. It was a great group on Saturday. In the morning we did Fabric Stamping. Here are some of the process photos and projects the students made. 

Here are a few of the stamps and linoleum carved printing blocks. 

On Sunday, Linda got lucky and had a private class all day lampshade painting because of a no-show. We had a great time chatting and I think she got a lot out of the class. Here is her lampshade in progress. 

Here is the lampshade with the addition of the black lines.

She didn't quite finish it but she did finish when she got home and shared a photo of it in place. I love to see students projects in use. 

The next Creative Retreat is in two weekends - July 29/30. More Fabric Printing, Embroidery, and a day of Tile painting. There are still a couple of spaces left. This year I'm offering both One and Two Day Classes. Check it out here

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Life + Objects that Inspired Matisse

Busy week here. I have a group of 20 weavers coming tomorrow as part of their touring day. The New England Weavers Seminar happens every other year at Smith College and on one day, they do a tour of interesting local places. I guess I am interesting. Should be fun.

I got the garden in. I know - very late. But it doesn't matter. Everything will take off like crazy considering the now hot and humid weather. I'm still planting sunflowers! They will bloom in September. I have faith.

I have my first Creative Retreat of 2017 this weekend. It's going to be a small but fun group. I can tell. Fabric Printing, Linoleum Block Printing and Lampshade Painting. The next one is in two weeks and there are still 2 spots remaining. Fabric Printing, Embroidery and Ceramic Tile Painting. Info here.

Last week, Julia and I snuck off to my sister Laurie's close to Boston for a day and a night. The occasion was the last days of the Matisse In the Studio Exhibit at the MFA. I don't have much time to write about it but I did take some photos for you all.

The handmade handstitched curtain you see in the photo above.

The premise of the exhibit was to show the objects Matisse found inspiration from for his paintings. This was right down my alley as I look to beautiful handmade objects from other lands for my inspiration. 

It was a fantastic exhibition but because we were two days before closing, it was quite crowded and difficult to take photos. 

When we walked in one of the rooms, we saw this painting. A fave for sure.

Here is the pewter jug that Matisse painted and loved. He painted it many times in different paintings. 

A gorgeous Moroccan handpainted table that also is featured in Matisse's paintings. 

I love these tables. I have one and have painted it. So beautiful.

A gorgeous textile with a blurry photo of one of the paintings it was featured in.

A textile with a painting inspired by the textile.

Some other textiles which I found beautiful and were represented in paintings. 

Some work from the latter part of Matisse's life. Much simpler and graphic but a natural progression. I love the simplicity of line and beautiful shapes.

The show will be in London soon so if you are there, check it out. Here is the link.

I have read two fantastic biographies on Matisse by Hilary Spurling. 
Worth a read if you are into this kind of thing. 

Hope your summer is going swimmingly. 

Monday, July 03, 2017

I Just Want to Make....

I was in the bowels of our ancient farmhouse today trying to sort out a bit of a water crisis with my terrific plumber over text message. I came upstairs to find these beautiful flowers on the kitchen island. Don't know what they are or who brought them but I will enjoy them. 

Over a decade ago now, a young friend of ours named Jen came to visit. She was just getting out of college after studying merchandising. She was finding it hard to find a job and I was telling her about the career I had and giving her ideas for job hunting. I asked Jen what it was that she really wanted to do with her life. She looked at me and thought for a moment. Her response was

"I just want to make the world a beautiful place."

When The Farmer came home from baling hay, I told him about Jen's visit. She was the daughter of good friends of ours and he had known Jen since she was an infant. I told him what she said her career goal was and we both talked about how sweet the idea was. 

Ever since that conversation with Jen, I have thought about her comment. How do you make the world a beautiful place? And what is a beautiful place? What is beautiful for me may not be beautiful for you. Do you create beauty with things that you buy and decorate with? Do you create beauty with good deeds? Do you create beauty by working for world peace? Do you create beauty by planting seeds to grow into beautiful blue lupines like in the children's book Miss Rumphius? Do you plant a beautiful garden to feed your neighbors? Do you create beauty by teaching people new things? Do you create beauty by seeing the beautiful in every little thing? Do you create beauty by sharing ideas and turning someone on to a new craft or technique that may change the course of their life? 

When Jen first spoke those words to me, I thought about how they could be mis-construed - to be thought of as superficial. I can remember my mom talking about beauty only being skin-deep. We were to know that it was what was inside the person which was the most important - not what is on the outside. That physical beauty was not important and should not be thought of as the end all of end all. 

The other day, we were talking about what makes people tick at dinner. We were talking about each of us and what was important to us in our individual lives - in fact it could be thought of as what we find beautiful. As I watch Julia grow into a young woman, I wonder what her path will be. Where will she find her inner passion and what she will find "beautiful". For her Dad, his idea of beauty is the natural world, his remarkable sheep, their life cycle and how we are feeding our community, and the love of the world and landscape around us that he farms and looks after everyday. 

I've been thinking about what my "beauty" is. When am I the most fulfilled and happy? As I have been throwing pots the last couple weeks, I think about this as the wheel spins round and round, as I pull the clay up and form it into a cylinder, as I stretch the clay into a handle and attach it to the vessel. I think my definition of beauty is when I am deep into a project and have lost myself in it. When I am thinking about what I am making, planning on what it will look like, and then working it out. The thing could be a pot, a garden, a book, a painting, an embroidery, or a good meal. Often when the "thing" is done, the magic subsides and goes away. I still like the thing and find it pretty or useful but the real beauty for me is in the act of creation - the spark of my imagination and mind of what the thing will look like and then the intimate creation. I find it truly amazing that I can dream something up in my head and then make it happen with my hands. It doesn't always come out the way I originally thought it up and that is the fun of it - to see where I am led by the materials and the process. 

I've been teaching classes here at our farm since 2009. Every year, I think about not doing them. Mostly I think about that because I don't want to go through the agony of cleaning my house.  A couple years ago, I tried to let that go - the cleaning thing. It's hard because I always think of my mom cleaning before her mom came to visit - stressing out that everything has to be just right. I realized that the women that come here to learn from me really could care less if there is some dust and clutter. They aren't here to inspect my housekeeping skills (thank goodness). They are here to be inspired and to take away a little of the magic and beauty that I have made here at our farmhouse.  

So those are my thoughts for today. If you are wondering what happened to our friend Jen, she found a good job in merchandising with Anthropologie and she literally did make the world a more physically beautiful place. And now she has a couple beautiful kids too. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on beauty. Leave them in the comments. 

Here are some beautiful links for you to peruse today -- at least I find them beautiful.

•My friend Lisa is teaching at The Rufus Porter Museum in Bridgton Maine this summer. Check out the classes here. Lots of beauty to make. 

• Good article on Barbara Cooney, the author of Miss R here.

• I'm still crazy over Josef Frank's textiles. I just found a page I tore from Arts and Antiques over twenty years ago - that must have been where I discovered him before the www. Good article from NYT here

p.s. There are still a few spots left in the July 15/16 Fabric Printing + Lampshade Painting Class. You can come for one or two days. Would love to see some of you here at the farm. Two days $360. One day $199. More info here

Here are the lampshades that the students painted last year.

Here is a photo of some of the lampshades I have made. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Maine Getaway

After Julia graduated, she and I had a chance to visit our friend Sally at her home on an island in Maine. Unfortunately, The Farmer can't leave the farm and the animals but I take opportunities for trips whenever I can. It is a long ride Northeast, through Acadia, then down to the end of the peninsula to get to the ferry. After a 40 minute ferry ride, we ended up in my kind of heaven. Julia wasn't sure she wanted to leave home after the excitement of graduation but it turned out to be the perfect thing to do. It was a nice break and transition from the land of high school to the real world. We had a lovely time visiting with Sally and some other friends. The weather was rainy and foggy and chilly the first few days which is perfect Maine island weather. After a couple days, the sun broke through.

We ate pie that Sally made us. Sally is the most amazing baker of pies.

Sally's home and Sally herself have been very important to me in developing my own particular style. Sally is ten years older than me and has been in the textile, garment, and design world for her entire working life. I met her when I worked for Classic Elite Yarns. She designed sweaters for us - like this one, this one and this one. Sally is an amazing colorist as can be evidenced by those sweater designs I linked to. She runs her own company called Flatiron Workshop and sells blouses made in the USA to high end women's clothing boutiques.

Sally's aesthetic is one I aspire to and her influence has shaped my vision of what a house and home should be. I snapped a few photos of beautiful scenes from her home. Each little vignette is like a perfect curated still life. 

Every place your eyes set upon, there is a worthwhile thing or two or three to be inspired by.  

When I am visiting Sally, I feel so creative and inspired. I always bring my paints with me and it seems that I am always inspired by Sally's homes and collections. I began this painting of a "hexagon quilt design". I hope I get a chance to finish it before the inspiration fades. 

Over the years, Sally has introduced me to many things. Here are a few gems in the form of links that I would like to share with you today. 

Sally's friend Glyn Boyd Hart who I had the good fortune to meet before he passed away. He was an illustrator and artist who lived in London. 
Gaudy Welsh ceramics
Charleston - the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant - Sally and I visited there in the late 90's
Christopher Dresser
Gouda Pottery from Holland
The artist Sonia Delaunay
Friends Yola and George

On the last night we were in Maine, we were treated to the most remarkable sunset. It's good to be home but I cannot wait to return again to that beautiful island home in Maine.