Monday, June 17, 2013

Studio 66 Retreat 2013!

Artwork from my Studio 66 tote bag.
The Studio 66 retreat was last month and I'm still trying to get myself organized.

Full disclosure...  Studio 66 is the work of three amazing women who have been my teachers and friends for several years.   They, like so many of my fiber friends, are very generous and mean the world to me.  So when they asked me, a shrinking violet, to demonstrate the bow loom weaving I learned with Marilyn Romatka at Convergence, I immediately agreed.  Silly me!

 Somehow along the way I managed to turn a brief demo into a whole class on the subject.  I've been trying to lure some non-fiber friends into the fiber world by teaching them this simple but fun technique and it didn't seem that much of a stretch to teach it to a group.  I figured maybe 5-10 people would be interested enough to sign up for the class, so I decided to put together kits with all the supplies needed and to make the looms in advance. 

Then people started signing up.  Thirty-five of them!  I decided to put together fifty kits to accommodate any stragglers and a few friends I'm going to be teaching later.  It was actually fun assembling the kits.  I wanted everyone to be able to work with colors they like, so I shopped for lots of pretty beads and pearl cotton in many colors.  And somehow ended up with enough materials to make 60 kits like this.   Hardest part was cutting sponges into several pieces and then cutting five slots in each piece to use for a "bridge" to organize the warp on the loom.

The bow looms are made by taping a large paper clip to each end of a 1/4" dowel.   I cleaned out three local hardware stores trying to buy enough dowels to make 80 looms (for 60 kits plus anticipated breakage).   And got some strange looks from three different store clerks who couldn't resist asking why I was buying all those dowels.

In the midst of all this preparation, I had to make a business trip to Berkeley two weeks before the retreat.  I hauled along a few of the looms and supplies to make some samples to show the class.   And found that I didn't have time to do much.  So I wisely decided that it would be more effective to show samples of pieces in all phases of construction.

Here's a close-up of one of my samples to show what the fabric looks like.  It's a pretty tightly-packed weft-faced weave.

So far, everything going according to plan except for the samples I had hoped to make.  Until the morning I drove home from Berkeley.

Started with a little sore throat.  Which got worse and worse on the 7-hour drive.  By the time I got home, all I could do was drag my pitiful self off to my chair, where I pretty much spent the next week.  When I should have been finishing my kits!

Which takes me to the day before I was to leave for the retreat.  A visit to the doctor resulted in a prescription for a heavy-duty antibiotic to treat what was now a nasty bacterial infection in my throat,  and approval to go to the mountains as long as I didn't tax myself and got plenty of rest.  Ha ha. 

Back story:  I had to leave the first retreat early to take care of a sick pet.  Helped at registration but couldn't stay for the second retreat due to a family wedding.  Beginning to think that there's a curse keeping me away this event, and until Friday morning, I really thought I was going to have to cancel and let my friends down.  Not that the retreat wouldn't have been just as great without my class, but I don't like to break promises.

Doctor promised that the medicine would work wonders quickly.  Thursday evening I frantically finished assembling the kits.  Friday morning, I woke up feeling a little better, so my friend Pat and I piled into my car and drove up to Forest Home. 

I was able to work registration as usual.  This is a treat for me, giving me a chance to greet lots of friends and meet new people.  That night featured a lovely dinner, followed by a make-and-take lesson on making rolled paper beads.  My friend Wendy, who taught the class, knew that I wouldn't be able to do everything, so she had me choose my paper in advance and made a bracelet for me.  Isn't it pretty?

There were also several vendors.  I didn't plan on buying anything at the retreat, but my friend Sydney, who makes beautiful gourd art pieces (among her many other talents) had three gourds decorated with seahorses and I couldn't resist.  I did pass on a very large one and a medium-sized one, because I just don't have room for them.  And later kicked myself because someone else bought them.

I also bought a very healthy cotton plant from Sydney, who gave a demo on growing and spinning cotton at the retreat.  And so far have managed not to kill it despite my talent for killing off plant life.

And I couldn't resist this angora from Sandy at Desert Bloom Angora.  Because I needed more fiber (chortle).  I haven't spun with angora yet, but this was so soft and just the perfect shades of blue. 

Every retreat has featured a different dyeing technique.  This year we dyed silk.  The retreat provided each of us with torn silk strips, along with all the materials, equipment, and instruction needed.

We brushed the paints on our pre-soaked silk, rolled the strips in plastic wrap, put in baggies, and stuck them in the microwave for up to 10 minutes, depending on the amount of fiber being processed.

As usual, I was so busy doing, I forgot to take pictures until later in the day, but you can see a small sample of the results on the drying rack.


I have four lovely bundles with a turquoise base (looks blue here, but it's a gorgeous turquoise in real life) and several different accent colors.

The Studio 66 gang had several items woven from these strips, including shawls and pillow covers.  Don't yet know what I'll do with mine -- perhaps a scarf...

Then came my class.  Got there early to set up and I had a student already waiting for it to begin.  She was a charming lady, and helped me get organized.  As students arrived, I got them started with their looms and I didn't even have time to get nervous.  It was a fun class -- everyone was attentive and courteous, and I hope they had as much fun taking it as I did teaching it.  

Happy Weavers
 I HIGHLY recommend this technique to anyone wanting to get people (even children) started with weaving.  It's inexpensive, simple to teach basic concepts, and gives new weavers a fast success with a finished product in just a few hours.  Marilyn Romatka has an excellent book, Creative Crafts of the World,  that gives instruction in this and a number of other crafts.  I have the Kindle version as well as a hard copy.

All and all, it was a great weekend with many long-time friends, and many new ones. I could go on for hours about all that happened.  Someday I'll get around to telling the lizard story from the first retreat and this year's follow-up.  But I'll close here with with evidence of just how great a time I had --  After I got home and unloaded my car, I sat down to rest a minute and woke up several hours later.  Then went to bed and slept for a solid twelve hours. This from an insomniac who can't sleep more than three hours at a time.   Can't wait for the 2015 retreat!