I got back from Squam on Sunday – tired to the bone, happy and satisfied. It was such a good time – 4 days in the spectacular New Hampshire forest making toadstools and seedpods. And it really feels like summer camp, a bell rings for meals 3 times a day, the cabins are rustic and charming and have lovely fireplaces that are magically filled with logs when you’re not looking. The nights were cold and the days were warm – the perfect climate for me. I caught up with old friends, made new friends, expanded as a teacher and came home inspired and full of ideas.
The student work was fantastic.
Thanks to lovely Christine Chitnis for the photos below and checkout lots more in her beautiful Squam post – you get a real sense of the place and the experience.
I spent last weekend in Philadelphia teaching at the sweet Paul Makerie. I came home equally spent and inspired. The whole Makerie experience was fabulous – fascinating people, spectacular class line up (I would have loved to take all of them) and it had Sweet Paul all over it – every detail thoughtful and exquisite.
I taught Stitched Botanicals – seed pod forms in textiles. Teaching is new to me and I feel my feet under me more each time. I had wonderful, generous, open students – willing and enthusiastic about trying stuff – I was blown away with what people made.
Getting out of my cozy bubble once in a while is so good for me, this was, among other things, a gathering of like minded women, there was such a feeling of belonging and I learned a ton. I came home with a bunch of new ideas and feeling like my world got bigger.
I’ve been a huge fan of Sweet Paul since he began way back in olden times (I make this mushroom dill sauce almost every week). Before the magazine there was a blog and then a digital magazine and now the gorgeous quarterly print magazine.
It’s exceptional – the kind of thing you save. Paul came to visit last October and I’m featured in the current edition. I couldn’t be more excited – there is an interview and pictures of my place and work. It was shot by Colin Cooke whom I loved. I’m terribly awkward about having my picture taken and he taught me a fabulous technique I call “laughing to the side” – check it out in the feature or see it employed on my about page.
My next workshop is open for registration. I’m teaching Stitched Botanicals this coming April (11- 12th) at the Sweet Paul Makerie. You can get all the details about the weekend, classes (the teacher line up is spectacular – so many people I admire) and registration right here.
I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been a huge Sweet Paul fan from afar forever – I worked with him earlier this year and was incredibly impressed and the Makerie retreats always look so beautiful. The spring retreat is taking place at the Antropologie / Terrain head quarters in Philadephia. Hope to see you there and if you’ve got questions just email me.
I’m in a year of experimenting and shifting and being a beginner. One of my main life skills is being a good beginner – moving forward without a lot of attachment to outcome – being willing to act in uncertainty. From the perspective of feeling confident and comfortable The Squam Retreat is a terrible idea for me. The days are intense and challenge me in so many ways: I’m used to, and enjoy, being by myself. The idea of sharing a cabin with strangers for 4 days seems impossible. Teaching – speaking to a group – managing precious time for other people, all seem like giant mountains to climb. It was all so worth it – and then some. I had wonderful cabin mates and that was a big part of the experience – left to my own devices I would have missed that. Elizabeth Duvivier plans every detail of this experience thoughtfully, insightfully and expertly. I loved teaching- again. It got my wheels turning in new ways. I loved getting glimpses of other peoples imaginations and processes. I think there is a moment in learning a new skill or technique when doors open in your imagination – possibilities emerge and you experience an elusive kind of flow and focus. It’s inspiring and motivating to watch that unfold.
I came home exhausted and charged up at the same time. Four days out of my routine was valuable in so many ways. I did things I was afraid of, learned more about my own rhythms, got a million new ideas and made friends. Real Friends. The experience left me with a New Year’s day kind of feeling – a map of things I need to pay more attention to, ways in which I should be challenging myself more often, ways I need to grow and ideas that I have been consistently resistant to that I don’t just need to consider but should be marching towards. I did as much learning as I did teaching – from students and the class experience and from spending time with women who run creative businesses and run them beautifully.
It was my second time at Squam and the second time I was so engaged in the moment and the experience I forgot to record it. I’m so grateful to Andi Schrader for taking the wonderful photos below. She also made this little house – I love it and it is a perfect token of the experience.
Some glimpses of the botanical class through Andi’s lense:
(more photos after the break)
I’m headed to the Squam Art Retreat tomorrow to teach my botanical sewing class – I can’t wait to get started. I’m bringing a ridiculous amount of stuff with me – it’s like I’m moving. I’ll also be at the art fair with some of my botanical experiments and I’ll have the prototypes for the ship pattern with me too if you’d like to see or have a question, or just come say hi – the fair is always fabulous.
And some new Fortuny pieces – I just sent this group off to Venice.
Francesco and Alessandro
I sure do like to make something and then wonder around the forest looking for a perfect spot to photograph it. It’s an intersection I’ve always been attracted to. I finished this indigo fellow in the Adirondack Park over the weekend with a particular mossy stump in mind for his photo.
I also worked on my toadstool pattern and technique – that is one of the shapes I’ll be teaching at Squam in the fall ( there are just a couple spaces left in the class – you can register here). There are so many things I want to share in that class – so many possibilities. I’m also excited that there is a free afternoon built into the schedule – the forest at Squam is spectacular and it would be such fun to photograph what we create.
I’m building lessons around shapes and techniques that can be used as jumping off points – like the toadstool shape, a seed pod shape, a very particular way to create stems, root systems, textures etc.
I’d love to see you there – if you have questions I’m happy to answer – just send me an email.
P.S. – if you can’t attend the retreat but you’re near by or don’t mind traveling to New Hampshire – come say hello at the art fair ! I am already deep in preparations for that – It’s going to be an adventure.
Exciting news! The Squam art retreat offerings are live on their website. I’m teaching a class in September called “Wild Beauty” – creating botanical experiments in textiles. You can read about it and all the other classes here:
Pre -registration is open now.
I taught at Squam in 2012 and it was a wonderful experience – I’m so excited to go back.
I taught a boat making class at The Squam Art Retreat in the beginning of June. It was my first time at Squam and my first time teaching anything ever. Teaching was a leap of faith sort of thing and I think it went well – I didn’t spontaneously combust or anything and everybody made truly great boats. I liked teaching more than I expected to, so much so I hope to do it again soon – maybe here in NYC . The class was held in the nature center – Sugar House – it’s a camp so all the buildings have names.
I had wonderful students – skilled, generous and lots of fun.
I have written a few tutorials but participating in other people’s very individual processes, feeling their enthusiasm and having a peek into their imaginations was an interesting shift in perspective. I left with some new energy for my own work and pretty fired up about teaching again .
And I made new friends including some from right here in Brooklyn : lovely and talented Jessica Marquez – she has a book coming out in October ( congratulations!) and Rebecca Ringquist , I have been a fan of her work for a very long time – she gave me two of her beautiful hand screened embroidery samplers.
I wish I had taken more pictures. I saw the biggest weirdest bug I’ve ever seen in my life marching up a dock and did not take a photo. The lake and the forest and the turn of the century cabins are astoundingly beautiful and so up my alley – not one picture. I was too busy having a fabulous time. Other people took lots of great photos though- there is a flickr group here.
(photo by Christine Chitnis)