Friday, August 14, 2015

Sandra Brownlee at Long Ridge Farm - Day 3

Each morning of Sandra Brownlee's Tactile Notebooks and the Written Word workshop at Long Ridge Farm found us gathering by the fence line to observe the wonders that Sandra had hung as samples and inspiration of/for the day's teachings. Last Friday the line was hung with words - typed, printed, crocheted, painted, tatooed, stitched...the list is endless.

Day 3 = Words

We had time to look, to be awestruck,

to soak in the glory of words and letters

in whatever form or

or shape they took.

Letters from friends captured our hearts

with their creativity.

Taproot jumped out at me from this word laden elephant. 

And then we gathered to listen to our wise teacher's words

as Sandra began to share

her own work with us.

Her journals are exquisite.

Her reports even more so.

One last look before getting to work.

I had struggled on Day 2. Odd as we'd been working with paper - something I fall more and more in love with every day. Each exercise left me unhappy and wondering just what was wrong with me. Why couldn't I settle and find that creative pathway?

Toward the end of the day, it finally hit me - I didn't like the paper of the pages in my notebook. Too smooth and perhaps a bit too large. There was another in my bag though - smaller, more intimate with handmade pages. It would mean creating a whole new cover.

Jan Baker's wondrous work

On Day 1, or perhaps 2, Sandra had likened the classroom to taking a journey on a barge. Sometimes you want to stay on the barge and join in the activities on board or view the shoreline from there. Other times, you want to get off and explore or simply enjoy wandering alone. Either is okay to do.

So...with permission to get off the barge, I gathered indigo (from Glynnis Dolce of Shirbori Girl) pins, batting, thread, needle and departed the barge.

Settling myself in front of Jan Baker's glorious work, I took time to really look at it. Letter after stylish letter, the words and letters themselves flow together - they touch and dance along in a line that catches one up in the rhythm and has you whirling along before you realize your feet have left the ground.

The letters hint at words, at sentences, at stories that need telling yet are perhaps a bit shy about yelling out their story.

With those thoughts in mind, I set about stitching a word across the full width of my cover in a way that the letters merged just enough so that when the cover is closed, what is seen is curves and lines mingling together.

There is a word there. Can you guess it?


  1. Thank you thank you thank you. I love how Sandra approaches her workshops and would love to have the chance somewhere somehow someday... I have of course fallen in love with Jan Baker's lettering and words and the mystery of it all; and love that you sat off-barge, inspired by it! I can only pick up Shhh from your stitching, but perhaps that is just because it seems like a quiet and contemplative place to have been. Oh wow.

    1. Did you hear me talking to you last week? Whispering "Fiona would love this!" quietly, hoping the breeze carried it across the miles to you? You would love Sandra's workshop. She taught in Australia last year so perhaps in another year or so she'll venture back there. Or you could venture over here when it isn't our winter... Just a thought.

      The stitched word on the my indigo cover does include an S, but sadly, no H. Good guess though as Shhh would have been appropriate. Most of us ventured off the barge that day and settled on our own little islands to work quietly, contemplatively and deeply.

    2. You know, I think I did hear those heart was certainly there! 'twould be good to pop over in summer for a visit one time, and if she is over this way again I shall definitely try to make it. Hope the magic remains with you...

  2. jennifer, it was time out of mind...

  3. What magic!!! Truly a retreat for the artists soul. Wow!

  4. Floating on the words and stitch, bobbing in the water off the barge. xox

  5. oooo I'm loving the story emerging --- the words on a line... the glimpses of that red barn.... your blue cover ---- can't wait for the next installment!

    1. You were very much in my thoughts during the week - what is your farm like? is the outside of your barn as textured as the one we worked? what smells waft on the air there?, etc.

      And then Sandra's class! You would love it Ronnie. I kept picturing all the art gestures possible in such a setting as well as the looks up....

  6. Thanks for sharing the wonders here... and so good for you to recognize the struggle and follow the path you needed. - all so inspirational

    1. You're most welcome Kim. To be struggling in Sandra's class - and working with paper no less! - was such an odd sensation...and a great relief when resolved. Enjoy!


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