Wednesday, May 4, 2016

7th Annual Artist Retreat, part 1

Greetings from Oz! Dorothy's Oz, that is. It's May which means it's time for the annual artist retreat at Pam's. We live in her studio all week, experimenting and what if-ing, sharing ideas and lending a hand as needed.

This week began with the emptying of a box of tea bags that Pam had been saving for me. She sewed and I opened and emptied as we chatted and caught up.

Soon enough, the tea bags were ready for stitching. I came with the goal of creating enough pieces to cover 20+ more 4 inch square canvases to add to my Tea Stories series. For some reason, this has been difficult.

 Popcorn has helped to ease the stress and discomfort

of being unsatisfied with my tea bags. 

A mama cardinal has been diligently guarding her nest on the rose trellis outside the dining room window. She tolerates our glances out to check and make sure she's well.

Back in the studio,  Pam brought out some of the drawings she did in Santa Fe last year

to crop and give new life to. I must admit that as much as it hurt (me) to see these beautiful large drawings be cut into, the end result is exquisite. 

In between cropping and stitching, Pam has been painting

the fabric she uses

as well as adding her own marks

to the paper bag journal

I created for her.

Toward the end of the day yesterday, still unsatisfied with my tea bag work, I brought out the circle scroll that had been begun here last year. As I told Pam, it's home and wants to be finished here.

So I did a bit of cropping of my own and have begun to breath new life into a piece that has languished in my studio for the past year...because I couldn't figure out what the next step was.

All I had to do was listen to it. It wanted to come home - to this studio filled with light, life, water, circles, friendship and never ending possibilities just waiting to be tried.


  1. I love the idea of a paper bag journal. It's better than starting with a white page.

    Do you treat the tea bag papers before you sew them? I'm curious because I usually treat mine with gel medium first but lately I'm not happy with the look.

    1. The paper bag journal is fun, much better than beginning with a blank page (or so I think...) and, being a paper bag, there's no fear of making a mistake. After all, it's only a paper bag and not expensive printmaking paper.

      As for my tea bags, I do not treat them before sewing. In fact, I usually don't treat them at all. Have waxed a few pieces upon completion which darkens the tone and flattens the layers. Sometimes that appeals, but not lately.

  2. It always seems like such a peaceful and gently creative time the two of you in Pam's studio. I'm always fascinated by how this time this works; this doesn't; now this has direction; but I'm stumped by this now. The ebb and flow of the work is so very real; and we are led by it are we not? So glad the circle piece is happening now it is 'home'. Continue to enjoy yourselves and create wonderful things together.

    1. Thank you Fiona! The week passed far too quickly and we didn't hit our stride, well, in truth I didn't hit my stride until the tea bags were packed away and the circle piece came out. A lesson learned that time in Pam's studio is truly for experimentation and play.

  3. Thank you for sharing your, "I couldn't figure out what the next step was" I seem to have plenty of unfinished wall quilt tops, because something is lacking and I struggle with 'I can't figure out what the next step is'.
    I realize that a lot of creative people have this moment happen, but to read about it, makes me feel better that some quilts are just waiting for the right answer.

    1. You're most welcome Jenny. You are not alone in not knowing what the next step is. I've drawers full of rusted cottons, deconstructed blue jeans, mono printed cottons as well as several bins of nearly finished pieces - all of which are only waiting for me to figure out the next step. I probably could spend 1 or 2 years doing nothing, but working with what's in the joke...and finishing those lonely, languishing pieces. Enjoy!

  4. It's been a year already?!?! Day 1 and this is already looking incredible. Enjoy each and every minute.

    1. I know!!! Seems it was just January and we were beginning to discuss the possibilities for this year's retreat. Now, well, it's come and gone and I'm back in CT. We're looking ahead to the end of September when we journey along the airways to meet in Santa Fe for the 3rd Annual Santa Fe Retreat. Enjoy!


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