Thursday, July 24, 2014


Not a command (though you really should go and create something today), but the name of the retreat I attended two weeks ago in Somerset, NJ. This was my third time and by far the best. I had many issues with the hotel in the past, but they seem to have been much better staffed this year. Last year the event coincided with one of the worst heat waves we ever had, and some of the rooms had air conditioning problems. This year the weather was mild. All in all, a good experience.

Generally, when attending a four or five day retreat, taking 4 or more classes, there is a good chance you won't be equally thrilled with them all. This time, for me, was the exception. I chose wisely, it seems, and loved each and every class I took.

First up, "Roll With It," a technique-driven class with the wonderful Michelle Ward. We each worked on a 25 foot long roll of 12" wide paper. Michelle would demo a technique, we'd run back to our seats, execute it, and then surround her again for the next technique. At the end, we folded up our roll accordian style and bound it into a book. While I love a nice finished product as much as the next person, I really appreciate a class that teaches me things I can use in my own art. A winner!

Some rolls in progress.

Before folding, we took a group shot over the balcony of the hotel. And attracted quite a bit of attention in the process. I'm the one in the yellow smock on the right side of the balcony, with my mainly green roll in front of me.

Some pages from my book.

The next day was "Threads and Letters: Art In Free Motion" with Joanne Sharpe. LOVED the opportunity to work on a Bernina sewing machine. In free motion sewing you can go in any direction without stopping or lifting the foot. Took some getting used to, but what a great, liberating feeling. We did mini quilts, two layers of muslin with batting in the middle. I did two city scapes. After sewing, we colored with markers, pencils, water color crayons, and paint. This is what one looks like before trimming and adding color.

Here are some of Joanne's gorgeous samples for the class:

Group photo. I'm the last one in the first row.

Joanne snapped this one of me and Cheryl, and caught me with a paint brush in my mouth. Hey, I only have two hands.

Look who else took the class! My old pal Stephanie from the Tim Holtz cruises!

I only got to paint one of my quilts in class, and when I got home I finished it off with some batik fabric binding. I'll get to the other one.....someday.

My third class was "Handmade Hamsas and Hearts," a polymer clay workshop with Laurie Mika

We worked with colored clay and added some sparkle with Pearl X and Rub N Buff. We made some of the embellishments with clay and others we brought along from our stashes of charms, old jewelry, found objects, etc.

In this photo, nothing has been baked or attached. I'm just trying things out in different positions.

And here is the finished piece, which is already hanging in my home. I love it!

My last class was "4-Color Block Printing" with Jane Davila. Jane has devised a creative way to make prints without a press, and without any toxic chemicals. She also showed us how to cut our own mats. There is a definite learning curve with this. How much paint to use? How hard to press? This print is far from perfect, but I know this is a technique I'll be trying again on my own, and I'm sure things will get better. I'm sorry I didn't think to take any photos of Jane's work, because it is fabulous. 

In what has become a tradition, Cheryl and I left early Monday afternoon and stopped for lunch at Joe's Crab Shack before heading home. This time, we had Brenna with us. A perfect way to finish a wonderful week of art and friends.


michelle ward said...

So great to see you again! Looks like you had a fabulous time - terrific write-up, beautiful work. Nothing better than spending creative time with friends!

Patzee said...

You did choose wisely! The projects are so different. Thanks for the great recap and congratulations on having a wonderful CREATE! I may re-think my self-imposed ban on that hotel.

Lori said...

Wow, you took some awesome classes. I almost signed up for a Laura Mika class in Chicago. That project looks fabulous. Well, the others did too, the free motion with coloring afterwards...awesome idea. It just so happens I have yards of muslin. LOL. Always love to hear your recap..thanks for sharing, glad you enjoyed it!

Marjie Kemper said...

Just popped over from FB - wow, what a great bunch of classes you took! Your pics are fab and I am so glad you had such a great time.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!! What awesome classes you got to take!!! I love seeing your pieces!!! Love the idea of painting a quilted design!!!!