Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Workshop end

The final exercise: an 8'x8' ribbon quilt. Does Nancy give us this near impossible task to see what we could do?! Well we did what we could, as tired as we were at the end of an intensive week.
Here are my classmates - much relieved at the final presentation! Each of them did a knockout job!
Barbara V
Mary Ellen




Sandy K





No photo of Karolyn or Sandy S. or Denise, our independent study particant.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Crow process

Nancy posts exercises on the wall and gathers everyone around to explain them. They're handwritten with markers on 8.5x11 paper. No handouts.

We absorb the words when we write it as oppose to just reading a printout. But this also takes some time away from the exercise itself.

Patsy and Annette are intent on understanding the exercise.

Nancy does not drudge out the same-o same-o again and again for every workshop. She puts thought into adjusting them to make them more effective in getting her concepts across. She may even be writing out exercises just before posting. Another reason for not having handouts.

Each individual gets personal attention as she goes around the room to provide support - answer questions and help if you are stuck. Even after dinner when the workshop day has already ended, when we are all still working hard, she sticks around to make sure we are on the right track.

She'd tell you what's on her mind without apologies. I overheard her say "take that fabric off the wall. It's too bossy!" She did forewarn us she can be blunt. But she is also very giving. If she likes what you're doing, she'll give you loads of positive feedback.

So it's true – Nancy Crow is a demanding instructor. She demands your time, your attention, your critical eye, your good craftsmanship, and your best efforts. She gives back in return. With her fabulous eye and her outspokenness, she gives you real feedback. When it's nice, it's great, I love it aren't enough, go to Nancy. She's a rare treasure.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lagging behind at the Barn

I spent a week at Nancy Crow's Timber Barn for the workshop Best of Strip Piecing I & II. Rumors: her workshops are for masochists; she demands a lot of work; you'll be working from 7am until 10 pm; she doesn't pull any punches; she tells you like it is; she's very demanding. Didn't know really what to expect, but I was prepared to work hard.

It's been a hard day's night and I've been working like a dog. The workshop officially starts at 9am, but the studio opens at 7, and my roommate Annette and I would be there before 8 - one morning even the first at 7:04. The workshop officially ends at 5pm followed by dinner at 6. Many of us continued working until we couldn't anymore or until the studio closes at 10:30. One morning with so much to do, I keep putting off coffee or restroom breaks until lunch. Thank goodness Margaret made lunches, dinners and snacks. Who'd have time to cook?

Cut and sew, cut and sew, who's the slowest of them all? May have been me. Make bigger strips for more footage! My scale just naturally evolves. Let crooked seams be! But I am particular about my work and took apart sections to re-sew. For the final 8'x8' ribbon quilt top, let expressionism rule! But I am a minimalist. I haven't figure out how to let loose yet.

When I look at my notes now, the exercises sound so simple, so doable. Yet I didn't get to them all. I got done what I got done. I'll get to the rest on my own time.

Here I am at my final presentation. The end of an invigorating week.

So after all this, I would love to take more workshops with Nancy. And I would recommend her for every art quilter too! I am so glad I did this and now regret not signing on for the second week.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

First time at the Barn

Thank goodness I had Annette to direct me down so many two-lane roads. I'm not sure I can find it again, even after driving back and forth for 6 days. My usually good sense of direction abandoned me in Ohio.

The studio barn is separate from the house and a working barn. It's surrounded by trees, shrubs and vegetation. Expressions of artistic hands and eyes - sculpture, prints, and the arrangements of items – signify it as an artistic shelter and retreat.

The studio was already abuzz with activity. Everyone was setting up. With only half-an-hour before dinner, I focused on finding my place.

Some participants had reserved specific spots. After a quick glance around the room, I picked an empty corner. Good and bad. Everything was only a few steps away: exit door, kitchen, dining room, restrooms and stairs down to the wet studio. So everyone passed by. But no other workshop participant nearby. My closest neighbor, Denise, was there for independent study and Nancy would occasionally sit at the facing table for some paperwork. It was my quiet little corner.

We had great help setting up. Three men who did the heavy lifting, raised tables, located electrical, and just made sure everybody and everything was okay. Nancy's husband and son were among them.

After supper, all the key players – Nancy, her husband, John Stitzlein, her son Nathaniel Stitzlein, the wet studio instructors Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan, and the chef Margaret Wolf, introduced themselves, laid down the rules and outlined time frames. Then we, the workshop participants, got a minute to introduce ourselves.

John encouraged us to take walks around the farm – in its fall glory: leaves turning color and trees loaded with red apples. The weather during the week was just perfect with some crystal clear days, gorgeous cloud formations, and even some very light sprinkles. Temperatures were still warm with just a hint of winter. Little did I know he meant that day. Heavens, no time later!