Last week I took a Fiber Fieldtrip to Arrowmont…for an entirely necessary week of learning new creative skills in weaving and spinning. It was pretty incredible and began with my arrival to the smoky mountains after a few summer thunderstorms. I delighted in stopping on the overlooks and gazing at the storms, lightening and lingering clouds in the valley’s.
I live by the sea and I drink it up every chance I get but the mountains literally call to me.
There are times I long to be up high, breathing the less humid air and seeing for miles, feeling the solid earth beneath me.
Arriving in Gatlinburg, I ignored all the touristy nonsense and made a beeline to the campus, both isolated from town and right in the midst of it! I’ll just say that once I got there, I didn’t set foot off campus. My entire existence pretty much revolved around three locations, my room-where I slept, our studio-where I spent about 12 hrs a day (in bliss) and the dining room-for 3 great meals a day.
Morning Glories greeted us each day before breakfast!
The moon and sunsets greeted us each evenings along with slides from the teachers, resident artists and
others artists at Arrowmont. Sadly there were too many clouds for gazing upon the perseids meteor shower.
There were totems and animal totems (no photo of the black bear-sorry!)
Not having to worry about making or getting food was one of the highlights of my week! To say we were well fed is an understatement.
Class began with our teacher, Lynn Pollard, leading us in a mindful meditation on making paper yarn (called Shifu) out of traditional Japanese mulberry paper. The process included slicing the paper, dampening it, rolling it and finally spinning it. Once we learned the traditional process we were invited to explore variations using other materials. Though I enjoyed learning the traditional way, I went with every intention of learning how to spin and weave with the vintage nautical charts that I’ve been indigo dyeing for a few years. We had an indigo vat set up in the classroom and quickly became the “popular kids” with many other classes visiting us.
Making Paper Yarn at Arrowmont
I didn’t get great photo’s of the spinning process but lets just say that I didn’t want to like it as much as I did. I’ve managed to be a fiber artist for 20 years without spinning and swore I didn’t need to learn another fiber craft skill. Just not possible I guess, I do love to learn new things and this class was an excellent example of traditional and non traditional materials and process. I came home and put a warp on my loom right away to get back to weaving! I’ll be exploring the possibilities of paper yarn in my future weaving’s and can’t wait to share them soon.
Finally I want to share a few highlights from the Instructor exhibit. I’ve even interviewed some of these instructors and have my sights on a few more! What you don’t see here are works by the Artist in Residence, but don’t worry…I’ve interviewed all of them and will be sharing their work and studio’s this fall!
2016 Arrowmont Instructor Exhibition
There are so many incredible talented artists and teachers that have been ‘Cultivating your Capacity to be Creative‘ at Arrowmont and beyond! The most important take away (besides re-learning Lynn’s “Right way to warp a loom!”, hemstitching and spinning) is how important it is for me to cultivate my own creative capacity and this means setting aside time, both at home and away for creating and making, regardless of what the outcome is!
My ride home was leisurely and I spent the day exploring and soaking in the Smoky and Appalachian mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.