Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Programs, Workshops, and Learning—Oh My!

Dear Alice,

This has been a crazy/busy month, and this morning I decided that "the honeymoon is over". People have learned that I am there, and that there is someone who listens to their complaints (and more positively, their suggestions as to how their local government can run more smoothly and better).

And in the midst of all this new experience, I am plugging away at getting things underway for the Guild's next season. The theme for our 2009-2010 Season is "Say YES to Michigan!" The past year has been a difficult time economically in Michigan, so my thought was to do what we can to stimulate the economy locally. We have some very talented, skillful, brilliant, knock-your-sox-off creative people in Michigan, so I knew I could come up with some really great workshops and speakers, and keep costs down for our own members.

Because our guild is composed of approximately 115 members who are all over the map in terms of what their interests and skills are, we try to offer a variety of workshops. But, I also limit the number of workshops to three for the season—usually one in October, one in March, and if we have someone local, one in January (due to unpredictability of weather). At the beginning of my term as V.P in charge of Programs and Workshops, I sent out a questionaire with the monthly newsletter. One of those questions was "What workshop topics interest you? (check all that apply)" The choices were Weaving, Surface Design, Dying, Silk Painting, Design, Stitching--free hand embroidery, Beading, Quilting, Clothing, Mixed media, Basketry, Paper making, Felting, and Other. Yes, Alice, every choice was checked, and just about equal interest on every topic. Our Guild started out as a weaving guild and over the years became focused on all manner of fiber art, so I can't offer only weaving workshops (believe me, I hear about it if I do!)

Back to the theme. Say YES to Michigan! I am thrilled with the line-up so far for 2009-2010. In September, the kick-off program for the year will be with Kathy Zasuwa, a talented weaver from Milford, Michigan. Her lecture will be "Clearing a Path: Creative Commitment". Isn't that a stunner for a start to the season?

In October, we will have Ann Arbor's own Karen O'Neal giving a paper-making workshop one weekend, and the following weekend teaching a workshop on creating your own book from your hand-made paper! (A good thing to have done before the Holiday season, no?)

November is always Member of my favorite programs because there are always beautiful pieces that come to be shown and shared. December is meeting...just a delightful party that one of our members hosts, a gigantic potluck, and lovely clothing (but remember to be casual if you want).

Usually January is the other member Showcase meeting, but in January 2010 we are going to have the talented Susan Moran teaching a workshop on shibori and dye-baths on Day 1 and shaped resists on Day 2. Enticing to us weavers, isn't it?

In February I have scheduled Diane Little from suburban Detroit area to give a program on textile conservation, and to talk to us about all the chemicals we may be using on our fabrics as well. Diane worked with textiles that were retrieved from The Titanic. How cool is that?

In March Charlie Patricolo, another of our members, is giving a two weekend doll-making workshop. Charlie lived in this area for many years, flew away to North Carolina to live and teach, and is back with us.

And so, finally in April we will have Member Showcase for the second half of the alphabet. That should give members plenty of time to wrap up what they have been inspired to do, especially since the Fiber Feast is always in April. Now all I have left to visualize is a program for May, and then get contracts out to each workshop leader and program lecturer, and procure/confirm workshop spaces.

This year's line-up is coming to a close (for this job anyway), and here is where you can see the whole list of programs and workshops. Delightfully, the theme for 2008-20009 was all about color. We had two workshops with Lois Bryant on Magical, Marvelous Color, and Daryl talked about color inspiration in her October lecture. This past Monday evening we had Victoria Silks give her lecture on "Color Energy: Reflection of our Inner Life". It was fascinating!

So, tell me...would you sign up for this line-up?


ps. Oh, GOSH! Alice. I almost forgot the best thing that happened today! I was asked to serve on the Endowment Committee for your collection of books, articles, textiles, and notebooks that you left to the Museum at MSU. I am so honored.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Design Game

Dear Alice,

I had been thinking about making up Ann Sutton's Design Game for over a year. Mary's birthday was fast approaching, and finally I got in gear to 'make' the game. I gathered different colored card-stocks, decided upon making a largish envelope rather than a box, dug out my inspiration for the envelope, and made a trip down to Hollander's. Oh, yummm. Dangerous place to visit! The papers, cards, and other enticements are hard to resist. I caught a glimpse of the fun thank-you note that Jean had sent last November and thought 'Ahhh...I can stitch that heavy paper.' I took a scrap of leather that is part of another project and created a closure. All in all, it was fun to do, the cards are colorful, and after cake on Saturday, we played our first round of The Design Game!

What is the Design Game? Ann Sutton describes it in her book Ideas in Weaving. She says:

"The Design Game is played like an open game of Pontoon (Twenty-Ones, Vingt-et-Un, Blackjack). Each card in the pack (at least 50) contains an element of design found in a woven cloth. A player is dealt two cards and is asked to read them aloud. If the elements conflict irredeemably, the dealer moves on to the next player who might have two cards which are more amenable, and feels that a third element could be incorporated into the cloth (the vision of which builds up differently in the minds of all in the group). A fourth card could then be accepted, and even a fifth. Each should be read out and considered, with solutions suggested by the group for any ‘impossibilities’. If the player accepts a card which counteracts a previous one and makes the fabric truly impossible, then the dealer declares him ‘bust’ and moves on to the next player.

"The purpose of the game is to produce, by chance, unexpected combinations of technique, weave, color, finishing, etc., and to create a problem-solving attitude to design challenges. It has usually been found to be a mind-stretching experience enjoyed by weavers of all abilities.

"The cards should be similar to playing cards in size, and all of exactly the same size for easy shuffling. These cards include a list of suggested elements. It will be found that a near even quantity in each of the seven categories will give the best results but the cards should be mixed together and not dealt from the separate lists."

The categories are Technique, Color, Yarn, Fiber, Finishing, General Design, and Weave, and each category has several descriptions of possibilities. Using chance to design a new cloth. Great fun! We felt you peeking over our shoulders as we described the fantasy cloths in our imaginations.

I hope it is warmer where you are. We are getting tired of single-digit temperatures.

Yours on the road to discovery,
* Today's photos by Mary.