Yesterday I spent the day at the Museum of Craft and Design in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco, assisting Arline Fisch in her workshop that provided participants the opportunity to knit and crochet with wire.
I met up with the Museum staff a few minutes before class began and, along with Laurel, another volunteer, had a crash course on the projects we were making. The workshop (and the speaker series event on Friday night) were arranged to compliment the current exhibit: Creatures from the Deep, which displays a beautiful collection of sea creatures crafted from wire.
The class was sold out, with folks even flying in just for the workshop. Yes, Arline is THAT well known; her work is even in the collection of the Smithsonian. Others talked about week-long retreats they had attended led by this artist decades ago. Students brought in copies of her books and asked for autographs. It seems most (if not all) of the books are out of print now. I looked through a few of them and was overwhelmed with the creativity and inspiration they contained. For those interested in jewelry or metal arts, I'd suggest getting one (or many) of her books as budget allows.
As the workshop progressed, we circulated, offering help with projects. For this workshop, students were first able to make a little jellyfish, then a bracelet using special wire and a round knitting loom. The process of using the loom was pretty easy, and working with the wire was surprisingly fun!
As we worked, Arline related the workshop to the exhibit, explaining how she used the same technique for many of the pieces in the show.... even explaining how she had custom rings made for projects of varied scale.
Arline was generous with her time, even staying during the lunch break to answer questions about the workshop or projects that students were working on. I was pleased to hear how everyone had a great time at the workshop, and it was a joy to watch this woman who has spent much of her life devoted to the art she loves, enjoying the experience as much as her students!
The participants came from varied backgrounds - social workers, engineers, social workers, landscape architects and gardeners - and it was really neat to watch them work as they were gathered by this common interest.
At the end of the day, students filled out a survey for feedback about the workshop, gathered their new creations, and headed out into the beautiful Saturday afternoon. We cleaned up the room, folded up our aprons, and got ready to go. Arline gave me this sweet little jellyfish that she had created as thanks for helping out with the workshop. She gave Laurel a knitted bracelet. I was giddy with excitement to have a work made by this legend and asked to take a photo with her.
Leaving the Museum, I realized how important craft is to my life, and I look forward to being a part of their workshops in the future!
I'm working on a swatch for a design proposal at the moment. It's taking a bit of my time away from progressing on things that I can talk about on the blog. I'm happy with how it looks and (some day!) I hope to share it with you!
After a fun day working with Arline, I came home to a little gift! John remembered how I had wanted the "Space Needle" drop spindle by Cascade Spindles when we were at Madrona last year, and ordered one for me. So... last night, after having a beautiful dinner outside, I gathered up an art batt made of wool, alpaca, llama, firestar, angora, mohair, AND silk/soy silk from Lush Fiber Farm and started practicing on my new beautiful drop spindle.
The first time I tried working with a drop spindle I didn't like it because it took a long time. Last night when I was experimenting with it, I realized that using a drop spindle means I can take spinning with me! - (yes, I know, that portability is one of the major reasons for using a drop spindle... I just had never thought I might want to take my spinning WITH me!)
What fun. (now I can start hunting for other drop spindles to add to the collection!)