Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On retreat 1

Twice a year, a handful of people from my local fiber and textile art group go on retreat to a quilters' getaway venue about a half-hour up the road from us.  It isn't all that far away -- if you have to go back into town for a meeting or a funeral or a dentist appointment, you can -- but it's a world away from home.  Recent retreats haven't been all that wonderful for me; on the last one, I got sick and had to come home early, and a year previously, I fell on the first night and broke a toe and spent the whole time in pain.  But this time was great for me.

You can read about some of my other retreat experiences here and here and here and here.

The ladies who typically come to this venue are traditional quilters.  Occasionally some of them who are working at the next-door facility will drop by for a visit, and we can always detect their slightly uneasy smiles covering up the thought "what the hell is going on here anyway???"  Because we rarely have more than one or two people making quilts, and those quilts aren't usually traditional in any way, shape or form.

So this year, we had people doing felting, hand-stitching, machine-stitching, assemblage, sketching, and yes, quilting.  One of my fellow retreatees, Beth Schnellenberger, wrote about the week and said that the mediums being practiced included "organization."  I had to laugh, because that meant me.  And if organization is indeed an art form, I'm a pretty lame practitioner.

For years now, I haven't taken my sewing machine to the retreat, nor have I produced much that could be described as art.  I usually take several boxes of miscellaneous clippings and junk, plus a bunch of unread newspapers and magazines.  I have the bad habit, when left to my own devices at home, of clipping things from the newspaper, or saving entire sections that I haven't read yet, and putting them in a pile.  This occurs at the dining room table.  When somebody shows up for dinner and we need to clear the table, my pile often gets picked up and deposited into a box.  Where it may stay for weeks, or months, or years.

So I take those boxes with me on retreat, and I go through them.  I clip what needs to be clipped, I paste up what needs to go into books or daily art, I file things to be kept in folders, and throw out the rest.  This takes a long time, because much of the stuff has to be read first.  In 3 1/2 days I came up with one huge grocery bag full of discarded papers to be recycled, plus a whole lot of bits and pieces to be filed or processed.

clippings to go into an artist book

I also came across things to give to others in the room.  Beth was working on a quilt that happened to be the same colors as a little scrap of batik fabric that I found in my pile.  Who knows why that scrap got into a pile of clippings, but it ended up in Beth's quilt.

Somebody else asked if anybody had a bit of MistyFuse, because she needed to add some new fabric to her hand-stitching project.  What had I come across only a half-hour before in my boxes but a sample pack of MistyFuse!  I don't remember where I got it, but it leaped into action when it was needed.

I gave a piece of tatted lace that happened to be in the trunk of my car to somebody else, and some clippings to yet another person.

Best of all, I got several weeks ahead on my weekly "found poetry" project.  Every Sunday I post a "found poem" on the blog, composed of clippings from newspapers and magazines.  In the ten weeks so far this year, I have most often been composing and pasting up my poems after dark on Saturday night.  This makes for stress.  And I have been looking forward with a bit of trepidation to our longish vacation planned for late spring, because the kindle I carry on trips doesn't allow me to do much blog posting.  So it was good to crank out a bunch of poems and put them in the queue in advance.

I'll tell you more about the retreat later this week.

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