Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day Three at the Crow Barn

I was raring to go on the second day of class because I was so happy to have kept up with the projects -- and I had found a Starbucks close to the hotel for my morning latte!

So that day started out like the first one, the assignment was posted on the wall, we all copied it down, Nancy explained it, and away we went.

Today's assignment was to use the fabrics we created yesterday afternoon to create two compositions. One of them was to be big, bold, and dramatic! The other was to be small and intensely busy.

I thought that this was going to be a piece of cake because this time I remembered to create strip-pieced fabrics that had "lines" (thin strips) on the outer edges. Wrong!

This is where the gnashing of teeth and hair tearing started. I started with the big and bold design because in order to be dramatic, I'd need large pieces of solid color and if I started to cut them up for a small busy piece, I may not have the right thing for the larger piece.

I think I must have pinned a design on the wall and then taken it completely apart at least 3 times. I was really wishing for that flannel sheet for the wall now. And even though Nancy thought my color choices were fantastic, the same could not be said about my design! Arrgh. The time went by so quickly. We had to have the two compositions completely sewn together by 9:00am the next morning because then we'd have a critique.

I finally settled on a design that I liked reasonably well and set to sew it together. Hmm . . not as easy as I thought, but I just tackled it bit by bit until I had it done. Whew.

But then, egads, now I had to create the small busy piece and I was running out of time. So I threw something together and hoped it would do. I think I left the barn at 9:00pm that night. (The Shaw Inn locks their door at 9:30pm so I had to get back before that.)

So here are the two pieces I ended up with. I do like the large one but the small one you can tell was just thrown together.

One of the questions we had to answer during the critique was if we were satisfied with the composition of the small piece or was it something that we just threw together to get it done! Obviously, I was not the only one who had problems with time.

For the critique we all moved around the room to each person's work area where that person had to stand by their work and be photographed (Nancy encouraged everyone to take pictures of the work of everyone else for reference -- but NOT for posting on blogs). Then the person had to answer the questions that Nancy posed in an articulate and thoughtful manner! I don't remember the specific questions but they were generally about explaining how we met the assignment requirements and how we interpreted them. I'm not sure I was too articulate, but I survived it. ;-)

I was happy to head back down the driveway to the inn at the end of the day. Ready to fall into bed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Addendum to Day Two

Yes, indeed, anonymous commenter, there was much gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair but that was yet to come! Day Two had only a bit of eye rolling and sighing as I tried to create a connected composition with fabric that had mostly lines in between shapes. I'll know better next time -- I hope!

As I said, I left the barn at 8:30pm, which was a lot earlier that others. I was relieved to have actually kept up with the assignments at that point. The first class I took with Nancy I had to leave and go home each day at 5:00pm because I had taken the class locally and had my family to contend with in the evenings. So I got so far behind in the assignments that I don't even want to think about it. So this time I just put my head down and focused on getting it done!

I was so happy to have a good selection of fabrics, the appropriate solids, to choose from so that I didn't have to spend time agonizing over making the wrong fabrics work together!

And since I am writer who agonizes over saying the right thing, I am going to spead out the blogging about the workshop over several days. ;-) But I won't let it go for weeks this time.

Day Two at the Crow Barn

I'm doing two posts on the same day because I know some of you want to get down to what actually happened in the workshop!

But first a word about the environment of the Crow property. The minute I arrived at the property I knew that I would enjoying being there just for the magnificence of the property. First off I love old barns but they were surrounded by flowering trees and shrubs. Every morning as I walked from my car to the barn studio I would take deep breaths of the heavenly scents of the lilacs.

And I loved the whimsical sculptures created by Nancy's husband, John, that could be found throughout the property. I'd love to show more pictures, but Nancy is very opposed to photos taken of her workshop to be posted on blogs and I'm not sure how far this extends - whether includes photos of her property or not. So I'll mostly be showing only photos of my own work. But I took lots of pictures! ;-)

So class started promptly at 9:00am and the first assignment was put on the wall. We all feverishly copied down the instructions because once they were removed from the wall, they would not be put back up! Then Nancy explained the assignment and sent us off to our workstations.

The first assignment was to work with just black fabric and white fabric. We had to choose one color to be the "Lines" and one color to be the "Shapes". We cut the fabric in the strips of various widths and then sewed them together in different configurations to create new fabric. Then we had to cut up this resulting fabric into units and create an interested composition featuring the lines.

This is my result still in the design stage. (Note: I should have paid attention the suggestion to bring a batting sheet or flannel to put on the design wall. I was forever pinning and unpinning pieces to the wall. Of course, the design walls were wonderfully pinnable anyway.)

I struggled with the design until Nancy stopped by to explain that to make the lines into a composition, they needed to connect in someway. Duh, I think I finally got it.
Below is my finished piece. I'm not sure I like it -- it looks like a floor plan to me, but it at least looks like a composition. I think I needed to have more "Lines" on the edges of my made fabrics to make the composition come together. I had trouble getting the lines to connect.

We did a similar exercise in the first workshop I took with Nancy. I don't have a picture and don't know where it is (I might still have it), but believe me the result in this 2008 workshop is much better!

It is an interesting exercise and I'm anxious to try it again at home (maybe in the winter!)

That was the morning assignment. After lunch (also made wonderfully by Margaret), we were given the afternoon/evening assignment.

The second assignment was to choose two solid color fabrics and create new fabrics in the same manner as the Black and White assignment, but this time we would do two sets of created fabrics - one using color A as the lines and one using color A as the shapes. We were suppose to pick one "favorite" outstanding color and then a contrasting color. I choose a brilliant blue and a soft brown.

Nancy stayed in the studio in the afternoon from 2:00 to 5:00, but then left us to our own devices in the studio until they kicked everyone out at 10:00pm. (Dinner is served at 6:00pm and of course, can't forget snack time at 3:00.)

Sewing strips of fabric together may not seem like a lot of work but everyone was cutting and sewing like crazy and still it took all evening and then some to get everything done. The strips are all cut selvage to selvage, so these are lots of long seams. We had to have all of our made fabrics complete because the next morning we'd be getting the assignment that would use these fabrics. I think I left at 8:30pm that evening feeling very tired.

Still, when I got back to my room at the Shaw, I broke out my bottle of Mumm DVX Champagne and popped that cork. A glass of champagne and a nice piece of chocolate. What a great way to end the day.

Day One at the Crow Barn

I'm finally getting moment to blog about my experience at the Nancy Crow workshop! I was reminded to hurry up by an Anonymous reader (and you know who you are. ;-) because people are waiting! I know my mother has been bugging me about it.

Anyway, my plans to blog daily were very quickly thrown out the window due to the bad internet connection at the hotel, but more importantly by the fact that I was too exhausted at the end of the day to do anything other than read and respond to the millions of emails sent by my husband (and I thought I would be able to get away from work by driving to Ohio, right).

So what happened? Well, here's the deal:

On Sunday morning I left my comfy room at the Bedford Resort...

And drove off towards Ohio in my fabric packed car . . .

I arrive in Lancaster, OH at around 3:00pm and checked into my room at the Shaw Inn and Restaurant. While it was not quite the Bedford, it was clean and comfortable.

Next stop -- The Barn! They were well prepared for the needs of people bearing loads of fabric. There was a drive way that looped around the barn so you could pull up right next to the doorway to unload. It all went very quickly with the help of Nathan, Nancy's son, who made it look easy carrying in all the heavy stuff for me.

I was one of the last ones to arrive, but I quickly set up my studio away from home - setting my sewing machine and fabric stash in my little corner.

After set up time, the dinner bell rang and we all followed the call. A lovely dinner, created by chef Margaret Wolf, was set out buffet-style in the dining room area. With both workshops (the other workshop was taught by Fran Skiles) there was almost 40 people there.

After dinner, we were given a brief overview of the workshop plan and rules of the barn. Then one by one we stood up and introduced ourselves. There were quite a few people from New York and there was also another innkeeper! I think the furthest anyone had come was from Hawaii. It was a wonderfully deverse group of talent and professions. But what was also amazing was that two women who had been in the first Nancy Crow workshop that I took in the early 1990's in Mountain View, CA were there, too! They were both in the Fran Skiles workshop that week and were staying around for the following week for the Master's class with Nancy.

The class was to start the next morning at 9:00am sharp, so we all went home to our respective hotels to get a good nights sleep.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Off to a Nancy Crow Workshop!

I'm finally on my way to the workshop at Nancy Crow's Barn in Ohio. I am so excited about taking my first away workshop! I'll finally get to experience what everyone does when they come to our workshops.

I thought I'd never get on the road yesterday. I had not even packed anything until that morning, as we have been so busy at the inn, with the workshop, and the chocolates. Gads, it is always something!

Here is a shot of the "Fabric Beast", as Mark called it. It's all of the new solid color fabric out of the washer/dryer and waiting to be ironed. Will I get it done in time?

The answer is No. But what could I do when I ran out of time -- I just stuffed the wadded fabric into a plastic bin and loaded up the car.

Anyway, already it is marvelous to wake up this morning with no breakfast to make and no calls to answer, no bills to pay (those will come later for sure!), and no toilets to fix!

I decided to start off with an "attitude adjustment" by staying my first night away at a posh resort in Bedford, PA - the Bedford Springs Resort. I hadn't actually planned to do this, but I had had no time to make reservations for a place mid-way between home and Ohio. Also because I had no idea where I'd be when I was ready to stop for the night because I had no idea when I'd actually get on the road yesterday morning. Plus I had some stops at some stores a long the way to drop off some chocolate samples.

So at 7:00pm yesterday, when I had had enough driving I told myself that the next town I came to that had reasonable sounding lodging advertised along the highway, I'd stop. So I came to Bedford and there were several lodging possibilities, but I also noticed a sign for Bedford Springs Resort - "history restored". Sounded like an interesting place to check out. So I followed the signs and discovered this huge posh resort out of the pages of the elegant past!

I was not exactly elegant looking after 7 hours on the road, especially with a car packed to the gills with wads of unironed fabric. But I put on a brave face and left my car with the valet and went into the check-in desk. I only flinched a bit when the nightly rate was quoted -- I figured, what the heck, I really deserve and need this break/holiday and it would be my Mother's Day treat! So I said just give me a room on the low end of the rate scale!

So this is my "low end" room! I think I've died and gone to heaven. I think I danced around the room in glee for at least a couple of minutes.

It was late already so no time or desire for a regular dinner (not to mention that I had nothing suitable for wearing in the high class resort dining room), so I ordered a cheese plate thru room service. Lovely.

Then I thought of Sherry B, who was a student at one of our workshops last year. Every day after the workshop was done, she ordered a glass of champagne and sat on the porch to relax before dinner. So decadent, so deserving, and what a great way to treat yourself. I remembered making a vow that if I ever got the opportunity to go away to a workshop, that that is exactly what I would do! So here's to you Sherry!