Monday, June 09, 2008

Last Day at the Crow Barn

Wait a minute, wait a minute. I think I'm confused. Well, just a little disclaimer - I may be mistaken about which day some of these projects began and ended. I just looked at the pictures I have for day 5 and realized that is is quite possible that some of them actually occurred on day 4. In any case, the pace was grueling.

So on the second half of day 4 we started to make fabrics composed of solids, solids and prints (stripes and plaids). We were suppose to have 5 light values, 5 middle values, and 5 dark values.

It actually takes longer than you think to sew strips together, especially when each strip is 40-plus inches long! I only had time to put together the lights, 4 middle values and 3 dark values. Below is a pic of some of these composed fabrics.

Here is some more.

Then on the dawn of day 5 we were instructed to cut up our created fabrics to create a design that featured a repeated unit. This project was the most fun for me. Maybe it was because this was something familiar, as we had done a similar project in the first workshop I took with Nancy. Maybe it was because I finally got to use some bright non-solid fabrics! (Oh, by the way, Nancy has a wonderful fun selection of fabrics in her own mini fabric shop at the barn. Lots of great prints and patterns. I did my share of shopping here!)

I created the design by pinning the units first on the design wall and then came the tricky part of putting it together without having to resort to inset seams -- I only had to do one. Whew. I think this is my favorite of all the work I did in the workshop.

The final project was, I think, the very first "stack n wack" technique, or at least I had done it in the first Crow workshop way before all the Stack n Whack books came out -- by at least 3 or 4 years. You stack four large squares (like 24" squares) and cut a certain number of lines and shapes through the four layers, then reassemble them using the different contrasting fabrics. I used 3 fabrics and cut through 6 layers. (No matter how many times I told myself to keep it simple, I refused to listen. Boy, I'm stubborn. ;-) Anyway this project is a lot of fun, too. Nancy said she saved this project for last just because it was so easy and fun.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of this final piece! Probably because I was racing like a fiend to get it finished before the deadline. I barely made it. I'll post a picture later this week once I clear a path through my studio so that I can get a good shot of my design wall. I'll talk about it more once I have the picture up so that you can see what I'm talking about.

The final part of the workshop was the grand "gallery showing." Each of us had to take turns hanging up all of the work we created during the entire workshop and then giving a short (3 minute) presentation about what we got out of the workshop and what we thought of each of our pieces. Everyone was encourage to take photos during these presentations as a reference. It was quite amazing to see the body of work that each person created.

Unfortunately the person who I asked to take a picture of me in front of my gallery of work did not get the whole wall of work. I guess she thought it was better to get a closer shot of me. (Looking rumpled, of course.)

So, what was the final analysis of the workshop: I loved it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, it was grueling. Yes, there were times when I thought I was crazy for doing it and working until I was exhausted (I do that at home already. I don't want to do it on my time off). But I do think I will continue to use what I learned. I do think that I final get some of the concepts that Nancy is trying to teach, and if I took a workshop from her again, I'd learn even more.

I think you just have to be prepared for hard work in Nancy's class. It is not a "fluffy" class. As she says, it is a graduate level workshop and you have to be there because you want to give it your all. You have to be prepared for the deadlines and the 12 hour work days. Of course, all of this is really self-imposed because not once did Nancy threaten to kick someone out for not completing a project! But to me, even though I desperately needed time to relax, I couldn't not try to push myself to keep up with the pace. I get the chance to take very few workshops, so I was going to get the most I possibly could out of this one, and that meant keeping up with the projects. But my words of advice -- keep it simple! I'll try to remember this myself next time.

Regarding the supply list - of course, I didn't use all 100 yards of fabric, but having that range of choice made creating the compositions much easier than they would have if I had had a much more limited palette. Also I now have the fabric to continue playing with the lessons we learns. Most important -- bring lots and lots of black and white fabric. I'd bring twice what Nancy suggests. Many people ran out of what they brought.

Some people used polaroids of their work in progress to help them with their designs, but I never looked at my digital pictures after taking them. So leave the dated camera or printer at home, but take lots of digital pictures so remembering the processes later on when you get home.

With all that piecing I thought for sure that I would be going through spool after spool of thread, but I only used up one large spool of Star thread and I used it in both the bobbin and on top. It is good to have lots of bobbins so that you can prewind a whole batch of them in the beginning and don't have to stop midway in a project to wind bobbins.

I took extra rotary cutter blades, but never changed the one I started with. Maybe because I'm too use to using the blades until they are really annoying instead of just starting to be annoying.

I don't think there was anything that I wish I had remembered to bring. I followed the supply list (except for the polaroid/printer) and used everything.

I enjoyed spending the week with like-minded women. It was fabulous to see the wide variety of work that was created. I tend to be very quiet in group settings, but I loved listening and watching.

Nancy, John, Nathan, and Margaret were wonderful hosts.

I definitely recommend taking workshop retreats where you get away from your every day life and immerse yourself in the creative process and the community of artists. I'll be waiting for my next opportunity!


Maggie said...

so nice to see your work and hear your thoughts on the workshop. It was great - brutal but great!
I've started to think of things as BNC and ANC - before & after Nancy Crow's workshop. I'm waiting for the classes to be posted for next year!!
PS I wish I could be at her lecture tonight

Patsy said...

i'm signed up for Best of Strip Piecing I & II in early October & can hardly wait. my fabric purchasing is done...i probably have too much, particularly as I have to ship, but maybe i'll wean some out.

THANK YOU for your comment about photo printers - I've been aqonizing over whether or not to purchase a $200 photo printer - small enough to ship with my fabric. Think I'll take my big digital SLR camera instead & rely on it. Why waste ink, paper & spend unnecessarily on something I might not use? Thanks!