Friday, May 22, 2009

A Visit to Haystack

Oh My Goodness. The Universe conspired to give me a long weekend at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts this past weekend and I revel in my good fortune.

Away back in 1980 I attended my first workshop at Haystack with Barbara Shawcroft: "Knotted Sculpture". My world spun differently after that. I made sense there. In 1982 I was able to go back and studied "Celebrations" with Debra Frasier, Dan Bailey and Peter Adams. That class started me on a long path that led me to San Francisco from Boston, through adding a couple of new pierces to my right ear, on to changing my name and then to moving to Maine. Where I have written books, and stitched hundreds of thousands of beads, and made prayer and family.
Back in February I received an email from the Maine Crafts Association to invite us all to a May weekend of art to juice our '09 Season. I am a single mom. Trips away from my Dear Ones don't come often. Nigh on never. But I thought that I would ask around and see how our May shaped up for the possibility anyway. The children needed care: their various schedules needed accomodating, their various needs had to be met... One by one every person I asked for help said yes. Every situation that at once seemed problematical became smoothed. I'd go along with it all, and then think, "No, this cannot be correct. Surely I am pressing too hard." And yet consistantly I kept hearing the Instruction to keep trying, to allow this to happen. A week ago I thought I'd faint for the pressure of setting all of this goodness in motion, but just kept following my Instruction.

This is the opening view of the Haystack decks. It is something like a gasp to come up the steps and see the Gulf of Maine beyond the trees, islands dotting the bay like stepping stones on one's visual trip out to the Atlantic and the Great World Beyond. I began remembering. Years of attending Haystack workshops in the summer and fall. Friendships, and sunny days - and more weather than that, for the coast of Maine can't be confined more than a couple of hours in that way - and the projects I have made from tiny embroideries to huge masks, pencil drawings, desktop environments. I have been bewildered on that campus, hurt, entranced, lovely, challenged in every way and always, always so content doing this work of color, texture and philosophy. I don't argue in my head so much when I am there. God/dess exists inside my hands and no one seems to be quite so pissed about that. What an excellent reprieve.

My workshop this past weekend was again with Debra Frasier, this time in collaboration with Catharine Ellis. Debra became a writer and illustrator in those intervening 27 years. Catharine is a dyer and weaver. We learned Osage, and Cochineal, and Indigo, and the words that those colors speak to us. Catherine taught us shibori dye techniques, and Debra passed out colored papers with the writing lessons and prompts. We listened to each other as we wrote. Millions of plants can make a yellow dye, the Cochineal is a bug that dyes that rich red, though there are other ways of getting reds, but indigo is one of only two plants, worldwide, that through a long, complicated and somewhat toxic process can give us blue.

I was both confused and absolutely sure while I was there. I am so correct here at home again and ever so much in our agenda. I toss a bit. The edges and details swerve and dip as they do.

I will send you more. The shibori was a gift of delight. I want to show you. The words came at me ... I want to tell you.
I will.