A year ago Diane Ericson asked me to be a guest teacher in Taos for her Design Outside the Lines workshop series. I immediately said yes. Why wouldn’t I want to be at Mabel Dodge Luhan House sharing what I know best with 20 women I had never met?
The excitement started building as I gathered supplies that needed to be shipped beforehand. Okay -I needed to make sloppy bags for holding scraps. Check. Okay -I need to bring all the Solvys. Check. I needed to pack what’s on my rack. Check. Okay -I needed to make some more pieces to show my technique. Check.
In the meantime my sleep is getting rattled. The energy is ramping up. It’s gonna be okay- I can do this, I remind myself.
After spending some days with my Albuquerque brother exploring Puyé cliff dwellings, I headed up to Taos via Santa Fe to see Elise and crew from Santa Fe Weaving Gallery. I met Diane at Mabel’s. We chatted and went to Love Apple for dinner. We share our life’s stories. A connection was made.
The next day the women start arriving. We set up the log cabin, where Diane has her store and we have our “products”. There we gathered in the late afternoon after dinner and introduced ourselves. My mouth is dry. 20 women. But the room is cozy and we are all here for the same reason: to create, to share, to support the process of creativity and exploration.
Monday starts off with a bang. We do our demos. I am demo-ing my Pelt solvy technique, a thick dense composition of scraps, that could become clothing as in: what would the modern Neanderthal wear? In the afternoon, I demo the Dervish technique, how to lay out your fabric scraps with a pattern in mind.
Diane meanwhile is really speaking to the heart of playing/ exploring vs. the psychology of the workshop mentality, ie. I have to finish something to show what I did when I spent this time with myself. Doing vs. being.
What cracked me open was her talk about her “birthday” shirt. It is a special process she does for herself every year. She creates a theme for the shirt, in this case lightness, and brings that into play. She started by playing with paper airplanes, then folded airplanes out of cotton to use as a pocket, and stenciled airplanes onto the shirt fabric. But it was really the way she talked about making time for herself and honoring herself that moved me.
By the time I got up to present I broke out into tears. The thing was- that was perfectly okay. Everyone got what was happening. Everyone was right there, no judgment.
DOL is a safe place to be your most vulnerable. And as a result every one is open and supportive. Diane is a marvelous storyteller. She has comic timing. And yet there is room for the tender sharing of our hearts.
The time flew by. Some people made and completed items. Most did not. Most tried things out: stenciling, screening, pulling cording, making frogs, composing fabric, hand stitching. I made a purse/bag. I was happy to take part of the stitching process.
Next time I’ll be a student. Gwen Spencer, the very talented assistant said at the end to me: be a student. I’m taking her advice. I’m taking DOL in Taos where she’ll be the guest teacher.
The last day as we sat in a big circle I can safely say all our hearts were more open, that we were all bonded, all filled with new ideas and excited about the next creative step. I was honored to be a part of that experience.