Thursday, July 31, 2008

Making Art at Snow Farm

A few years ago, I took an adult pottery class at a wonderful place in western Massachusetts called Snow Farm. For one weekend, I threw pots, learned about majolica glazing for hours and hours a day and spent time with other people who were just as enthusiastic as I was about craft. It was fabulous experience, one I hope to be able to do again. There are other places in the USA which offer this type of art and craft courses – Haystack and Penland School of Crafts come to mind.

The best part of this experience for me, as an adult, was the total immersion I was able to have in the craft – even if it was only for a weekend. I didn’t have to cook for anyone nor wash any dishes. I didn’t have to go anywhere in my car. I didn’t have to feed any animals. It was all about the craft, the materials, and spending time practicing and developing technique.

Yesterday, Julia and I went to Snow Farm to visit Olivia, my niece who is spending two fabulous weeks learning glass blowing and pottery along with about 60 other high school kids. Olivia has always been good with her hands – when she was very small, she loved to sort buttons by color. Then she spent a couple of years making miniature fimo sculptures and selling them at her church fair. Her dexterity and talent is amazing. She has knit and embroidered projects that have been photographed in my books. She is like a sponge who sucks all the knowledge out of whoever gives it to her. Then she perfects it to a T.

Olivia gave us a tour of her studios – both the glass blowing hot shop and the ceramics studio. Then we ate a picnic lunch under the trees. One of her friends toured us through the flameworking studio and metals shop. What a great facility of little studios full of all the supplies the students need!

I was envious of Olivia’s time there but I was also so proud of her. She decided to do this on her own and earned the money to go herself. She ventured to a new place where she knew noone. She is going to go home with a lot of finished projects. But it isn’t about the finished objects – it is about the time that she is spending experimenting and learning in a lovely atmosphere. And learning about how important it is to have a craft you can spend hours and days, years, and a lifetime, learning the process of creativity. I know Olivia will remember this experience for her entire life. How great for Julia and I to share a little glimpse into it!

I’m working on learning a relatively new craft this summer that I hope to be able to show you soon. What are you learning this summer? There is still time to gather your supplies and feed your creative spirit. Don’t let August slip away!

p.s. Snow Farm hosts adults most of the time. They do full week elderhostels too which includes knitting and other fiber crafts. Check out their website and you might find something new you might want to learn.


Kat said...

Thanks for the Snow Farm info. I was looking at the Campbell School in North Carolina, but western MA is a much easier drive.

Kelley Hart said...

Wow. So inspiring as always. When you asked what we are learning this summer, I sunk in my chair a little bit. All my life I've only done creative things; hand crafts, sewing, music. Lately I've been focused on marketing--so very new to me. At first I was just overwhelmed thinking I didn't have it in me, I'm NOT a business person, I make things! But I'm actually getting more into it, and I realize this too is a creative process, which like all crafts, requires patience and effort. One of your posts that I will always remember (though I can't tell you when it was!), talked about patience and success and how too many folks are looking for over night recognition. Seeing how you have worked steadily for years to be where you are is truly inspiring. Thank you for all you do!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I'm just trying to get my knitting mojo back this summer!

-- Grace in MA

Sally W said...

I have learned to spin......finally
I had a wheel for almost two years and finally took a class. And I am loving it!!

Sara in WI said...

What a wonderful experience! Snow Farm sounds amazing! I just returned from Meg's Knitting Camp full of inspiration and ideas, wool and books. So much to learn......

Lily Boot said...

What a wonderful place to spend time - both for you and your niece. I work with teenage girls and am often dismayed at how little interest they show in anything apart from watching movies on their laptops, texting each other on their mobiles and shopping. I have tried over the years to get them interested in patchwork, embroidery, sewing clothes, jewellery making ... it's a 15 year list! But apart from one or two girls each time, it is so very hard to engage them. Two years ago I had a student who sounds very similar to your niece - she too was a sponge and was filled with curiosity and a passion for creativity - she was a particularly good photographer and has gone on to study this at university and has won several prizes etc. - she wanted to make a quilt so I took her to buy the fabric and choose a design and the next few weeks and we sewed together whenever she had time - it was such a great experience and she was delighted with her quilt. It made up for all the afternoons spent traipsing around their dormitories asking them to come join in the activity! This summer - actually my winter - I'm working on my quilting - trying to find the straight line and make curves that don't have corners!