Yes I’m going to Death Valley again. I leave tomorrow at 5 AM, on my second annual solo trip to the desert. Some of you might remember what a mess my heart was in last year. It was a profound time of healing. Experiencing the full force of heartbreak alone in the desert is something I can hardly describe.
Last week at a fun party after a fabulous city hike in San Francisco, I found myself joining a conversation, with a group of women I barely knew, about what a difficult year it had been emotionally. “My heart was broken TWICE in barely over a year. What a fool,” I declared shamefully. One of the women responded “At least you were able to fall in love, and you grew from it. I had a tough year and I can’t say that I gained a thing.”
I don’t know why I’m going to the Death Valley again. Maybe because it is so damn beautiful. The space and the silence of that place is embedded so deep within, that I can imagine it’s vastness expanding inside me, pushing at the boundaries of my heart. When I arrive in the dessert it will be as if I’m living, walking, hiking, eating, reading, praying, singing, moving inside of myself. There will be no distinction between inside and outside when I return to Death Valley. There will be no past or future, only the singular space of the present.
I was kinda feeling BLUE today
Looking out my window
So I went downtown
And spied a graffiti Easter egg
Hanging in a tree
A down and out BLUE bottle face
Waiting there for me
I snatched him up and brought him home
A fit companion for my company!
psst… I wasn’t actually feeling so BLUE yesterday, maybe a little, but I certainly was all about BLUE and finding this guy did kind of top off my BLUE day. The old BLUE wedge on my second wall has finally moved front and center and I’m trying a few things out before I commit.
I love all your BLUE comments so far. Thanks!
I ran out of blogging steam after my third day of teaching improv workshops at QuiltCon, but I’m finally back in Oakland, settled into my routine, and ready to report.
With each workshop, I approach the improvisational process from a different discipline. For the Improv Round Robin, which is essentially communal, we followed the cardinal rule of improv theater –no matter what fellow performers say or do always affirm and build on their actions to keep the skit going.
It turns out that this is also a great way to succeed at conversation. The best conversations unfold when participants work together to affirm and build or say “Yes And…” In the next conversation you have notice how quickly a “Yes But…” will kill the exchange.
During the Improv Round Robin, students are encouraged to think about improvisation as a conversation. They are asked to listen for the conversation laid out in the patterns made by the people who worked on the quilt before them, and then respond in turn by affirming, joining and adding to that conversation, before passing the quilt to their neighbor for the next round.
If you look at the results above closely, you will see that some conversations are more coherent than others. At the end of the workshop many of the students noted that as in life, some quilt conversations are easier to join and participate in than others.
All of my QuiltCon classes and students were awesome! They (you) worked hard and I think it shows. Can you believe that all 26 of these beautiful round robin quilt tops were made in just six hours?!
Another full and fabulous day at QuiltCon. I just got home from the 80′s dance. I don’t have pics but I definitely got my grove on. Nothing like Duran Duran’s Hungry Like a Wolf, followed by Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean, and Cindy Lauper’s Girls Just Want To Have Fun for getting a large posse of quilt makers out on the dance floor for some serious tail shaking!
Today I taught an improv curve piecing workshop to another awesome group of quilt makers. This isn’t an easy process but they shined through in spite of the time constraints and large class size. The first half of the class consists of making the wedge curves, which is quite enjoyable, and meditative. Click the slide show to move through the images manually.
Sewing all the curve pieces together into a composition is the challenge. People get stuck when they are unable to control the outcome. As soon as they push past the need to control, the composition begins to flow from the quilt itself. It’s a difficult phenomenon to describe, but it happens over and over again. It is best understood through experience. This is the magic that makes improv so exciting. Unfortunately I don’t have images of the second half of the class. My auto-focus was turned off. SO dear students if you took a picture of your final composition at the end of class PLEASE send me a copy.
I continued to meet a variety of interesting people from all over the country, as well as fellow bloggers. It’s so fun to put faces and bodies with blogs. Tomorrow is my last workshop of the conference, the Improv Round Robin, and it’s going to be fun!
I can’t tell you what a fantastic day it’s been. It’s almost midnight and I’m finally back to my beautiful hotel room, after an incredibly full and satisfying day. I really love being a part of a community. It’s amazing to meet people from all over the country that I’ve met through blogging, and Austin is fantastic.
Let’s start with my class. It was awesome. The students did fantastic work. Someone asked me if I learn a lot from my students. My answer is yes but not in the way people might expect. The most valuable thing I learn from students, is how they meet and overcome the internal challenges arising from the improvisational process.
I am always impressed at how much people understand that this process goes deeper than the bright colors and pretty patterns of the materials they are working with. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge. It is very satisfying.
Lots of beautiful quilts in the show. I will post lots of photos of the show quilts that inspire me when I get back to Oakland. My Log Cabin Modern Improv took the prize in the large Hand Quilting category! That’s $500 bucks!!! I was so pleased. Not many people hand quilt these days, and it is such a pleasure to be recognized for such a fundamental and basic skill.
There is so much more to say. After hours have been filled with questions about what is modern quilting? Is it becoming codified? Does this exclude people and in what ways? As quilting and the realm of “women’s work” is becoming an “industry” –because there IS money to be made– how do we as makers, teachers, writers and business owners walk the line between honoring the tradition of sharing and support within the community but also recognize that ideas and individual contributions are monetarily valuable and have to be respected.
So many interesting conversations! I’ve been giving and receiving lots of cards from people and when I get back to Oakland I hope to feature a little something from every person who has shared their info with me.
Okay my head is spinning. Off to bed!
Waiting to board the plane from Oakland to Austin I met five people on their way to QuiltCon. There were even more quilters at the luggage pickup and more at the Super Shuttle. We are multiplying. I’ve been meeting people right and left and everyone is so happy and excited to be here. Including me!
The organizers have pre-sold over 1500 passes. I am so impressed by these organizers and at how organized they are!
Look at all the goodies that came in my QuiltCon goody bag! This thing weighs a ton! It’s filled with freebies like thread, zippers, tailor’s chalk, seam riper, ceramic hot cup, magazines, fabric and more. Wow!
I had a fantastic meal of stuffed trout and a bottle of wine with my friend Bunnie. At the restaurant we met several more QuiltCon quilters.
Now I’m back at my hotel room. It is so so nice. As soon as this posts I will be snuggling into my king size fluffy bed for a good night’s sleep.
I’m teaching my first class bright and early at 9am.
I’m very happy.
I’m packed and ready to go to Austin!
I’ve never been to Austin and this is the first time I’ve ever attended a national quilt expo –in the 20 years I’ve been making quilts.
I have no idea what to expect, but I imagine it will be insane, and a lot of fun.
There’s an 80′s dance. I was in high school and college during the 80′s so I should be able to remember how people dressed, but I don’t really.
I threw a couple of things together. Not sure it’s vey 80′s or not. However it seems lucky that I found this huge long chain lying on the sidewalk when I was walking to work in San Francisco yesterday. How perfect is that? I added a few safety pins and it was meant to be.
During the conference look for me at the Modern Quilt Guild booth when I’m not teaching. I will have handouts there about my workshops at the booth and I will be there on Sunday for sure. I will post specific times on twitter. My tweets always appear on my sidebar to the right. I hope to meet as many of you there as possible.
Safe travels and a fun weekend… Austin bound or not.