Saturday, September 18, 2010

Felt in Nature Retreat

I have been busy with so many different events that I have only just now gotten a chance to try to describe the retreat that I was able to participate in. It was an honor to be part of this event. The event was wonderfully organized by Sharon Costello. It was held at the Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville, NY. Here is the description from one of the brochures we had at the exhibit at the end of the week.  "In 2010, ten distinguished [Me distinguished??] fiber artists, working in felt, spent a week in residence at the Preserve exploring felt in nature."  I still can't believe that I was part of this group. And what a group it was,Joei Bassett, Sharon CostelloMarianne Dubois, Carol Ingram, Sharon Janda, Renate Maile-Moskowitz, Lynn Ocone,  Kris Sandoy, and Linda Van Alstyne. They are all so talented, kind, sharing, funny, and energetic. I was in awe and I am so thankful to have been able to get to know these women and their work so much better. This one week has had a profound effect on me. I feel like I have grown through this experience not only as a felter and an artist, but also personally.
This was my first beautiful view on arrival at the preserve.

I loved working on my felt out on the porch on the left.

The first thing we did was to decide which space we would work in in this building, which is the research lab on Lincoln Pond. Although it is uncharacteristic for me to say what I really want I stated right off that I wanted to work in front of this window, though the first order of business was to wash it.

Next we chose where we would sleep. And again I said what I wanted. I am not sure what came over me that day. I just loved this little old horse stall turned cabin, and I had my favorite roommate Joei to keep me company, along with the bugs and whatever critter was running around up in the attic. It was almost as good as camping!

We had two presentations by prominent mycologists, and we did some dyeing with mushrooms. Here is Susan Van Hook who ran the dye workshop talking about insulation made with fungi.

We took a guided walk by the pond with the director of the preserve, Chad Jemison.
We were not able to go all the way around the pond due to a bit of reconstruction by the resident beavers.

But most of the week was spent exploring the preserve, felting, or talking about felt and art and life.  Although there was also a lot of sharing of laughing, great food, and a little wine. ;) Here are a few photos of some of the artists working.

I was amazed at the amount of wool the other women brought, with the exception of Where's the Wool Joei with her single bin!
Carol's wool spilled out into the corridor.

I didn't bring that much wool but I really made a mess of my space when I was felting.

Here is what I was working on. A bunch of small pieces tied together, somewhat inspired by the nature centers collection of natural objects and my own habit of picking up feathers, leaves, stones, etc. when I am outside.

Here is a close-up of  my tree bark.

At the end of the week we had an exhibit at the visitor's center.

Many of us did small pieces inspired by the various shapes and textures seen on our walks.

But the large banners really made an impact.

Sharon Janda

Kristy Sandoy

Sharon Costello

Carol Ingram

Lynn Ocone

We also had an interactive installation about a destructive invasive species; man. Visitors were able to felt their own hand shapes onto a tree.

And although we had beautiful weather the entire week, the day of the exhibit brought just enough rain to give us a rainbow.
After the show was hung we had sometime to do more felting.
Sharon Janda made this hat. I learned quite a bit watching her work.

And I made this silly bird house man.

I stuck burdocks on for eyes but they will be replaced with eyes that look more like his lady friend which I made yesterday.

Here they are hanging out together, what a cute couple, maybe they will have kids some day.

This post does not come close to being able to describe all the wonderful things that came my way through being able to attend this retreat. I am very fortunate, and thankful for being able to share it with all these women.


  1. Let me be the first to were a very positive and integral part of the retreat.... even though you didn't remind me which day we were suppose to make breakfast!

  2. It was such a pleasure to have you at the Preserve for the week. Come back and visit soon!

  3. Joei, You were supposed to remind ME about breakfast. Look at it this way, maybe next time, if there is a next time, they won't ask us to do meals:) I am most thankful to you my dear for hooking me up with this wonderful experience. You are my best supporter...and my best friend.

  4. Chad, I would love to come back to the preserve. I didn't get to explore as much as I wanted to since I also wanted to be with the others and doing all that felting. It is a beautiful place and I am thankful that it is being preserved AND is serving as a place for all that research. Thank you so much for the time you gave us and for making our stay so great.