I spent the first few days of the new year attending the very first Craft Napa, an amazing, three day retreat in Napa Valley. Craft Napa is the creation of Pokey Bolton, founder of Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors magazines. Pokey moved to Napa Valley with the dream of hosting a retreat for those driven to create. She invited inspiring instructors, organized a lovely venue and put it out to the quilting and art world.
When I heard about Craft Napa, I knew it was exactly what I needed. I have been feeling a bit lost the past year or so, creatively speaking and had been looking for a new direction in what I make. I had just finished reading Carrie Bloomston‘s book, The Little Spark, 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity, and although the list of instructors was quite enticing, I decided that spending three days with Carrie might be the perfect way to begin the new year. To understand why, well, it would probably be easiest to suggest you take a moment to read her bio, here on her website.
I knew I missed the feeling of creating with my hands, rather than always going to the sewing machine. I missed holding a paintbrush or sketching with a pen. But it had been so long since I had done this, to be honest, I didn’t even know how to begin. Which is why I read her book.
The Little Spark is a wonderful book that guides you through finding (or in my case, rediscovering) your creative energy. Carrie’s workshops were filled with activities that allowed us to play, explore and simply make. We worked quickly, and sometimes with our eyes closed, which was actually quite freeing for me, because it didn’t allow me to “think” about what to do. We ripped paper, we glued, we painted, and we drew.
There is something lovely about making without planning. The unexpected happens. The end result becomes secondary to enjoying the process and simply embracing the moment. It felt wonderful to just let the paint flow, and watch the textures and layers begin to appear. The two samples in the center are my attempts with layering paint. The others are samples are from my fellow students. I wish I had names to credit them with their work – aren’t they beautiful?
I had not picked up a piece of charcoal in 30 years, and yet, I had this comfortable feeling rush over me as we were asked to do quick, charcoal sketches of Carrie as she held some very graceful yoga poses. The end result? Ok, maybe not quite Edgar Degas – but it was such a special moment for me, I didn’t care.
Just for that moment, I was back in art school, where my spark was once a full flame.
Our final project was to make a collage, a chance to use all the tools and techniques that we had worked on throughout the course. Mine is the third from the left, with the white background.
Again, I wish I had the names of the other artists to share with you. Each one is so unique and interesting.
Every collage had a story to tell, which we shared as a group on the last day. It was fascinating to hear the thought process from each student. Carrie’s supportive critiques warmed my heart. Her excitement and joy in viewing each piece made stepping out of my comfort zone downright fun . I loved hearing her comments to all the students. It caused me to take a second look and see something that I would not have noticed otherwise.
Carrie is on the right, sporting an apron from her fabric collections, Paint, a line she designed for Windham Fabrics.
Our glorious weekend ended with a visit to Pokey’s Barn, which is not just an ordinary barn, but actually, an awesome art studio. The barn was all dressed up for the occasion in a perfect combination of art, textiles and wine in honor of celebrating the success of the first Craft Napa. It was a chance to relax and visit with all the amazing people that were a part of this special event.
And, an opportunity for me, to thank Carrie for such an inspiring experience. Carrie’s energy and passion as a teacher were instrumental in my rediscovering my spark. I went to Napa with an open mind, willing to try something new and different. . .
I came home from Napa, with my eyes wide open, ready to do something new and different. Thank you for that, Carrie! And thank you Pokey, for following your dream to share Craft Napa with us. I loved every moment of it.
And now for the Giveaway Winner for last week’s
This was really hard – there were so many hilarious stories that our readers shared on their worst hair day. If you haven’t taken the time to read through them, you should! So many perms, Dorothy Hamill haircuts, blue and pink hair debacles – I debated (and laughed) long and hard as to who should be the winner of the Good Hair Day charm pack. But, I had to chose one – so the winner is. . .
Frances Quigley, who used to rest her head on the ironing board, while her sister’s ironed her hair. Frances, you definitely deserve a charm pack! You may have invented the flat iron! I will be contacting you to get an address to mail your gift to you. Congratulations!
Have a wonderful week everyone!