30 September, 2009

This week's demo: Felting with Chad Alice Hagen

Apparently I am a bit dense for not knowing who Chad Alice Hagen was before this week. I've seen her work before, I'm sure of it; I've browsed her books at the library. And yet it took me until tonight at the demo to put two and two together, and to realize that the fiery redhead whose class projects looked amazing every time I went into her studio was the author behind Fabulous Felted Hats, Fabulous Felted Scarves, and Feltmaking (in the Weekend Crafter series), and more recognizably:
I mean, don't you feel like you've seen one of those somewhere? Maybe I'm just hanging out in all the right yarn stores.

Anyway, tonight's demo was by Chad on the topic of this particular brand of thin, lightweight felted material at which she excels. Chad's class this week ("Felt, Resist, Bead") has been churning out stunning art pieces, which they have dyed and felted themselves. Today they started adding beads to their work, one at a time, like little drops of shininess on the matte wool background.
An example piece, with twig
(Seeing those piles and piles of beads and thread and colors makes my palms feel itchy, in that ohmygod I want to make one NOW kind of way. Anyone know what I'm talking about?)

Anyway, tonight's demo focused on the "Airey Fairy Scarf," which Chad makes by first laying out the right size strips of merino roving:
Then, once it's all laid out the way she wants it (a grid-like rectangle with open cells), she wets it with a fancy German bonsai tool and beings the many steps required to coax the fibers from fluff to felt.
And finally, when the fibers have fused together and are strong enough to hold their own, the scarf is spread out and tweaked and smoothed into just the right angles.

To view these pictures and more, see the Flickr set.

Chad is hilarious, so tonight's demo really was like learning about felt and going to a comedy club at the same time. Seriously. One of the highlights was Chad making her students do a live interpretation of wool fibers and what happens when they get wet and soapy and agitated:

29 September, 2009

By Doze is Duffed Up

Man, so that headache I had for two whole weeks? Turns out it's an early warning sign of a sinus infection. Yesterday morning I used my fortunate free time to go sit in the trailer that is the Murphy Urgent Care. No, literally, it is in a trailer. But hey, it didn't take too long and they took my co-pay and I got a prescription for antibiotics and I already feel relief, even after only taking one dose. The headache travelled down into my nose and lungs, both of which are just full to the brim with snot. Lovely.

So! Yesterday I learned how to set up and host the Instructor Social; I got to go to town with Keisha and Jenna and learn about where everything is (apparently I'll be frequenting the hospital, gas station, craft stores, and a garage). I also got to see Liz, finally! My old college roommate whom I haven't seen in years is here, and it's so great to be in her company again. And then last night when I got home from the potluck at Robin's house (which was beautiful and homey and made me feel like I'm now officially here), I got a surprise voicemail from Nina, my other favorite college roommate. Oh, old friends cycling back through my life! I'm so glad!

Last night whie I was waiting in the living room until it was time to shut down the Keith House, a distressed student came in needing emergency help with a backed up toilet. We went all the way down to the Mill House and I brought fresh towels and lugged their wet, messy ones back up to wash. All was solved before 10pm, and I turned off all the light and went upstairs for a restless night of mouth breathing and hacking coughs. I can't wait til I feel better! I decided that maybe a Blacksmithing class would not be prudent next week, as I don't need any extra junk in my nose and lungs right now. Hopefully I'll be in jewelry. I'll find out today!

Off to serve breakfast. It was in the 40's this morning and I could see my breath!

27 September, 2009

First day

Today was a whirlwind. I wisely decided not to take a class (well, okay, all the ones I wanted were full, but it's a good idea anyway to take it slow my first week) and my throat has just been hurting more and more, but it was the opening day of a new session so I got to trail Jenna and learn how to set up and help run an instructor orientation and a student orientation. Before that, I got to open the History Center for the 1st time, go on rounds for studio set-up for the 1st time, and I got my official name tag!

This blog needs pictures, I know. Soon. Today I was too busy during the daylight hours, and now they wouldn't look at good. Plus, i have a date with my new neti pot (also for the first time) and hopefully that will make my sinuses act like the oughta.

Oh! Dinner tonight was so good. I had some baked fish and a huge salad, and a piece of what I thought was a veggie burger but turned out to be very good falafel. Skipped the desert. So far so good. I brought my wedding dress with me, and I really want to fit into that sucker like I should at the end of my time here. One day down...

Oh! And Robin, a friend whom I met at the Folk School a long time ago, lives right down the road and invited me to a potluck tomorrow at her house, so depending on how tomorrow evening looks I might even get off campus for a bit! Hurrah. Here's to feeling better soon.

Pictures to come!

26 September, 2009


Hooray! I exist!

Finally, after waiting and waiting (more than three years!), I woke up this morning and it was September 26th. That date has been sort of etched into my brain, at first as an abstract that couldn't possibly be further away, and then as a distant goal that had several hurdles in front of it. I worked the summer at camp, I made it back to Williamsburg to help train my replacement After School coordinator, I nannied just enough to make gas and grocery money, I packed up a Jetta's worth of clothes and craft supplies... and this morning I woke up and it was time!

This year has been pretty hedonistic, as far as things go-- I've had pretty much nothing but fun in the hard-working kind of way. Wrote a thesis and earned my Master's, had a nice end to the school year, made great pay doing extremely fun lessons at my school's day camp, great summer at camp with my nose to the Texture Crafts grindstone, nannying at the beach for a week and then at home for two weeks while I extricated myself from the arms of my little After Schoolers. And now, the cherry on top of the fun-hard-work sundae. I woke up at Lauren's felt a little twinge of nervousness.

The drive went really smoothly-- it's all downhill, and I did a healthy percentage of it in neutral, my weighted-down car achieving previously impossible speeds as we flew down the mountains. When I arrived (there's always the OH JOY! when you turn onto Folk School Rd. and see the signs and the buildings but this time I also got to add HOME! to the mix) there was a handwritten sign on the door from my co-host, Jenna, asking me to come on up to the 2nd floor where we both live. The Jr. Host, or the one who is in her first 3 months, gets the host "room" and then becomes the Sr. Host when she's in her 4th-6th months and gets the host "apartment." That means Jenna had to vacate the room and move into the apartment this morning, and the host who was in the apartment has now finished his tenure and I am here instead, as the new Jr. Jenna and the two workstudy boys, strapping 18-year olds, helped me move all my stuff upstairs and into my room in about 15 minutes. And I was dreading hauling all that stuff upstairs on my own! Thanks, guys. It took the rest of the afternoon but I am completely unpacked and moved in and my empty suitcases are back in the truck of my car and I even nailed up hooks and whatnot and figured out (with Jenna's help) how to unlock the kitchen and make myself dinner. Fresh zucchini and squash, possibly from the garden, were already cut up in the industrial size walk-in fridge, and since Hosts are allowed to enter the kitchen and make/eat anything they can find. I sauteed those suckers up with a little pat of butter and some fresh parsley. Heaven.

I have a set of keys, a schedule, and a LOT of details to start remembering. Fortunately, I think, all the classes I was interested in this coming week are full so I'm going to focus my energy of just letting Jenna train me. It's probably a good thing. I brought several unfinished knitting projects; I have a scarf to cut off the loom, and I have several books I want to read. Plus, I'm going to take a bunch of pictures of my room and edit them into a video, and probably post it here. Tomorrow a new batch of students arrive (119, I think?) and I have a long day of watching Jenna's every move and trying to memorize them for next week. Oh god!

Now I'm off to the third floor where the work-studies live, to teach Barb from Vermont how to knit.
(To read about the last time I was at the Folk School, click here (4/08 Basketry)

My weekend in Asheville

It's way too far to drive from Williamsburg, VA all the way to Brasstown, NC without losing one's mind. So I didn't even try.

I drove down to Asheville on Thursday, to help break up the trip, and to see the amazingly talented Sweetback Sisters play at Jack of the Wood. It sure is something to see a bunch of cutie pie child prodigies all grown up and knocking the honky tonk out of the ballpark. They are just as sultry as they are sure-footed, and it was only my 400+ miles on the road (after being on 2-year old duty for 5 hours) that made me go home to sleep after the second set. Home, of course, being a friend's house: on Thursday night I was lucky enough to be able to crash a Laurie's parents house in Montford (hello, king sized bed all to myself!) and then I was on to Sarah's, and then Lauren's.

My life has been peppered with chance visits to cheap massage joints-- not the happy ending kind, of course, but the student type-- and I had long been meaning to try out the Cosmic Groove, home of the $29 massage. Sarah and I got hopelessly lost last time we tried to go and ended up driving from Brevard all the way into Asheville, missing our appointments, and having sushi instead. It was dang good sushi, but didn't leave my shoulders all nice and warm and loose (but the sake sure did! Ha!) so I waited patiently for my next opportunity. Which was yesterday. So I went. AND IT WAS SUPERLATIVE. The best, best massage I've had in a very long time, if not ever-- and my therapist's name was Jess, which made it somehow all the better. Go see her. She's the jam.

After my massage, though, the weird headache that I've had on and off for a couple weeks now came back intensely strong. It started, like I said, a few weeks ago, but I only felt it when I lowered my head under heart-level, like when bending down to pick something up or leaning forward. The worst clamping down sort of pressure floods into my temples and forehead, instantly, and it feels like it sort of rushes in like liquid. Blood? I can feel my pulse acutely in my temples, but I supposedly have low blood pressure so I don't know. Anyway, it comes and goes, and after the massage it was the worst it's been so far. (My neck and shoulders felt great, though). Fortunately, Sarah was also feeling under the weather and I went over to her new place in West-ish Asheviile to do a long overdue music swap and watch an inspiring documentary and read magazines (me) and nap (her). After that I shook myself off, steeled my head and went to Earth Fare to meet up with Lauren.

There is something so incredibly gratifying in being with your best friend. The conversations that build on all those that have come before; the knowing of someone; the excitement at rediscovering all the little connections and similarities and examining the differences... cheesy alert: it truly feeds my soul. We had a bite at the Earth fare cafe and I did some last minute shopping for vitamins and whatnot (important to do while in the company of someone who gets an employee discount) and then we went to Bookopolis. Oh, so many amazing works of the hand and mind. Seriously, it was both inspiring and humbling and made me all the more excited to get into a book arts class in the next few months. I want to make our wedding book, where people write nice things.. what is that thing called? Guestbook! Ah.

From Bookopolis, we went on to the home of some of Lauren & Evan's friends who have a handbuilt wood fired pizza oven in their backyard. Despite the constant drizzle, we made some weird but satisfying pizzas (tuna with a raw egg cracked on top and spread out, which then was cooked until both the crust and the egg were soft and supple; pear, bacon, and gruyere; and my creation, good old pesto with feta on top). After eating until, at midnight, we were almost uncomfortable, L & E dropped me off at their house to sleep and they went out dancing until the wee hours. I woke up on this auspicious day in my best friend's bed, stumbled out to her covered porch and read home improvement books while the morning rain cooled everything down. When she woke up we made smoothies (apple slices, spirulina, blackberry frozen yogurt, frozen grapes and banana, and a dash of almond butter) and I finally, finally turned my car southwestward.

To Be Continued...

21 September, 2009

My thoughts/name exactly

The other Jessica Kaufman's wedding favors, from Fig and Plum blog

So, it recently came to my attention that the creator of one of the first crafty blogs I started reading, years ago, Fig and Plum, not only has my exact same first and last name, spelling and all, but is also a fantastic writer and doer of cool things. She recently got married, and if you're at all interested in DIY weddings, or craftiness in general, or weddings in general, go read this recent post of hers. I just found myself nodding and saying "uh huh!" out loud. Plus, HOW MUCH WOULD YOU LOVE ONE OF THOSE BAGS? Sorry, wedding-goers, I am not making those. I'll make... um... something else cool.

19 September, 2009

September, please slow the heck down!

And again, it's been a month since posting. The other night I was lying wide awake in bed at a quarter past 1, and was almost motivated enough to sneak over to the laptop to post, but I didn't want to disturb my sweet sleeping companion. This week it's become way too clear that while leaving to live at the Folk School has many, many, positive points, one major negative is not seeing Kenny for two months. (I think that since there are no classes during Thanksgiving week, we hosts will be able to leave... I have no idea, though. If not, it'll have to be three months.)

We've gone that long before, not seeing each other, but it's tough. I keep looking over at him and noticing all the beautiful, sweet things about him all over again... but this post is not meant for mush! No! Be gone, sentiment, and let's have a packing list.

Things I need to remember to put in my car before the big drive (I'm reading this from the back of the Folk School catalog because lately I have been carrying it around with me EVERYWHERE):
-fabric stash
-yarn stash and needles and notions and works in progress and oh my god, the ENTIRE KNITTING CABINET (it's not like there isn't an amazing yarn shop in the next town over, but I'm not trying to spend money twice, you know what I mean?)
-big blue exercise/stretching ball
-yoga mat
-box of clay materials
-box of glass materials (this is in Charlotte, I'm picking it up)
-hoops, hoop tape and tools
-bag of polymer clay tools
-a few favorite mugs
-my tea stash

This does not even include clothing. Toiletries. Shoes. Cold weather gear. Computer & accessories. MY accessories. Books. Last time I moved somewhere for 6 months it was to Saigon, and I was limited to what US Air would allow me to take (i.e. a suitcase and a carry-on). I am so glad we now have two cars and I can drive one to the Folk School. THANK YOU, MARY HIRSCH!!

I think I've just overwhelmed myself. More tomorrow, because it's Sunday and I don't have to babysit or go to school. I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to the kiddies. We've got such an amazing group this year... why couldn't I have taken 6 months off last year?!

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr