Happy Times

Happy times

I just returned from a Caribbean quilting cruise we sponsored where fellow friends and artists including Lesley Riley and Laura Cater-Woods taught. Although as a sponsor I didn’t take classes, the trip afforded me the chance to simply sit still for a few days and enjoy the company of fellow quilters, my husband, and my in-laws.

While downloading loads of pictures from the trip onto my computer I stumbled upon a photograph taken last year at a “Double Trouble” retreat with Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn. In January 2005, I took a week off from work and flew to Atlanta, Georgia for a seven-day stitching retreat. Mary Fisher and I went together, and it was the most fun I’d ever had away from home.  About twenty of us stitched in one room, working from 9:00- 4:30, with stitching exercises and individual critiques by Jan and Jean given throughout each day. After class ended each afternoon, Mary and I drove back to our cottage where we continued to stitch until late at night, watching Dominick Dunne and Court TV.

One day while stitching, a fellow student remarked to me that she had to take my picture. “If you could just see yourself right now—you are totally relaxed!” she said.  She was so right—I adore this photograph because I’m in my element, surrounded by incredible friends and artists (Mary Fisher is across from me, Jan Beaney at the head of the table) and draped with my favorite hand-dyed fabrics and threads.

  This was taken the third day into the retreat (it took me that long to decompress and relax enough to get into a creative zone). The retreat was focused and intense as we learned new stitching techniques and worked assiduously on small stitched samplers, and on the last day, compiled the samplers into an accordion-style book.

The retreat experience was so incredible, I truly wonder if I could ever repeat that same level of joy as I did that week (but I certainly hope so).

So I ask you: Is there a favorite memory you have at a fiber, mixed-media, or collage retreat? Or perhaps you organized an informal art weekend with friends? What made the experience so joyful for you?