Written by: Cindy Hoppe, SCC Board Chair & fibre artist
I have been working at my craft for many years. I know I need a kick in the pants now and then, but I am not going to let myself suffer at the hands of another ego either. Rita St. Amant and I happened to be side by side at WinterGreen in November and I suggested a winter get away to help our work get better. After all it is a Dimensions year and I want something the best it can be going into that process.
My first and most important mentor and supporter was my mom, Myrna Harris. She would pack up her felt work once a year and make the trek from Landis to Disley and hang out with Martha Cole. She and Martha took a felting workshop together previously and that’s where they made the connection. As well as the fact that the fibre art world is pretty small and if you have an interest in it you know who the people are.
We checked with Martha in the new year and found a date that worked for all of us. Rita and I each brought work with us and also wanted to pick Martha’s brain about presentation, that bug bear of all craftspeople. You have worked uncountable hours on something that you feel is your best work ever and then that final process of giving it the best setting to show it off lets you down because you don’t have the skill, perspective, or the experience of a master framer to show it at its best.
Martha is a skilled teacher with a great eye. She also has a philosophy of building people up rather than getting kicks out of crushing lesser artistic life forms. We spent the morning finding ways to push our work further; tweaks that could take something ‘all right’ to the next level and pin pointing major blind spots that maybe we were avoiding because we were stuck. Martha shares and shares. Opens possibilities that one working away on their own, forever in their little rut, feels that yes, that might just take me to new and interesting places.
She showed us new styles of presentation; to perhaps leave the quilt hanging sleeve system behind. Maybe they will be the answer, maybe not, but she has just finished a retrospective show year, and has had lots of recent experience to share. Martha also gave us permission to do more of seeking out good teachers. She recounted that she has often phoned up people whose work she admires and taken their workshops or asked to visit them. She travels once a year to join BC quilt artists for her own workshop experience where they get together for a week and give each other encouragement and feedback.
We had a very full day with Martha, and I now have some exciting directions to pursue. Martha herself enjoys this kind of thing because she loves to see what others are working on and enthusiastically shares whatever passion she is working on in that moment. We stayed overnight in Regina and then paid Martha the rate she established when we asked her what she wanted for this kind of a day. It was well worth it and I just thought I would write about our experience, share it, and perhaps give others permission to take it up a notch. Rita and I are already making plans to do this again. Here’s to your own excellent adventure in the pursuit of making your work better.