frenchtown fiber

Chris Mundy and Kate House try to make art while navigating the crap life throws at them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Peter's Valley: Day One

I left my house at 6:15 am Saturday. I could have gone the night before, and maybe I should have, but the night before I was up until at least midnight, loading the car with boxes of fabric-n-stuff. I can never get over how heavy my sewing machine is. I left that morning with NO coffee in me. Painful, but better than having to find places to pee five times during the trip.
I went up the Pennsylvania side, and crossed over the Delaware River at the Dingman's Ferry Bridge. It is an iron bridge with a wooden roadbed and these guys are standing there with their hands out to take the one dollar toll. Later on someone mentioned to me that it is the only remaining privately owned bridge in the country. Of course I had to look that up when I got home. Not entirely true, but almost. Check this link out if you would like to read about how many times the bridge washed away before someone finally built a decent one!
I arrived at Peter's Valley at 8:10. My class started at 9, so I had time to figure everything out. I stopped at the office, but it was closed. There was a sign that directed you to room assignments on a bulletin board. Really, what I wanted was coffee. There was also a map, so I was able to find the food house. I say food house, because Peter's Valley is in a small village that was purchased by the Parks Department. (It is in the middle of Delaware Water Gap National Rec Area) So everything is in one of the old houses. There I met the food Nazi. This guy waits at the door to make sure you are on the list. If not, you need to pay. I signed up for the complete food plan, but alas, I was not on the list. There was a "Chris Murphy" on the list who had not yet gotten their breakfast, so I suggested that there might have been a mistake. He grudgingly allowed me a cup of coffee and a bagel. By that time the office was opened, so I went to sign in. Chris Mundy was on this list, phew! Then it was on to the fiber studio, which was on "Thunder Mountain Road," a dirt road that went on for a mile and a half. They had amusing little signs that cheered you on.

There were 8 women in my class, from many different backgrounds. We were all asked to introduce ourselves, which is pretty standard in these classes. I mentioned that I had a blog, and Mary said she had seen it. I find that to be amazing. How small the cyber world is! She googled the name of the class and found my posts about it.

Mary was my favorite person. She was a pharmaceutical rep living in NYC and you could see she had an enormous amount of energy and was interested in everything. She was a certified beer taster (!) and was now educating herself about wine. She had taken many different art courses and knew something about everything. I loved talking to her.

After introductions, we were given a list of action words and told to do these things to 10" squares of fabric. Some examples were burn, tear, layer, and pleat. The teacher, Barbara Schulman, was trying to push us to do things we might not normally do. We hung all that up on a wall and talked about it.

Then it was time to make transfers. We spread gel medium on laser prints and magazine pages, the pressed them on to fabric. We let them dry overnight, soaked them in water and rubbed the paper off. The image was left on the fabric. We also spread layers and layers of gel medium on laser prints and magazine pictures, and the just soaked the paper off of that. You ended up with something of a decal. I had limited success with this method. It was very humid and things dried very slowly. After I soaked off the paper, my decals dried weird, like potato chips. I will try that again sometime.

While waiting for gel medium to dry, I was digging around in my stash and pulled out a bleach pen. I've had this thing for a few months, and had never used it. I drew on some denim patches I had leftover from a project. I left the bleach on while we went to dinner. The studio opens again in the evening. When I came back, it had dried to a crust. I just washed it off and I had neat designs.
At 10 pm they throw you out of the studio, so it was time to check out the living arrangements. I signed up a for dorm style room, which meant I had to share. There were so few people staying this particular week, that none of us had to share, hooray!! Good thing, I had 3 beds in my room, ick.

The house where I lived is very old. Old, like when you go in you can smell the old-ness. I just adore old houses, I don't care how funky they are. I've lived in a few, so ancient bathrooms don't confront me. Peter's Valley largely survives on grants and donations, so the place was filled with a lively mix of dreadful and interesting furniture. My mattress was particularly interesting. George Washington may have slept on it. You can either rent sheets and pillowcases, or bring your own. I was going to bring a sleeping bag, but came upon the quilt I made for my wedding. (the first wedding) I took that. It is in such rough shape that I don't even use it any more. It was a nice old friend to have along. I went to sleep to the sound of PING PING PING coming from the blacksmith shop, that is in barns behind the house. (Those guys never stop) and a gurgling brook.

Stay tuned for DAY 2!!!!

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