Our trip to Nashville, IN
July 31st-August 2nd we were in Nashville, IN for the annual SeatWeavers Guild Gathering. It was my first year as a member and first year attending. My dad was a member early on in it's creation, but never made it to any meetings. Working with a "lost art" it can be a pretty solitary experience day-to-day and I was excited to meet other professional weavers in the flesh.
And we're off!
Traveling with me was my husband and baby wrangler Jason and our 6 1/2 month old daughter Mina. This was our first trip as a family of three and Mina's first time riding in the car for more than a half hour. So like all first time parents we packed all of Babies'R'Us and off we went! She was very good and slept most of the 3.5 hours and sang when she was awake.
Getting to sleep at the hotel was a little touch and go, but we all have trouble settling into a bed that is not our own. Mina settled into the middle of the king size bed, baby limbs all akimbo, after she decided the Pack'n'Play wasn't satisfactory. Meanwhile Mom and Dad clung onto opposite edges of the bed. This weekend I ran on adrenaline!
The entrance to Brown County State Park is directly through this lovely covered bridge. Every time we traveled back and forth from the hotel and the lodge we got to hear the click clack of the wood floor of the bridge as we drove across. Mina's eyes would immediately open wide and look all around in the sudden darkness.
Abe Martin Lodge at Brown County State Park - Indiana
We arrived at Andy & Amanda Dick's home in Brownstown, IN just in time for a delicious dinner and our first time meeting, in person, other weavers I have known online from all over the country. Then headed to Nashville to check into our hotel.
Once in the park the drive took us up into the hills through a tunnel of trees, winding our way around the park until we came to the lodge.
Note to self: plan ahead and stay at the lodge. Bring a bathing suit and hit the indoor mini water park with hot tubs and slides!
So here we are! Ready to learn and meet new faces! OK, Mina was ready to teethe on her Darth Vader doll.
You Can Do This: Basic through advanced techniques in Wicker Restoration with Jill Woods
If caning is a "lost art" then wicker repair is an endangered species. Many of us who do weaving repair don't have time, space, or extensive knowledge of wicker repair. So to find anyone that is doing it is a gem and Jill Woods is the Hope Diamond. She has extensive knowledge and years of experience and offers intensive classes at her workshop in Michigan.
Jill demonstrates how to reproduce a wicker spiral.
Jill brought many, many examples of all different kinds of wicker- willow, fiber, Lloyd Loom, and more.
She extensively went into her tool arsenal and unique wicker repair uses for many different tools and items previously unrelated to wicker repair.
Bringing Creativity to the Seven Step Process with Wayne Sharp
Wayne won the prize for the most hands-on session demonstrating ways to weave creative patterns into traditional hand caning. Oversize template and ribbon so that the whole room could see his demo.
Our pre-made (and pre-soaked strands!) sample to try Wayne's technique.
Weaving Seats With Natural Rush with Cathryn Peters
This section I was particularly interested in. I've always wanted to see natural rush weaving done in person. Cathryn spoke about the difference between bulrush and cattails, how to glean them, store and prepare them for weaving. I would LOVE to do this if I had space!
And then she demonstrated how to weave a rushed seat with the materials. Edge. Of. My. Seat!
And then Cathryn invited anyone who wanted to give weaving with natural rush a try to come up and add to the weaving with cattail or bulrush.
Weaving Seats with Fiber Rush with Bill Brick
Hypothetical situation: I'm told I have to pick one technique I do and never, ever do it again.
My answer: Without a breath of hesitation, rushing.
It is monotonous, hard on the hands and body, and the only part I enjoy is walking away from a finished seat. But the chairs are lovely, the customers are happy, and it is a pretty substantial source of work. This seemed to also be the sentiment of many in the group.
Bill Brick, on the other hand, churns these puppies out! And had some great tips to share including his swivel stand he made for himself (below).
One of Bill's tricks of speeding up the rushing process (we thought it was going to be a magic trick) was his wife with the coil of material going ahead of him and doing the wrapping around the 4 corners while he put the rushing into place. Kind of a let down of a magic trick if you ask me- I was expecting smoke and mirrors! Heehee!
If I had to name this maneuver it would probably be "The Marriage Breaker" or the "Call the Divorce Attorney". In my mind having my spouse try and wrap the rushing while I'm putting into place falls somewhere between my husband and I trying to put a tent together without instructions and strategically backing a 26' Uhaul truck. But somehow the Brick team makes it work! They even look like they are having a good time!
Creative Uses for Leftover Materials with Jo Rusin
Sweet southern Mississippi belle Jo Rusin talked a lot about dying weaving materials and other non traditional materials to spice up the mundane day to day work. With wit and personality she explained the process of dying with Rit dye and gave some examples of weaving some color into her work.
Here are some examples of using dyed cane that I particularly enjoyed (by Cathryn Peters):
Newly elected officials at the member's meeting
Weaving A Medallion Back Chair with Suzan Diaz
I am sorry to say I did not make this 7:30am session as I have a baby to nurse, but here are two lovely medallions she used in her demonstrations.
Tip and Tools with anyone with tips and tools!
During this session anyone with a tip or tool could share with the group. (I wish I would have known- I would have brought a few of my favorite non-traditional tools that help get the job done) Cathryn Peters brought adjustable frames that are stands to hold cane or rush seats that need to be removed from the chair to complete. She had them made for her by a local wood worker.
Panel discussion on Running A Successful Caning Business For Fun and Profit
I am really sorry to say I could not stay for this one- was super excited to see what Bill Brick, Cathryn Peters, Dave Klingler, and Brandy Clements had to say- great to hear other perspectives and ideas, but we needed to get on the road with baby in tow.
Chair exhibit - Seatweaving Through the Ages
These chairs were brought by members from all over the country and displayed many different types of weaving and materials. Anytime I had a few minutes I could walk over and check out the chairs and talk to the people who did them or collected them. And touch them! And turn them over! That is my kind of exhibit!
And a little family time too...
We got to have a little bit of family time in between sessions. It was nice to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful day we had on Saturday- cooler with a nice breeze.
Special thanks to my husband for taking over baby wrangling for the weekend so I could attend the events. Runner up MVP- all the rockers on the front porch of our hotel.
Annnnnd we may have stopped at Ikea...
...on the way home through Cincinnati. Picked up some baby stuff, kitchen rugs, and lots of containers to help better organize my supplies. And some Swedish meatballs for our tummies!
And we brought home...
...an original Thonet child's rocker we bought from Silver River Center for Chair Caning (thanks Brandy and Dave!), some door prizes, and a hand made tool made from an umbrella part and wood from a broken chair (thanks Linda Sippel!).
We had a great time! Made some new friends and connections, learned some new tips and techniques, and have come out the other end re-energized and ready to dive back into my work. We are hoping to make it to the 2016 gathering in Asheville, NC.
8/4/2015 09:30:36 am
Thanks so much for this wonderful synopsis, Emily! It was a delight to meet you and your family. Hope to see you again next year.
8/9/2015 12:57:18 pm
Really wonderful synopsis of the really great experience we had there. Wish could find a way for every member that couldn't make it to enjoy this as much as I did. Great work
8/11/2015 03:26:43 am
What a wonderful blog post Emily, chronicling your first trip to one of our TSWG Gatherings! We are so happy to count you as a new member and having your hubby and cute, happy baby daughter there too, was an added bonus for us all. Thank you! Hope to see more of your great work in the future.
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E Emza Uphill