Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Design Outside the Lines in Ashland October 2016

This was my second DOL retreat once again conveniently timed to be the week before the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Now I get to fly to America for two weeks of creativity not just one which is such a luxury and privilege not to be wasted.

Whilst every retreat is different I had more of an idea what to expect this time, feeling more relaxed when planning the trip and suitcase contents.  I didn't take a lot on the basis that I could get everything I needed with a bit of shopping at Britex in San Francisco or in Ashland itself.  This decision helped with the luggage allowance on the way to America but did necessitate the use of my second bag from Ashland to Houston (and back to New Zealand).

Spending four days with Diane Ericson and guest tutor Marla Kazell ( was wonderful such a learning experience. Even being around the other DOLies provides an opportunity for growth as we all come from such different places joined by the common thread of sewing creatively. Once again Gwen Spencer provided invaluable assistance, generously sharing her vast experience and knowledge of techniques.

Diane's refashioned pink jacket
Koos collage jacket by Marla
Diane is a real force of nature and able to create something different for everyone. When I grow up I want to be like Diane able to think outside the box, combining fabrics and techniques into fabulous garments. Even Diane's teaching format of having guest teachers successfully combines different styles of creativity into a learning environment for growth. Just loved Diane's idea of the parts of possibility - bits that are created with no future in mind but have possibility.

Lots more inspiration can be found on Diane's website

Each day contained some tutoring time with Diane and Marla showing us amazing techniques - adding possibility pieces to your garments; painting on fabric; manipulating fabric; shaped welt pockets; bound buttonholes with a difference; fabric collage in the Koos style. We had the time to try the techniques for ourselves or continue with something else. Both Diane and Marla were always available to provide coaching and support.

A creative consult with Diane (on the left)
You get out of these retreats whatever you want. For me it was an opportunity to relax and absorb ideas with like minded women.  It was important that I didn't put pressure on myself to complete something and that I allowed myself the time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the surrounding environment. I had an all round awesome experience that fed my creativity and energy levels.  With the added bonus of meeting new people and making friends.

I am still a neat freak and find it difficult to let go.  This time I tried combining different fabrics into a new fabric without too much thought of where they would appear in a finished garment.  Whilst I happily chopped fabrics and put them on a backing I don't think the exercise was entirely a success as I can't imagine actually finishing the piece and making something from it.

My new fabric showing the crease marks from its time rolled up
I do however have a Cacicedo coat (one of Diane's patterns) fermenting in my head using a combination of fabrics and techniques from this retreat. I was also very taken with one of Diane's Ventana jackets which may result in an interpretation by me one day or maybe a River tunic.

Diane's Ventana jacket
Ashland is a potentially expensive town to visit with its seductive shopping environment - The Websters the wonderful yarn shop; Sew Creative the local quilt shop; button and bead sellers, second hand shops, shoe shops etc. This is a town that caters to the creative.

Lots of places to eat (and drink). Even if you go to DOL on your own you are never alone, there is always someone to have dinner with and chat to. This trip I even got to experience a play at the famous Ashland Shakespeare Festival.

And then there is the free colour study opportunity with a wander through the amazing Lithia Park.

Having seen the class list for 2017 I would love to be able to go back to Ashland next Autumn but may have to wait for 2018.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great opportunity to enjoy the creative journey. I'm quite taken by the Ventana jacket as well.