Thursday, March 16, 2017

What I Did at Asilomar

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” 
― Maya Angelou

When Andrea and I went to Asilomar in Pacific Grove, CA, we attended a Fiber Arts Seminar called "Empty Spools". Empty Spools has been around for thirty-four years and Asilomar for longer than that.  I have given you links to both websites if you want more information.

My teacher was Melinda Bula, a fabulous fiber artist who has won many awards for her art.  She was very knowledgeable and fun!  Her specialty is landscape quilts and BIG flowers...the same technique used in both.  I was interested in the landscapes as I have a jillion pictures from various trips that I would love to recreate in fabric. So here we go!

The first thing I had to do was to select my picture. Then I had to take it to Kinkos to get it enlarged. I decided to enlarge mine to a 30" x 32" size. And this enlargement along with a whole suitcase filled with fabric and other needed supplies boarded the plane with me.

My picture .... From the  Silverton to Durango train along the Animas River in Colorado
My enlargement in black and white

Step one: determine horizons and areas of color/value
Step two: pin backing fabric (muslin) on foam board and begin to "audition" fabrics for large areas.
Step three: begin to add fusible fabrics to areas (another student is working right next to me).
We were to bring a big variety of fabric in all values because that is how to get the depth and perspective in the landscapes.  We also were to bring 25 yards of Steam a Seam which is a fusible one irons onto the back of the fabric, then can cut to any shape needed.  There is a paper back on the fusible; once it is peeled off you can stick it to your background and move it when needed.  It is not permanently stuck until  you iron it on. I thought surely 25 yards was a mistake so I emailed Melinda to see if she really meant 5 instead!  But, no...and she was right! I have already used a bit less than four yards and am far from done!!

This is my workspace...there were three of us at the same station. Mine is over by my board.
We each had our own table and boards to work on.  We shared the ironing areas to adhere the fusible, etc. There were 14 of us...most from California, but a couple others from other from Hawaii who comes every year and stays for two sessions...a different teacher/class for the second week.
Continuing to add starting to create rocks!
I didn't like where my water background was going so I peeled it off, put on another base of fabric and started to add foamy water.  I could line my rocks up along the edge of my work to place whenever I wanted at a later time.
When ever I needed to back off from looking at the big picture, I would just make more rocks from the fabric I had, combining values and textures to get the right look.  I have a LOT of rocks to make.
A close up of the beginning of water and ripples.
I chose to start in this corner of the picture because one of the things that Melinda is really good at is water!  I wanted her to guide me in how to create that foamy look and ripples.  I figured I could do the trees on my own when I got back home!
A closeup of my rocks and starting of water.
And another closeup with a subtle difference.
And that is about as far as I have gotten with this "Masterpiece"!  Today, I am going to Office Max to get a foam board.  I didn't want to fold my work so far up so I found a mailing tube and rolled it up to mail home.  I haven't even unwrapped it yet because I haven't been home long enough to work on it!

I know this probably doesn't look like much yet but hopefully in time it will develop into what I want it of look like.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

I wanted to add one more the end of the day, after dinner and our walk, we would go to the Main Building Assembly Hall and listen to all the various teachers give a little talk about what they do.  And there would be a little show and tell of people who had attended in years past as well as any announcements for all. There were some there who have been coming every year for a long time.  One woman was the charter member...had not missed one year in 34 years!

General Assembly Hall at architectural beauty of its own!


  1. Amazing work Jaye. Looks like so much fun!

  2. Did you know that the international convocation of UU women met at Asilomar the week before? I didn't go but it was on my radar. Your fiber art piece looks good. I was on that train ride in Durango just a few months ago!

    1. I did not know that! Is that an annual event? Have you been to Asilomar? Big place...several things going on at the same time.

  3. I love Asilomar! Alas, I haven't been able to afford it for a couple of years. Melinda showed some of the classwork on her FB page, I was impressed! I love the area of your photograph and my husband and I are hoping to get back to that area this summer. My biggest regret from my CA years was not taking Melinda's class at a local guild for $25 when she was just starting to teach.

  4. I can't wait to see this piece in person! It looks like you had a fabulous time at Asilomar.

  5. Another gorgeous piece, Jaye Dodds! And such an interesting technique. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Sorry I missed you -- I was there the week of March 3-8 taking a workshop with Valerie Goodwin! (it's a lot closer for me, and I can just stick the suitcase full of fabric in the back of the car...) Can't wait to see the finished artwork.

  7. great news! joy