This is the biggest retreat I have attended. About 125 polymer-passionate folks work in one room. Each one gets a 6-foot table for all their ‘stuff’. This is the first retreat I have attended where everyone works on their own thing, at their own pace with a lot of visiting, chatting and sharing going on. Formal demos are scheduled. Optional workshops at the beginning and end of the week-long event are available.
As you walk into the room to set up your table, the energy is buzzing!
I started my week with a workshop on slab building vessels with Helen Wyland- Malchow. What an experience! She is, first of all, a great teacher. She made us think, elevated our art vocabulary and helped us through problem solving and design issues. She encouraged us to walk-about the room to see the work of others (not just focus on our work). The absolute best part of the class was a critical review session of each vessel by the whole class. Everyone saw things from different points of view and shared their suggestions in a kind, constructive way. The ideas were amazing and it was wonderful to get out of your own head for a while!
One part of the event was a ‘Junque’ table. People donated things for the table that they no longer wanted or needed. It was all piled onto 5 or 6 long tables and covered with cloths. Everyone lined up at least three people deep along the tables when it was time to unveil the stash. The frenzy was fun to watch. Everyone seemed to balance their aggressiveness and kindness nicely!! I managed to steer clear since I had no extra space in my luggage.
Then there was the raffle/auction. Over 250 items were donated that ranged from individual silk screens to sample boxes of clay to gorgeous finished jewelry to tools, like a full-sized Lucy slicer!! You purchased tickets at $1.00 each and placed them in a cup next to the item you wanted. Tickets were then drawn from each cup for a winner. What a rowdy and competitive group!!
I won 4 things, woo-hoo! My winnings included a set of bangles from Corliss Rose of 2 Roses Studio Jewelry, a pair of Louise Fischer Cozzi earrings, an inro tutorial from Deb Hart, and two fun bracelets that both the donor and artist was unknown (or at least not labeled).
I did venture out from the retreat to Atlantic City to have dinner, walk on the boardwalk and see the shore. I think it has seen better days. But that beach! I can see that as the main attraction in the warmer months.
All in all, it was a great trip. The week went by in a blink. I got to see friends, recognized lots of faces from other events and met some new people along the way . . . . all wonderful. The polymer community really is a nice group of folks!! Special thanks to the volunteers that make this event happen!!!