Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Looking Back - OR - Catching Up in Three Easy Installments: Pt. Deux

Cabin Fever Reliever XI
February 17 - 20, 2011
SO... The catching up continues with a look at one of the most enjoyable learning experiences I have ever had *absolutely NO offense intended to the many other teachers/venues I have visited and enjoyed!*  I think that what made my first adventure at the Pocosin Folk Arts School "Cabin Fever Reliever XI" such a unique and memorable experience was the total immersion in my chosen media (bookbinding).  I had the extreme pleasure of spending four *yes, FOUR* whole days, gloriously fondling/manipulating paper into fabulous book forms!  The retreat is an annual event, and this year was the 11th incarnation.  I have my dear friend, Jean Skipper, to thank for even knowing about this event; and a kinder deed has not been done to me, of late!

The lovely Jean Skipper at our evening picnic
in The Brickhouse Inn
There were three of us subscribed for the adventure:  me, Jean, and Toni.  We set out the day before, and over-nighted in beautiful, historic Columbia, NC so that we would arrive bright-eyed and well-rested for all the fun in store.  We stayed at an absolutely lovely Bed & Breakfast (The Brickhouse Inn); and were able to take in some of the sights of downtown Columbia before heading out to the Eastern 4-H Environmental Education Conference Center for registration/check-in.  We went a little crazy at the old fashioned hardware store, downtown (who can resist the musty confines of a good, old hardware store!?!)...  Despite my well-intentioned preparedness *camera?  check!  spare battery?  check!*, I took precious few photos during our adventures ~>:-?  Not because there wasn't plenty to take in; but more because I lost myself in the wonderment of having nothing but my greatest artistic love to nurture!  I am hoping that my continued dedication to maintaining this blog will also aid in being a better documentarian of the incredible experiences that I have *hey, a girl can dream!

Eye candy at the hardware store
Everything about the retreat was fabulous:  my class, the classes that I observed others enjoy (Jean took an Art Marketing class from the genius of that realm, Thomas Mann; and Toni spent four days metal-smithing with the world-renowned Bob Ebendorf *of note is that the distinguished Sir Ebendorf is a professor at ECU*), the meals, the studio time (available 24 hours a day!), the incredible people!  It really was an amazing thing *sigh!* -- so much so that I find it hard to believe that it really happened!  My class, "Beautifully Bound", was lead by Lisa Beth Robinson -- an AMAZING instructor.  Even more amazing:  she teaches at ECU (East Carolina University) -- yep, yep, yep, the very same school that is currently educating The Girl!  Lisa Beth is an incredible book artist; and I was lucky enough to win a piece of her work in the silent auction that ran during the course of the event *w00t!*  I also had the pleasure of meeting a most amazing jewelry artist:  Tim Lazure.  He was in the bookbinding class; but in 'real life' he is an Associate Professor of Metals Design at... *wanna guess?*  ECU!  Serendipity abounds!  He makes the most beautiful tools!  I am now the proud owner of an awl, a scribe, and a slobber-worthy set of rivet setting tools.  *Oh, yeah -- there was shopping involved, TOO!

Where is your Muse leading you?
I feel like the work I created in my four days at CFR XI was among the best I have ever done.  There is something truly magical about being able to fully embrace doing something that you love.  Meals?  All we had to do was be at the dining hall on time (and, BONUS, the food was really good)!  Accommodations?  We bunked in a suite that housed the three of us, and a new friend (who was also in the class that Toni was taking), Mary Frances.  I spent every night but one in the studio, working until 12:30 or 1:00 in the morning.  The only *well, not the only, but another* damper on the long weekend was the ongoing (nee, just beginning) recovery from my accident -- I was working slower than I normally do, so I made up time by taking advantage of the open ended hours for studio time.  In addition to those pictured, I also have: one work *still* in progress, and completed a small Blizzard book *an 'apple' for the teacher - lol,* one folded structure that was a warm up exercise (many thanks to the spectacular Kiki for the mapping exercises and inspiring poetry!), and a new *to me* folded structure that was our final project together (The Turkish Map Fold -- way, way cool) -- so, there is always more!

My beautiful little darlings!
Italian Long Stitch, Sewn on Tapes, Stiff Leaf Binding,
and Double Pamphlet
Day-time was dedicated to class work; and in the evenings we enjoyed (if we could tear ourselves away from the work-tables) a BYOB Happy Hour *I think I made it to one!?!* before dinner.  Following dinner, we enjoyed presentations from each of the instructors, two each night.  What a TREAT!  We got to hear how they came to "be" in their respective disciplines, learn about their travels in pursuit of their specialties, and enjoy a glimpse at the work that inspired them.  Again:  Incredible!

The most amazing part of all of this was the palpable sense of community among the attendees -- the vast majority of whom had never met before.  Oh, yes, there were long time supporters of the event; but easily as many 'newbies' as 'old hands'...  Regardless the camp that one fell into, the sense of comfort, interest, and just plain 'niceness' was evident throughout the weekend.  Heck, it was the day before we left to go home that I realized that I had been chatting up the Director of the Pocosin Folk Arts School like an old chum since day one!?!

Four Day Family

Retreats are often the gateways to new friendships, and *ideally* a source for solid learning in one's chosen area(s).  This one managed to be all that and MORE!  My hearty, albeit belated, thanks to the Pocosin staff and the army of volunteers that banded together to make this such a wonderful and enriching experience!

Bookbinding Buddies!
Back Row (l-r):  Maia, Lisa Beth, Kiki, Maura
Front Row (l-r):  Tim, Val, Yours Truly

...*whew!*  that felt good!  One more stop on the "way back" machine, and we will arrive in real-time (for a day or two, anyway - HA!).  Until we meet again, I will leave you with the words of a remarkable young lady:  "Think Happy Thoughts!"

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:

"It is from books
that wise men derive consolation
from the troubles of life."
                                                          - Victor Hugo

Photo Notes:  
   My apologies for the lack of photo info, this go 'round!  The scale at the hardware store,  book grouping and the class picture were taken with my camera:  Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - but, for the life of me, I cannot tell you who took photo of our class (?)
   The PFAS logo and the group shot were shamelessly lifted from their Facebook page.  
   The beautiful photo of the amazing Jean was taken by the equally amazing Toni (with an iPhone).


  1. This sounds like so much fun! Love your books: love, love, love them.


  2. Penny, you are one crazy woman! Sounds like a fabulous retreat for you, Jean and Toni! Thanks for the insight. You are amazing...

  3. Thanks, ladies! I will eventually get the hang of this 'blogging thing' and *fingers crossed* won't constantly be 'catching up!' I appreciate you keeping up with me ;-)

  4. What an absolutely beautiful post, Penny! Thank you for helping me to relive my memories of this glorious weekend.

    On one hand, I treasure absolutely every minute of it, and on the other, I can hardly believe that I was ever really there. :-)

  5. Thanks, Jean!

    I am right there with you! As sweet as the memories are, I also find it hard to believe that it actually happened...

  6. Hi Penny, Great Blog! It was fun meeting you at Pocosin and I hope we can do it again next year. Let me know if you come to the OBX.

    (The girl who forgot her make that "The Leaf Lady"!

  7. Georgia!
    Thanks SO much for stopping by :-) it was great meeting YOU @ Pocosin; and a special treat to see your beautiful work!
    Better "the Leaf Lady" than "the Log Lady" - LOL!


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