Friday, May 8, 2015

Teaching coast to coast

From Cape Cod…
to the Monterey Peninsula
I’ve recently returned from a coast-to-coast teaching trip. I taught April 21-24 in Cape Cod, MA, and then flew all the way across the country to teach April 26 - May 1 at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar in California. I got to see some beautiful places, and I dipped my toes in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean within about 24 hours. Then I rushed back on the red-eye from Los Angeles to Charlotte to get back in time for my daughter’s senior prom.

Here are some shots I took on Cape Cod, where it was chilly but clear and lovely, the water was a million shades of royal blue to teal, and the daffodils were in bloom:

But I also was struggling with an infection in my jaw, which turned out to be caused by a molar gone bad (and required a root canal when I got home). Luckily, I had some help from Ro Morrissey, who was supposed to accompany me to see the Edward Gorey house on Saturday morning, but instead got me to an emergency dentist and the pharmacy before she put me on the bus to Logan airport in Boston. (Thanks, Ro!)

The dentist in Cape Cod couldn’t see anything on the x-ray, but suspected an infection caused by a bad tooth, and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and told me to take 3 Motrin every 5-6 hours.

In my years of teaching, I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s necessary to lean on the folks who are sponsoring you – in ways you did not intend to have to do. That’s when you find out just how kind and accommodating quilters are. And you have some good stories to tell in the end, no matter how unpleasant or embarrassing the actual event was. (Ask me about the time I got a horrific diarrhea bug while teaching in Atlanta. Actually … don’t ask me. You really don’t want to know.)

Here are members of the Bayberry Quilters of Cape Cod who took my Wholecloth Painting – Botanicals class. Beautiful work!

I also got the chance to have dinner with the immensely talented Melissa Averinos, (she paints, writes and illustrates craft books, designs quilting fabric, and makes quilts) whom I’d last met years before at Quilt Market. She took me to a local hangout for a wonderful fish dinner and a tasty piece of blueberry pie. 

After taking the bus to Logan airport, I took a whole lot of Motrin and got on a plane for Phoenix, then Monterey. 

Leaving Boston
Western mountains from the air

I arrived in Monterey about 11 p.m., took a dizzying taxi ride up and down and around curvy roads in the dark, with the scent of clean salt air in my nostrils, and arrived at Asilomar by midnight. I took more Motrin and the antibiotics and crashed. When I woke up the next morning, I was still in a lot of pain, but it was early (I was still on East Coast time), and I went out and walked for several hours on the beach before breakfast.


The west coast was experiencing a phenomenon where millions of Velella velella jellyfish were washing up on shore. These jellyfish ride the wind on the surface of the ocean, using their clear sail. When the living part (blue in the photo below) dries up, they leave behind their sail, which look like clear plastic Pringles potato chips with beautiful ridges in them. Very sad, but also incredibly beautiful. 

The Empty Spools Seminars are held at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Asilomar State Park. I had heard that it was spectacular, but I was still stunned at its beauty.
Asilomar was created as a YWCA Leadership Camp in 1913. It is called Monterey peninsula’s “Refuge by the Sea,” and includes 107 acres of state beach and conference grounds. It is known for its restored dune ecosystem and architectural significance. Many of its historic structures were designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan between 1913 and 1928. They have a strong Arts & Crafts/Mission influence, but with a west coast twist.


Two of my students took me to a darling breakfast place in Carmel called the Tuck Box for breakfast one morning:

Empty Spools Seminars  are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year! If you have never taken a class there, I highly recommend it. I know you will find it to be an amazing experience, and will love your time at Asilomar. They’ve just opened registration for next year!

The conference is extremely well organized, the lodging is simple but clean and comfortable, the food was great, and the event has a really great overall vibe. Everyone was friendly and companionable, and you can’t beat the location. I took wonderful walks every morning on beach paths with views that simply left me speechless.

My class covered wholecloth painting, fusible applique, and thread sketching. Students worked from their own photos. Most of my students focused on wholecloth painting. A few got one of their pieces completely thread sketched and quilted! Look at this wonderful work in progress!

Thanks to all my students in both Cape Cod and Asilomar for making this such a memorable teaching experience.

Here’s most of my Empty Spools class on the last day: