I cannot begin to describe how excited I was when I found this catalog in my mailbox. It means finally I can officially announce that June 12-18, 2016 I will be teaching a pysanky class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.
The Folk School is like year-round summer camp for adults in a beautiful farm-like setting but is it so much more than that. They emphasize non-competitive learning in all kinds of different folk arts…from quilting to blacksmithing to cooking, writing, woodturning, and music to name just a few.
Years ago my sister and I attended an artisan bread-baking class there and we loved everything about that experience. I had always dreamed of going back, but going back to teach an egg class is a dream come true.
Got plans for next June? Come on down.
Five days of “playing eggs” with friends old and new, now that is my idea of what heaven is like. I just got back from the Pysanky USA Retreat 2015 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and am still on a pysanky high. Together with 70 other pysanky artists we spent our days giving and teaching classes, hanging out in the play room working on eggs, and catching up on each other’s lives. True community at its best.
This is a far-flung group to say the least. One person came from Japan and not only that, she comes from the same city where I was born. Such a small world, isn’t it? Another spent this last year on the medical ship Mercy Africa in Madagascar. Many folks came from the Northeastern states but we had attendees from the South, the Midwest, the West Coast and also Canada.
Here are just a few photos to give you a taste of my personal heaven.
Many of you know that I play the cello. I began as an adult and have been taking lessons for nearly seven years now and although I can see progress, I still can’t bring myself to claim the title of cellist yet.
The learning curve for this instrument is steep. For each note the fingers of my left hand have to press an exact spot on the string to produce the correct pitch. Depending on the sound I want and what the next notes will be, I have to choose which finger to use and whether to press just my fingertip or a flattened finger onto the string. Do I hold it steady or rock my hand to create vibrato? Meanwhile to form the purest tone my right hand controls the pressure, angle and placement of the bow as well as its speed across the string. So many choices with each and every note.
Truth be told, practicing is not always a pleasant experience…for me or the other inhabitants of my house. If I know my practice session will include work on some horribly hard stuff, I try to schedule my cello time when no one else is home. If that can’t happen I warn my family with our code phrase, “It’s going to be two-door bad.” That’s means I not only close the door to the room where I am practicing, but I also close their door in order muffle the sound as much as possible.
Over the years I do see improvement in my playing but it’s a painfully long and slow process. Sometimes that’s discouraging. Cringing as I hit yet another awful note can be debilitating. If I stop my bow, the note is gone but its memory lingers to mock my attempts. I often think, “Should I just give up now and spare the world this agony?” Thankfully God whispers life lessons to me in odd moments like this. It struck me recently that each time I pick up the cello I have a choice. I can’t do anything about the bad notes I played before but I can make each note I am currently playing as beautiful as possible. Those past regrets take away from today’s beauty and I need to let them go. Learn from them but move on. A valuable life lesson indeed.
Doing what you love is a good thing…but doing it with a bunch of other people who also love it is an amazingly good thing. I spent last week in Pennsylvania with 60+ other pysanky artists at an egg retreat learning, teaching, connecting and laughing with friends old and new. To put it simply, I went to summer camp for adults…and I highly recommend it.
This is my third year attending the Pysanky USA Retreat. I took a few classes, taught a few classes and mostly hung out in the “play room” where we could work on our own projects as we talked and shared about egg art and life in general. The room population ebbed and flowed throughout the day as classes started which allowed me to meet new people with the luxury of unhurried time on our side. Free flowing ideas sparked new techniques, new color combinations, new dyes to try. Wow, my brain got full fast!
I came away from this week not only with a renewed enthusiasm for this art but with a sense of community and connectedness to my fellow pysanky artists across the country. And I’m already looking forward to next year!