book arts, Minnesota/Wisconsin

Madeline Island: Chapter 7, Saturday


There were thunderstorms. When I awoke, C_____ was gone. She left me a sweet note saying that she couldn’t wake me. I was one tired girlie.

I checked out and made it to the train going into downtown Minneapolis a wee bit late that morning. By the time I got there and walked with my luggage to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, I didn’t have much time to spend before I had to get to the airport. It was a magical place, full of artist books, a museum with an exhibit that included one of Ed Ruscha’s famous streetscape books. The current exhibition was on the collaboration of film and book art. Remember those flip books where you ruffle the pages and it makes a image on the page look like it’s moving? Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, and Béatrice Coron were represented. I was excited to see one of her works up close.

I bought a few things in the shop in a hurry – they sell bookbinding and papermaking and printing supplies there as well – and took a look around the studio/workshop space. I would love to come here for a workshop!


Downtown Minneapolis was DEAD on an early Saturday afternoon. That really surprised me, but I thought that it was a much bigger city. Maybe I simply wasn’t in a happenin’ part of town.

I went to the airport, and who gets in the check-in line behind me? My roommate Liz from MISA. Turns out we’re taking the same flight to Chicago. What are the chances? We have a bite to eat in an airport restaurant, and then snag the last two seats together on the plane. The pilot turns the plane around at Chicago, saying the airports there are closed because of an alarm, and he has to refuel. We sit on the tarmac at the Rockford, Illinois airport and we have no idea what the problem is, or whether we’ll catch our connecting flight that night. I barely caught my (also delayed) flight to Raleigh and the misfortune of others in the same situation awarded me with three seats to myself.

Now it is time to start making bundles at home. Sandy and I spent this weekend moving my studio to the front room, which gives me more space. My problem now is that I strained a back muscle, but I am better and plan to get some dyepots going very soon.

art retreats, book arts, dyeing, fiber art, Madeline Island, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Slow cloth

Madeline Island: Chapter 6, Friday

Peering into the final dyepot.

Part of the patchwork of the 15 nine-squares the class laid together on the floor. Mine is the one in the bottom right corner.

The second book and two final fabric bundles come out of the dyepot.

I don’t mind that I nearly destroyed the La Pointe Cemetery papers through impatient handling and poor protection in the dyepot – the beautiful decay is fitting for the object’s inspiration.


One of the prettiest spreads in my first book.


I used the drip paper to make a protective cover for the La Point Cemetery book and sew pages into the first book.

I am done. I am exhausted. I am full to the brim with goodness. I hug India and say goodbye to my new friends, the friendliest and most soul lifting group I have ever studied with.

Waiting for the ferry. What the heck is that red stuff in the water? Is it natural?

Brenda drives C___ and me to Duluth to pick up the shuttle to Minneapolis. What a generous, lovely woman. As we wait at the Duluth Radisson on the patio, I notice the subject of a recent Facebook photo making the rounds – the outside of the Duluth Public Library.

C___ and I collapse into our hotel room in Minneapolis. I have deep and pleasant dreams.

Update 11-27-20: As I moved these photos over from my Flickr site and edited these posts, I noticed that I glossed over or left out almost all the negative aspects of this trip, and there were many, enough that India canceled her next workshop there and I have never attempted to go back there for another workshop. On the shuttle trip there, India totally lost her temper with the driver for texting while driving. The food that the school provided was mediocre at best. There were ticks in the bedrooms. A couple of the women fought over their bundles on Thursday. Then the school scheduled my shuttle back to the airport on this particular morning, and would not refund my money when I objected. Brenda volunteered to drive C____ and I, a three hour trip for her, so that we would not have to miss the last day of class.

I liked C____ a lot, but she was a very strange person, and I didn’t use her name because she was extremely phobic of being on the Internet and, apparently, sewing of any kind. I felt like I took her under my wing: odd behavior for me, but I guess I related to her as a person who has been considered “weird” all my life. We kept up through email for a short time, then dropped it. Brenda and I remain friends on Facebook. My roommate asked me to come visit her and stay in her beach studio in San Diego! And I lost her name and contact information! GAH!!!!

However, I understand why I focused on the positive. The workshop itself was one of the most moving experiences of my life. The La Pointe Indian Cemetery was a source of inspiration and sacred awe. And my classmates, well, my classmates made me feel like a queen. I had the odd experience of being very popular, and people came to me before I left and said sad goodbyes and how much they enjoyed getting to know me. A very, very different art retreat experience for me in that way. I’m glad that I took so many photos.

art retreats, book arts, dyeing, fiber art, Madeline Island, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Slow cloth

Madeline Island: Chapter 5, Thursday

“This is Day Four,” India pronounced ominously at the beginning of our class. Then she passed out chocolate frogs that she brought all the way from Australia as a preventative for any Day Four woes.

Day Four is when patience grows thin, things go awry, bodies get weary, minds get overwhelmed.

We stretch and do a centering exercise, as we have every morning. Dropping a stone in the mind pond. Ahhhhhh.

The dyepot produces unusual bright green hues this morning. Here are my bundles.

My workspace. The silk square on top produced the best plant prints. I twisted the bundle tightly before I tied it up.

Another fabric/paper sheet is sewn for an impromptu project. We were to sew a word onto each sheet. I chose “NSFW” (Not suitable/safe for work) because I was thinking “inappropriate” but that seemed too long to stitch in a hurry.


The project involved a trip to La Pointe Indian Cemetery, which is the subject of the next post.

Here is my little book just before I bundled it with a piece of lichen covered oak bark and some maple seeds. We finished stitching our dye samples together.

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That evening, I finally got on a bike and C______ (I shall refer to her in the grand old Victorian fashion) and I pedaled to town where we had a marvelous meal of smoked lake trout on mashed roasted sweet potatoes and sweet snap peas and gazpacho at Cafe Seiche. Unfortunately the photos turned out fuzzy so no more food porn for you!

I had to walk through Tom’s Burned Down Cafe to take some photos, although we didn’t have a drink there. There is a wooden platform, there are some walls, there is a tarp, there is a junked car beneath the floor, there is a bar, and there are signs. Lots and lots of signs.

art retreats, Madeline Island, Minnesota/Wisconsin

Madeline Island: Chapter 4.1, Wednesday afternoon

Between class and soup on Wednesday, Brenda, Pam, and I drove down to the Town Park to walk on the beach of Lake Superior. I think that I showed great restraint by not filling up my suitcase with rocks. I have done it before, you know.

Then we bopped around to three of the art galleries on the island. I bought some beautiful local handspun alpaca yarn from Woods Hall, and if I’d been rich, I definitely could have laid down a bundle of money at Bell St. Gallery, which had a variety of media including paintings, ceramics, artwear, and jewelry.