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

Madeline Island: Chapter 4, Wednesday

Daisies, mullein, and lupines were everywhere on the island.

After finding out that the raspberry tea bags made beautiful pink marks that magically turned blue on the cotton paper, raspberry tea suddenly became the most popular beverage in our class!


India shows us what we are to do with our cloth/papers. They will become books.

Going crazy making more bundles now.

My treasure book, out of the dyepot, unbundled and unfolded very, very, very carefully so that it has time to dry. Paper is very fragile when wet.

That evening, India made bee-yoo-ti-full soup for the class. We became quite silly after imbibing it, so I wonder what secret ingredient she added to it? I wouldn’t dare post the goofy photos, lest I be hunted down and murdered in my sleep, but I think this is a lovely photo of an absolutely fantastic group of women.

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

Madeline Island: Chapter 3, Tuesday

My bundles, freshly removed from a dyepot made with goldenrod plants (yes, you can use the leaves and stalks!)

I was a wee bit disappointed, especially in my wool samples overall, but I would soon learn that the secret of getting good plant prints included getting the tightest possible contact between the cloth and the plant material. The watercolor paper that we used to catch drips under these bundles ended up being some of the prettiest accidental artworks of the week.

One of our assignments was to stitch scraps of different natural fabrics and paper to a large piece of watercolor paper. The stitching was hard on the fingers, and toward the end I resorted to using a stapler to both tack down the pieces and to see what marks I could make when the metal reacted with the dye. We flipped it over and painted milk with handmade brushes onto the cotton rag paper for a mordant. It doesn’t look pretty, does it? That milk mordant would make my heart sing by the end of the week. I am totally into the milk mordant, since I work so much with cotton.

We would find out the next day what would be done to these sheets.

Now for the food porn. We went to a new restaurant on the island, Blue Green Organic. It was all about local and organic, and the chef who designed the menu was runner-up on one of those major cooking shows (which I confess not to watch since I don’t watch much TV and dislike reality shows in general, but especially those in which the contestants are abused or ridiculed). The service was very good and the food was luscious and artfully presented. Their signature item was a smoked trout chowder, in which the ingredients are piled into the individual bowls, then the hot cream stock poured over them at the table. As delicious as it was beautiful.

art retreats, critters, dyeing, fiber art, Madeline Island, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Slow cloth, Slow Food

Madeline Island: Chapter 2, Monday

The meadows around MISA were gorgeous; full of wildflowers and wildlife. Unfortunately that wildlife included many ticks. If you go, do take bug repellent of some kind. I think that I may have been one of the only people in my class that did not find a tick on me at some point during my stay. Whew!

On the first day, our class included a few sessions of gathering materials for fabric bundles, in which we were given limitations in order to open our eyes to different possibilities. This is a shot of my treasures in the last session, when we could gather nearly anything.

Bundles for the dyepot – one with a cord made from twining scraps of silk fabric. The shells are my markers, since these bundles became hard to recognize after they came out of the dyepot.

That afternoon, a group of us went to The Pub in the village of La Pointe for dinner and drinks. I decided to try the whitefish livers, even though I don’t like liver, because someone who had eaten them said that they were good and children liked them. I tried them because I have never in my life heard of eating fish liver, and I considered it my duty as a Slow Foodie to taste a regional food. They weren’t bad – they tasted a bit like chicken livers, and the accompanying veggies were excellent.

I got in a hammy mood when I insisted on sticking my toes in the very cold water of Lake Superior. Don’t mind the hole in my sock, there.

The sunset back at MISA:

art retreats, Madeline Island, Minnesota/Wisconsin

Madeline Island, Wisconsin: Chapter 1, Sunday

This is an online chronicle of my journey to and participation in India Flint’s “Wayfarer’s Wanderbook and Windfall Cloth” workshop at Madeline Island School of the Arts. (Note: There are seven chapters in this story. I’ll try to make it more visual and less verbal, so expect them to load slowly.)

The trip to Madeline Island, Wisconsin was complicated and long, but it went without a hitch, other than a longer wait at the Duluth International Airport than I expected. The airport was very, very tiny and had nothing to offer people waiting without boarding passes other than a couple of vending machines. However, it did have good free wifi and comfortable seating. I didn’t fly into Duluth because the prices were 3x the price of flying to Minneapolis, and the choice of flights were minimal. Flying to Minneapolis and taking the Skyline Shuttle to Duluth and back was easy and less expensive. The Skyline Shuttle employees were GREAT. If you need to travel to or near Duluth, you should definitely check out this option.

The shuttle route took us by the state capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota, which was quite lovely.

From Duluth, I took a shuttle sent by Madeline Island School of the Arts (hereupon referred to as MISA), and we just missed the ferry to the island, which gave us the opportunity to check out the small town of Bayfield on the shore of Lake Superior. I would have loved to have had the time to explore it further. But we had just enough time to have a drink and a bite to eat at Morty’s Pub. I had whitefish tacos and a South Shore Brewery Nut Brown Ale. There are many excellent local brew choices in this area, and I tried to have a different one every place I went. This one was the only one I ordered twice.

We took the ferry from Bayfield to Madeline Island. A beautiful ride. The Apostle Islands looked like pancakes on a griddle to me. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. I’ve never seen pancakes from the point of view of a spatula. It was chilly and damp.

Once we were there, MISA’s wine and cheese reception was underway. Yum. I collapsed into a clean and comfortable room, which I shared with a fellow student from California. She told me the next morning that I did not snore, but I giggled in my sleep three times. I can only hope that Johnny Depp was somehow involved.

art, art retreats, Minnesota/Wisconsin

Anticipating, recharging

Tonight is the last night I’ll be at home for a while, and Sandy is at a friend’s house playing a game. I’m listening to the rain and enjoying the quiet. Tomorrow afternoon, Sandy and I will go to Missy’s house on Lake Orange, where we’ll relax and play a little while. Then Sandy will go home, I’ll spend the night, and Missy will take me to the airport early early early Sunday morning. She swears that she doesn’t mind because she is training for a marathon near there and she runs extremely early in the morning anyway.

Then I’ll fly to Minneapolis on Southwest Airlines, take a shuttle to Duluth airport, where I’ll board a shuttle for Madeline Island School of the Arts. Have a little dinner on the island, go to a wine and cheese reception, and crash in my room after about 12 hours of traveling. On Monday, my workshop with India Flint begins! I’ll have plenty of photos to post when I get back, and I’ll try to journal it as best I can as long as I can remain present also.

I’ve often found that when I immerse myself in an art experience I forget to take photos. I don’t know whether that is a positive or negative thing. I love losing myself in the moment and I get so much more out of it when I do, so the feeling is completely positive, but it’s a bummer later on to realize that I don’t have photos! Hard to write an art blog without them, and that’s partly why I am not blogging as often as I used to. So I try to strike a balance with the big events like this one. I love blogging about them and I love going back and rereading them.

I’ll be back in Greensboro on Sunday, July 14.