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Well, Rec Lab 2017 was another wonderful week of seeing people I love and making Polymer Clay art.  But a big thrill mid-week was listening to the Call of the Wild show about the Harn.  https://beta.prx.org/stories/203798  What a thrill to hear how Milt Lee made a beautiful show of the much longer time we spent interviewing and touring at the Harn back on April 7th.  In 8 minutes, he covers a lot about our place.

It sure was nice to have a piece of home during Rec Lab.  The week at Lab is SO FULL of activity that I had to listen to half the interview before Tuesday’s Write Your Bio session and the second half just after class.  The Write Your Bio Fireside presentation of stories written during this Creative Activity session was just beautiful.  One of my favorite parts was when Ann read her story about her Uncle Galen (a long time Rec Labber who is sweet and funny) and she became so overwhelmed that another classmate came up to finish the reading for her.  Mimi started out strong but within a couple sentences, she too became overwhelmed.  Both finished their portions of the reading in tears but it was one of the most beautiful moments when they hugged at the end of it.  It was a wonderful example of how the beauty of writing can not only help us retain our stories but also find connection with each other.  This seemed to be a strand of continuity throughout this week at Rec Lab.

Our opening night of Lab included a Fireside of Stories giving various perspectives on how Rec Lab has impacted our lives.  Among the speakers were Lynn and Rhoda who spoke on the origins of Rec Lab, Gretchen on how a class can affect you by reading an A-Z poem she wrote during a previous Lab, Jane on how being a great creative artist is not a requirement for attending Lab, Mike on how we receive help and offer help to each other, and Katherine on how we can find acceptance just where we are in our lives.  I think it was a beautiful representation of the many ways that Lab brings us joy.  Colleen’s Joy for the Journey theme for Fireside this year made for many lovely nights spent in contemplating our joy before we headed to bed.  Or… as a brief, quiet respite between dinner/dancing and MORE CRAFTING!  I spent most nights in the Polymer Clay room continuing to work on my projects.

One of my favorite projects this week Fairy Door.jpgwas a Fairy Door made for friend Char’s new Yarn Basket shop.  This photo shows it prior to baking and before I got the “knitting needles” (two little straight pins donated by BJ) in place.  I loved the mixed color I got with the lavender and metallic blue clays, the wood grain effects I copied from an example on Pinterest, the sweet roses, and the little yarn balls as a door decoration which were a perfect addition for a Yarn Shop Fairy Door!

Laura Burlis is an excellent instructor and helps each of us learn new techniques that we can use to continue instruction with people when we head back home.  I’m looking forward to having some friends over to make some lovely little turtles, ladybugs and other fun charms.  This year many made fairy houses and little gnomes and wizards as well in Polymer Clay.  This class is so fun that we often have visitors who stay to watch our work or check out our progress through the week. You can read more about Laura here: http://lolaartistsmn.blogspot.com/2014/07/laura-burlis-turns-polymer-clay-into.html?m=1

The one project I didn’t bring home was a Bottle of Hope.  The Polymer Clay Guild Laura belongs to does a project where they gather empty chemo vials and decorate them with clay, returning them to the hospital for patients to take home to brighten their days.  I used my favorite colors to decorate a whimsical jar that I hope someone will love.  The photo with me and the bottle was taken with my instructor and friend, Laura.  I also included a photo of Gretchen who made a lovely gift for her friend Alan along with a beautiful fairy house.  Everyone’s projects turned out so lovely!

Here are some photos of Friends’ work (Jenny’s painting and Will’s Clay and costumes by Jami, Christine and Tina):

There were lots of new things this year at Lab and some were a great success and some I know will be improved even further in 2018.  We had a LOT of information on classes prior to arriving at Lab and, once at Lab, had lots of info on where/when classes would take place.  Our implementation of Craft Talk (in previous years we did a Craft Walk) was OK but we hopefully will make that better next year.  Opening Night “Northland Derby” was tremendous with amazing food, games and decorations.  And the theme made for a laugh-filled Closing Night presentation created by Laura Burlis with loads of improv by the many Labbers in the show.  This show is our chance to poke some fun at the new Instructors and Discussion Leaders for the year’s Lab.  I really loved the bit on Paul’s Fly Tying class by Mike and Russ and the sister act of June and Gail on the Nature Pendants (by Kim) and Nature Hikes (by Dianne).  Ryan brought levity with his documentarian role (his REAL LIFE job).  The Basket girls (Amy, Hailey & Heather) were hilarious as were Lutz, Nick and Jacob as the “Horses” on their brooms and vacuum cleaners.  But my faves were likely Tina and Jenny who depicted our Energy Discussion Leaders Tina Simonetta-Samuels and Christine Simonetta.  They had me rolling on the floor, as were Tina and Christine!  You can see more about the Eden Energy Medicine the Discussion Leaders shared here: http://www.innersource.net/innersource/

Funny things I learned this year at Lab:

  • There is an uncanny a resemblance between Jane and Nancy. (Also between Linda and Anita and apparently between me and Krista and Heather…)
  • Lots of people enjoy dressing as poop collectors. (There were 6 of us at the Derby party – no fancy hats for us!!  Poo Crew from Iowa, me, Alan and the Discussion Leaders all donned our worst and swept up the Chocolate Bit-o-Honey poops!)
  • Earthworms are BAD. (They eat all the duff – leaf matter – leaving nothing to protect the little seedling trees!)

Our week ended with a display at Art Show.  I will say this was a quite nice part of the week.  This had little to do with it being my committee and more to do with the many hands that jumped in to make it wonderful and, of course, the stunning array of art presented in the show.  There were several folks who helped set up and host the event (Mary L, Jewitt, Hailey, Jenny, Mary R, Vanjie – and whomever I forgot in all the hustle!) and the music truly made us look professional with Harp by Jacob and Keyboards, Guitar, Violin and Singing by the Jam Session crew (Jean, Jewitt, Marti, Nancy and Rhoda).  Thanks to Marti for getting that all in place for the Show.  I was so tickled with how it all fell into place.  I hope to get a video up soon of the event but editing my footage is still in process.  Watch for a link in next week’s blog…

There is just never enough time to do all the crafts you’d like.  I spent most of my time in Polymer Clay with a couple days in Write Your Bio and Yoga.  I also got in a Nature Walk with Dianne that taught me much about spring flowers, birds and worms.  A Naturalist by training, she gives a professional take to this Creative Activity!  And I made one of the two Book Group sessions as books are a BIG love for me.  I only taught a one-session class on Vision Boards / Dream Pages, but with First Day and Bulletin Board work, as well as Art Show and Tech Support, it seemed I didn’t have time for as much Creative Activity as I’ve smashed into the week in the past.  I wish I’d been able to check out the Jam Sessions with Jewitt and Marti, the Loom Weaving with Hailey, Paper Crafts with Amy, Heather and Paula, Cooking with Gail, Caning with Kathy, Silverwork with Alan, and Woodworking with Gerry and Abby.  I LOVE lathes.  But there is the Notebook (done this year by Heidi and Katherine with photos by Paul) that gives details on all the Creative Activities so I hope to be able to try some of these things on my own.

I hope you too are busily creating as we make our way through Spring.  Us Minnesotans are mostly still just waiting for the snow to stop…