I'm fortunate to have a place to stay in February in the wonderful town of Monterosso, Calabro. You know February...that dismal month where there's snow to be shoveled and ice to be chopped in New England.
A lot of folks think I'm "on vacation". I wish I was, I'm just working remotely....very, very remotely. I wove chairs like a crazy woman before I left and there's a queue of chairs waiting for me upon my arrival home. That, and a couple of (probably by then) uppity cats that wonder where their lap-human is. Hopefully they have a short memory. They are being well taken care of.
I've been accustomed to the winters for 60-some years. But it's never too late to teach an old gal new tricks. I've was in the floral industry for too many years to recount, and February has always been related to stress, whether I was in retail or wholesale.
Don't get me wrong...I love flowers and I enjoyed assisting mostly men in their attempt to express their emotions via flowers, even if there were the customers who scowled at me about pricing and a "made-up-commercial-holiday" I reminded them any day is a good one to give flowers, not only a date-mandated one.
There were a few years where the winter was so bitter, it was a challenge to wrap or deliver flowers that wouldn't die in a frost-blast of minus-something degrees outside. "Can I leave them in my car?" "Sure...if you want to take your life into your hands. I mean , ummmm.....no." (with a courteous grin)
I love arranging flowers. Photographing them. I enjoy the smiles on peoples faces when they get flowers. Weddings, holidays, birthdays, everyday occasions. No occasions. All good reasons to get flowers. I don't have the proper space to do that right now, and it's ok. That was a big chapter of my life and I've moved into some new chapters. To my floral industry friends...take care of yourself! To floral customers...please support your local florists as you would support your local farmers and small businesses.
Alas, I digress. This is more about what a wonderful climate there is here in southern Italy, even though 57 degrees still warrants coats and sweaters by many. For a gal that used to walk barefoot in the snow at the farm growing up and think nothing of it....this is balmy.
While I'm here, I have website work to do, worked on my own (gasp!) website, researching more opportunities for the Art and Soul Italy Tours tentatively scheduled for October 2020 and March 2021, and creating posters that reflect the charm I get to see while I'm living in Monterosso.
They will be posted on this gallery on my photography website.
There's something around every corner to take a picture of, and a short leisurely passegiatta (daily walk) often turns into a much longer photo session.
While I have less hands-on weaving time and more computer time, I've reached out to some of the venues I have on my wish-list to teach at. You may have noticed that I am doing less shows and concentrating on teaching, increasing the population of #chairnerds in the New England region. My schedule page has been updated to what has been confirmed so far this year, There are new locations added to my list of teaching opportunities.
Northeast Basketmakers Guild, Windsor Locks, CT: April 24, 25, 26 (Josephine Knot Basket, Rush Stool, Porch Weave Stool)
Hartford Stitch, West Hartford, CT: May 9, (Picking/ pack basket)
Connecticut Valley Woodworking, Manchester, CT: May 30, 31: (fiber rush stool, porch weave stool, hand-cane your own chair)
North Bennet Street School, Boston, Ma: July 11: (fiber rush stool, porch weave stool)
The Seatweavers' Guild 13th Annual Gathering, Hull, MA: July 24-26 (8 classes, I will be assisting with the Gathering, teaching canoe seating replacement)
New York State Sheep and Wool Festival : October 16-17 (corded wool stool, Shaker tape stool, Herringbone binder cane stool, fiber rush stool)
Private Lessons: By appointment
To see the current listings and links go to the Schedule Page and be sure to follow the links to the venues, as well.
Twenty more #chairnerds!
I enjoyed teaching at North Bennet Street School in Boston.
In November, I did a demo on an ash splint chair to about 45 furniture and other craft professionals at the school. In December, I taught a class of 20 furniture makers to weave stools with porch weave and pre-twisted natural rush. Many thanks to David Douyard Chairmaker for assisting me with the class! If you're interested in a chair-making class, please check out his site. He has an beautiful studio in Pine Meadow, CT.
North Bennet Street School is amazing, with 3 year programs all the way to weekend Continuing Education Programs. Please check them out, and if you are a TSWG member going to the Gathering, make time to visit them.
If you have never been to a SeatWeavers' Guild Annual Gathering and live in the New England area, or would like to plan a destination vacation near or around Hull, MA, this event is for you! It is for members only, but the event is well worth the admission ($75) , Saturday dinner and Sunday box lunch included, with your $35 Annual Membership.
There will be 8 weaving stations to give you information on a number of weaving styles. These are not full-length classes (that would take more time) but there will be plenty of information and hand-outs to further and inspire your seatweaving interests.
A number of mini-sessions will touch on some requests for information from members.
"Power Caning" With Caning Needles & Steamers: Dave Klingler
A Brief History of Chair Caning lecture & slideshow: Brandy Clements
"How Fancy is That!" Fancy Caning Patterns : Faith Blackwell
"It's a tree! It's a chair!! It's a seat!" Hickory Bark: David Douyard
"Make Mine Ash": Stephen Jerome SR
"Can You Canoe?" Canoe Seating: Sue Muldoon
"Put Me In A Corner" Wrapping unique rush corners: TBA
"Rockin' Away": Sandy Sherman
Shake Up That Shaker Tape! : Caryl DeFrancesco
"THE CHAIR; Mid Century Modern": TBA
If you are a current seatweaver, please consider taking this survey from Silver River Chairs
Stay tuned for this one....in the next newsletter
Well...that will do it for today. If you read this far, thank you for your time! It's time to go out and about in Monterosso and get away from the keyboard. There's streets to stroll around and pictures to take. The town has kept historic traditions and it's siesta...lunchtime. Everything is closed from 12:30-4:30. It's quiet time. A great time to enjoy the day.
Stories to collect and bring back to my grandkids, that I miss dearly. I'm not a southern U.S. hopping snowbird...I hopped a a lot further than that. Southern Italy. Hey...it's South... ;)
Arrivederci! Ciao! Sue
Sue Muldoon divides her time between 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional work. She bounces back and forth between photography, web design and graphic design to seatweaving (chair caning, wicker repair, rush, splint, etc.) and basket weaving.
Basketry started as an add-on to seat weaving because there was material begging to be used in more than one format.
Sue’s career has always been creative, from wallpaper hanging and interior painting to a lengthy career in the floral industry as designer and merchandiser. Wood carving, furniture refinishing and upcycling furniture in novel ways using unique materials like leather belts, ties and alpaca wool set her apart from traditional seatweaving methods.
Color is rampant and unapologetic.
Where some might see a chair, Sue sees a statement. She spends the majority of her time now repairing seats (an unabashed “chairnerd” and webmaster of The SeatWeavers Guild, Inc) but enjoys branching out into basketry.
She considers her seatweaving work to be part functional and part emotional. Along with repairing chairs, she repairs the memories that are attached to seats that are in demise and disrepair. The joy on a client’s face when they see family history brought back to functionality is inspiring.
Her photography and design work enable her to get the word out about what she does, and her skills in social media are in demand from farmers markets, growers, artists and authors.
Creating special baskets for her most rapt audience, her 4 and 9-year-old grandsons, keeps Sue busy and inspires her to teach them to appreciate nature, natural materials and art.
A frequent instructor at various sheep, wool and fiber festivals and art retreats and farmers markets, she enjoys sharing seatweaving and basketmaking to new crafters and artisans.