January 27, 2021
Porch Weave & Rush Stools
Porch Weave, Rush Stools
To be announced...
Porch Rocker Weekend
Reed Hearts: February 6
Small Backpack: February 20
Private classes by appointment
Small classes TBA
2021 is gearing up to be an exciting year!
Some things are still the same. I'm still weaving, teaching, working on the studio and baking. Catching up with everyone and making progress!
Everyone I know is pivoting...not quitting, not relinquishing, but moving forward and trying to make the best of current circumstances. There is an old proverb from the 1500's that you "Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" but you know?? We may be able to rewrite that.
I'm not saying it's not tough right now, there have been some interesting changes in the past year. All of my in-person classes were cancelled or postponed. I couldn't schedule our Art and Soul Italy tour in Monterosso, Calabria for 2021. Hoping for 2022.
I have a new month-old grandson I can't hold (yet) and my visits with the other 2 were changed up considerably. Our first greeting with the newbie was through a kitchen window.
Odd 2020 shortages have leveled off. Yeast and flour is now available, and I am fully entrenched in a sourdough lifestyle. It takes 3 days to make a batch of bread but wow is it worth it. Baking is my meditation. My family and neighbors appreciate the overflow.
It keeps the house toasty warm and I #weaveandbake concurrently.
Shortages I would never have expected? I was going to make reed snowflakes in the fall for the winter, but Rit dye disappeared from craft store shelves. Home tie-dying projects were through the roof! I grudgingly ordered red dye online at 3 times the price to complete a project.
Chair repairs are off the charts, and it is consistent around the country. Networking with my fellow members of The SeatWeavers' Guild confirmed that. Why? Folks aren't traveling, eating out or shopping. They are spending more time at home and after a while say "hmmmm...I should get that fixed". The footprint and proximity to where we spend our time has closed in on us like some weird time-warp lasso. Disposable income has taken an inward detour.
The good side? We have attempted to organize our homes or freshened them up, or taken some long-overdue projects into consideration.
I had a large screened-in porch with a story of its own. The ex-owners left it full of stuff for me to dispose of. I turned it into a family porch complete with hammocks and a TV for a summer escape from the house. The kids grew up and moved away and it became a storage unit for...believe it or not, chairs. At one point I had a tag sale. I thought there would be about 30 frames out there (reselling chairs were not the "thing" I thought it would be, repairs and teaching were). I ended up lugging 72 frames out to the lawn for the sale. UGH! Some ended up at the curb with "bonfire starter" or "planter" on them. Many were used for teaching and some were gifted to aspiring students.
Enter 2020: The studio saga continues....
Requests for virtual classes. No shows. No markets. Mid-yard contactless chair drop-offs. North Bennet Street School was the first to encourage and promote virtual classes. New York State Sheep and Wool Festival was next. In 2019 I taught about 120 in-person students. In 2020 it was approximately 80 virtual students. It's wildly fun and yes, challenging to teach something when your perspective is the top of people's heads and rush flying in the air. But we did it. A Herculean effort that involved lots of networking, Zoom conferences, sharing of information with a smattering of fear. The cool thing was, it was now not geographically local, but expanded around the country. East Coast, West Coast, South, mid-country. There were a few technical challenges (keyboard quit, overhead camera battery died, etc) but it all got figured out. There's a sign I put out the night before that says "charge all the things"
Having an extra moderator on the Zoom classes was a blessing.
I created a space to do videos, albeit on the screened-in porch. After many outtakes and edits, 16 hours turned into 10 minutes of class preview videos. It was evident my long-envisioned project of enclosing the porch was being pushed to the forefront, to curtail the ambient noise outside.
Facebook Marketplace became my friend. I found the perfect sized windows, door, enamel table, gas fireplace and more. I learned to frame stuff out. Put down wonderboard and vinyl tile and rubber floor mat. A gifted 1920's gas stove anchors a summer kitchen and extra winter heat source. (yes, I promise I will make fresh scones before a live class)
I recently added an overhead monitor, similar to the mirrors stationed over cooking demos. When / if I have small live classes students will be able to view on monitor or on their devices on Zoom, even if they are just a few feet away. Being available to everyone's comfort zone is a by-line in everyone's lesson plan these days.
If you have a venue or class in mind, reach out to me about it. I'm open to new opportunities.
Who can't resist a little fun?!
Photo: Harry Harold Hanka
If I'm not in the studio I'll be on Tall Tales
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 5 and 10-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, furniture schools art retreats and farmers markets, she enjoys sharing seatweaving and basketmaking to new crafters and artisans.