Friday, October 25, 2019

Espanola Fibre Festival 2019

(Above:  Steve and me outside our charming cabin at Agnew Lake Lodge.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For the last week, Steve and I have been on an incredible adventure to northern Ontario, Canada for the Espanola Fibre Festival. Three years ago, I gave my TEDx talk, Precious: Making a Plan for Your Precious Possessions, as the opening presentation for the festival.  (Click HERE for a blog post about that trip!)  So ... I knew this opportunity was going to be fantastic, especially since we were hosted by Agnew Lake Lodge in the same wonderful cabin with a real bearskin hanging on the wall!  The autumn colors were terrific.  Everything was grand!

 (Above:  Steve and me with my 100-year-old Grandma!)

On the way north, we stopped to see my 100-year-old Grandma.  She didn't know we were coming.  It was a great surprise visit.

(Above:  Jody Pilon, founder and coordinator of the Espanola Fibre Festival and her amazing Boro Bower.)

The Espanola Fibre Festival was founded and is coordinated by the super talented and incredibly organized Jody Pilon who displayed her Boro Bower at the festival.  This "nest" inspired tent was made from hundreds and hundreds of textile patches. Jody painstakingly stitched for months.  Many of the postcard sized pieces were donated by people all over the world.  The details were extraordinary. 

(Above:  Composite of images from the two workshops I conducted.)

As much as I went to see Jody's Boro Bower in person, I was in Canada for a very important reason ... actually two of them! I conducted my two-day HOT workshop twice!  It was held in the Espanola Golf Clubhouse ...

... which was spacious, well lit, had excellent parking, and more than enough tables and chairs for both groups to really spread out!

One of the best features, however, was the kitchen!  We plugged in my soldering irons and heat gun right under the excellent gas oven's ventilation system.  Nothing could have been better.  Generally, I encourage using the two carbon-filtering ventilation masks that I bring.  With this system, we didn't really need them!

Everyone made multiple pieces.  I bring all the supplies, equipment, and materials ... including lots of pre-cut 8" x 10" mats.

 (Above:  One of the many projects created by a participant during the workshop.)

It is always amazing to see how patterned fabric is manipulated and changed into something entirely different inside of just a few hours!  The art coming out of one of my workshops is always incredible. One lady managed nine pieces in just two days.

Between the two workshops, I had a day off.  It was a great day because the Espanola Fibre Festival was in full swing.  Several people were demonstrating all sorts of techniques and sharing them with visitors ... including totally adorable children!

We bought a couple original fiber art cards and a bison leather belt for Steve ...

... and hydroponic greens, local soap and bath salts, homemade zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, and jams (including something called haskap, a cool temperature fruit that sort of looks like elongated blueberries).

Then we headed for Manitoulin Island and Bridal Veil falls.  The autumn colors were spectacular.  The views over Lake Huron were amazing ...

... and the creek was filled with Chinook salmon trying to swim through swallow water and up rapids to spawn under the falls in their place of birth.  The struggle to survive this journey wasn't what I was taught in fourth grade, a time when the trek read like a romantic cycle of life.  Dozens upon dozens of salmon don't actually make it.  They lay rotting on rocks and along the sides of the creek bed.  Life and death, beauty and ugliness, vivid colors and corroding scales are all part of nature ... and all part of a walk under a wide, blue autumn sky.  The day was beyond amazing.

Without Internet, Steve and I read and stitched in the evenings. We had a fire in the fireplace and watched sunsets and sunrises. The workshops, festival, and the salmons made for deep conversations, especially ones during which we remembered why we were there:  To live life to the fullest, to travel as much as possible, to meet new people and make new friends, to share fiber and stitch, and to look with awe and wonder at the world ... to swim like salmon inspite of the risks!

(PS  I managed a short video of salmon swimming upstream and posted it to You Tube.  CLICK HERE to see it!)


Meanqueen said...

What an interesting post, you certainly packed a lot in. The scenery is beautiful, your grandma looks lovely, and can you come to the UK to do a workshop ;o) Only joking.

Ann Scott said...

Looks and sounds like a very great trip. Thank you for sharing.

Christine said...

What a great photo of you and Steve! Sounds like the trip was exciting as well as relaxing. Love the photos.
Thanks for sharing.

Christine said...

What a great photo of you and Steve! Sounds like the trip was exciting as well as relaxing. Love the photos.
Thanks for sharing.