I arrived back home to Maine from this teaching trip just in time for a good old Nor’Easter (that’s a blizzard for you non-New England folks). A foot or more—hard to tell with all that gale force wind—of snow fell. The following video shows why I enjoy spending time in Pacific Grove, California teaching for Empty Spools Seminars in the winter!

This second session of 2017 started on a Friday afternoon, mere hours after my first session wrapped up. In a short time, my new students and I had introduced ourselves to each other, had a little preview of the week to come, got the classroom set up, and were then ready for dinner and a good rest to prepare for the next day.

Pictured left to right: (standing) Robin Moore, Cindy Thompson, Teresa Seifert, Josephine souvenirs, Michelle Howe, Michaelanne Gephart, Joann Knowles, Ellindale Wells, Pam Smith, Karen Gray, Mary Lynn Scoggins, Helen White; (kneeling) Karen Coan, Wendy Knight, Pat McKenna, Jan Smith, Carole Olsen; (sitting) Ricki Selva, Cheri Sedlacek, Pat Burnham, and me!

Session Two attendees once again included familiar faces with four returning students—three of whom were hold-overs from Session One. As a teacher, it was particularly satisfying to see how much farther they progressed in their projects in the course of this second week.

Joann Knowles’ portrait of her son is well on it’s way to completion. Here she posed for me since I kept seeing the resemblance! See how Joann began this portrait in the student slide show in last week’s Asilomar Session One post.

The first full day dawned uncharacteristically cool and showery for the Monterey Peninsula. However, my group of intrepid morning walkers, with the addition of instructor Sue Benner (pictured below, second from right), still went on our (windy) walk.

We early morning walkers were rewarded with a rare double-rainbow.

Asilomar State Park and Conference Grounds are a beautiful location regardless of weather, and I often see sights that make getting up early well worth the effort. Various photos of the area can be seen in the slide show below.

Walking in Asilomar Slideshow

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As the week progressed, amid the “messy scary” stages of projects and the gnashing of teeth, the true colors of this set of students started to shine through—literally in the case of Pam Smith (below left), whose favorite color is… purple!

They were hard-working and upbeat ladies. Selfies (above right with Karen Coan, me, and Ricki Selva), and a wonderfully messy classroom of scattered scraps ensued—as exemplified by the stocking feet of my two-week room hostess, Cheri Sedlacek (below).

Cheri’s bulldog, Snickers, received the butterfly treatment for the walk-through—in honor of Pacific Grove’s “Butterfly Capital” distinction. (I think Cheri might like purple too).

At the end of the last full day of Session Two, prior to the end-of-seminar walk-through of all classrooms, I did a video walk-through of my own. Below you can see my students hard at work at their in-progress quilts. (I’ve also added a belated video walk-through of Session One to last week’s post, which can be viewed here.) Details of student work can be seen in the slideshow that follows. You’ll see their work at several stages. A week is never enough time to complete one of these fabric collages, but great progress has been made. As always, I’m so proud of the work my class has done and I have faith that one day I’ll get that email with a photo of their finished quilt attached! The pressure is on, you guys!

Student Work Slide Show

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In the course of the two weeks I was in California, I saw many former (and possibly future) students, not only from Asilomar but from other teaching venues—Art Quilt TahoeMISA WestNaples, FL; Kalispell, MT; and even my own retreats in Maine. It starts to mess with my mind sometimes, but it’s all good and I just love thinking how I know, and cross paths with, people from all over the world. It’s a pretty cool job. Thanks to all of you who make it possible.

From Show-and-Share (above), Carmela “Mickey” Simoncini with “Meo in the Desert, Thinking”—a quilt of her son, begun in a past year’s Empty Spools class. Below: Pat McKenna models her beautiful jacket she created from re-purposed sweaters: and me with the ever-colorful (I want to be just like her when I grow up) Nancy Bournes—first met at last November’s Art Quilt Tahoe class.

Another mid-week “open night” with no evening program, another Teachers’ Dinner Out! I described the tradition in last week’s post. This week we lost a few faces and gained some others for dinner at Fifi’s Bistro Cafe. Pictured left to right: Laura Nownes, Sue Rasmussen, Me, Sue Benner, Gloria Laughman, Kathy Del Beccaro and Carolyn Ticknor (both Artist-in Residence for the week), Sandra Leichner, Wendy Mathson, and Valerie Goodwin.

Being Just a Tourist

When the class said goodbye, I stayed a couple extra days with my friend Barbara Grant and her husband Irv, who live right there in Pacific Grove. Barb is a former (and future) student who has become a good friend. She took two days off to treat me to some sightseeing, shopping, and eating—all the while enjoying the spectacular weather.

Window shopping at one of Moss Landing’s eclectic galleries.

We made sure to time a stop at the local—small yet mighty—Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History , currently displaying an exhibit, Nature Through a Quilter’s Eyes, through the end of March. I heard that this show includes quilts by my former students, so I had to go see it—proud teacher that I am. Of course, there was also a walk across the street to Back Porch Fabrics for my annual handful of fabric “gems” to take home as souvenirs.

Quilts from my book Free-Style Quilts and a class I taught for the Monterey Peninsula Quilters Guild in 2014 (or so).
“Uno Pescado” by Donna Foote
“Blending In” by Elizabeth Hull

For my last day in California, Barb and I drove an hour north along the coast to Moss Landing. There we took the Elkhorn Slough Safari, a flat-bottomed boat tour to see sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and many sand and sea birds. Both Captain Joe and naturalist Kelsey, on board were very knowledgable about the special qualities of a slough (pronounced sloo)—a wetland/estuary—and the wildlife that live in and around it—pointing out many more species than I could keep track of. The two hours we were on the water were a great way to wind up my two weeks in the area, getting to really appreciate where I was. When we arrived back at the dock, turned out that I didn’t have to remember all that we had seen, Kelsey had kept a paper count for us: 46 species of birds, 87 sea otters (including 9 pups), 170 harbor seals, and 97 sea lions. Whew!

Me and my buddy Barb.

So farewell to the Monterey Peninsula for another year. The creativity, energy, and appreciation of my students plus the milder weather and fresh air, helped to charge me up—at least enough to get me through the mounds of (more) snow soon to arrive at home.

Sightseeing Slideshow

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  • Wow…just wow! Such amazing places with such interesting people, projects and scenery. Once again, your photographs and narrative outline the details of your class and travel experiences. Loved your post-class outings as well. Thank you!

  • Thank you again Susan, I enjoyed your class so much. I’m looking right now at “Iggy” unfinished as I’m heading back to Asilomar tomorrow for another session.
    Your view of my hometown area of Pacific Grove and Monterey makes me smile. It’s fun seeing it through your artistic eyes.
    I’ll be sure to send you photos of Iggy when I get back to him and he is completed. I’ll take photos of stages as he progresses.
    Hope the snow melts for you soon…hugs..Cindy

  • Wow! As usual, you pull outstanding creativity out of your students during your week-long retreat! I’m unable to attend a retreat like this due to financial restraints, but I am looking forward to your on-line offering (coming soon I hope). Great work…love them all.

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