The opportunity to participate in the Professional Artists in Residence program at Pilchuck was a lovely surprise. Simply being asked was an honor all in itself. Why? Pilchuck is not just a "summer camp" for glass artists. It is a place where they are serious about the craft of Art first and glass secondly. All of the artists that participate in the programs, run the programs and act as staff and volunteers are dedicated to their craft and dedicated to this magical place. Surrounded by woods in the beautiful pacific northwest, Pilchuck was built in the early 70's by a bunch of young, a bit hooligan, glass blowers. They literally built the place living in tents, sewing canvas, building kilns and glory holes.
That kind of dedication was a bit intimidating. I am not sure that my dedication measures up to that standard. The other members of my "PAIR"s group, many of them, came with that same intensity. I came with a big hole in my heart and my head! After I was asked, I wracked my brain to decide what i wanted to work on while I was there, I had to write a statement to that effect. I had to put togethter a materials list. Both ended up vague to say the least. All the while waiting for the class and even as I arrived everything was up in the air. That was the best I could do.
I didn't know anyone that was in the glass. I had met some briefly but hardly enough to even recognize them. I am fairly accustomed to walking into new situations like that so I wasn't worried about not knowing anyone and anyway we did at least have kilnformed glass in common. Although I had not been to the area in over 40 years, I did feel in some way that I was visiting a familar place. I had lived in Bellevue as a child which is not far from Stanwood, Washington where Pilchuck is located. I had played in those kinds of woods and picked the Salmon and cloud berries that were also ripening on the hills of Pilchuck. I had looked at Mount Rainer everyday from my backyard, there is not question that it is a beautiful place.
With the record heat we had been having in the South, the cool air of the Pacific was welcome not just to me but several of the group coming from Austin. We got right down to introductions, setting up the supplies, and finding our rooms. Since our group was actually scheduled between sessions, many of us, myself included had our own rooms in the dorm. Lovely accomodations I really couldn't have asked for better. Least I forget, I have to mention the food as well. It was delicious and always something special whether, breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Everyday we met, ate, talked, ate, worked, ate, talked, drank, slept and generally enjoyed everthing, the surroundings, the company, the conversation, the work, the thoughts, and the sharing. Everyone was helpful, thoughtful, tactful, generous, and generally fun to be around. But you notice I still haven't mentioned what i worked on. I played a bit with Rouche' paint that Paul Tarlow introduced me to, I used my silkscreens and gave a quick demonstration. I made small tiles of little vignetts. They weren't new for me. I did see some interesting work with the powders by Alicia Lomne' that I am putting to my techniques to see how they play but that work is happening at home.
I think if I have been sort of putting off saying what I got from the class. That's because I still don't know. I met some great people, many I wish I lived closer to. I saw some wonderful work and techniques. I had some lovely feedback on my work. I think in some ways it seems what might be shaking out for me is making the decision to try and rededicate myself to the art. I may have been infected with a bit of enthusiasm. Which would actually be difficult to avoid sitting behind Paul Tarlow. He was so obviously stoked about some new ideas, I have to admit that i was jealous. But if the recommitment and the friends are all I got from the class and the week at Pilchuck it was definitly worth it. If I were asked to go again, I am pretty sure i would say yes.
I know when people ask me about the trip, i hesitate, because as I said, I think it is too soon to tell how it went for me. Lets see if I can get the enthusiasm back up and look forward to going into the studio. That was one other thing I was jealous of, each of the other members seemed to have a drive to get into the studio and create that I have been missing. I want that back but I still am not sure but I am searching for it. Right now, that seems the best that i can do and thats okay.