Oh what a glorious week it was ! I was privileged to spend 5 fabulous days with 14 free motion quilting students and it was a blast. We sewed and laughed and ate and got to know each other and quilted and even enjoyed a 2 min solo from our resident Dramatic Soprano.
We came from diverse backgrounds with a spread of 3 1/2 decades and experience levels ran from never-done-this-before to skilled. I was so pleased that 14 quilters chose to join me!
Asilomar is a spectacular location for a seminar such as Empty Spools. Quick scoop on Empty Spools – this was its 38th year and Suzanne Cox and Gayle Wells have attracted some of the best quilting and art instructors in the world to this iconic event. It truly is legendary and I am humbled to think of all those who have taught before me. Put this on your Bucket List if you have not been before.
The beach is just across the road from the seminar, maybe a hundred steps from the dining hall.
You want to try to include sunsets in your daily plan.
It was foggy most of the time we were there, not unexpected for this time of year.
We celebrated when the sun came out! Asilomar is state owned and a National Historic Landmark. California is a diligent caretaker of this historic gem. The grounds are carefully managed to keep Asilomar in its natural state.
Just a little taste of what you’ll find on the dunes.
Julia Morgan designed the original buildings in the Arts and Crafts style. I stayed at “Heather”. The rooms are spartan, with beautiful ceilings, a lovely fireplace and a deck.
This was my class, minus two who had left. I suck at selfies. I know, this photo has this “taken at Wal Mart” look, but really, we had a lot more fun than this photo conveys. My heart warms just to see this photo!
Each teacher has an opportunity to introduce themselves and present for 9 minutes. This session was very, very unusual. There are normally 10 teachers/session but our session only had 6, as 4 teachers were not there for a variety of reasons. I was thrilled with the crowd and they were so enthusiastic and receptive to my talk! It made my day.
The Featured Quilter this session was the adorable and talented Cindy Thompson. She has been a Facebook friend and now a Friend In Real Life. Her talk was enlightening – she came out of the gate with incredible work. She is just a hoot too. This is the type of thing that enriches your Empty Spools experience.
Even though it was foggy, at least it didn’t rain. Good thing. My teaching room was a little crowded so I took advantage of the outdoor space to do demos, show n tell and mini lectures on this and that. It was a bit nippy! And BTW, our classroom was 600 steps from the dining hall; we got our steps in by just getting to the dining hall.
I was so glad I brought along about 8 little stools! When I did my demos, students could cozy up and see my demos better. I projected onto a screen but not all could see it well. This was huge. I am glad I traveled via car and could bring such luxuries.
On the last night of each session, there is a “Walkabout” where students can visit all the other classrooms to see what they were doing and shop for teachers for next year. The sun happened to come out at the beginning of the walkabout and one of my silk quilts on display just glowed in the sun!
Just to give you a feel for the room as students worked. Everyone worked on their own project. One student brought their mid-arm!
This is how I do a design consult with my students. I have a full sized laptop that can fold back and become a large tablet. But I find this simple method to be preferable – plastic draped over the quilt top and white board markers to design the plan. I think this works better than a computer version, as you see it in full size.
I worked with every student to create a design for the project or projects they brought. What a delight! So each student arrived back home with new found skills and confidence, with a project ready to go!
One of the topics covered was “Quilt From the Back”. A large scale print is chosen for the back of the quilt and you quilt around the printed designs from the back. It is an easy way for a beginner to be able to quilt their own quilts and have them look great!
You do have to be careful with Quilt From the Back, as you might end up with a surprise. This was a TREE on the front! Why, what did you think it was?????
Out of 14 students, six were newbies or had just a weeeee bit of experience. I was so proud of how far they came in just 5 days! I send out a detailed set of questions to all students before class so that I get to know them well and are prepared for their needs. I know their skill level, preferences, what they want to get out of the seminar and their chocolate choice😊
There was a significant interest in feathers. Almost every one of the feathers that follow were quilted by a brand new featherer! Student work follows:
Oh dear, I think I have everyone but I did not keep track as well as I should have! I am SO PROUD of EVERY student and their work! And those feathers, they are from NEW featherers!
There ya go – thank you for applauding their efforts!
I received so many wonderful accolades from my students. Even without accolades, the proof was tangible in their progress, enthusiasm and delight in their own work. One student has taken a teacher that I highly revere, and said she learned more from me than any other.
My head does not get big over that. I am so. grateful. No matter how good you are, the next group of students does not care about how good you were, they want to know how you can help them now. It keeps us on our toes, eager to do better each time. I so love, love, love this work!!
I call myself the “Free Motion Quilting Encourager-in-Chief”. I know you really CAN free motion quilt, so it’s easy to be encouraging.
One of the phrases I repeated the most over our week together:
You know more than you think you do.
P. S. – I’ll be back at Empty Spools for session 1 in 2024 – Feb 25 – March 1. I know I already have sign ups!