Friday, October 14, 2011

Inspired by Nature Retreat

"Give your stress wings and let it fly away."  ~Terri Guillemets

Stress begets stress. The more that we have to do the more rushed we feel and the less connected we are to our center. I have been feeling that way for some time. What to do about it?

It is hard when your hobby, that diversion that should bring you joy, becomes the focus of your potential livelihood. The focus has to be on pleasing the potential customer rather than yourself, and we all know that it is hard to please everyone. When I get that rushed and harried feeling I know that I need to stop and breathe. Going for a walk, watching a movie, reading a book, taking a bubble bath, eating chocolate...these all help to put the world back into perspective. But sometimes they don't go far enough.

What I really crave when I feel this way is escape. And that is exactly what I did last month when I went to an art retreat in South Haven, MI to celebrate Heather Powers and the launch of her first book, Jewelry Designs from Nature.

Art Retreat. Doesn't that sound wonderful? I loved announcing to anyone who would listen that I was going to an Art Retreat (emphasis on the capitol letters). There is something so romantic about staying in a beach house on the shores of Lake Michigan surrounded by creatives and playing with beads, don't you think? I am sure that I made many jealous with this escape.

I left a day early, on Thursday to make the 6 1/2 hour drive to South Haven. On the way down, there just so happened to be a Rings and Things traveling bead show near O'Hare in Chicago, which was a good halfway stopping point. I got out, stretched, then rushed inside (as there was but one hour left!). I let my imagination fill up as my attention wandered by all the pretties that leaped onto my tray. Unfortunately, I couldn't give them all a good home, but I picked up some beads for a special collaboration that I am doing (and a few other things that I couldn't bear to live without!).

The drive north into Michigan reminded me so much of driving in my home state of Wisconsin. The foliage and roads were very familiar. I arrived that evening to spend the night at Heather's Aunt Rosanne's log home. I was treated like a treasured guest (and even managed to snag some of the bead goodies littering her table. I am so glad that she adopted me ;-) I wanted to take her darling pup home with me (and truthfully he probably would have jumped in my bag if given the chance!).

The beach house that we stayed at was just a short walk down the street to the shore of Lake Michigan. I have been to this lake, but on the other side and it looks different somehow. The setting couldn't have been more perfect. The house had seven bedrooms, three bathrooms, a fully functioning kitchen with a cozy living room and dining room and a most wonderful three season porch with plenty of room to work and great light. That is where we made our home base.

My new bead friends came from all across the country, from Connecticut to Texas, from Florida to Virginia. That surprised me a bit. I figured that most of the participants would come from the Midwest, within driving distance like me. We did have some bead peeps from Illinois and Ohio as well. But Heather has a reputation for putting on a great time, as people who go on the Bead Cruise can attest, and some of them followed her here! There were seed beaders and jewelry designers and even some people who had never held a bead in their lives. That is bravery, I tell you! And those that had never beaded were some of the sweetest people and made some of the very best things!

{My newest beading buddy Royelle...sweetest person I have ever met! Seems like we have known each other forever. I wanted to take her home in my pocket she is so darned fun!}
We became old friends in an instant.That is the thing about an art retreat... these are all people sharing your same passion for creating and imaging and inventing... what is not to love? This was an incredible group. You know how you can walk in a room and instantly sense it's pulse? This one was alive and vibrant, with an outpouring of love and encouragement. I was enamored with each and every one of the participants, and my only regret is that the weekend did not last longer to get to know them each even better!

Alas, I did get sick on the weekend, so I was unable to fully participate but I did what I could and I had fun helping those that needed it, so I felt like I was sort of an impromptu assistant to Heather. We make a great team, and I would love the chance to teach with her for real sometime. ;-)

Heather divided up our days by the themes in her book: woodlands, garden, sea. We discussed color and pattern, texture and light. We had a class project each day as well as field trips in the South Haven area to further our experience.

For the sea we had sunsets on the beach and made faux sea glass with Heather teaching us how to use molding putty and color our resin to the perfect shade and texture.

For the woodlands we walked the Kal-Haven nature trail in search of natural patterns and colors and then we explored the connection between poetry and storytelling and creating from inspirations.

And for the gardens we spent time at the farmer's market and we made one of the most stunning bracelet designs from the book. The technique of using Fireline and long beading needles with seed beads to create a fringe was completely intimidating to me, but I persevered and I am so proud of the results! I thought it was a perfect project to challenge those of us new to the concept, yet intriguing enough to make it your own just by changing the glass beads in the book to the polymer clay beads that Heather makes, or even using gemstones to mix things up. It was incredible to see the variety of the bracelets in the class even though we each started with essentially the same options, but in different colors.

{Look closely... each is different from the next!}
In addition to the making (wish that I had done more) and the eating (yes, there was chocolate!) and the shopping (despite the prodigious swag and gifts that we received, I felt the need to do MORE bead shopping!) and the relaxing (no demands, no expectations=heaven), there was plenty of time to go on photo safaris. I took a lot of pictures that weekend that will hopefully inspire me to create in the future. If nothing else, they will remind me of my time spent with these wonderful women and plant the seed for future retreats. If you have a few minutes, I hope you will enjoy these digital walks inspired by the woodlands, the gardens and the sea, and maybe be inspired to see the world around you a little differently.

Inspired by...the Woodlands
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Inspired by...The Gardens

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Inspired by...The Sea

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Everyone should have the chance to relax and recharge themselves with a sabbatical once in awhile, even if it isn't an organized adventure. Why not grab a friend and do a little exploring of these three themes in your own backyard? Heather's book is a great place to start as it really is like she is right there with you opening your eyes to the beauty all around. She is magical like that. I have had a taste of creative escapes four times this year - twice in the last month alone - and it is something that is now essential to my well being. You can be sure that I am marking my calendar for the next retreat that Heather is planning (watch for more information for the Spring getaway! Hope to see you there!)

Your turn...
Have you ever attended a retreat of any sort? What what is? Why did you choose to go? What was the best part about it? If you haven't attended a retreat, is there one that you have heard of that you would love to attend? Do tell!


Alice said...

Yes, I am jealous, especially after seeing the photos!

I've never been to a retreat, and honestly there are so many that I would love to attend that I can't really pick a favorite. I know that Heather's Retreat and Art Bliss are a couple that I would love to attend.

Kim Stevens said...

Oh so much fun! Now you know why I love, adore, living by the ocean. Normally I drive down (30 minutes) at least twice a week but it's been a few weeks now. I've been to a few retreats, the last one last year right here in Houston - Adorn Me. Hopefully I can go again next year!

Sharyl said...

It sounds like a wonderful, relaxing yet recharging experience! Thank you for sharing your retreat experience with us! Your scrapbooks are beautiful, insightful, and truly inspiring.

mairedodd said...

noooooo - wah! just kidding... i would love to attend a retreat... and am so very glad that you got to (though i am sorry you fell ill)... hmm, which one? i don't know - i get pulled between the energy of the bigger ones and the intimacy of the smaller... perhaps someday i will experience both and then give an informed answer... but until then - small and intimate with a great teacher sounds wonderful...

Therese's Treasures said...

Erin, I am so glad you had the chance to get away and relax and make new beading friends. It looked like you all had great time.

I have not ever been on a retreat, but it sounds wonderful. I would like to one day on on the beading cruise.

Amy F said...

Sounds like a great time! I would love to go to a bead retreat!

Off the Beadin' Path said...

First of all, I surely relate to your comments on stress!! We're both getting ready for the same show next week, always seems that I feel more pressure for this one, self-imposed, according to Mr. D.! Do ya' think? Enjoyed your recap of the lovely retreat with Heather. I've never been on a bead retreat, but whenever I'm in Cornucopia or Bayfield, WI I feel like I'm on a personal one because of all the inspiration near Lake Superior. Each of the Great Lakes has its own impressive personality! Thanks for sharing your story.

Sally Anderson said...

I know Royelle! How fun to find her picture here. I've taken 4 classes from her and she is totally awesome! That retreat sounds really great!

Betty S. said...

I've never been on a retreat, but this one looks totally awesome. And, love your photo albums!

Judy said...

Oh Miss Erin, you sure know how to have a good time! (so sorry you got sick)...The Art Retreat sounds wonderful, and unfortunately I have never been on one. One of these days I would love to attend one.

Cynthia@OrnamentalStyle said...

I've never been to an art retreat but would like to someday soon. Your digital walks via the slide shows are just wonderful. So gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

I could not get any of the slide shows to work for me, but I bet they were so wonderful! It sounds like fun to go on an art retreat! Would have loved to see the ocean one :)