Saturday, May 19, 2012

In the Woods

Late yesterday I got home from three days with my friends at our yearly STASH retreat. This year we went back to the house at Black Butte Ranch where we were a couple years ago. I organized a surface design project for us just so we would not feel too relaxed! We experimented with paste resist on fabric, which we then painted. It was a good kind of project for a several day long retreat since there are steps that require drying time between. We could do step 1, then leave it to dry and go off on some adventure of sightseeing, or shopping or eating. Eating was big.

Step one: Mix up paste and spread it on fabric in a thin layer. We used a combination of rice flour and wheat flour. Some were left with a simple paste layer, others we marked into the paste with various tools. The unmarked pieces will, with any luck, become allover crackle patterns.

Suzy, Gale and Gerrie here, spreading the pancake batter-ish goo on their fabric. Then we took them out to the deck and spread them out to dry and went off to the Black Butte Lodge for an incredible dinner with the sun setting behind the view of spectacular mountains, lake, golf course and ponderosa pines. A couple of the group with foot surgery and medical issues drove to the Lodge and the rest of us walked. The walk was beautiful, but our memories were faulty concerning how far it was, plus we were confused about walking to a different restaurant two years ago that was a much shorter walk, so we were quite late for our reservation and dragging our butts by the time we finally arrived, but were soon refreshed by wine and really just wonderfully memorable food and good conversation and lots of laughing.

Step two: The next morning we "cracked" our dry pasted fabrics, then painted over the tops with acrylic and fabric paints—the plan being that the paint seeps into the cracks and marks onto the fabric and the rest of the fabric is protected from the paint by the paste resist.

Reva and Beth are painting over the dried paste resist.

Again, we spread them out on the sunny deck to dry and headed into Bend for another adventure. We found Starbucks and then a beautiful quilt shop that we had never been to before. We were happy to leave a few dollars at Quiltworks and bring home some beautiful fabrics and threads. Our lunch at the Pine Tavern turned into a marathon. We waited for more than an hour for our food, but it was outstanding once it arrived and they apologized for the delay with complimentary desserts. Again, plenty of good, often hilarious conversation. We do the eating/conversation part so well!

Step three: When we got back to Black Butte our creations were dry and we began the arduous task of cracking and scraping the dried paste off our fabrics. The paste can be removed more easily by soaking the piece in water overnight and then washing the remaining paste out, but we did not want to make a big gooey mess in the rental house or try to dispose of all that gummy, sticky wet paste. And—we wanted to be able to see what our fabrics looked like before we left. So we scraped with a spoon and picked with our fingers and revealed at least some of each piece to admire. Soaking and finishing will happen back home.

Here are areas with resist removed.

Pretty great, huh? It was fun and exciting to see the results. I think we all got a lot of ideas about how to improve the process and inspiration to try variations. Can't wait to see what we do with these fabrics.

It was a great getaway with friends—wine, good food, laughs, stories, games of Draw Something and Mexican Train and the beauty of the pines and the aspens and the mountains of the High Desert country of Oregon.

I feel refreshed.


  1. I loved reading about your retreat! I used to go on skiing retreats in Colorado and tennis retreats in Florida, and the main event at both was usually the meals, conversation, and laughing. You are lucky to have art quilting friends to retreat with!
    Martha Ginn

  2. That sounds like a great retreat. I love groups that do the conversation/eating part so well. :-) Having a project seems like a nice way to bring you guys all together too. I love the results.