Sun. Rain. Rain. Sun. Sun. Rain. Sun. Rain. Rain. RAIN. Sun. Weather is a big deal at Haystack. Virtually all of the work is in studios so it’s not as if anything has to be called off because of rain, but things don’t dry and moving between studios, dining hall and cabins is dicey, both for getting wet and for uncertain footing. But the variation adds to the serendipitous nature of the experience here. You wake up in the morning and look out the window and there it is…weather. You go to the dining room for breakfast and there they are…pancakes. You go to the studio and there you find something new to try. As my brother-in-law, Web, says, “You never know, you know?”
Today is the last full day of work. Tomorrow is clean-up, evaluations, a walk-through which is open to the public and an auction that benefits the scholarship fund and the studios. It seems to arrive before anyone is ready for it. The instructors this session have done a masterful job of timing the classes so that the arc of learning has been smooth and is ending at just the right time. People will go home with finished work, samples and ideas from every studio.
The graphics studio is strewn with rich, inventive charcoal, graphite and ink drawings, enhanced with wax, shellac and spirit. The textiles studio is dark with every surface covered with stitched samples, dyed fabric and paper, fab lab laser-cut wood pieces, yarn, lace and other pliable planes the students are using in the process of developing their own ways of working. The class must be off somewhere on a jaunt.
The clay students are getting the last of their glazing done for the final firing tonight. I don’t know how many firings they have had but it seems as if the past four or five days have been a continuous cycle of bisque firing, glaze, glaze firing, assess and repeat. The clay class is perhaps the most unpredictable because the kiln gods have their own agenda. There were many successes and lots of learning.
The jewelry/metals studio is alive with pounding and sanding and scraping, along with the conversations of people who have gotten to know and trust each other. I am always amazed by how jewelery makers work with bits and pieces all over their desk that go together to create small worlds of delight. Tomorrow at the walk-through, all of those fragments will make sense in their final forms.
Even the instructors get into the last-minute flurry of activity. Mark Sfirri, the instructor in the wood studio, is showing Larry Thomas, the drawing instructor how to work with some calligraphic script that he had routed onto wood in the fab lab.
Such is the spirit of Haystack. It is a big idea that affects people’s lives in small ways. But those small effects can add up to a life changing experience. I know that this happens in many places, all of the time, but it’s almost guaranteed here. I am in awe of the kind of intelligence, respect, generosity and effort that is evident here in the students, the instructors and the staff. The world isn’t totally lost after all.