Can it really be that I have returned home from CREATE Costa Mesa already?  My week in southern climes flew by, divided happily between family visiting and hanging out with artists extraordinaire at CREATE.  The only blot on my So Cal landscape was only getting to spend three minutes on the beach in the entire week.  Very hard for a California girl, that.

The experience of CREATE was unbelievable.  So many skilled artists full to brimming with information, ideas and techniques to share, it was often difficult to distinguish teacher from pupil.  We became equals sharing together.  I find the experience of working in such an environment incredibly stimulating.  Everywhere you look, there are wonderful things going on, a positive feast of creations to look at and pore over and discover.  So many exclamations rang through those rooms of ‘How did you do that!?” and “Wow, that’s amazing!”  I was inspired, honoured and thrilled with the sharing and exchanging that went on during the workshops I attended and taught.  Let me tell you the story! 

After a day visiting with family, I arrived at the retreat on Thursday to meet all the wonderful  CREATE instructors, crew and Cloth Paper Scissors editorial staff.  It was amazing to be greeted like an old friend by such talented artists as Pam Carriker, Jen Cushman,  Barb Delaney, Jenn Mason and Jane LeFazio, names and faces I had become familiar with through Facebook and Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.  After much visiting, nineteen-to-the-dozen talking and laughter, it was time to get along to my workshop making pendants with Thomas Ashman.

Pendants, copyright Dea Fischer 2011

Now, truth be told, it wasn’t the pendants I was after, as lovely as they were.  It was the skills and the tools.  Anyone who knows me even half way will know I believe a girl can never have enough tools!  And so, spring punches and metal hand punches and bench grinders and blow torches and chemicals later, I had a list of tools and two fantastic pendants to show for my labours.  And a big chunk out of my hand for the privilege.  I think I was the first to draw serious blood at the retreat.  . . .

Friday found me teaching a class to a lovely group of people intent on learning how to form a book without picking up a needle.  Over the day, we created a little pocket concertina book for tucking away pictures, ephemera or keepsakes:

Artist's book "Door" copyright Dea Fischer 2011

We followed this with a book form I just love, and that has the most wonderful and deceptively simple operation of any book form I’ve made.  It’s called a flag book, and fans out open to display its contents.  The form is great for adding photographic images, or indeed a single image split into pieces, to be reassembled for viewing by the operation of the book’s interior:

Flag book

Friday night saw us lining up to charge into the Artist’s Faire to feast on the wonderful array of art and craftwork, supplies, tools and what my mixed media cronies and I call ‘stash’.  Let’s just say it was a lucky thing I was emptying most of a suitcase of supplies I had brought for my classes.  It made good room for my purchases . . .

Saturday found me at the head of another classroom, teaching a dedicated group of artists how to wield a needle, thread, paper and glue into a beautiful Japanese stab bind book:

I think this is just a beautiful, simple book form that captures the grace and craftsmanship I appreciate in our colleagues from Japan.  The beauty of the finished book belies its cleverly simple construction.  This was but a warm-up for the piece de resistance of the day, a lovely hideaway journal with a traditional stitched block:

The journal is a true beauty, a pleasure in the hand that will draw you back again and again to fill its pages.  Its wrapped case will hold your ephemera and found things safely within its ribbon ties.

The treasures that emerged from CREATE are too numerous to list, and some too subtle to tease out into daylight.  I’ve been blown away by the response I received, by the friendships begun and the community that opened itself to me.  So, I need to start saving now for next year so that I can participate in as many of these wonderful classes as possible.  And you?  You need to come next time!  Happy creating.