Posted on April 6, 2014
In January I made the decision to apply to Haystack Mountain School of Crafts artist’s residency program. Haystack received an anonymous grant that allowed them to offer artist’s residencies for the very first time!
For a period of three years, starting last year, Haystack started offering a juried artist’s residency program. I attended Haystack on scholarship in 2007 and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life! Because I have such fond memories of my time there, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity since I knew that this program will only last for a limited amount of time. So off to work I went and I scoured over my application for two months before I submitted it! Fortunately, my hard work paid off, and I am very happy to say that I will be one of the artists in residence this summer at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts! Fifty artists from varying craft backgrounds from across the country will be participating in the residency. We have the opportunity to utilize all of Haystack’s incredible studios to make our art! I truly look forward to having this two week period of time completely set aside where I can focus making my own personal work! I certainly recognized some of the well-known metalsmiths from the list of artists chosen: Jeffrey Clancy, Tina Rath, and Lauren Kalman.
I will talk a little bit about my past experience at Haystack so I can paint a better picture of what an incredible school Haystack truly is! Haystack Mountain School of Craft was founded in 1950 by a group of craft artists in Balfast, Maine. The school is located on the coast of Deer Isle, which is a remote area in Maine. The school is tucked away in a beautiful forest next to the ocean. The scenery is breathtaking! Anyone would feel inspired just walking the grounds at Haystack!
I was awarded a scholarship from San Diego State University School of Art to take a class at Haystack. I wanted to experience working in a completely different medium, so I decided to take a table making class. The instructor was Matt Hutton, who is head of the furniture department at Maine College of Art. Matt had two teaching assistants: Yuri Kobayashi and Cory Robinson. All three received their MFA from San Diego State University studying under Wendy Maruyama. Yuri graduated from SDSU while I was still in the graduate program and was happy to see a familiar, friendly face!
As I mentioned earlier, the studios at Haystack are well-equipped and well-maintained. Below are some images inside the wood working studio.
The atmosphere at Haystack is wonderful. My fellow students were friendly, supportive and driven. We had 24 hour access to use the studios to make our work. There were many instances when I hobbled out of the studio at 1am or 2am and still saw students working away in other areas. The students understood that this was a special opportunity to focus on creating art at this amazing school and therefore, everyone wanted to fully utilize their time at Haystack.
Arthur, one of my classmates, was in his eighties taking his very first woodworking class! He was a retired doctor and he very generously invited us to visit his home where he could show us his breathtaking craft collection! Arthur had traveled all over the world and had acquired well-known works of art, including original Hokusai Japanese woodblock prints. The few pieces that really stood out was his collection of original George Nakashima furniture pieces.
When Arthur was living in Pennsylvania, Nakashima was a neighbor of his. Before his career took off, Arthur purchased several furniture pieces which included a dining table, chairs and coffee table. George Nakashima was born in 1905 and was given the title of “Living Treasure” by the emperor and government of Japan in 1983, which is the highest title any crafts person from Japan can achieve. Some of his furniture pieces have sold at auction for over 100,000.
In my furniture class, I decided to make a very small table, since I knew I would have to lug this back on the plane to California. I designed the table to look like a tree and be about the size of a foot stool.
I made my table out of cherry wood. Above, is the table top, the foot of the table and a small leaf-shaped shelf.
All meals and housing are provided when attending Haystack. Generally, people have the impression that camp food isn’t very good. I certainly did. Oh, was I so wrong! My classmates and I would often joke about students coming to Haystack simply for the food!
All the meals were freshly prepared with local produce. There were plenty of vegetarian options as well. Of course, we cannot forget about the dessert!
Someone was so inspired by the desserts at Haystack that they chronicled their experience through sketches! The desserts were amazing and always eaten up very quickly!
I became friends with many of the students in the textiles area. I went on a walk through the forest with a few of the students and their instructor, Jon Eric Riis. Jon is an internationally recognized fiber artist whose work resides in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian and Metropolitan Museum of Art just to name a few.
At the end of the two week session, the students displayed their work in the studios for everyone to view.
My classmate Caleb made a beautifully designed coffee table. He was barely twenty and was clearly very talented. I love how his modern table doubled as a magazine rack!
Below are the furniture pieces that my classmate, Arthur, made.
He made a Chinese Go table and was ambitious enough to make a second piece: a wine rack.
Above, are the tables that my instructor, Matt Hutton, made for Haystack’s auction. At the end of each session, artists donate some of their work which go to auction. The proceeds help to support Haystack’s programs.
Below, is my “finished” table. I finished all the components of my tree table but didn’t finish the assembly. It took a little longer than expected to carve. 😛
I just taped the parts together so people could get the idea of what the table would like when complete.
Below, is an example of work made in one of the other craft studios.
In the paper making class, the students made sheets from alternative materials, namely vegetables and fruits. The above paper was made from thinly sliced garlic.
I took this picture while standing at the top of Haystack’s famous wooden flight of stairs. I wanted to capture a view of the trees, the school and part of the ocean on my last day at Haystack. These images above were a sampling from my Powerpoint presentation that I gave to SDSU’s School of Art in fulfillment of the requirements of my scholarship to Haystack. I hope these images inspired you and I cannot wait to step foot again on this amazing campus.