St. Johns River Festival of the Arts

This past weekend was the St. Johns River Festival of the Arts, held annually in Sanford, Florida on the first weekend of May.  The Festival was held Saturday from 10-6 and Sunday from 10-5.  More than 125 artists had booths and expected attendance was 30,000 – 40,000.  The Weavers of Orlando guild had a booth and we set up to do spinning and weaving demonstrations.  I was in the booth helping with the demos on Saturday from 12-6 and the entire day on Sunday.  The weather was spectacular.  Mid-70s to low-80s, with a breeze blowing off the lake and little humidity is perfect weather for an outdoor art fair.  It was a wonderful weekend!

The Weavers of Orlando Booth

The view looking out from our booth. The sky looked liked this the entire weekend.

We actually had two booth spaces — 52 and 53 — and they were right in the middle of a street.


We had a stand displaying woven items made by guild members.


We taught Kumihimo braiding to kids.  We had 160 Kumihimo disks made by guild members for demo purposes; we gave out the last ones about 3:00 pm on Sunday (the guild goes through more than 1,000 Kumihimo disks in a year).

WoO members Nancy (foreground) and Bev teaching Kumihimo braiding to Festival attendees on Saturday.
WoO members Nancy (foreground) and Bev teaching Kumihimo braiding to Festival attendees on Saturday.

We brought the 4-shaft Dorset floor loom and any attendee who wanted to try it out got a chance.  We had a 3 yard warp on the loom, and by about 4:00 pm on Sunday, the entire length was finished!  One attendee, a 12-year-old girl, will be sewing bags from the finished fabric.

WoO member Marilyn encouraging a first-time weaver.
WoO member Marilyn encouraging a first-time weaver.

We also had a couple of table looms and members wove on those throughout the day.  On Saturday we had three or four people spinning.  I was one of the spinners on Saturday, and I got almost 2 ounces of Cormo spun.  On Saturday evening, when I got home, I warped my rigid heddle loom so that I could bring it with me on Sunday.  I brought my wheel on Sunday also, but I spent most of my time weaving on the rigid heddle.  I got about 60″ of weaving done!

Around the Fair

On Sunday, I took an hour or so to stroll around the fair.  Many Festival goers brought their dogs with them.  I didn’t get any dog pictures, but I get a picture of this unusual pet:


The parrot’s owner told us that he is a rescue bird.  His wings are clipped so he can’t fly.  He likes to sit on the handlebar of her bike and spread his wings out while she rides, maybe to get the sensation of flying.

I also saw another unusual pet walking around: a bunny rabbit in a harness and on a leash, but I didn’t get a picture of it!

On Saturday, this stilt walker was part of the festival entertainment, strolling along the street and interacting with crowds.  The head is a puppet controlled by the walker, and she did a wonderful job of making that head interact in a way that made it seem alive.  More than one child gave the bird a drink from a bottle of water!  When it was time to distribute ribbons to artists, the stilt walker was along for the ceremony.  I didn’t get close enough to see for sure, but I think the puppet head was taking ribbons out of a basket and handing them to the artists!  We found out from a Festival organizer that this stilt walker is a Disney employee and the Festival contracted with Disney to have her at the Festival.



I bought pieces from four artists.

Nicola Barsaleau

Nicola Barsaleau is a Gainesville, Florida-based printmaker.  She creates her work using a methodology which has been used for centuries.  She starts by drawing onto printmaking linoleum with graphite.  By using graphite, she can erase and change until she is satisfied with the image.  Once the drawing is complete, she uses a curved tool to carve out sections of the image to make the block.  She then applies an oil-based ink to the block and presses it onto paper to make prints.  I bought two pieces from her:

Six in the Morning

Six in the Morning (photo from artist’s blog) (see her blog post about the piece)

Untitled work (photo from artist’s blog) (see her blog post about this piece)


Six in the Morning is a limited edition print and a Father’s Day / Birthday gift for my birdwatching father.  The untitled work is for me.  I loved the image of the bee and the reminder of how necessary bees are for pollination.  I also love the round mandala-like shape, which will blend with another piece I have from a different local artist: a mandala created by manipulating a photo of an endangered gopher tortoise. The untitled work is not a limited edition; Nicola told me she loves this particular piece so much that she wants to be able to print as many as possible.

What the FORK?

The next piece I bought is a pendant from Oswego, New York-based What the FORK  (website, Facebook).  All of their pieces are made from old silverware, which is welded and hand-manipulated into new shapes.  I bought an octopus pendant because I have a wee bit of an obsession with octopi.  This piece is not pictured on their website, so here’s a picture I took myself:


Kirk Dodd Photography

Kirk Dodd is a Merritt Island, Florida-based photographer.  Most of his work is High Dynamic Range photography, a technique in which multiple images are taken with different settings, then layered to create a final image.  The piece I bought is not on his website, and it seems strange to take a picture of a picture, so you don’t get to see it.  Sorry!  It’s a stunning image, taking at a Florida beach of heart-shaped lightning over the ocean.  The image is take at an angle at the point where water is breaking on the beach, so the beach is on the right / lower edge and the ocean is to the left / upper edge and the lightning is in the middle.  It’s beautiful.

Touch of Key West Photography

Mark Weeter is a Florida Keys-based photographer who specializes in underwater photography.  Smaller pieces (up to about 16″x20″) are printed on aluminum.  I really love this technique because it seems to bring a luster to photos that you don’t get any other way.  Larger pieces are standard photographic prints.  He and his wife frame the pictures themselves, using wood reclaimed from old lobster pots.  The frames are pretty cool, some with barnacles still attached.  He had a larger black and white photo of a sponge that I just loved, but after my other shopping it was more than I could spend.  I settled on a smaller piece, an 8″x8″ image of a jelly fish, shot from below.  This image isn’t on his website.

In Conclusion

I had a wonderful time at the St. Johns River Festival of the Arts.  Since it is always on the first weekend of May, that means it is always the same weekend as Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I’m not sure how often I’ll go to MDSW in the future; any time I’m not going to MDSW, I’ll definitely plan to be at the St. Johns River Festival of the Arts!

St. Augustine Spin In

The St. Augustine, FL Textile Arts Guild holds an annual Spin In at the St. Augustine Visitors Center on the last Saturday of March.  I found out about this event last January, when I was in St. Augustine with my sister, and have been planning to attend ever since.  It’s about a 2 hour drive from my house, so I was glad that my friend Lorelle decided to join me!

The members of the St. Augustine Textile Arts Guild generally dress in Colonial-style clothing when they demonstrate.  I planned to make myself an appropriate outfit prior to the event, but with everything else that I had going on the last couple months, that did not happen.  I wasn’t too worried about it, because it isn’t a requirement of attending the Spin In.  I picked through my closet and came up with a long black skirt, white t-shirt, straw hat, and my Icarus shawl.  It’s not a recognizable fashion from any particular time period, but there’s something less than modern about the ensemble!

The Visitors Center has alcoves along the side, and the city’s demonstration ordinances required us to be in the alcoves or on a row of benches at the perimeter of the main room.  Here’s a couple pictures of everyone in the alcove.


You can see my wheel on the far right of the first picture and I’m on the far left of the second picture.  Lorelle is beside me in the blue and white dress.  I wish I’d taken a better picture of her wheel.  She painted it herself, finishing it about 12:30 am Saturday.  She brought the wheel to this event in pieces and spent the first hour or so assembling it.  In this picture, it looks black or dark brown, but it is actually forest green with bright green and gold highlights.  It is beautiful!

The table in the second picture is full of tatting.


A few of these pieces were made by the woman at the table, but most are pieces passed on to her by her mother-in-law.  Most pieces date from the 1940s or 1950s, but a few, including the large collar on top of the yellow placemat, are from earlier in the 20th century.  This woman’s collection consists of hundreds of tatted pieces plus many vintage shuttles, crochet hooks, and more.  She only brought a few pieces to display at this event.  She spent the time tatting, using two shuttles.  I have only seen tatting with one shuttle and didn’t know it was possible to use more than one.  Apparently, some people use as many as 6 shuttles at a time!


Other attendees were weaving tapestry (in the first group picture), knitting (ditto), inkle weaving (I didn’t get a picture), and carding.


The Spin In was held from 10 am to 3 pm.  I thought the Spin In started at 9:30, so planned to get there about 9:00 am.  I was running late, however, so we didn’t arrive until about 10.  The Visitors Center was busy all day long.  If no other visitors were in our alcove, people tended to stand just outside the alcove and watch, even though there was no barrier to keep them from coming in to get a closer look.  But we invited them in and answered any questions they had about our various crafts.

I had a wonderful time at the Spin In!  I was working on the Cormo that I started while at the Central Florida Fair.  I made decent progress, spinning a couple ounces or so, despite helping Lorelle assemble her wheel, taking a break for lunch, taking breaks to walk around and visit with the other demonstrators, and talking to visitors.

The St. Augustine Textile Arts Guild holds their regular meetings on the 2nd Thursday of the month.  They often hold workshops on non-Guild-meeting Thursdays.  For more information on joining the Guild, the location and time of the Guild meetings, and details on any workshops they have scheduled, visit their Facebook page.  If you do a Google search for the group, you may come across a web page for them.  However, the web page is not current and is not updated.  All the communication for the group goes through Facebook!  While the official Spin In is held only once per year, one or two Guild members often spin at the Visitors Center on Mondays.  They are also discussing the possibility of having another Spin In sometime in the Fall.  If you are in St. Augustine, stop by and see them.  If you are a fiber crafter, you are always welcome to craft in public too!  Perhaps I will see you there (and maybe I’ll even be in costume).


Central Florida Fair 2015

When we first moved to Florida in May 2002, I joined the Confectionary Artists Guild of Orlando (CAGO).  I started learning cake decorating as a scout badge when I was 12 and by the time I moved to Florida, I had professional-level skills.  CAGO does cake demos at the Central Florida Fair every year.  They usually have an entire weekend afternoon of demos from the stage in the Creative Arts building.  CAGO members do back-to-back 1/2 hour demos on a variety of cake-related skills.  I did a demo every year for three or four years.  When the Fair was looking for people to do cooking demos, they asked CAGO if any of our members wanted to do that.  I volunteered, and did vegetarian cooking demos for a couple years in addition to the cake demos.  Then I started law school in fall 2007 and life got pretty crazy.  I hadn’t been to the Fair since.  Until yesterday, when I spent the morning at the fair, doing spinning demos in the Weavers Guild of Orlando booth.

Bev demonstrating on the floor loom and me spinning.

The Central Florida Fair is only open in the evening on most weekdays.  On the first Friday morning of the fair, they host a Kids’ Day for school groups, homeschool groups, and families.  Each group gets a guide from the fair in addition to the chaperones from the school.  The guide brings the group through the open sections of the fairgrounds (the midway isn’t open, but creative arts and the barns were; not sure about other buildings).  In the creative arts building, most of the guild and club booths had a person in them to do a demo.  Some had make and takes or a hands on activity.  In our booth, we gave a brief talk about how clothes are made.  Bev talked about the difference between knitted and woven fabrics, pointing out examples from the clothes kids were wearing.  Then I pointed out the $5 Mystery Fleece, fluffed out on the table behind me and the bag of seeded Pima cotton (in a bag just behind my right shoulder in the picture above).  I explained that these were in raw form, that they were then cleaned and formed into a continuous tube of fiber, and that in order to make yarn those tubes of fiber have to be thinner and that’s what a spinner does.

After we did our short explanation, kids got a chance to weave on the floor loom and to make Kumihimo braids with guidance from my friend V. (That’s V.’s foot in the right-hand edge of the picture above; she asked me not to post her picture).  V. is not a fiber-crafter (yet!) but she’s staying with me and she tagged along to the fair to help wrangle kids.  At the beginning of the day, Bev showed V. how to do Kumihimo braids.  She picked it up quickly and did a great job teaching kids how to do it too.

The bucket is half full of bobbins.  Kids could pick their favorite color and use it to weave.
The bucket is half full of bobbins. Kids could pick their favorite color and use it to weave.

One of the bobbins in the bucket (on the shuttle in the picture above) was loaded with VCR tape.  Bev had several small woven pieces and a finished bag that included VCR-tape weft.  I was surprised by how pretty it was.  The tape tends to take on the colors of the warp or other surrounding fibers, adds a pretty sheen to the fabric, and the draft pattern stands out beautifully against it.  Bev also brought some samples woven with plastic grocery bags or Cheesecake Factory to-go bags.  All the pieces were beautiful, and I wouldn’t have guessed the material.  I obviously need to expand my thoughts on appropriate materials for weaving!  There’s a lot more than just yarn.

Close up of the VCR-tape weft.
Close up of the VCR-tape weft.

Teaching Spinning

I started a new fiber at the fair — Cormo for my first of the Breed-Specific Spinning Project.  For the first few groups of kids, I just spun and answered questions.  No one touched my wheel.  One of the kids in the fourth group asked if she could try it out, so I sat her down at the wheel.  I’ve only been spinning for 10 months now, and have only spun about 3 pounds of fiber.  I’m nowhere near an expert and haven’t taught anyone else to spin.  I discovered that I don’t have a good vocabulary for explaining what is happening when you spin or for verbally communicating the process to a student.  After that first kid, I didn’t let anyone else sit and try all the steps at once.  I mostly let kids (even as young as 4) hang onto the roving and pull on it a bit, while I treadled and kept my left hand pinched firmly around the point of the twist.  The resulting fiber was over twisted, thick and thin, and broke a couple of times.  But so  what?  Kids got to touch fiber and were pretty excited about it.  I learned that I have a lot to learn before I can effectively teach spinning and that the technical details of spinning are not firm enough in my own mind.  If they were, I’d be able to explain them!


More Fair for Me?

The Central Florida Fair runs February 26 – March 8 this year.  During the week, they are open evenings 4 pm or 5 pm until 10 pm.  On Saturdays and Sundays, they are open 10 am to 10 pm.  The Weavers of Orlando are staffing our booth on weekends, but may not be there on weekdays.  I can’t be there again this weekend, but might be there next weekend.  If you are at the Fair, stop by and say hi to the weavers!  Anyone can try out the floor loom; it’s not just for kids!

Orlando Distaff Day 2015

Saturday, January 10, was the Eleventh Annual Orlando Distaff Day.  I’ve known about the event for the last 5 or 6 years, but have always had a conflict and been unable to attend.  This year, not only did I attend, I also served on the planning committee.  I had an absolutely wonderful time at this event!

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Fibery Adventures in San Francisco & Berkeley

Chris and I were in San Francisco from September 8 to 13.  Chris had to attend a conference for work starting the evening of the 8th and ending at noon on the 11th.  I tagged along for a vacation.  Whenever I travel, I always try to incorporate local fiber into my vacation.  At a bare minimum, I visit a Local Yarn Store (LYS).  I try to buy a yarn that is local, either because it is spun from locally raised fiber animal, it is hand-dyed locally, or it is manufactured by a small local business.  I also look for textile museums or other points of fibery interest that I can visit.  I rarely drag Chris to these places, as he generally finds them boring, but I take any opportunity to go on my own and bring Chris when the fiber can be combined with something he finds interesting.  Since Chris was in the conference, I had two entire days on my own in San Francisco, and I used part of that time in fibery pursuits.  On Friday, I did bring Chris along to one fibery exhibit.  My fibery adventures barely scratched the surface of everything that is available in greater-San Francisco!

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