Arts at Audubon 2015

Last night, Audubon Park Elementary held their annual Arts at Audubon open house.  The Weavers of Orlando have participated in this event for many years; it was my first time.  Local artisans have tables scattered throughout the school.  Kids and parents walk through to see demos and do make and takes.  The Weavers of Orlando set up the school library.  We had a floor loom, a table loom, two spinners (including me), and Kumihimo disks for a make and take.  We were inundated for the two hours of the event; we brought 200 Kumihimo disks and ran out 1/2 hour before the end of the event!  Usually, I try to share pictures from these events, but I don’t have any from this one.  We were so busy talking to kids and parents that I didn’t have time to take pictures.  Instead, I thought I’d share some of the things kids and parents said at the event!

The second girl in the room, just moments into the event: “I’ve come to this for 5 years, and weaving is my favorite.”

“Will you make me a snow hat?”

Girl: “What can you make with the yarn?”

Me: “Anything you want!”

Girl: “Shoes?”

Me: “Well, you can make slippers and those are kind of shoes.”

Girl: “Can you make me some?

Mother: “Do you get the wool from a lamb or a sheep?”

Me (confused): “Well, a lamb is a baby sheep.  I don’t know how old they are when they are sheared the first time.”

Mother: “A lamb is a baby sheep?  Shows how much I know!”

Girl: “Where do we get the jellyfish?” (referring to the Kumihimo disks)

Father: “Do you have a cotton gin?  Or know anyone who does?”

This turned into an interesting conversation.  He’s been growing cotton in his yard — the native cotton that grows into a tall bush.  He has bags of cotton, but no gin to clean it.  He’s looked online, the only gins he can find are huge commercial versions, and he doesn’t have time to build his own.  Then he offered me cotton seeds!

I always ask if people want to touch the roving, then the spun yarn so they can compare the two.  I’m still spinning the Cormo, which is super soft.  One girl, probably a kindergartener, just couldn’t stop touching the roving.  She bent down and buried both her hands in the bag of roving on the floor.  “It’s so soft!” she said, again and again.  Yes, yes it is.

A common question: “How does it work?”

My standard spiel, regardless of age: “Every time I press down on a pedal, the big wheel goes around one time.  The big wheel is connected to this smaller wheel by this band.  Every time the big wheel goes around once, the small wheel goes around 8 times.  The small wheel makes all the rest of this (as I generally wave at the bobbin and flyer) go around, including the fiber.  This puts twist in the fiber and it is the twist that makes the yarn hold together.  So when I spin, two things are happening.  With my hands I’m drawing out a little bit of fiber at a time, and this determines how thick the yarn will be.  At the same time, my feet are moving, putting in the twist to hold the yarn together.  The amount of twist is determined by how fast I move my feet in relationship to how fast I move my hands.”

I didn’t notice any eyes glazing over, and several of the kids asked questions after or during the spiel.  The questions were logical extensions of the spiel, so it sounded like they understood.

Boy: “What happens if you move your feet really fast?”
And before I could answer, he says: “You’d have to move your hands really fast too, right?

I love it when someone gets it!

The most common question of all: “Can I try it?”

Me: “No. Not tonight.”

Child: “Why not?”

Me: “I’m not good enough at it myself to explain it!” or “It’s a little too chaotic in here!”

Both are true statements; if I’m going to keep doing demos, I’ve gotta get better at the teaching part!

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!