Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Valley Ridge Correctional Center

(Laura, Trish, Lesley, Jane, and Beth soaking up the fun at Valley Ridge Art Studio! )

This past weekend was spent at the Valley Ridge Art Studio with three great gals taking a stupendous class taught by one of my art idols, Lesley Riley!! Among other things, we spent the weekend making art and laughing like hyeneas (oh, and eating great food and shopping)! How to describe this weekend...........

(Beth able to focus and create wonderful art!!!!)

Let's start with why I took this class. Last Spring my Mom, Jane, and I went to a quilt and mixed media expo and we met the beautiful Lesley Riley and saw her artwork which consisted of fabric covered memory books and her trademark Fragments! Please go here to see and drool: Fragments. I bought Lesley's DVD and watched it and decided I needed to learn the tricks of her trade because her stuff just got me right in the gut.

(Looking through Lesley's stash!)

(Jane at the shopping wall!! )

We found a class that she was teaching at the stunning Valley Ridge Art Studio in Muscoda, Wisconsin. Valley Ridge is owned and run by Kathy Malkasian and her wonderful husband, Bill. They also have a wonderful greeter by the name of Bear who is a very loveable 11 year old border collie mix. Kathy and Bill have created the most calming and inspiring spot in Valley Ridge. The setting in the middle of farm country is stunning. The workshop classroom is top notch!! Their hospitality is unrivaled. The minute you arrive you already feel comfortable, and I had never even been there before! But, I am jumping ahead of myself. Our class was all day Saturday and Sunday, but we left Friday for a play day before class.

Trish spent the night at my house on Thursday night so that we could get up bright and early on Friday morning, pick up Jane, and then drive to Beth's house in Middleton, Wisconsin. The four of us have been working on an Alphabetica round robin project since May. We had not met Beth in person, but had talked on the phone and exchanged numerous e-mails. We arrived at Beth's after about a three hour drive and immediately delved into hanging out together in a very harmonious manner. We got a tour of Beth's home and her art studio. In the art studio the three of nearly fainted from excitement any number of times. Beth has set up her studio in such an inviting and inspiring manner. There was so much to look at and ooh and ahh over! What a blast. We decided that this winter when things are looking grim around here that we are going to Beth's house for a weekend of tutorials and making art! We also got to meet the truly loveable Sophie! (Beth's dog).

(Beth, Laura, Trish, and Jane at the Eagle Creek Inn restaurant.)

(Jane and Trish at Valley Ridge)

Beth made a lovely chicken tortellini salad for lunch and we were able to sit in her sunny kitchen and eat together. Following that we had mini-tutorials. Beth showed us how to transfer pictures from copy paper to fabric using gel medium. We showed Beth our favorite Prismacolor and Gamsol coloring technique. This was followed by a "Sassy Swap" in which we exchanged small gifts that we purchased/made for each other. What a blast!

After lunch we went shopping!!! First stop was a newly opened antique mall that was full of great finds for great prices!!!!! Wahoo!!! I will be posting some of these findings in the coming days....pictures, buttons, glasses, ephemera....it was like the antique fairies knew we were coming.

Next stop, the Scrapbook Superstore!! This was really great because we saw products that we had not seen in the Chicago area!! We (okay really just Jane and I) were hyperventilating and becoming disoriented from excitment in the store! Trish and Beth kept their cool and did not make a scene. We found cool stuff from the Bohemian line of My Mind's Eye and Cosmo's Cricket! After a harried hour in that shop, we went back to Beth's and met her lovely husband, John, and wonderful son, Jack. Then we were off to Dodgeville for dinner at Culvers! We fully intended on having ice cream, but after our sandwiches and cheese curds we did not have room. We then finished the day's journey by driving to our hotel room at the Eagle Creek Inn in Fenimore, Wisconsin. We rounded off the evening by drinking wine, Tab, and wine coolers and looking at the stash we collected that day.

The next morning we were up early because I had decreed that we needed to get to class a half hour before it started. After continental breakfast we were off to Valley Ridge. What a lovely scenic route we had on County Road Q to County Road G! We arrived at Valley Ridge just in time to discover they had a wall of shopping there! Lots of wonderful 7 Gypsies products. We heartilty partook of this wall and also picked out our worktables and set up our supplies. We met Lesley, Kathy, and all of our fun classmates. The great think about taking a class from Lesley is that she is so down to earth and relaxed. She is there to inspire you, to help you when you need it, and to just generally hang out and share some laughs. She is a gem I tell ya! We learned tons of new techniques and ideas. My favorite was finally learning to transfer an image onto fabric using water or a gel medium!! That is going to come in handy!!!

We broke for lunch at 12:30 and boy was that fun!! We walked up the short distance from the workshop to Kathy and Bill's house where we had a sumptuous feast awaiting us!!! All served on fun dishes, some vintage! After lunch it was back to class for us!! We were in quite a frenzied state. I got so worked up that by the end of the day I could not even think. Overstimulation!!! (but in a good way!) Lesley generously shared some of her fabric pieces and images with us so that sent us into hyperdrive with the love of her style!

It was about at this point where Jane came up with the idea of the Valley Ridge Correctional Center! She told me that she wished that Valley Ridge was a women's correctional center and that we had to stay there and just create art all day! She said the room was fully equipped because there was even a refrigerator for pop! She was right, everything was there, the bathroom, the shopping wall, all of the supplies, and great people to hang out with. I thought this was so hilarious so I had to tell our teacher, Lesley. Jane was mortified that I told, thinking that Lesley would think she was some kind of weirdo, but it was too hilarious not to tell. I had already told Lesley what we call her DVD......"porno for women." We called it that cause it just makes us go Ooooh and Ahhhh all the time.

Saturday night we headed back to Eagle Creek. They have an attached restaraunt with great food. We were seated in our own little room at a table for four! We all ordered a drink. I had the classic highball. Beth had an Amarato Stone Sour. Trish and Jane had a glass of wine. That bartender was good cause my drink was smooooth! We all ended up ordering the same dinner, stuffed shrimp! It was so good! Wish I had some right now. By the end of dinner we were very tired, but not tired enough to go to sleep. Jane and Trish came over to our room and we laughed like hyenas until 11:30 when it was time for lights out. It was so great to hang out with friends and just laugh and girl talk. Having only met Beth the day before, we sure made a coosome foursome! We just jumped into instant and total friendship sharing secrets and laughs a plenty!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the other hilarious moment courtsey of Jane. On Saturday we were using pencil tip burning tools on one of our projects. As most of the class left the workroom for lunch Jane noticed that one of the burning tools was burning into a table. She reacted quickly to secure the situation.....when she was reteling the story that night she said she was "Fire Chief Jane reporting for duty!" It was so funny! and of course after already priming the laughing pump all day and then having a drink, you can imaging that we had a long, loud, and hearty laugh over that one!!!

On Sunday we were back in the classroom for more crafting hijinks. Beth was able to steadily work on her stuff and turned out some beautiful things. Trish also was very diligent on her project and it turned out to be a magnificant piece that honored her grandmother and the rest of her family. Jane and I struggled at times to get going, but we finally did and were quite happy with our projects. Jane, also, did a tribute to her grandmother. Her grandmother was a ballerina!!!!!!!!! Towards the end of class each student was able to show and tell for the rest of the class what they had made. That part of the day was riveting!! It was so interesting to hear what everyone had worked on and see all of the beautiful artwork! There was a lot of talent in that room.

We packed up by 4 p.m. and were back on the road home.........we all had a giddy feeling about the weekend. I am still on cloud nine..........The memories of our weekend at Valley Ridge will be around for some time to come.......


Jane said...

I could not have described it better myself. Truly an amazing and wonderful experience. Laura - you are an amazing writer!!! I am both giggling and smiling as I sit reminiscing about what a great time this was. One of my best times EVER! I really, truly do wish it was a correctional center LOL! What fun was had. Thanks for capturing it in such a great way!!!
Love, Fire Chief Jane

Michelle (MilwMommy) said...

Hey Laura!! I was wondering where you were over the weekend!! I kept checking for updates. I hope you got my e-mail saying THANKS for the beautiful card --love the paisley!!!!

And I'm lovin' that I finally get to see what you look like, although I had pictured you with blond hair!!!

(Funny, though, that I already knew what Jane looked like!! LOL!!!)

Beth said...

Laura..You summed up the weekend perfectly. Having the memories very fresh in my head and now reading your rendition....GEEZZ, we really had a great time, huh ?? The way you wrote it will surely give everyone just a little bit of the feeling that we had. I am so lucky to have met all of you through Alphabetica and blessed to have met all of you in person. It honestly was a weekend I'll never forget and I know that there are many more to come.

One Crabapple said...

Comments on your visit to the Correctional Center:

Oh ! I wanna be in Art Jail with all of you too!!!

oh this was wonderful to read thru.

I had been holding my breath to hear about your trip and then finally tonight ! you were so good to write it all down and let me go on the trip with you.

I LOVED being able to see all of your faces ! Now I can picture each woman when you tell of them in your blog and see you in my mind's eye when we talk (Write)

I think I would have been on serious overload that first day too!

"Porno for Women" ! that was priceless and I am sure Leslie thought it was cute too and will never forget you !!!

How great to have this wonderful group of female friends / artists to hang with !

Hey Highball Sistah !
That Amaretto Stone Sour sounds interesting tho.

CAn't wait to see some pix of your artwork (s) ... will have to check Beth's blog too and see what she posts there.

Well ! wow ! That was great ! Thank you ! You are not so bad at women's porno yourself Girlie ! (laughing)

ps. I just put my fabric thru the printer ! The water image transfer is nice (but that transfer paper costly) and the gel is an interesting look too but...it is pretty easy to put the fabric thru the printer. Try it !

carlene federer said...

sounds fab Laura! I'm glad you guys had so much fun! And I love the concept of art jail! LOL!

One Crabapple said...

pss. Nice Job Fire Marshall Jane !!

can you imagine if that thing had been left on ????

Lesley Riley said...

It was great to relive our wonderful weekend by reading your blog. I'm so happy we got to play together!

Anonymous said...

Oh Laura - What the hey did I move to FL for. I wanna be there with you guys creating - and having a ball. I loved reading this - and besides WI in September - what could be better - even if there wasn't any color yet. nowNow, let's see the end result of your weekend. Besides the "dive" and "fire prevention", Jane must have been exhausted. NOT!


Trixie said...

You wonderfully recreated every detail of our weekend! See it must pay to be quiet, that way you can listen and remember all those details! I had a delightful time and have yet to unpack my goodies, but I have been showing off my mini book to whom ever I can verbally suduce with the word "fabric"..and it has been quite a few!

Babsarella said...

What a FUN FUN FUN time!!!!

pinar said...

it has been a fabulous girlie activity..
crafting without being disturbed.. and sharing it with friends.. what cat be better than such a weekend..

lindaharre said...

Looks like you gals had a really good time. Nothing like it for an artist!!!!! Time and materials.....great instruction....doesn't get much better than that.

MarilynH said...

It is so good to see your faces! and put faces to names! I had to skim, but it sounds like you had such a fun time!!!

denise said...

Laura, reading your blog made me feel like I was back at ValleyRidge! I agree that it takes a bit of time to come down off that high after enjoying such a wonderful weekend amid other mixed media artists.