22 June 2017

Shakerag 2017

I have recently returned home after my week at Shakerag Workshops in Sewanee, Tennessee. I had been there once before and it was so nice to return this warm, friendly, gracious and familiar place. It was wonderful to see some friends I had met there previously and join up with those that I was acquainted with from other areas.


After teaching for a week at Arrowmont I decided to roll on down the road and be a student at Shakerag Workshops. I took a class with Dorothy Caldwell entitled Human Marks: Drawing, Stitching, Batik, and Bookmaking. What a pleasure it was to meet and spend the week with Dorothy. She is grounded, giving, gentle, and that other "g" word again - gracious. A talented artist and teacher.

Textile piece by Dorothy Caldwell
Textile piece by Dorothy Caldwell

We began the week by making simple marks with a variety of tools. Sometimes the mark would stand on its own and sometimes it would be repeated, combined, and layered.




Then we started stitching. Dorothy had conducted research in India on traditional and contemporary kantha cloth and she shared with us stories and examples of these wonderful pieces of women's work.


We started stitching cloth in the kantha style that would eventually be a wrapper for the book we would put together later in the week.


More mark making processes were shared.

Inspiration board of Dorothy's work and processes
Result of student blind stitching exercise

And, then the bookmaking began. I love the woven binding that Dorothy taught us - so simple yet rich and textural. The first book we made was from the piece of paper that acted as our place mats earlier in the week - by Thursday they contained ink spills, notations, and doodles, and when torn into book pages created some interesting juxtapositions.


Finally we put our week long mark making experiments together into another book. I had used the water harvesting system in the building where our workshop took place as my muse throughout the week. I was immediately taken with the lines, curves, and shapes of these structures and also the idea of reuse, sustainability and water!


I sketched, drew, and made stencils inspired by these shapes and then repeated them throughout the week in our mark making exercises.


What a wonderful class - the content, the teacher and my fellow students. A very kind, sharing and talented group to say the least.


A visit to Shakerag is not complete without as many dips as possible in The Rez.


To see more about Shakerag Workshops visit my posts from June 2014 - there are three of them and you can search in the box (upper right) or click here, here and here.


Thank you Shakerag, Arrowmont and Tennessee! I know that I will return - just hope that it is sooner rather than later.


  1. i find it really illuminating that dorothy's students come away from her teaching having reached deeper and learned from her "g's". (i like the g's--i found her to be those exactly.) she is a special person and it looks like you have been enriched.

  2. Sounds wonderful I would love to take part in one of her courses.

    1. It was really a wonderful experience. She has a unique teaching style.

  3. how wonderful! I would love to go, I have been trying to buy your book for years!! Do you know where I might be able to buy it?

    1. my book? or Dorothy's book? I have books available on blurb.com. Dorothy has an exhibition catalog that is available through her gallery in Canada - Art Gallery of Peterborough - go to their website.

  4. Just gorgeous! Thanks for sharing, JA. Hope to see more of your work as it evolves.