I just returned from 10 days in Maine where I spent a week at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on Deer Isle taking a printmaking workshop and then went on to visit friends in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Isle. I could not have had better weather – every day was sunny with blue skies except for one morning when there were showers and a five minute downpour. The weather was important to me because I was tent camping while on Deer Isle!
I crossed one bridge and two causeways to get to Haystack which is located overlooking the ocean. The site is secluded. And my campsite was less than a quarter of a mile away.
The campground was small, clean, wooded, and well maintained. And it had free hot showers!
Before the workshop began I spent a day exploring Deer Isle enjoying the scenic views of the coastline.
On my way to Bar Harbor I spent several hours in Blue Hill, ME visiting galleries and watching gulls.
When I arrived in Bar Harbor, I had hoped to visit galleries, but the town was packed with tourists, so much so, that there were no parking spots, and there were throngs of people on sidewalks and crosswalks. Traffic was bumper to bumper, if moving at all. I got out of there as fast as I could! On the way out of town, I discovered two HUGE cruise ships in the bay, which I am sure helps the local economy, but to me, spoils the charm of the small Maine town.
I spent the night with Andy and Susan, former neighbors from Pawtucket, before returning home. They recommended a stop at the A1 Diner in Gardiner, ME. It was a good choice!
HAYSTACK MOUNTAIN SCHOOL OF CRAFTS
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts formed in 1950 as a research and educational center. The school offers one and two-week studio workshops, residencies, exhibitions, tours, auctions, presentations. I attended a one-week printmaking workshop while other workshops also taking place the same week were in ceramics, fiber, glass blowing, metals, and memoire writing.
The campus is located on a granite ledge that descends to the ocean. The buildings, designed by American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes (1915-2004), opened to the public in 1961. Using local materials, the modernist-style buildings are joined by walkways, stairs, and decks nestled into a spruce forest. From the Haystack website:
The School was awarded the coveted Twenty-five Year Award from The American Institute of Architects in 1994, in recognition of buildings that have retained their integrity and set standards of excellence for architectural design and cultural significance. The Haystack campus is one of only fifty-one buildings to receive this recognition, alongside the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (NY), the Gateway Arch, St. Louis (MO), and the East Building, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., to name just a few. In 2006 the campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places, further emphasizing the architectural significance of the school, and in 2021 The New York Times Style Magazine featured Haystack Mountain School of Crafts as one of the twenty-five most significant works of postwar architecture.
The buildings have large windows and skylights which brings the outdoors in, repeating the harmony created between the built and natural environments on the outside. Here are some of the views of the campus.
There were may stairs at Haystack and my legs got a workout! Down to the printmaking studio, up to the dining hall for lunch, back down to the printmaking studio, up to the restroom, further up to the computer lab, then back down to the printmaking studio, then up to the dining hall for dinner, then back down to the printmaking studio, and then all the way up to get to my car at the end of the day. Whew!
The food was great! The offerings were many and very tasty. I espeically loved the array of salads and the yummy desserts! My apologies go to the kitchen crew – the photo that I took of them turned out out-of-focus.
Everyday I enjoyed the natural beauty of the campus – the sunny days, blue skies, tall spruce trees, granite paths underfoot, huge glacial rock formations, and the textures and colors of the carpets of moss and lichens. It was so good for my soul!
Walking on the mosses was like walking on foam rubber – soft and spongy. I marveled over the tiny spruce seedlings popping up among the variety of mosses, sticks and spruce cones. My love of textures was so refreshed!
Here is a detail of a print from my Sticks and Stones Series from several years ago.
The Printmaking (Graphics) Studio has two rooms, one large work area with a press and a smaller room with another press. There was plenty of space for 8 participants.
The focus of the workshop was to learn how to use a laser cutter to make stencils that we then used to make prints. First we had to use computers to make the image files that would direct the laser cutter. For some of us, that was a steep learning curve, but with the helpful guidance of our instructor, Lari Gibbons, and our studio assistant, Taylor Gibson, and the fellows in the FabLab, Tom and Will Lutz, we mastered the process.
This is the FabLab that is equipped with all sorts of digitally driven devices: laser cutters, 3D printers, routers, embroiderers, and who knows what else. Located in a loft was a bank of computers. The arrow points to the laser cutter that cut our paper and mylar stencils.
As we printed with the stencils, the stencils themselves became works of art!
Here are my studio mates and some of their fantastic prints.
And here is a batch of experimental prints I made.
At the end of the week we put up a display of our prints for a studio tour where everyone visited each others studios.
The week ended with creative and magical spirits surrounding us!
It was a wonderful week and I will be processing all that I learned during the weeks ahead.