Well, it’s real, it’s big, and it will make you want more! Haystack Mountain School of Crafts is for everyone who is interested in expanding, discovering, experimenting, playing, working in your craft medium and meeting new friends and old in an environment too beautiful for words. You’ll just have to come and witness those distant islands appearing out of the fog, feel the magic of a workshop session, hear the giant bell that means phenomenal food again and again. I’m not saying that a session at Haystack will change your life exactly as it has changed mine, but make no mistake, it WILL change your life and you’ll want more and more of it, come back again and again to have that ‘Haystack Experience.”
It started for me in 1964, the year I graduated from RISD. Fran Merritt came to give us a public presentation about a new craft school in Deer Isle, Maine called the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. I had a job contract to teach art at East Providence High School in Rhode Island the following fall, but seeing those images of studios designed specifically for artist/craftspeople to work in the summer in Maine made my heart leap: “A place for REAL artists,” I thought. “But Not me….I’m going to teach in high school….sigh….”
Fast forward my life to the early 80’s: I am married, I live in Maine, I have two children, I now work full time as an Architectural designer (this with a BFA in Painting and Art Ed!), and I squeeze in some time to paint and sew on weekends. Serendipitously, two local quilt friends visited and talked about this place from my memory of 20 years ago: they were going to take a new 4 day weekend workshop called “Open Door” at Haystack…it was just for Mainers… would I go with them? Really???
The rest, as they say, is history. “Open Door Weekend” was pure bliss! Living and creating at the ocean in wood buildings that seemed to have grown out of the giant granite…making work with other artists/craftspeople JUST LIKE ME…I had found HOME as I painted and quilted with new friends in the fiber studio. Other studios were working in metal, clay, paper, iron, and wood, and I was totally at home with new discoveries about myself as well as this magical place called Haystack.
Now, after all those years, I of course realize that ‘REAL artist’ is and always has been within me, and that Haystack was the catalyst that allowed me to recognize that truth. It was not long after that Haystack experience that I had the courage to quit working for others and I took the leap to make a living as an artist. It was 1987 and by then I had taken every Open Door session that I could, and had applied for and received scholarship assistance to work two separate summer sessions as a studio assistant at Haystack. Since then, I have had the privilege of teaching at Haystack a number of times. While I have been teaching and exhibiting across this country and abroad since the mid 80’s, I think I am a little biased: my heart is always most full at Haystack, where I found my REAL artist.
Thank you to Elizabeth Busch for this guest post! Visit her site to see more of her work: www.elizabethbusch.com