For the past five years I have been attending monthly creative sessions at a small business in Hamilton, Montana called In Good Company. This business is comprised of four women fiber artists who began their business making and selling hand-dyed fabric and silk ribbon. Then they began offering monthly "TARTS" classes---short for textile arts. Each month we get a small packet of supplies and materials for completing a surface design project of some sort. We take it home, play with it, make something, and bring it the next month to "show and tell" and talk about what we liked and didn't like about the products, process, results, etc.
Not only are these classes educational and the packets creatively stimulating, the gathering of like minded individuals has been an invaluable experience. The shop also sells many of the products, supplies, and literature related to the techniques we experiment with.
Today we were told that these women are planning to end this creative union as of this coming June. Although not totally surprised, I was disappointed. I have used these classes as way to jump start my creativity, expand my knowledge, and try out products and techniques that I might not have attempted on my own without some sort of guidance and having sometimes unique products provided to me in small "trial" size quantities.
I totally understand the decision In Good Company has made and wish them all the best in whatever they do with their creative lives, but we will miss them as an entity and a driving force for art quilting in the Bitterroot/Missoula area.
It is their hope, and mine, that some sort of art quilting activities, interaction, and mutual support will continue to happen in this area whether it be formal (as in a guild or some such thing) or informal. They have nurtured enough fiber artists that there is a strong contingency of us in the area and most are enthusiastic about the medium enough to support something---we just aren't quite sure what yet!
I'd like to see us be able to bring in some national and regional level teachers, have local workshops and "play days", maybe retreats, and possibly continue having a show as In Good Company has done for the past five years.
I'm not sure how this will effect my productivity or my creative energy. I do have my art discussion group which I love, but I have enjoyed the varied levels, styles, and energy of the members of Tarts over the years. Hopefully I will continue to experiment with surface design and play with new and different techniques and products on my own using them to expand my knowledge and continue to have new ideas and work that is fresh and creative.
I will enjoy the next few months and savor the good things I get from Tarts and In Good Company. In July I will find out how well I can do on my own and see if I can keep motivated creatively every month without a new technique or design idea from Tarts to spur me on.
Thank you Jamie, Sue Anne, Susan and Sue for everything you have shared with us. You are inspiring, motivating, supportive, and set an example we are all proud to try to live up to. I hope you are all able to enjoy your freedom from the business end of things and create more art.
Create more art.