Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Operation Workshop/Rescue: Success!

Phase One: Fun at Cedar Lakes

It's hard to imagine embarking on a craft workshop/rescue mission, much less being able to come home and claim it a success.  I mean, it's not often the two are combined is it?  So all is well and I can fill you in on it.  First of all though, I have to give the praise to my cousin, Karen, who drove those hundreds and hundreds of miles.  I think it ended up around 1,600 or so, and most of them in the last two days.  She will always be an angel to Frankie and me.

The workshop was divine!  I had no idea what making enameled jewelry would entail, or what the instructor would be like.  It turns out I had underestimated both!  Catherine Crowe has been an enamellist for over two decades; her work is exhibited all over the US and Canada and there aren't any words to describe its many shapes so I will put a link in here for you to check it for yourself.  Once you do check out her work you will most likely chuckle at mine, but that's okay because I haven't been doing it for 25 years yet.  The scariest part of the whole thing was the kiln.  It looks absolutely evil when you open its door and it shows you its 1500 degrees!  I won't, can't, go into the steps of the process.  But have a peek at some of these pictures.

Catherine helping a newbie at the kiln.
 As you can see by the photo on the left, the kiln is scary.  Catherine helped each of us with our first steps and some of us, ahem, she had to help more often.  We worked on copper that had been cut into shapes and on our first day I looked for a shape that would suit me for a shawl pin.  I didn't see anything though, but Catherine heard about it and she actually sawed a hole from the center of an oval disc, then she cut, shaped and hammered the pin for me from the only wire she had there.  (She said it should have a thicker wire pin when I can make one on my own.)  I used two colors of translucent enamel here.

My shawl pin with two translucent enamels on its front.
 Karen was an enamelling maniac!  Where I did four pieces, Karen got an amazing six finished: 4 pendants and 2 pins.  Besides the shawl pin I finished a pendant, small pin, and a totem for Frankie.  Between the classes and meals the days went quickly and made us tired enough to sleep at night.  I tried not to worry about the rescue to come.  Our last night there was capped by a concert of Celtic music.  I went because Catherine was to sing, and oh my gosh, I don't know if it was hormones or what, but her voice had me in tears.  It was beautiful.

Here are some other photos:
Karen's bling!  Her last piece isn't in the mix yet.

The above photo shows my other pieces, but only two are finished there: the fishbone pin and the totem I made for Frankie (with the cord).  The side you see is supposed to be a representation of primitive art, when the artist would blow ochre around their hand upon a wall.  On the back I did an enamelled version of a spiral.  Working on this little gift made me less anxious and enjoy my time in Cedar Lakes until we could leave for Kentucky.  The big yellowish moon/pumpkin is just that.  My next step was to sift on some yellowish-green stripes alongside the orangey ones to give the piece more depth.  I didn't realize there wasn't a "finished" photo until I looked for one.  You'll have to take my word for it that it doesn't look bad!  But you can still chuckle, especially after you check out Catherine's website:  You can also check out Cedar Lakes, where all sorts of workshops are held throughout the year, from stained glass to wood carving:

And so, a good time was had by all as they say!  Karen and I didn't burn anything, glue anything with the gum binder that wasn't supposed to be glued, and agreed that we wouldn't mind taking the class again.  I would like to think that could only make the wonderful Catherine Crowe happy.

Phase Two: Rescue!

Biscuit World, here we come!
Looks sloppy, but luscious! (Like me.)
On Sunday morning we rose early and decided to skip the Cedar Lakes breakfast (shocking I know) in order to check out a West Virginia hot spot called Tudor's Biscuit World.  I don't know the connection between biscuits and Tudors. I have no idea what Henry VIII would think, but I  think he'd give it the royal seal of approval.  You know, of all the food in the world I think biscuits are something you either eat too much of or don't eat at all.  I can't have one.  One piece of toast?- Yes.  One piece of cornbread?- Yes.  One biscuit?- Are you kidding me?  Karen got a biscuit sandwich called The Rocket and I got two biscuits with sausage gravy, which I couldn't finish.  Maybe the Tudors weren't happy, but I was nervous about how the day would end.

We drove pretty much straight through the 400-plus miles with very few stops to stretch and refresh.  I don't know how Karen did it, really.  I hate to drive, haven't driven in years if I can help it, and I'm ashamed to say that, but it's true.  If Karen hadn't suggested visiting Frankie after our workshop in the first place, I don't know if I'd even have him here now.  Other friends have said they would have gotten him, but I feel sort of cosmically looked-after that it all happened as it did.  It took us about six hours to finally reach the Job Corps Center.  I had some minor freak-outs toward the end when I didn't quite trust the GPS and began thinking the government actually hid the center, like a mini Area 51.

Frankie had called my cell from another inmate's  student's cell phone, and we followed his instructions to come straight back until we saw a pavillion on our left and that he would be waiting.  I can't tell you how I felt when I saw him... He and two other boys, not an official in sight, stood and came toward the road as we slowed and came to a stop.  I don't know how I kept from crying.  He hugged me, then Karen; then put his suitcase, backpack and mandolin in the car.  He said goodbye to his friends who would both be leaving in the next couple of months, one graduating after two years there, and one leaving like Frankie.

In the car he told us to get moving and Karen did.  She said later that it was like we were sneaking him out of there.  I was glad I didn't have to deal with administration, but I think it's kind of weird that no one came out waving papers to sign, or a gun, all of which I'd imagined a gazillion times!  We told Frankie where the snacks bag was in the back and he dove into it.  I turned to the back seat and took a quick photo of him having a bite of crackers.  He looks a bit shell-shocked, but all he kept saying was, "I'm so happy." 

Karen said we'd only stop for the night after we reached West Virginia, but we did stop for supper at a Cracker Barrel where Frankie got French Toast, bacon and eggs.  He started talking a bit while there and I think he started feeling better and better as night fell.  Just over the border we stopped at a Quality Inn where we got Frankie his own room with a king-sized bed.  No more metal, skinny bunks.  He showered, then joined us in our room for a chat, then went off to bed.  After we turned off our lights I started to doze and I could just hear the sound of his mandolin through the wall.  I tried to listen for it, but fell asleep.  I slept very well.

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