Monday, June 23, 2014

Amie Petronis Plumley: Ah, Squam! Why You Need to Go to an Art Retreat

Amie Petronis Plumley, co-author of Sewing School and Sewing School 2, recently rediscovered her creative groove with a week of workshops at Squam Lake in New Hampshire. As she’s found in the weeks since, the positive effects of feeding that fire ripple across many surfaces. 

Jumping in Squam Lake

After years of longing, wishing, and dreaming, I finally made the pilgrimage to Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire at the beginning of June. Finding the time was not an easy feat, with two young children and traveling from Tennessee, but the effort was well worth it.

Printing with maya*made stamps!
A yarn-bombed canoe
If you aren’t familiar with Squam, it’s an art retreat that occurs twice a year at Rockywold Deephaven Camps situated on Squam Lake. When we arrived, we were tired, but elated. Squam looked just liked I imaged it to be. Our adorable cabin was on right on the lake and we had our very own dock!

Dock outside Amie’s cabin
Elizabeth Duvivier, the queen of Squam, has created a special place where visitors can just be. On opening night, she gave us permission to do what we needed — to stop worrying about home, and simply focus on ourselves. When I realized that I didn’t need her permission to do these things, I took the opportunity and allowed myself to enjoy being in the woods with other creative, smart women who were there for the same reasons I was.

Amie and friend at their cabin
While the majority of Squam attendees in the spring are knitters, there are lots of creative choices for workshops, from sewing to crochet to embroidery to woodworking (which is good, because my knitting skills are not the best). My favorite part? Not only are you learning new skills, but you’re learning from people who are the best in their craft — people like Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Maya Donenfeld, and Cal Patch. I chose to take the Printed Pouch workshop and Collage Crochet workshops. Both were wonderful, and I enjoyed sitting in the company of some amazing women as I crafted in a rocking chair.

Amie’s crochet

Working in rockers
Since I’ve been back home, I am feeling more focused, energized, creative, and patient  — qualities I noticed were somewhat lacking before I left (especially the patient part!). Now it’s your turn. Treat yourself to a workshop, class, or retreat. Rediscover your passion and give yourself permission to spend time (and money) on what makes you excited. Finally learn that skill that you have always wanted to try. Maybe you’ll find the perfect class in your hometown, or the class will be the reason you finally take that cross-country trip. Maybe you’ll find just what you were looking for in an online class you take from the comfort of your own home. No matter what you do to treat your creative side, you’ll thank yourself. I promise.

Amie Petronis Plumley is mother of two, and teaches second grade, where she inspires students to sew in the classroom and in an after school sewing club. She and Andria Lisle are the co-authors of Sewing School and Sewing School 2. Together, they run the wildly popular summer Sewing School Camp and blog at Sewing School

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