Friday, June 30, 2017

Peters Valley or Michiele's Big Adventure

Almost immediately after becoming interested in tapestry  I became fascinated with Wedge Weave and the work of Connie Lippert.  Despite Connie being from South Carolina I travelled to New Jersey to study with her.

Peters Valley  School of Craft is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation, founded in 1970 in partnership with the National Park Service to promote and encourage education and excellence in craft. 

I left North Carolina bright and early Thursday morning to travel to Sussex County NJ.  It was a pleasant drive through rural Virginia, Maryland and Pennslyvania.  The craft school is located in the Delaware River Water Gap and is beautiful.  The buildings are owned by the National Park Service and are quite rustic.

Greek House
Congleton House built in 1850 was my residence for the week along with five potters, a jewelry maker and two other weavers.

A beautifully decrepit barn.  I wanted to venture inside and explore but didn't have time.  Okay, kind of afraid of collapse as well.
The weaving studio was a short walk up a killer hill from the dorm.
The Macomber floor loom assigned to me for the week.  This lovely old lady almost stole my will to live  weave.

I wove some wedges, uttered some bad words and switched to my small Cactus Flower loom with Connie's  blessing.
My happy place!

Although, I didn't enjoy weaving tapestry on the floor loom I am glad to have tried it.  So many talented weavers such as Connie and Rebecca Mezoff weave tapestry on floor looms.  It was good to be "forced" to give tapestry on the floor a go and know for sure it does not suit me.  Here is a great blog post from Rebecca Mezoff on high warp (my favorite) and low warp tapestry loom weaving.

Connie offers some hands on instruction to Jessica, our studio assistant.

Donna's wedge weave in progress.

Benita's colorful wedges.

I love Joan's colors.
Our class projects.  Mine are the three little ones center left.

Classes at Peters Valley this week included pottery, metals, painting, blacksmithing and woodworking.  We had the opportunity on Saturday night to do a studio hop to check out the other students' work.  

The photography studio.

Shibori dyeing with indigo in the other fiber studio.
There were some amazingly talented artists.  There was also an auction on Monday.
The auction in progress.

Connie wove this in stolen moments during class and finished it minutes before the auction.  I was outbid but glad that it was highly valued.  One of the metals students was thrilled to have gotten it.

This is the view from the weaving studio.  I actually enjoyed winding yarn looking out the window at this scene.  There was an adorable beaver frolicking in the pond on Saturday night.

The rural setting of Peters Valley made the week so relaxed and enjoyable.  Communal meals and housing, being able to ditch the car and walk to meals and the studio added to my enjoyment.  I had made the decision to avoid news, social media and the internet before arriving.  Ahh!

Probably, the most amazing thing about my week at Peters Valley was meeting so many kindred spirits.  I arrived knowing no one and left five days later with several new friends.  My housemates, the wild potters, fellow weavers in my class and all the students and instructors I shared meals with all spoke different craft languages but had a shared passion.  Connections were effortless and pretty immediate.
If you are thinking about a craft school experience all I can say is Go!


  1. I love that you loved Peters Valley and the County of NJ were I was born and spent my first 18 years. It has a beauty that has never left my heart!

  2. Michelle, You captured the experience so well! I really enjoyed reading your account of our week.

  3. Thanks so much for these great pics and detailed description of your week, Michiele. I'm jealous of your week away from the internet and the chance to dive deep into wedge weave with Connie.

  4. I loved reading this and having my wonderful memories of Peters Valley refreshed!

  5. Michielle, thank you for this. I learned to weave at Peters Valley in 1978, when my aunt and first weaving teacher, Judy McCarthy, was the director there. The following year I spent the summer as the studio assistant at Hilltop (killer hill indeed!). Such deep memories of a beautiful place-- so glad to know that it lives on!