Creative advice from Dr. Bruce Holly
Promise yourself you'll take a risk each time you work on an artpiece.  Deliberately cause yourself some  trouble each time you work! 
From left to right, Back Row: Linda Harrell, Nadine Spier, Anna Givens, Vicki Mayo, Pamela Zimmerman, Prabha Ramakrishnan, Carolyn Trail. Front Row: Pam Parman, Patricia Moritz, JoElla Manning, Nolan Wright

On Saturday June 3rd I flew out of San Diego to Tennessee for my week-long workshop at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. It was such a fabulous experience. Being immersed in the artistic energy of so many students attending a variety of classes at this beautiful and historic art school really revved up the internal fires.

I arrived at night, found my room (but wishing I had brought a small flashlight), and slipped into the cozy bedding.  When I awoke the next morning I stepped outside onto the porch and was delighted to observe brightly colored birds rummaging in the grass for food right outside my door.  Later I learned the red birds were male cardinals. The vibrant red seemed to defy possibility! 

Every morning around 5 am before the bustle started, I would step outside onto the porch to do Chi Gong (body movements that incorporate breathing, stretching and meditation). It felt wonderful to deeply breathe in the fresh Smoky Mountain air while listening to the songbirds.  I had left all my allergies back home in San Diego!

Weather was perfect – in the low-mid 70’s, plenty of sunshine, bright blue skies and occasional puffy white clouds. Two days we had what I would call torrential downpours and absolutely loved it since we don’t have that kind of weather back home. Fortunately someone had left an umbrella in my room.

On Sunday evening the class met for 3 hours for introductions, to get acquainted, pick out supplies, and start desheathing pine needles.  I had asked my students to bring anything they’ve woven for Show ‘n Share and that was really astounding. We were all oooohing and aaaaaahing over the experienced student’s work. 


Full instruction continued throughout the week from 9am – 5 pm. The classroom studio was spacious and very well lit.  My 11 students ranged in skill from newbies to highly experienced.  I had contacted the students prior to the workshop to ascertain their skill levels and interest. Based on what the students wanted to learn, I had shipped baskets as samples for all the techniques requested including sculptural work, fancy stitches, teneriffe, making footed          bases, lids, handles, and a lot more.  I feel visual aids are very important when you’re learning to handcraft an item and I’m glad I sent so many as they were used by all the students whenever they tried a new technique.

One student also makes books and I suggested she could weave a cover for a book and she was thrilled with the idea and went right to work! The new students learned how to coil baskets and many decorative techniques to incorporate in their work. Other students who were highly skilled came to learn sculptural work and as you can see from the photos, creativity was flying every which-way!   Plus the energy of the group really gelled. Lots of brainstorming, sharing and wonderful connections were made.

Can’t forget to mention the food.  Everyone was thrilled with the quality of the meals.  I always seek out fresh, healthy food choices, and there was an abundance.  I successfully avoided the dessert table until Friday when I caved for the fresh, warm apple cobbler – YUM YUM!   The dining hall was an opportunity to meet other instructors and many of their students.  All the conversations flying about were filled with such enthusiasum for learning, creating and pushing boundaries. 
One morning after another deliciously satisfying breakfast I took a short stroll behind the Red Barn and found myself looking into the eyes of a VERY LARGE beautiful dog with luxuriously thick shiny black fur. Then my brain did an instant correction and I realized I was looking at a black bear!  I tried to recall the information sheet in my room …. Let’s see, “don’t run or you look like prey.”  “Hold eye contact”, or wait – maybe it’s “don’t hold eye contact because that’s threatening them!”  “Try to look big!”  While all this was rushing through my brain, my hand was fumbling in my bag for my cell phone so I could take a picture. Before I made contact with the phone, the bear decided to lumber off. Such a memorable encounter!

The last day of class several of us went hunting for "treasures" in the remains of one of the buildings destroyed by the tragic fire of Fall 2016.  We were looking for burned and melted metal scraps to incorporate in our work to make a tribute piece to Arrowmont.  I found several bed springs, large nails, some unrecognizable burned objects and a piece of broken pottery.  I carefully packed them in my suitcase.  I had some concerns that these items would look awfully suspicious on the x-ray machines at the airport so I told the TSA attendant about it and she had me remove them from my suitcase for inspection.  Fortunately there was no rushing of police, no panicking, no alarms going off, no body cavity searches!  Whew! 

It was definitely sad when it came time to say goodbye to my students and Arrowmont.  It’s difficult to describe the feeling of being immersed in such a highly creative environment for a full week.  On the shuttle back to the airport other passengers were  saying something I had noticed too – its either the air or the silky tap water, but all of us were able to forego moisturizers the entire week, our skin was soft and smooth!  Well, if that isn’t reason enough to return!

Above: Basket under construction, then finished! Woven by Pat. Title "Painted Desert"

Right: Basket woven by Prabha

These clever tips came from my Arrowmont students:

From Joella

If you have an object for the center of your basket that you want to see both sides such as a transparent stone or a stone polished on both sides, rather than gluing vinyl on the back, use your E6000 and glue on lightweight Plastipane, also known as Eisenglass for us mariners.  It’s completely clear and can be stitched!  She has found it at Joannes. Now that is an awesome tip! 

From Pat

To find spoke patterns for Teneriffe and other grid patterns, check out

From Nolan

To help in designing a sculptural piece use aluminum modeling sculpting wire (with no pine needles) to  experiment with shapes. 


From Pam 

Adorable miniature egg basket kits for only $8 including all materials from


From Prabha

When using nymo beading thread, you want to stretch it BEFORE you use it or it will stretch later on!  Just pull a length taut, don’t jerk, just stretch, then its ready to use. 



My work is on exhibit at Arrowmont's main gallery as part of the Instructors' Exhibit through July 22.

If you were not able to come to the Arrowmont class but would like another opportunity to take a multi-day workshop with me, O ctober 20-22, 2017 I will be teaching a workshop at the Pacific Northwest Art School in beautiful Coupeville, Washington. I will be teaching the same techniques that I offered at Arrowmont.  Click  here  for info. 


Laguna Beach

June 24 – August 28 2017
“50th Annual Summer Sawdust Festival”
The Sawdust Festival will feature the fine art and craft of over 200 Laguna Beach artists. Media include hand-blown and fused glass, painting, jewelry, surf art, ceramics, clothing, textiles, wood and metal sculpture, scrimshaw, photography, and much more. Check out the website for more information and entertainment schedule.

Laguna Beach Festival of Arts
The festival’s prestigious juried art show includes a wide variety of media such as paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, handcrafted wood and furniture, ceramics, glass and more, all by 140 of Orange County’s finest artists.  Also demonstrations and art workshops, art tours, live music, special events, on-site restaurants and more.

Pageant of the Masters
July 7 – August 31, 2017
This truly unique 90-minute theatrical performance where famous works of art are brought to life onstage as members of the cast take the roles of people in the paintings, accompanied by a full orchestra and narration. Everyone needs to go at least once!

Oceanside Museum of Art
A Time to Heal
July 29 - Oct 8,2017
This socially engaging art project has an intention to provide a safe and creative space for military service members.  A small group of veterans wrote letters to themselves, reflecting on hardship and healing during workshops at the museum.  These letters have been incorporated into the "war wounds" that participants created using various materials.
San Diego

11th Annual Artwalk San Diego at NTC Liberty Station
August 12 & 13, 2017
Free admission, free parking
10am – 6 pm
Over 100 artists, music, kids interactive area
2751 Dewey Rd


Interwoven:  Art Meets Nature
Highfield Hall, Falmouth, Massachusetts 
Through September 6 , 2017 
This contemporary fiber exhibition is the result of a collaboration between Fiber Art Now and  Highfield Hall and was curated by Marcia Young, publisher of  Fiber Art now. This show of virtuoso works by national artists includes nearly every form of fiber art, including weaving, felting, tapestry, needlework, quilts, basketry, handmade paper, silk painting, book arts, mixed media work and more.


Through September 4, 2017
“Quilt National ‘17”
The Dairy Barn Arts Center is pleased to announce the 20th Biennial of Quilt National. The 20th international juried competition for new, innovative quilts will be held at the Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio.  Following its debut in Athens, the Quilt National exhibition breaks up into traveling exhibits that circulate from coast to coast.


Through November 1, 2018 
Native American Voices: The People Here and Now
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


The Schack Art Center in Everett, Washington has a new exhibit: Courtesy of: Extraordinary Basketry, Textiles and Sculptures from Northwest Collections from June 15-July 29th

Basketweaver Peggy Weidemann has her work in the following shows:

“Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America”.  This show travels through 2020.  Second venue: 108 Contemporary, Tulsa , Oklahoma,  through July 23, 2017

"California Fibers: Exploration and Innovation" Front Porch Gallery, Carlsbad, California, through July 8, 2017

"Small Expressions 2017”, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston, Texas, through July 29, 2017


Nadine Spier
Contemporary Pine Needle Basketweaver
​Basket Weaving Classes and Basket Art for Purchase
1042 N El Camino Real Box B184, Encinitas CA 92024 (760) 944-9369