Posted by Jenny Barker, Chairman Art Camp 2018
CHT was founded in October of 1949 to promote interest in handweaving and related crafts. CHT supports individuals and guilds in Texas through education and networking of the history, the craft, the art, fashion and innovation in weaving, spinning and related fiber arts techniques.
Some History (and Why We Love Art Camp)
Prior to 2012, this was primarily accomplished by holding a biennial seminar in odd years, and by publishing a newsletter, a directory of Texas Guilds and an instructors list. The first CHT Art Camp was held in 2012 as a way to provide a fun weekend with in-depth sessions and evening socialization in a smaller, more intimate, low-key environment. The first committee purposefully chose a location that was in the geographic center of the state.
The facility chosen for CHT Art Camp 2012, 2014, and 2016 was the 4-H facility in Brownwood, Texas. CHT had run of the facility and the use of numerous breakout spaces and open spaces for daytime classes. During the day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning, hands-on workshops were available. Each attendee chose the workshop they wished to focus on for the entire weekend.
In the evening large gathering spaces were available. A large deck with chairs and tables and a beautiful view overlooking the lake became the favorite pre-dinner gathering place. After dinner when the temperature dropped, the gathering moved inside. Attendees showed up in casual clothes or pajamas to work on anything they wished. Help was freely given on tricky steps or an introduction to a new technique or piece of equipment. It was not unusual for members who had gone on an amazing fiber related trip to share their experiences. The 4-H facility allowed people to bring their own wine that could be consumed in the evening meeting areas or in their private bedrooms.
After the end 2016 CHT Art Camp, many attendees expressed a desire to change the rustic and remote location. Although Brownwood is in the geographic center of Texas, it is not in the geographic center of our membership. The initial desire to better serve our West Texas members did not draw any attendees.
The Journey to a New Location Begins….
The CHT Board listened and considered all comments about location and the limited food offerings. Even before I formally moved from Treasurer to Member-At-Large responsible for CHT Art Camp 2018, I began the search for a new location. My search criteria seemed fairly simple to me: central location, beds for 45-50 attendees, 4-5 breakout spaces for sessions, large evening meeting area, good food with flexibility to offer viable options for vegetarian, vegans, lactose intolerant and other dietary restrictions. Oh, and the ability to bring and consume wine in pajamas in the evening meeting space. Did I mention price? It is a good thing I have a sense of humor and the ability to keep looking.
After much searching I located a facility north of Salado that seemed perfect. A site visit resulted in a weak thumbs up with contingencies. But it turned out that all weekends in the Spring of 2018 were booked solid. So, the search continued and humor became a critical trait. I rejected all facilities that did not allow consumption of wine outside of the sleeping rooms, very high priced wedding venues, bunk beds, bunk beds in screened in buildings, places with no meeting facilities, places that couldn’t sleep 45-50 people. My respect and admiration for the first committee members that found the Brownwood facility grew on a daily basis.
(Still with great Instructors, PJs and now… Yummy Food)
I contacted the John C Newcombe Tennis Ranch and Conference Center in New Braunfels. Rosanne White and I visited this site along with a second location in New Braunfels on the same day. Whereas the second facility checked most of the boxes, Newcombe was more than we could have hoped for. Great 2-bedroom condos with central kitchen dining and living room, amazing chef-prepared food, four attractive breakout spaces, a large meeting spaces, wine allowed in evening space, access to large pool and a fire pit for campfire and S’mores. At a price within $5 of Brownwood! Jackpot!
After a review and signing of the contract the search continued for four instructors for the day time classes. My predecessor, Deb Harrison, had previously asked Cate Buchannan and Cindy Balentine to teach tassel making and pine needle basketry, respectively. Shannon Hardy saw Margaret Arafat’s framed woven silk photograph and suggested that this would be a very good class. Lynn Williams taught at CHT in 2017. As we left the class several of us simultaneously suggested we must have her for Art Camp. The complete line up with descriptions and pictures can be found on www.weavetexas.org.
The Contemporary Handweavers of Houston holds a similar camp weekend. They have instructors available in the evening to teach something and then have the students return to their circle of friends and glass of wine. CHT Art Camp 2018 will have a similar activity each evening as a new activity at Art Camp. Each evening from 6:30-8:30 two separate mini-sessions will be offered. These require no preregistration. Each has a very small fee ($5 or less). Most have their unique supplies offered for sale at cost. Sessions include learning a simple crochet stitch, needle felted and beaded pin, jewelry pouch from a man’s tie, learning to use a drop spindle, paper origami wreaths, and a folded zipper necessity bag.
In summary, Art Camp is an intensive Fri-afternoon-to-Monday-noon, residential, all-meals-included fiber retreat. Sure seems like a long way to say FUN.
If you have a question about location, pricing, classes, evening activities, menu or any other aspect of Art Camp please contact me at Rhea481@cs.com.