My Arrowmont Experience: Part 2

Shi-Sha mirror net using a large sequin from Cartwright’s sequins

Shi-Sha mirror net using a large sequin from Cartwright’s sequins

We followed up with beading samples our full 2nd day and I was all thumbs with those exercises too. As an ex-dance studio manager, I appreciate a good bead and stone moment but we usually made those happen with a tube of e6000 or the hot glue gun and as a ready to wear designer, I don’t do too much of that kind of detail work. Let me tell ya, liner beading took me a moment, but I got it down! Jennifer also showed us how to embellish our work with aluminum cans, laminates and found objects. We went on to learn shi-sha mirrors, beaded shi-sha mirrors, cabochon and sequin rosettes. The mirrors took me up until the last day to get the hang of because I had trouble creating the foundation net.


Besides Jennifer, Leslie and my classmates we incredibly helpful and hilarious throughout class. It reminded me a bit of being in the KCAI studio as a student again, but without all the pressure and extras. But let me tell you, I wish I could live in Arrowmont’s textile studio, besides the seating it is such an ideal workspace. The cool part about class was the different backgrounds everyone came from. Some were professional artists, some were college students or artists who have a different professional life but wanted to learn something new. There were also a lot of opportunities for us to visit the other studios on campus for demos from instructors and attend nightly presentations from the instructors and instructor assistants’ after dinner. Thursday night was the studio stroll when we could visit all the studios and see what projects everyone completed during the week. The previous evening, the artists in residence had open studios, I got to visit a few of them and it seems like a pretty amazing program. AIR’s get to work and live on the Arrowmont campus for 11 months.


Around Wednesday, we started on our personal projects. I happened to bring an old jean jacket with me that I started to take apart a while ago and figured I would pack it for class just in case. It ended up being the canvas of my project! I decided to do a composition that is inspired by my new pattern collection. I brought hand-dyed and digital print fabric scraps to use and depending on those pieces to create the piece. I had fun building and layering, using batting to create dimension and creating marks with sequins and beads. So many hours goes into beading, but I turned on the new season of GLOW on Netflix and got to it. I loved how busy but harmonious everything turned out to be. I decided to focus on the middle panel while in class but soon realized, this jacket needs to be darker. My goal was to really create a multi layered composition of patterns and textures, pushing how far I could go before more was really too much. Once I got the middle panel to where I felt comfortable, I made trim that can be used for the collar or anything else out of neon paracord, teardrop sequins, bugle beads, seed beads and paillettes. I really loved how this turned out and it got my wheels turning about how I could use this technique for future projects.

Images by Jennifer Reis and Leslie Pearson


Our last two days, we had walk & chats to check out everyone’s project and help everyone with feedback but not terribly intense like a traditional critique. I did about 3 late nights in studio (studios are open till 1am) to complete and practice what I did. We accomplished quite a bit in a week as a class and I really enjoyed taking a break during a chaotic month to learn something new that can enhance my current practice. Jennifer is an inspiring instructor and having the chance to work in a supportive group setting was nice plus Arrowmont was the perfect campus for it all. I’m already planning my next trip back and looking into what other craft schools I can apply to but Arrowmont will forever be at the top of my list!