A Week of Teaching Mark Making & Mandala Magic at Empty Spools Seminars

I'm long overdue on sharing my experiences of teaching at Empty Spools Seminars earlier this month. This class was almost a year and a half in the making with plenty of last minute preparations involved. 

In many ways I felt like I was packing up my entire studio as I was bringing all of my favorite materials, supplies, tools, and techniques to share with my students. Thankfully it all fit into my car and much of this would be going home with students as part of their class kits.

I had a beautiful ride down and arrived early before check in was ready, which meant I had time to visit the beach. This Zen time was perfect as the next hour or so would be a flurry of activity to find my classroom (not an easy feat), unload and set up in time for welcoming my students for an introductory lesson to the week of Mark Making & Mandala Magic.

The first two days involved a wide array of mark making techniques to create a custom fabric palette. We used acrylic paints with sunless printing, fauxbori, faux dyeing, and lots of stamping. It was great fun to see everyone add their own personality to the various techniques and the fabric reveals were so much fun!! 

On Wednesday, it was time to shift gears and learn how to design mandalas using their beautiful, new fabrics! Below are a few glimpses into the extraordinary work that my amazing students created throughout the week...








I so enjoyed getting to know each of these artists over the course of the week, seeing their confidence grow day by day, and all the moments of delight as they revealed their fabrics and growing mandalas! Their joy translated beautifully into their fabrics and their growing mandalas!

A major storm was due to strike the region the final night. Thankfully there was minimal rain/wind during the Open House, so there were lots of visitors to the classroom. They were in awe of the vibrant display of fabrics and in-progress mandalas created by my amazing students over the week. After open house, the wind picked up and we woke to find several trees had fallen down with one obstructing one of the main roadways on the Asilomar Conference grounds. Just as I was powering up my projector for our final lesson on Friday, the power went out! After waiting for it to come back on, we shifted over towards the window to take advantage of the limited light for a closing lesson. When the power never returned, everyone started to pack up all their precious fabrics, mandalas, and supplies. Alas I never managed to get final photos of their fabric palettes and/or mandalas...but at least we got a class photo before folks started to head home.

What an absolute gift to have these incredible women in my class. On Friday, they surprised me with a teacher's gift of a beautiful Asilomar journal to use for my art making as well as a beautiful card filled with lovely messages.

I also brought home some precious fabrics created during my class demos...

And lots of photos of the surrounding nature for future inspiration...

In fact, you'll see some of these and more photos of my Asilomar adventures included in my 100 Days of I Spy Dice Designs project. Yes, I brought fodder with me, set up a small studio space in my room, and carved out time each evening to add new pages to my small I Spy Dice Designs books!

Many thanks to Gayle and Suzanne for inviting me to teach as part of Empty Spools Seminars 2023. It was an honor and joy to be part of this incredible program. 

Update: I am delighted to return and offer this workshop again from March 1-6 for Empty Spools Seminars 2024. To learn more and register, please visit the Empty Spools Website.