It's not every day that I have the opportunity to learn from someone as knowledgeable and accomplished as Candace Kling.
She is a Master, and she is a sculptor.
For 30 years, Candace has studied textile collections held by museums and private collectors, intrigued by the underlying construction behind embellishment in costume and fashions.
Through her own pursuit of sculpting ribbons and fabric into art, she has acquired a knowledge of such depth and breadth, it is absolutely thrilling to a student wishing to learn.
And the fact that the room was surrounded by board after board of amazing examples was enough to make me hyper-ventilate in my exhilaration...
This workshop was intense for me.
There was so much information to absorb, so many techniques to observe and to try to imitate in making my own samples. It was hard to force myself to break for lunch or even the bathroom. (We joked that Depends needed to be on our supply list!)
I had many, many A-ha! moments.
But my biggest "take-away" was the idea that the fabric has to be sculpted -- that the fabric has a voice and, through the manipulation of a skilled hand, the piece can sing...
Candace's hands honored the ribbons...her touch was light...and she approached the ribbon as if she were sculpting fine porcelain, not fabric, into flowers.
All too often she would notice us pulling too hard, tugging and distressing the material, in our pursuit of the perfect bloom...and she would remind us to be gentle.
She taught that each hand will sculpt the same ribbon differently. And each fabric and or ribbon will react differently to the same technique.
So just as oil paints and watercolors behave differently in different media and under the practiced hand of different artists...so too does ribbon.
Because we were learning, we made large samples so we could see and remember all of the techniques that were covered.
Candace uses a padded, covered board similar to a bobbin-lace pillow to sculpt her work. To improvise, we used empty fabric bolts to pin and sculpt our samples.
Over the three days, we filled up three cardboard display boards...
And they were all beautiful and varied from student to student and ribbon by ribbon.
My samples are very special to me and mark the beginning of a new journey...
In pursuit of the artful ribbon.
[Note: Candace's book, The Artful Ribbon, is out of print but you can still buy copies through Amazon or other used book dealers.]