I meet my lift to Echo Lake on a street corner in Philadelphia, and after an hour or so of driving and talking with my new friend Kelly we arrive at the beautiful Bucks County Community College. The Echo Lake collaboration is held in the arts buildings of the College, where Mark Sfirri is an instructor - what lucky students! (more on Mark in a forthcoming post) The arts buildings include a very (very) well equipped wood shop, as well as studios for jewelry, painting, hot glass, metal sculpture, wood sculpture, and printmaking.

The evening is taken up with finding working spaces, touring the studios, and looking over the resource room. The resource tables are piled with all sorts of materials that have been collected and delivered by participants. There are a number of partially turned wood objects, pieces of metal and glass, some branch wood, even a collection of false teeth: it’s a confusing array of objects. 

There is an air of excitement: most of the participants have been coming to the Echo Collaboration for years. They are already teaming up for projects, many of them comfortable in established working relationships and understandings. I only know a couple of the people who are at the collaboration on that first evening: Kelly Komenda who I met earlier that day, and Mark Sfirri, who I had worked with at CollaborationAu. 

Kelly Komenda unpacking tools

I look for familiar materials, an easy way to seed a project that I can use to meet people and begin collaborating. To my disappointment there is not much lumber suitable for a “furniture” project. I meet two fellow visiting furniture artists, Leah Woods and Reagan Furqueron, who are turning over most of the same materials that I am. Leah teaches at the University of New Hampshire, and Reagan, who is to be my room mate, works at the Herron School of Art and Design, Indiana University. 

Leah Woods - Her recent studio work are fabulous furniture garments - check out http://leahkwoods.com/home.html

 

Reagan Furqueron - see his work at http://reaganfurqueron.com/home.html

I have no idea what I am going to do or who I will work with. I eventually select a little pack of veneers, a few long thin pieces of timber, a beautifully patinated gourd, and some interesting pieces of machined metal, which I later learn are offcuts from a amusement ride manufacturer! 

 

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Wood is good, but clay is the way...just kidding.

See if you can find Marlene True in the crowd, she is a jewelry maker and fellow crafthauser :-). Maybe a photo??

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