Have Ewe Any Wool?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Off to Prison.....

Saturday, I spent a fabulous day hitting a few yarn shops as well as heading off to "Prison". Part of the former Lorton Prison has been converted in an arts center - the WorkhouseArts Center. The workhouses have become artist studios that house woodworking, fiber arts, ceramics, glass work, painting, pastels....you name it!

There are still a couple of guard towers that remain on the grounds reminding you that this once was a prison. The rear of the workhouses look a bit rustic, but once you walk to the courtyard, you're met will a lovely view of the brick workhouses connected by arched walkways. One workhouse even artwork decorating it's exterior. This is an excellent example of "recycling/re-purposing" - converting a prison into art studios!

We visited all the studios that were open. This is still a work in progress, and more studios are opening all the time. The best time to visit is the 2nd Saturday of the month. At that time, all the existing studios are open and they have somewhat of a mini festival. This September will mark their first anniversary, so they're planning even more special events to celebrate that as well.

Mia and I started our tour with the fiber arts studio - surprise, surprise! There are 10 artists that share this space and the room is just overflowing with inspiration. On Saturday, there was only one artist working in the studio, but she graciously allowed us to photograph her and her inspirational surroundings.

I would love to meet Luann Sievers, the weaver that's working on this piece! It's a phenomenal creation that combines weaving and cross-stitch. The artist weaves a row and then adds cross-stitching to it. It must take forever! It's double the work, but what a lovely result! The photo on the left shows the work in progress. On the right is a photo of one of her finished pieces - it's absolutely stunning! (Be sure to double click on the photos for a closer look - you'll be amazed!)

There were so many fascinating items in this room and in the halls it was nearly overwhelming. My fingers are just tingling from all the inspiration!

I fell in love with this felted bag - the magenta and teal look wonderful together! (I'm still thinking about it, but so far, have resisted the urge to buy it!)

Check out this display of fiber heaven - handwoven, hand painted, and hand knit - all providing a feast for the eyes. I fell in love with the felted flowers I found on a nearby table and was intrigued by the silk-paper bowl. Everywhere I looked there was a fascinating explosion of color!

The artist manning the register for this workhouse was busily hooking a Persian style rug. It was fascinating to watch! She hooked a short single row of one color - this prevented the twisting and warping of the cloth. She then had to "snug up" each of the loops. She then cut the loops to expose the open edges. Finally, she trimmed the ends to even them out. One tip she gave us was that you really need to cut the loops as you go...otherwise, if you cut them when you're done for the day, they'll tend to retain the curve from when they were in a loop. Wow....what a tedious process! I have renewed respect for those that craft handmade rugs!

I did manage to pick up a t-shirt, tote bag, and travel mug as souvenirs....as well as some lovely hand crafted items. My first purchase was some lovely hand spun yarn in a gorgeous deep purple....yum! The depth of color in this yarn is just fabulous! Thisyarn was hand spun by Luann Sievers - double click on the photo for a close up view of the stunning color. The shading really gives the yarn depth.

I purchased a lovely watercolor "sheep-scape" that shows a view the artist had of a sheep farm in Loudoun County. The artist, Catherine Hillis , also travels around the area teaching workshops and classes. She had some lovely greeting cards with prints of some of her other works - of course, I "needed" to purchase a few of those as well! The sheep and the building were local views...the flowers in the mason jars were inspired by her mother. I love them because I have a couple of the antique blue jars. The cards will not be used for correspondence, but will instead be framed and used for decorating my home.

Another artist, Grace Kettell, creates the most awesome flower paintings using pastels.....They're just gorgeous! I picked up a set of her cards as well....they too are too beautiful to use for letters and will instead grace the walls of my home. I really want to find a triple frame for these....I want to keep all three of these together.

My final artist purchase was a glass votive holder. It reminds me of flowers and flower petals. Unfortunately, I didn't get to speak with the artist that designed this as she wasn't there on Saturday.

This is a fabulous place to visit and it has something for everyone! Prepare to be inspired...or just come for the fabulous shopping.


  • At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow - I just don't have the words. Thank you for sharing the awesome pictures.


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