Good Commons photo: Cornelia Theimer Gardella

Good Commons
photo: Cornelia Theimer Gardella

Vermont 2016:
A Masterclass in Color and Design

Dates: Thursday, June 9 through Monday, June 13, 2016.

Location: Good Commons, 4771 Route 100A, Plymouth, VT 05056

The retreat was a smashing success. Here are some photos and a blog post about it. Below that is the information provided to the participants before they signed up... so you can get an idea what the next retreat will be like! Future retreats may well be scheduled at Good Commons, but they will occur in other locations also.

Blog post about the retreat:

And some photos! Click on each thumbnail for a larger version. Hover for captions. Arrows will scroll. I left out all photos of the hot tub and massage. You're welcome (but it was great!! The stars from the hot tub were marvelous.)

I felt so validated in my design skills. With more skill learned from you, I trust my decision making enough that when I’m alone in my studio I will be able to design to my liking, with a lot of hard work! . . .

A wonderful workshop full of creativity, ideas, learning. You are a generous teacher, not holding back. It was an absolute pleasure being in your workshop.
— Cathie Beckman

The Masterclass

The structure of tapestry weaving can often interfere with the ephemeral designs that live in our imaginations. Learning to design successfully for tapestry includes understanding the technical limitations of the medium and the ways to get around them. What really is weavable in tapestry? And how do I get from that little jewel of a design in my head to a fully realized work?

For some of us, discouragement is common. We might tell ourselves, “I love weaving tapestry, but I don’t have any design ideas and I can’t find even one glimmer of a design. How do I begin?”  The secret is to start. Having a toolbox of idea generators to assist you is essential.

Bring the seeds of an idea with you, and we’ll work on how to modify designs for success in tapestry. You will find new ideas while we work together and you'll go home with a firmer direction for your weaving.

Color use is an important partner to successful design. We’ll use and expand our knowledge of color theory in the context of our design studies. Learn the importance of understanding value and some tricks to seeing it for yourself. You'll be amazed how important value is in tapestry design.

Specific exercises in color and design will also be available for those who really need a step-by-step approach. For those of you who are comfortable creating your own direction, I will be there for advice and to suggest exercises or experiments to bring you to the next level. Supplemental handouts will be provided for use at the workshop and later at home. We’ll look at tapestries by a wide variety of contemporary artists, how they approach the design process, and how you might learn from their methods.

This masterclass is for people who know basic tapestry techniques and are ready to work on their design skills and use of color. This is not a workshop for beginners. You may choose to spend much or all of your workshop time working on design. Or you might explore ways to realize your ideas in the actual weaving, learning to mix colors for various effects and experimenting with what is actually achievable in this wonderful medium.

And of course we are going to have a great time!


Vermont 2016 will be held at Good Commons, a retreat house in Plymouth, Vermont. Good Commons is committed to providing creative space in a relaxing environment for their guests.

Enjoy your days working in the beautiful downstairs studio with other committed tapestry artists. We will share meals together in the Good Commons dining room prepared by one of its fantastic chefs. Afternoons provide time for further work on weaving and design, or may be spent at your discretion. In the evenings, join your fellow students for a glass of wine on the deck or in the hot tub, relax with a good book, continue to weave, or play a game. The house has communal living spaces on each floor. There is a balcony on the second floor and a hot tub and fire pit in the back garden.

This retreat is designed to be a meeting of the minds. We hope to operate as a group of cooperative learners during our time together. We also understand that while shared space is creative space, respect for the contemplative artistic practice of others is necessary and valued.

This retreat is open to a small number of tapestry students participating in the workshop only. Family members and spouses are welcome only if they are participants in the workshop. Private rooms are limited. Note: these are not suites with private bathrooms. Your preference will be booked on a first-come, first-served basis.

Participants are required to stay at Good Commons. If this housing situation will not work for you, please consider a different retreat experience.

What is provided

  • Workshop instruction with me each morning, plus open studio with my assistance each afternoon. The studio will always be open and you can work as much or as little as you like.
  • Extensive handouts, some hand-dyed singles yarn you may work with, and a few extra treats.
  • Meals will be provided for each of the four days of this retreat, Thursday evening through Monday noon. Self-serve breakfast options will be available each morning. The Good Commons' chef will provide lunch and dinner service.
  • All linens, central A/C, Wi-fi, hot tub, hair dryers, washer/dryer, fireplace

I will send all participants a detailed materials list a few months before the retreat with suggestions for design inspiration to bring to the masterclass. I will bring some hand-dyed singles yarn which you are welcome to use, but I will encourage you to work with whatever yarn you are accustomed to at the sett that you use the most. This class is about advancing your own personal knowledge and skill set.

Please see the Good Commons website for further lodging details:

Technology and ADA access limitations

Good Commons has a bathroom on the first floor, but sleeping accommodations are upstairs. There is no lift and the two upper floors are full of short stairways.

Good Commons is situated in a valley, and the cell service is unreliable. Do not count on your cell phone working. Good Commons has a landline which you can use to make free long-distance calls anywhere in the continental USA. Wi-fi is included.

Be advised that Good Commons is a refurbished 19th century general store, and there are no locks on the bedroom doors.

This is a non-smoking property. Pets are not allowed. We expect that all guests will abide by Good Commons' maintenance standards.

Please contact me directly if you have questions or concerns about these issues.

What to bring

For the workshop:

  • portable tapestry loom, warped at the sett you usually use
  • your familiar weaving tools
  • yarn (I will bring some weft singles yarn but please bring a supply of the yarn you usually weave with)
  • drawing/design supplies, idea notebook
  • design ideas to expand upon during the workshop (more specifics coming in the spring)
  • If you are someone one who likes to work with music, please bring headphones for your device.

For the house:

  • clothing appropriate for early summer in Vermont
  • bathing suit if you’d like to enjoy the hot tub
  • walking shoes if you’re interested in exploring the nearby state park or the mountains near Plymouth

Retreat Schedule


4:00 pm Arrive
6:30 Dinner
Brief slideshow of tapestry inspiration and plans for the retreat
Evening relaxation

Friday, Saturday, Sunday                    

9-12 am  Workshop (all participants)
12-1 pm Lunch
1-5 pm  Open Studio with Rebecca or exploration of the surrounding countryside
6:30 pm Dinner
Evening relaxation as you desire; studio open for further weaving exploration


9-11 am Last minute weaving questions or follow-up.
Pack and disperse as needed. 
11:30 pm Casual lunch is available
Check out by 1 pm

Photo Gallery

Vermont is a beautiful place! The mountain and water shots were taken nearby. The boat on the lake is in Burlington. The Plymouth Cheese Factory is right up the road from Good Commons at the Coolidge Homestead (just in case you like cheese as much as I do). Coolidge State Park is also nearby. There are some wonderful neighboring towns with shops and restaurants as Plymouth is largely residential. Vermont also has wineries and you can buy local wine in the neighboring towns.

Click on the thumbnails below for a larger version. You can then use arrow keys to scroll through the images. There are captions on the photos if you hover over them with your mouse.