One last post!

In honor of my last day at Spindleworks, some favorite memories:


Caroline the dancing queen.


Earl never let me go out the door without asking– “Hi, how are you?!”


Watching artists teach each other skills, and enjoy new things–Sam loved learning how to make noodles from Barbara.

Sara teaching Nancy B. how to throw on the wheel with only one hand–a two-person art-making technique. When Caroline began telling me, “I know you!” Waltzing with Mitch in the sunny drawing room one early afternoon. Angela’s refrain: “I’m a flower child from the ’60s”. Cathy’s morning cheer of my name! Bo and Deirdre’s printmaking class–and just observing the work of all the artist mentors with the artists, the constant flow of teaching and exploring. Danielle answering the phone. Maureen helping me to hang the show. Denae helping me knit. Teresa teaching me how to crochet!


The laughter of Spindleworks is infectious–it’s impossible to leave in a bad mood.

Every day at Spindleworks was something new, something different, something joyful and challenging and interesting. I will miss every artist, staff member, and volunteer dearly, but I am unendingly grateful to them for taking me in, letting me be a part of the family, and teaching me more than I think they know.

I don’t want to say goodbye to everything that I have found at Spindleworks–but luckily, I don’t have to. I will see you all in the Spring!


Reflections: On Being The Artist

My last Monday at Spindleworks!

Spindleworkers have taught me to celebrate, not to compare. At school, at other jobs I’ve had, competition is seen as part of the pathway to success. There can only be one school president, a handful of magna cum laude graduates, one NCAA champion. Congratulations come from being the best, not just from being.

Spindleworks celebrates being. Being, as represented through paint and pencil, fiber and ceramics, uncountable mixed medias. The message from the artist mentors is simple: make whatever you are inspired to make. You can make anything. Put whatever is inside yourself on your page, or your pottery, or your plank of wood. Don’t worry about what other people are doing–you are here for you, for your artwork, for your vision.

And everyone makes such beautiful, interesting, revealing works of art. All different, all vibrant, a reflection of the diversity within these blue walls.

Angela's needlepoint is colorful, vibrant, mobile.

Angela’s needlepoint is colorful, vibrant, mobile.

The lack of competition does not mean that the artists do not want to be better, because they do. There is a constant desire to learn more, try more, sell more, make more–than yourself. Not than your neighbor, or the other artist who weaves, or than the artist mentors. Just yourself.

In celebrating each self, the work that each artist does, focus is shifted from being the best to doing one’s best. Taking agency over one’s own work, finding pride in one’s own work, in the admiration of others. Instead of putting each other down or feeling afraid of the accomplishments of others, artists are encouraged to relish in the wonderful work of their peers, to support each other, and to be autonomous art-makers.

Nancy B. loves to show me her finished work. “Melelody,” she’ll say, “Look!” I’ll respond by telling her what I like, what I notice in her intricate drawings. Today I remarked, “This work is amazing!” She replied, “I am amazing!”

Nancy with a recent work of intricate beauty.

Nancy B. with a recent work of intricate beauty.

Just like everyone, Spindleworkers don’t always know what to do. No one has endless creativity or patience or self-esteem. But the determination of this place, of the people here, to support individuality and art-making and each person’s work, is a message that will stay with me.

I’ve been working out in the pottery studio, trying to learn a few skills. On Friday Diane, who is a pottery master, was observing my color experiments. Offhand, I asked her, “What do you think?” She replied, “You tell me. You’re the artist.”

Spindleworks has taught me a million things, like it does for most people who walk in these doors. One of the most important: I am the artist.

Diane, Kim D. and Kelly enjoying work in the clay studio!

Diane, Kim D. and Kelly enjoying work in the clay studio!

What Goes Around Comes Around (Welcome, Celina!)

Last week, Celina Garcia began as a full-time artist mentor at Spindleworks. A recent graduate of Bowdoin College, Celina is quickly becoming part of the fabric of daily life at Spindleworks. Artists are eager to learn from her skills as a photographer and her talents in other mediums!

Celina and Jimmy work in the painting studio.

Celina and Jimmy work in the painting studio.

One of Celina’s first projects has been helping to prepare the new show in the Whatnot Gallery! “What Goes Around Comes Around” is opening on August 3rd. The show features circular art in a wide variety of mediums. In the hallway hangs artwork by the wonderful Karen.

I had taken the synchronicity of the art hanging all around Spindleworks for granted, but helping to ready the show taught me that–like in the creation of the art itself–time and consideration is required to make the final display seem effortless and coordinated.

What Goes Around Comes Around...sneak peek!

What Goes Around Comes Around…sneak peek!

In other news from the week, on Wednesday all of Spindleworks gathered to watch the first cut of a documentary about the artists and the artwork of 7 Lincoln Street. Bill Kunitz began filming and interviewing a few years ago. The documentary was a wonderful snapshot of life at Spindleworks, encapsulating the community impact, immense creativity and sweet relationships of this place. It was a touching reminder of the diversity of people that Spindleworks affects, every day.

So, come by and see What Goes Around Comes Around in the next few weeks! And have a wonderful weekend, from everyone here at Spindleworks.

The loom room was packed to watch Bill's movie.

The loom room was packed to watch Bill’s movie.

Good Energy

It’s July–almost August–and summer is fully underway, but the Spindleworks house is free of the too-common midsummer blues. Instead of wilting, or fidgeting, or sulking under a thin layer of sweat, the artists are bursting with energy and producing as much amazing art as always.

I think some of the energy comes in with the Maine air, through the open windows and doors, in one nostril during outdoor lunch and out the other in the painting room. Most it comes straight from the dedicated, creative spirits who work here.

Everyone has bad days, hard days, sad days, but it’s easier to have a good day on a day like today, a sunny day, an art-filled day. Spindleworkers know about the bad days, but miraculously, the good energy of the whole house is rarely overturned. Through challenges and scuffles, Spindleworks remains a place dedicated to its cause of art-making and community-building.

There are smiles to be found at Spindleworks around every corner. Today: a group gathered in the dance room to learn a dance routine for So You Think You Can Dance’s “National Dance Day” (video forthcoming). Eight artists worked solemnly on their pottery, using skills built up over several years. Nancy B. painted in shiny gold. Danielle sported a new hat from camp. Lloyd laughed until he nearly cried.

There is joy at Spindleworks, despite adversity. There is excitement for tomorrow. There is good energy–not to be taken for granted.


Dancing while working makes for a happy afternoon

An ebullient Nancy B. at the wheel!

An ebullient Nancy B. at the wheel!

Angela strikes a pose!

Angela strikes a pose!

Creation of a Birdhouse with help from Spindleworks Staff & Volunteers

I asked Alex if we can do a birdhouse and she said yes. Alex is a volunteer and she is doing an internship. And I told her I had to do some drawing first and then I will show Maureen the sketch I did and she said we can make one. Maureen is an artist mentor and she helps me do woodworking. Maureen said we have to do some different things to it and I said, that will be okay.

I want to make some thing where no one did it before. It is my first one I did and I love it and cannot wait to see how it comes out and I am putting on shingles to the roof and the side of the house. When I am finished with it I will paint it.

I talked to Maureen and I was looking out the window and was seeing different roofs and colors and she said to me that you can make it what you want to do.

I love when the volunteers and the artist mentors come here to Spindleworks and teach me things. The mentors are teachers. Maureen showed me her work and then I could do my own creation. Cathy will show her textile painting and ask if you want to make one in your own style. I love to learn a lot and they are so nice to me. I love to come here and we have a lot of good teachers working here and they teach me a lot of things, and what they do and I love to see their work too.

I am happy to come here and love the place.

By artist Kim Christensen





My name is Barbara Carter
I live in Bowdoin. I have been here at Spindleworks for five year.
I like to be an artist to make a lot of art. We sell art at Spindleworks you can look around the house see the art and the store. I am on the store team I do the shelve organize.
I volunteer at the Coffin School to teach the kids to weaving on a table loom and cardboard loom. I like to volunteer at the school because to learn about the kids because they teach us to be calm. They come to visit us after the year end I like to give a tour around the house and I like the letters to us at Spindleworks because I feel happy they send the letters to us.

By artist Barbara Carter

Barbara working on her blog post.

Barbara working on her blog post.

Throwing like a Potter

Spindleworks is a place of constant learning and teaching: peer to peer, staff to staff, staff to artist, artist to staff, staff and artists to visitors.

Artists are constantly working to improve their skills in various studios. Today was the first day of Wheel Week, when Sara teaches artists to throw on the pottery wheel. Throwing is an immensely hard skill–it requires knowledge, patience and exquisite care. Meanwhile, the possibility looms over the most experienced potter that with a slip of the hand, the structure will collapse back into amorphousness.

Watching new potters at the wheel was delightful. The wheel was psychedelically spattered with wet clay. Artist brought various attitudes and levels of skill. The different sets of hands shaping the silky clay was mesmerizing, as was the whirring of the wheel.

A tricky skill with big payoff–some artists made lovely creations, despite occasional mishaps. A great joy of being at Spindleworks is seeing the eagerness and determination with which artists tackle new projects, the boundless peer support through the learning process, and the absolutely amazing guidance and talent of the staff. When finished and on the store shelf, he beautiful work speaks for all that and much more.

Michelle, Sara, and Diane at the wheel.

Michelle, Sara, and Diane at the wheel.

Michelle's hands.

Michelle’s hands.

Thrown pieces!

Thrown pieces!

Emilie’s Words

My best passion of work is to make tons of stories I’ll tell you the facet piece of mine I am going to write about my straight job as the voice artist who writes it on the paragraph of mine to get the new straight A’s and thanks a bunch.

By artist Emilie Williams.

Portrait of the Artist

Portrait of the Artist

Sounds at Spindleworks

Spindleworks is a visual place: every cranny bursts with projects, paint splatters, embroidery floss in colors Crayola hasn’t named. The people of Spindleworks are visual also–artists and mentors alike are observers, rememberers, noticers of subtleties that explode into works of art.

But Spindleworks is also a place of sound.

Wednesday morning begins with dance class at 9:30. “It’s Raining Men,” and there are stomping feet, clapping hands, a melange of laughters. There is also a quiet shriek, occasional meows, and the cry of the Eye of the Tiger. Coaxing calls bring cautious feet up to speed, different voices sing along with an unpredictable variety of lyrics. There is no self-consciousness during dance class, artists and mentors alike yelling in the Whatnot Gallery–it’s raining men, Hallelujah!

The Quiet Room is deceptively named. Whenever Kelly W. is in, the Quiet Room is more aptly called The Beatles Room. With her encyclopedic knowledge of Beatles lyrics and inter-band dramas, Kelly sings along, chuckling as she cuts out Beatles figures. Across the hall, in the writing room, Emilie offers her own commentary on the Beatles songs, along with definitions of new words. Even when the Quiet Room is empty of music and singing, computer keyboard clicks and scissor-sounds fill the space.

The weaving room has its own unique melody: the looms clash and groan softly, artists pull the beater bar forward with a satisfying thump. Lloyd laughs and Lorelai makes her own noises. Sewing machines whirr. In a stir of clicks and taps, fibers are woven into cloth and sewn into pieces invented just this day.

Dancing in the Whatnot Gallery

Dancing in the Whatnot Gallery

Kelly in the Quiet Room

Kelly in the Quiet Room

Kim and Michelle sewing and weaving, respectively

Kim and Michelle sewing and weaving, respectively

Spindleworks is a veritable sensory feast, full of mouthwatering visions and delectable sounds. Every room in the blue house on Lincoln Street holds something different, mixing into the one-of-a-kind place I have come to love.

Rainy Tuesdays

It’s my fourth Tuesday at Spindleworks and every single one has been rainy. Sunny days and rainy days differ: when the sun is out, Spindleworkers spill onto the porch and fill the pottery studio with laughter and chatter. Rainy days bring more contemplative work, hands moving over looms and papers, eyes glancing up at every thunderclap.

After break I spent the morning in the painting studio. With everything that goes on in Spindleworks, taking a few hours in one place can be focusing, a chance to connect more intimately with the happenings in one room. I worked with Karen on her painting of a red fox. We examined photos of foxes for details that Karen then carefully rendered.

It was satisfying to work one-on-one with an artist, to talk about ideas and to see Karen’s interpretations. I also saw how much Karen enjoyed her work, how pleased she was by its iterations, even though she was often anxious to make marks on her canvas. My morning was a pleasant reminder–process is as important, if not more important than, product.

In other news–Spindleworkers took a field trip to a wood-carver’s studio, there are upcoming workshops, and blue skies on the forecast. Happy Tuesday!

Karen and Caroline working in the painting studio.

Karen and Caroline working in the painting studio.

What a fox!

What a fox!