College/University, Arts/Cultural Organizations, Community Center
Most of my working life I spent as a naturalist in Nature Centers teaching spontaneously to walk-in visitors as well as to scheduled groups of all kinds. I am passionate about sharing "little known worlds" of nature with anyone who is willing to listen. I changed career tract in 1999 and began Byrdcall Studio of art. In recent years my focus has totally turned to reviving the dying art of rya rug making which originated in the Nordic countries. I grew up in a family focused on sharing the rya craft. Now, 35 years after it virtually disappeared, I am trying to revive the art through creative teaching and supplying of high quality supplies from Scandinavia. I currently teach locally at Byrdcall Studio in Woodbine, Maryland, at Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster, Maryland, and for Stitches United in Hartford, Connecticut. In the fall of 2017 I taught at Integrace/Fairhaven, a retirement community in Sykesville, Maryland coincidently right next to my first Nature Center.
After my recent experience teach at the Integrace/Fairhaven retirement community, I realized how much my students there were stimulated by a new medium--and it is new to most people. The art form is forgiving of imperfection which encourages experimentation and willingness to take a chance. Students, even those who confessed that they had no creative ability amazed themselves with the results. When we shared with the other residents at an exhibition and demonstration of their works, each one shined with delight as they shared the details of how they developed their design and how easy it is to make the knots on the backing. Even the most hesitant students showed confidence. I was very happy to bring this art form with resulting heirloom quality end-product into the lives of these students. On a side note, I learned the art of rya rug making from my grandparents and worked with them as they entered their eighties, so I see no limitation in the age factor when it comes to rya rugs.