Art Guild Class – Pine Needle Basketry

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. November 2019

As I played my weekly Monday background piano music a few weeks ago in Assisted Living, I learned about my friend Harriet Hunter. She has lived 20 years (since 1999) at Panorama and won third prize at the Thurston County Fair not long ago for her piece of ceramic sculpture. Panorama has an updated, beautiful ceramic studio where Harriet returns to “work” regularly. And this is at age 95! This reminded me of the Art Guild classes here at Panorama.

In “My Experience in Arts Walk 2019” blog, you read how excited I was about learning to weave a small coaster as an introduction for Pine Cone Basketry. Well, I showed up to the Quinault Lower Level Art Room with seven more residents who were as eager as I was. I’d been wanting to take the class of 12 hours spread out during several weeks, it didn’t work on my calendar. However, six hours on a Friday followed by another six on Saturday worked! All we had to bring was sharp, pointed scissors, needle nosed pliers, lunch and a minimal fee for materials! 

My unfinished pine needle coaster

We wove around a predrilled wooden center, learning the basic spiral stitch, a unique method of weaving, and created a very attractive-on-both-sides coaster. One woman will hang hers on the wall. I haven’t finished mine yet, but will display the unusual unique in-progress version for fun.

We were fortunate to have learned under resident Jim Shanower. Jim had coiled a pine needle basket he calls “Baleen Fantasy”, and won the Grand Champion Award in the Professional/Master Basket Maker Division at the 2019 Washington State Fair!

Jim Shanower’s Grand Champion Award in the Professional/Master Basket Maker Division at the 2019 Washington State Fair.

That’s the Arts Guild for you at Panorama. It sponsors classes and events throughout the year. They actually invite us to suggest what we are interested in each year. Ideas such as starting an ongoing still-life drawing group. Or more classes in drawing, watercolor or acrylic, fabric arts like wet felting and quilting, or woodworking, encaustic (using pigments mixed with hot wax that are burned in as an inlay), jewelry making, glass slumping, etc.

In addition to the huge Arts Walk,the Arts Guild offers much more. Some samplings:

  • The Arts Guild professionally displays residents’ 3D Art in Panorama Hall’s large, shelved, clear case with the artist’s name and title of the piece for several weeks. I love to see the varying media.
  • Besides making and displaying our art, we are welcomed to the Art Happy Hour in our Seventeen51 Bistro. About 30 artists and supporters attend.
  • Every few months, volunteer Arts Guild members display different residents’ works that relate to an assigned theme in Seventeen51 Restaurant’s Gallery. The current theme is PUZZLES (see my blog “Lunch in the Gallery” from 11/12/16)
  • Not enough? Then there is the monthly Arts Guild Alternate Monthly Luncheon with enthusiastic speakers to inspire, present appropriate opportunities to attend, offer ways to exhibit, etc.
Gallery display fabric collage

Thanks to Panorama and the many artists who share their resources and offer us opportunities to continue, extend or discover our artistic talents. Just another addition to our list of THANKSGIVINGS here at Panorama!

Staring Down a Pumpkin

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. November 2019

Up early . . . wearing wiggly skeleton earrings a piano student gave me 30 years ago, orange-flowered pullover shirt with black long sleeves, black leggings, pointy-hatted witch socks with my walker chair . . . I was off to Panorama Hall!

Russ Leno was the center of attention as he knelt on a 2-inch black sponge beginning to carve a huge pumpkin with various Halloween designs. Panorama had chairs arranged in a large semicircle. Josh had sent down from our Seventeen51 Restaurant long oblong platters of round brownies and generous-sized chocolate chip cookies ready for munching. I strolled over to the familiar large coffee machine stocked with packets of teas and hot chocolate. I greeted and sat next to Mary P. in her warm, beautiful teal pull-over, embroidered with shiny orange pumpkins and green-vined leaves.

After a sip of hot chocolate, Mary P. questioned, “Mary Jo, what do you suppose Russ is starting to carve?”

“Looks like maybe the tip of a witch hat.”

In the next few minutes, Russ jabbed, slit, shaved, flipped, dug, and changed knives often. Before long, a witch hat had long, fat strands of wavy “hair” emerging on the left side of a face, eventually repeated on the face’s right side.

Soon, two scary eyeballs bulged out below the hat. A large, long hunk of pumpkin remained in place. An appropriate, well-formed witch NOSE separated the two eyeballs and stretched down her face reaching the center of her mouth!

Little families of residents strolled in. We enjoyed their entertainment, especially Mary B’s little grandboys, about 3 and 7 in age. Their excited jumping, twisting, and skipping back-and-forth from the pumpkin’s new developing figurines put smiles on our faces.

The children paused with outstretched necks to study the almost gargoyle-looking little “trick-or-treater” Russ was whittling. The curved, thin knife, sculpted a mouth of two lined-up-in-perfect-rows of clenched teeth that extended from ear to ear. We chuckled. Maybe the three-year-old was expecting that the figure, now gripping a jack-o-lantern, would jump out and start chasing him!

Time flew by quickly as residents stayed long or short times for the socializing, refreshments, and gazing back at the pumpkin. They remarked on the speed and accuracy of the talented sculptor, the added entertainment of excited little ones, and the sharing of memories of our own childhood experiences -sometimes tricking whether we received treats or not!

Thank you Panorama for giving us more of the many events and displays across our campus, indoors and outdoors, in Panorama Hall, Seventeen51 Restaurant, Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center, Assisted Living, etc. We have something to look forward to and to wonder what would be on the plate for us again each year. You, executives, managers, workers, employees, and volunteers, thanks again.