By: Corrie Habib
If you aren’t going to see Martha Owen’s presentation, Speak of Sheep, and/or attending her One Pot Magic dyeing workshop, you are missing out! Have you ever met someone who is an expert in their field, is unforgettable, and ignites your curiosity and creativity? For me, that’s Martha Owen. If you are interested in the transformation of plants into animal fiber into art medium—if you love a great story—if you appreciate banjo and Appalachian music—she’s someone you absolutely must meet and must hear. Her knowledge of every step in the process, in fact her life connection to every step, is captivating. You can’t help but be drawn into her storytelling with the ease and comfort with which she joyfully speaks about all things sheep and wool, Angora fur, natural dyes, life, and spinning.
In 2011, I took a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School that literally changed my life. I had lost my stepmother recently and needed a week to myself but not alone. I registered for “Sheep to Shawl” unaware of my incredible luck that the course was taught by Martha Owen. I’m sure I would have enjoyed what I learned that week no matter the instructor, but I absolutely loved everything I did and learned because Martha’s incredible knowledge of the subject and her passion for the art and science in the crafts were contagious. Some of my grief floated away with the steam from simmering onion skins, lichen, goldenrod, and exotic wood chips. Does the smell of sheep lanolin have antidepressant properties? Was it the visit with Olaf who, in appreciation for back scratches and ear snuggles, shared his sheep with me? Wasn’t it also the community created by like minds, humor, and kindness? Martha demonstrated carding and spinning like they were as simple as walking across the street and she was patient and supportive as I fumbled my way through the process of learning to spin. She literally spun yarn straight from one of her fluffy bunnies who sat blissfully on her lap. If I were to name events that were transformative in the way I live my life, Martha’s course is for sure on the list.
So make a plan to take advantage of this opportunity to get to know Martha and experience her natural magic. On Friday, unwind and connect (in person or virtually) with a person who these days is a rarity—an authentic woman who lives at the natural pace of a way of life connected to animals, plants, and communities that supply our needs and nurture our creative spark. I, for one, want the story behind her recent Instagram picture of the car trunk with several chicken eggs nestled in well-worn Birkenstocks. On Saturday, the Rainbow is in the Pot and the experience is the gold. You read about her natural dye colors in Spin-Off a few months ago—what a treat to be able to get this hands-on workshop from the author. Register soon for a seat in the studio…hope to see you there!