While we focus mostly on Peace Corps writers, those who tell the tales of their overseas experiences, we also like to write about other RPCVs of talent: artists, scholars, film makers like Allen Mondell (Sierra Leone 1963-65 ) who just finished a wonderful film on RPCVs entitled, Waging Peace, and those who realize their secret passion and follow their dreams and continue to make a difference in the world.
I especially like to draw attention to the artists who work as crafts people. Having edited a few books on crafts in my writing lifetime, I am partial to artists/crafts people who work with their hands. One such person is a dear friend of mine, a woman who was with me a decade or so ago at the New York Peace Corps Recruitment Office. She was the Recruitment Coordinator and an RPCV from Morocco. She left Peace Corps Recruiting to earn a masters in education at Harvard, then went onto study for her PhD at the University of Maryland when one day, she said (f@@k it, (or words to that affect,) tossed in the PhD towel, left the academic world, and became a fiber artist.
Her name is Stephanie Gorin (Morocco 1996-98) and today she lives and works in a studio in upstate New York close to the Hudson River, and from her small studio she runs a business, Loop, and has developed an international reputation from her creativity. Recently she was featured in the New Zealand magazine, The Wheel. The magazine is part of a fibre business (as they write it) and this company was founded in 1934 by Walter Ashford. His son runs it now and when he met Stephanie he invited her to New Zealand to help them design a new spinning wheel.
“When I first approached,” Stephanie says, “I was thinking, “Why not dream big?” But I never imagined that my proposed changes to the Country Spinner would all be realized. The Country Spinner has always been great for production spinners and now it is also ideal for spinners of art yarn. I spin a lot of extremely textured and mega-bulky art yarn and have always struggled with the relatively small bobbin and orifice sizes of other spinning wheels. The Country Spinner 2 has a gigantic bobbin - it holds over two pounds (1kg) of yarn! And it now has a 1 1/16in (27mm) orifice, which means it can accommodate even the bulkiest of art yarns. I also really like the new on-board Lazy Kate, which makes plying from up to two bobbins a breeze and is a perfect way to store extra bobbins. The new, wider spaced treadles make spinning on this wheel more comfortable. Another great new feature is the 3-speed bobbin, which creates three different spinning ratios for a wider range of yarns. The original Country Spinner had just one ratio and was ideal for bulky yarn. The new wheel includes the original speed as well as a slower, and a faster ratio. I love the slower ratio because it gives me more control and makes it much easier to spin corespun yarns and low-twist singles that come off the bobbin balanced perfectly. The faster ratio now makes it possible to spin thinner yarns on this wheel too and it makes plying much easier. I have been making do with a variety of different wheels forever, but have never found a wheel that could do everything I want. This is definitely the perfect wheel for me and is the only wheel I need to make my art yarns. Who says dreams don’t come true?”
Take a look at this short video: http://www.ashford.co.nz/newsite/site-pages/steph-video-1 of Stephanie at work.