And the Winner Is….

Thank you to all of you who entered to win the beautiful silk scarf from Spirit House Designs and shopped at the presale yesterday.

The winner is…..

Jenna!

She writes This Is My Happiness - one of my favorite travel blogs.

We’ll be sending out your warm tone scarf.

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Still want a scarf to call your own?

Alicia will be selling her work at the Davis Art Center Holiday Sale this first weekend in December.

Be sure to “like” Spirit House Designs on Facebook to keep up with Alicia’s work.

Catching Up with Alicia Herrera of Spirit House Designs + a GIVEAWAY!

Last November I interviewed my fellow public school teacher, adoptive mom (to be), and owner of Spirit House Designs, Alicia Herreraas part of my Featured Teacher Series.

Here’s a snap shot of our conversation recently.

What is happening in your adoption?

We are now 27 months into our adoption pregnancy.  After the initial flurry of paperwork, classes, and home study, we have been more or less waiting.  And, because all of the legal documents tent to be valid only for a year, we have renewed all of our paperwork once, too.

We are pretty much at the “top” of the list for getting an important phone call- the one where we are matched with our child.  After we are matched, it will be another 4-8 months while we go through the court system. We hope to have a toddler at home this time next year!

What’s changed since last year?

One big change has happened since this time last year.

The program that we were in (Thailand) basically slowed to a stop. International adoption is dicey in that the process can take so long that policy changes happen mid-process.  We were advised by our adoption agency to switch countries if we were wishing to complete an adoption in the next couple of years (yes!).

Adoptive parent requirements vary from country to country and, initially, we had not been married long enough to consider a few other options.  Those options were suddenly open to us, including a very good program with a small children’s home in Taiwan.

Having to change countries is a big fear for adoptive parents because of time and money lost. It can be heartbreaking to essentially “start over”.   We had to face that fear this year and it was hard for us.   More waiting, more money, still no guarantees.  We took a deep breath, crossed our fingers, and reapplied in Taiwan.

Are are you still raising money to fund your adoption through Spirit House Designs? 

 Reapplying meant redoing a lot of paperwork (again!) and repaying fees.  In addition, the program in Taiwan is also about $7,000 more, by design, than Thailand. We expect to spend about $35,000 by the time we are finished, which is roughly a teacher’s take-home salary for one year.  It is amazing to consider!

What’s new at Spirit House Designs?

Oooh. The thing that I am loving the most this year are the silk art scarves.  They have been individually painted, dyed, and then shaped by hand.  I added little specks of light and color to make each one unique.  They look great and feel luxurious.  I put up a tutorial on the blog that shows my favorite way to wear them as scarves, but they are versatile enough to be worn as a shawl, too.

They are such a pleasure to make. Working with silk is filled with meditative moments.  Mixing color, paying attention to the fiber’s response, moving slowly, being open to what each piece wants to become… all of these things are done with intention and love.  I believe that this attitude is what makes each item beautiful and what pleases the wearer. There is no substitution for heart.

I also have the next batch of nuno felted scarves, flowers, huipil cushions, as well as some gifty felted soap, all of which can be seen first at the open studio at the house on November 19th.

Where is your work available?

I will be showing at the Davis Art Center Holiday Sale and the Davis Gift Mart the first weekend in December.  This should be a fun holiday season of sharing both textiles and adoption excitement updates with everybody.

I will also be having a Spirit House studio presale on November 19th, for those who are unable to make the Davis Art Center Sale.  From 10 AM-2 PM, the studio will be open and items will be available for purchase.

The studio sale is by invitation only, but all are very welcome.

{For an invitation, simply submit a comment of interest}.

All of the profits from the presale go directly toward our adoption fund.

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Alicia has generously donated a silk scarf to the readers of Teacher Goes Back To School.

To enter to win – please leave a comment about what color palette interests you most: warm tones or cool tones.

 Options for Extra Entries:

Subscribe to Teacher Goes Back to School via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner) and then leave a blog comment telling me you subscribed. If you already are a subscriber, leave a comment letting us know.

Subscribe to Spirit House Designs via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner) and then leave a blog comment telling Alicia you subscribed. If you already are a subscriber, leave a comment letting us know.

“Like” Teacher Goes Back to School on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm. If you already like TGBTS, leave a comment letting us know.

“Like” Spirit House Designs on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm.If you already like Spirit House Designs, leave a comment letting us know.

Tweet this post or share it on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm.

Who is eligible to win?

Anyone with a valid e-mail and a U.S. mailing address is eligible.

When do I find out if I am the winner?

The contest is open from November 13, 2011 until midnight PST on Friday, November 18, 2011. The winner will be announced on November 19th at the Presale. {Need not be present to win.}

You will have 2 weeks to e-mail us back with your home address so we can mail the prize.

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

Thank you to all who entered.

Teacher Travels: deYoung Museum – Masterpieces From The Musee National Picasso, Paris

What do you get when three teachers travel together?

A whole lot of awesome, that’s what.

Our plan was multifaceted:  Help me with my Summer of Intentionality list, escape the Sacramento heat, enjoy a leisurely lady date and a visit to the deYoung in San Francisco to see the Picasso: Masterpieces From The Musee National Picasso, Paris.

Alicia {4th grade teacher/textile artist/owner of Spirit House Designs}, Amy {high school English teacher/blogger extraordinaire Just a Titch} and I {yoga teacher/school teacher on parental leave – holy crap!} were super excited to see this exhibit and to not have to travel to Paris to do so.

Travel tips from Sacramento to the deYoung Museum {AKA a whole lot less expensive than a trip to Paris!}

1. To make sure you can get into the exhibit, please order your tickets online before you go. $25 for the general public and $15 for members. Or special pricing for others – see link for details.

2. The tickets are time and date stamped so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there.

3. Know that even on a midday Tuesday, you’ll be swimming in people. {I was surprised and wondered why everyone wasn’t at work. Forgot about all the tourists!}

4. Need to know how to get to the deYoung? Check out my post on getting to the Academy of Sciences. They are in the same part of Golden Gate Park.

5. Once you finish with the exhibit, be sure to check out the deYoung Cafe for a glass of wine and lunch. We did.

The wine totally helped us get over the weird goat thing Picasso had going on.

Pretty sure the polenta was loaded with dairy. My taste buds were dancing!

Other things to while in San Francisco:

Giggle at the Segway silliness.

Dig your feet into the sand at Ocean Beach {get back on the N-Judah and head all the way down to the beach}.

How do you spend your time in San Francisco?

In Case You Missed It Edition, Volume 20

{via}

Each week I’ll give you links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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My Best Of…

What makes a great teacher? Hint, it’s not the cute pants. A seriously great post about what makes a great yoga teacher, but really the qualities apply to all kinds of teachers.

How NOT to teach a beginning level class. Again, it applies to all kinds of teaching, not just the yoga kind.

Remember how much you wanted to win a scarf from November’s Featured Teacher –  Alicia at Spirit House Designs? Well, she’s doing a purse GIVE AWAY. Go enter friends! You’ve got until March 12th.

EXCITING NEW ALERT!

Teacher Goes Back to School is growing up! In addition to our regularly scheduled fully restorative yoga class at It’s All Yoga, we are in search of a designer to make TGBTS as pretty as she is useful.

If you know someone or are someone who would like to work on this small-budget project, please send them my way via comment or email TGBTSblog (at) gmail dot com.

Speaking of pretty and useful blogs – have you checked out Charlotte’s Fancy? Love this victory garden post.

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Curvy Yogis update – save the date for the last weekend of March for photo shoot. Details to follow. Our photographer is traveling and we’re coordinating schedules the best we can.

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition for this week, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.


Teacher by Day, Textile Artist by Night – An Interview – with Alicia Herrera from Spirit House Designs

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

Alicia Herrera is November’s Featured Teacher. Alicia and I know each other because we are both Thailand-adoption-waiting- mamas-to-be.   

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Alicia of Spirit House Designs

Did you miss Part 1? – Teacher Travels and Vows of Silence.

How did you first start working with textiles?

 

My mother was trained as a home economics teacher and my father collected textiles when he traveled in Latin America, they were framed all over his house.  He introduced me to the molas of the Kuna people of Panama when I was very young.  He took me to Nicaragua when I was a young adult to work as an interpreter for a group called Medical Training Worldwide.

The sweltering markets of Nicaragua ignited my love of folk fabric and the stories that go along with them.  My relationship with textiles has developed steadily, bit by bit, over the years.

Who and what inspire you?

A close friend’s mother sealed the deal.  Karen Tan (Chang) was a textile artist and I was able to absorb quite a bit of Textiles 101 by being in her home, seeing her work, and by reading the books in her library.  She did her graduate work in Indonesian ikat and is still my hero.

I am always inspired my travel and colors and texture found in the natural world.  The smells, sounds, and feeling of being in open-air markets always send me to the moon.

Where have you traveled?

I am have traveled many places, but have spent the most time in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia), Japan, the subcontinent (Nepal , India) and Central America (Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama).  I spent nearly half of my 20’s living in these places.  

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Traveling Teacher

 

How do you get your fabrics?

Well, in the case of the world textiles, I usually go to the country of origin, meet the makers, listen to the stories associated with the pieces and the people who make them, and bring them back myself.  Every pieces of cloth has had a history and a story, both regional and personal.

I also collect vintage scraps from the US, gathered from various sources, and then repurpose them into their next lives. Handbags and pillows once were tablecloths and curtains from half a century ago, all loved-up but not worn out.

I also work with raw fibers, specifically wool and silk, which I also source locally, dye, and then use in my own textiles.

What do you make?

Right now I am enjoying designing pillows and purses from vintage and world fabrics. I recently traveled to Guatemala and went from town to town gathering huipiles (blouses) and cortes (skirts) that were hand-woven and then embroidered.  Some are quite old and distinguished.  Guatemalan work is fascinating because it is so regional.  Every village has its own designs and patterns and the items can initially take up to 9 months to complete because it is all handwork.  Huipiles are often worn for a decade.  By the time I come into the picture, they have served their purpose as clothing and are ready to be reborn and repurposed.

I also work with fiber though spinning yarn, dyeing, weaving, and felting raw merino wool and silk.  I am currently enjoying a process called” nuno felting”, sometimes refered to as “laminated silk.”  Nuno means “fabric” in Japanese and the tradition involved felting wool fibers through pieces of silk fabric to make very lightweight, organic pieces.  I make scarves that are art to wear.

Many of the purses are made from vintage fabrics from the US.  Curtain samples from the 60’s, mumus, handkerchiefs, tablecloths, and whatnots are the raw materials that I gently guide into a new life.  All of the purses are made with care and fully lined, with all sorts of little touches that make them unique.  You can see samples of current pieces on the blog.

{Want to see MORE? Click HERE}

Where can people buy your goods?

I will be at the Davis Art Center’s Holiday Sale on December 3, 4, and 5th .   You will find a selection of felted and woven scarves, as well as handbags and pillows from vintage and world fabrics on display.  Each item comes with a tiny card giving some of the history behind the creative process involved.  I will be happy to tell you the long story of any particular piece on the spot!

15% of all sales go towards supporting the Davis Art Center and its fine work in the community. 

I will also be having a Spirit House studio presale on November 20th, for those who are unable to make the Davis Art Center Sale.  From 10 AM-2 PM, the studio will be open and items will be available for purchase.

The studio sale is by invitation only, but all are very welcome.

{For an invitation, simply submit a comment of interest}.

I would love to see you there and prices will reflect a 10% discount off the DAC Holiday Sale.

All of the profits from the presale go directly toward our adoption fund.

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Alicia has generously donated a scarf to the readers of Teacher Goes Back To School.

Here’s how enter to win.

For One Entry:

Leave a comment about what color palette interests you most: warm tones or cool tones.

 Options for Extra Entries:

Subscribe to Teacher Goes Back to School via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner) and then leave a blog comment telling me you subscribed.

Subscribe to Spirit House Designs via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner) and then leave a blog comment telling Alicia you subscribed.

“Like” Teacher Goes Back to School on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm.

Tweet this post or share it on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm.

Who is eligible to win?

Anyone with a valid e-mail and a U.S. mailing address is eligible.

When do I find out if I am the winner?

The contest is open from November 1, 2010 until midnight PST on Friday, November 19, 2010. The winner will be announced on November 20th at the Presale. {Need not be present to win.}

You will have 2 weeks to e-mail us back with your home address so we can mail the prize.

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This contest is now CLOSED.

 

Teacher Travels and Vows of Silence – An Interview with Alicia Herrera of Spirit House Designs {+ a giveaway}

Teachers.   

Don’t you just love them?   

I know I do.   

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.   

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.   

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.   

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!   

Alicia Herrera is November’s Featured Teacher. Alicia and I know each other because we are both Thailand-adoption-waiting- mamas-to-be.     

 

Alicia of Spirit House Designs in her studio

 

What and where do you teach?

 I teach in a 4th grade classroom in Davis, California by day.  I am a textile artist by night. 

What is your teaching history?

I began my teaching career in the Bay Area while earning a teaching credential and MA through UC Berkeley’s Developmental Teacher Education program.  I focused my energy on urban education while writing my thesis about bridging the cultural and linguistic gap found in the urban classroom.

I spent two years studying and working in Oakland at a school that consisted of 100% students of color, most of which were second language learners from all over the world.  Learning about teaching and the socio-economic concerns that students brought to the classroom each day was humbling.  Through the students and their families, I grew to love the exploration of culture and language more deeply.

I took my show on the road.  I have taught in Costa Rica, Sacramento, Japan, and now Davis.  I was a contributor to a blog in Japan and you can see some of the entries here {don’t forget to click the links!} and here.  My curiosity about culture, art, and the learning process has propelled me to live and teach in a variety of settings.    

 

Alicia travels.

What brought you to teaching?

The three overreaching themes of my life to date have been art, spirituality, and positive intent. Teaching is helping others learn and grow.

Of course, what I bring to the profession is always influenced by my spiritual well-being and my artistic sensibility.  I have always wanted to nurture.  

And boss people around.  I was a bossy older sister. 

When did you start traveling /practicing sitting meditation?

In 1999, I was working in one particular classroom in Oakland filled with many immigrants from Southeast Asia.  Around Cambodian New Year, my master teacher organized a walking field trip to small neighborhood Buddhist temple a block away from our school.  The monks there gave a tour of their homespun community center and shared with our class about how people celebrate the New Year in Cambodia.  I was captivated.

I had a begun vipassana sitting meditation practice earlier that year and, of course, along with that had been reading many books on Buddhist culture.  Thich Nat Hahn (a Vietnamese monk once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by MLK Jr.) had recently come to Oakland to lead a “Day of Mindfulness” retreat at Lake Merritt and a friend and I attended.  Combined with my impending graduation and my deep exhaustion from teaching in the public school system, I was ready for a shift.  Meditation was becoming vehicle through which I began noticing my emotional storylines and would have the occasional metacognitive bits of self reflection about how I worked.  I wanted to continue exploring.

I had a radical, scary, exciting urge.  I wanted to clear out entirely when I finished my final term and then attempt to live in a monastic setting somewhere in Southeast Asia and perhaps take vows. I was transitioning from one stage of life to the next and I had the time and space to try this out.   I had the notion that some place might just feel right and I could live wakefully and experience what came next as it happened.  I was open to the possibility of becoming a Buddhist nun for a time. Accepting vows in this tradition is not necessarily a lifelong commitment.   I was also open to just finding a new home for the next stage of my life.

And that is what I did.

So, what happened?

A lot happened!  I did stay in monasteries in Thailand, Burma, and India.  I was there for about a year.  I took the precepts and vows of silence.  The meditation helped me to understand more about interdependence, impermanence, and most unexpectedly, being awake to experience beauty as a process.  Buddhist practice has a clear place for the arts as a vehicle for the process of awakening.

I realized as I traveled from place to place that my backpack was growing heavier and heavier with textile samples.  With each sample there was a story attached and I felt as if the fabric held secrets in the stitches and the spaces in between those stitches. 

Eventually, the scraps and samples that I had gathered were too heavy and I began sending boxes back to California.  I knew that something was starting for me, but it was still unclear.  I kept notebooks and I would fill them with pictures of traditional dress and textile traditions, along with quotes, notes, and stories. 

Every place I visited I saw through the lens of that region’s textile traditions and I began to stay primarily in places where I could learn something new about culture and fiber.  My book selection shifted to selections about art and culture.   In the end, I feel that I had an informal post-graduate year of study in textiles and Buddhist culture in Southeast Asia.  Not exactly what I had initially anticipated but very meaningful all the same.

Recharged, I found I was ready again to teach, as well as live in places where I could balance my love of textiles with work in a way that actually felt sustainable.  Although teaching is emotionally taxing by design, I do get closer to finding a comfortable balance with each passing year.

Tell us about your blog

I started Spirit House Designs  around the time my husband and I decided to become parents through international adoption.  The blog is basically about textiles, adoption, art, and making things rather than buying them new.  We are practicing creative frugality in order to afford adoption. 

Adoption is expensive.  The total cost of bringing a child home from Thailand is around $25,000, which is comparable to a hospital birth, except that with adoption, nothing is covered by health insurance. 

Adoption costs prove to be a real challenge for teachers, as the expenses are often more than their take-home salaries!  The blog shares a slice of a creatively frugal lifestyle.  It is a life that is simple, fun, and sometimes irreverent.

The thing is, as we wait patiently to become parents, we are living fully during the wait. 

We chose this path. 

People have wanted to join us in our waiting and blogging is a great way to do that.  Thailand is weighing on our minds, driving my creativity, and in our daily thoughts as we prepare.

{WANT TO WIN A SPIRIT HOUSE DESIGNS SCARF? – Click the Spirit House Designs links to find out how… open to US Addresses only}

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

 

    

 

Please leave any questions or comment love below:     

If you want to learn more about Alicia Spirit House Designs

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Alicia the {Textile} Artist

INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.