Kurt Peterson sat in front of the pre-warped loom and pondered his options. Theresa Kulstad placed a series of objects on the table in front of him: different colors of yarn; some chopsticks, wrapped in thin red paper, like the kinds found in a bag of Chinese take-out; and a small, black metal chain.
Peterson thought for a moment, and then asked for a chopstick. The pressure was on — one wrong move, and the Del Ray Artisans could find themselves in the boardroom.
Last Friday night, two teams of artists dueled in a weaving competition patterned after the NBC reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” Springwater Fiber Workshop and Del Ray Artisans recruited weavers to create two pieces that will be auctioned off on Sunday, March 26, at the end of “Mi Casa, Su Casa: Art for the Home,” on ongoing exhibit at the Del Ray Artisans’ gallery. The gallery is located at 2704 Mount Vernon Ave.
One hundred points were at stake in the weave-off, distributed for team sprit and cooperation (20 points), quality of finished weaving (20), number of participants (20), and money raised during a silent auction at the end of the exhibit (40). An independent observer would help award the points.
The losing team wouldn’t be in the firing line of Donald Trump or Martha Stewart. Randy Scheessele, who curates the gallery with Maybelle Taylor Bennett, explained there’d be different fate. “The loser will meet me and Maybelle in the boardroom,” he told the crowded gallery before Friday’s competition, “and they’ll have to provide the other team with dinner or refreshments at the next board meeting.”
But there was more than just pride on the line at the competition. Both teams wanted to create pieces that could bring in high auction bids, as proceeds will benefit the Gulf Coast recovery efforts for the American Red Cross.
LINDA HURT, a board member for Springwater, was recruiting people for the weaving competition while a teammate worked on the loom behind her.
“We’re formulating our strategy right at this minute,” said Hurt.
And what was that strategy?
“To have a good time, see how artistic we can make this, and how appealing we can make this to somebody else because we want to sell both of these and get as much money as we can for Katrina relief,” she said. “And we don’t want to have to buy Del Ray’s lunch. They have a bigger board than we do.”
It may have been a friendly competition, but was still a competition, intensified by the three-hour time frame of the exhibit’s opening night reception. Hurt said she had participated in this type of time-limited event before.
“Not exactly like this,” she said, “but Springwater has been involved in a number of sheep-to-shawl competitions. You shear the wool in the beginning, then you spin the wool, weave a whole shawl, finish it off, wash it and sell it. And you have three hours [to do it].”
AT THE END of the night’s competition, Del Ray Artisans led Springwater Fiber Workshop, 54-51, with the March 26 auction to decide the final 40 points. Scheessele said that, as of Sunday, the current bid for Springwater’s weaving titled “Anything Goes” was $100 and the current bid for Del Ray Artisans’ “Emulation” is $70.
As for “The Apprentice” concept, Scheessele said he wasn’t inspired by Mr. Trump. “I was a fan of the Martha Stewart ‘Apprentice,’” he said.
“Not necessarily of Martha Stewart, but of the show.”