Is this real life!?

Hello Everyone!

For people who know me, this trip has been on and off for over a year now…  For anyone new joining in (Welcome!), I was accepted to an Artist Residency at the University for the Creative Arts in June 2013, to join from August 2013 – September 2014 (ish).  Unfortunately, things did not come together and there were too many unseen difficulties on both sides.  They did however graciously leave the space open for me to possibly attend the following year (September 2014 – August 2015).  Sadly again, the issue seemed to be obtaining a passport in order to stay in the UK for over 6 months… so we changed it up a bit and I would now be going for 6 months (the maximum legal limit without a visa). Also, instead of venturing to the UK in September, I stayed home to participate in a short term residency at Touchstone Center for Crafts and would head across the ocean in the new year.  Which brings us to the present:

Ok, here goes…  This post may be a bit long.  Also, find me on Instagram (@mstibj) for more constant picture updates throughout my trip!

The past 12 days have been filled with a whirlwind of sights, sounds, feelings and experiences. It’s hard to pin point where, or even how to start describing it all.  The day I left the home to embark on this trip felt as though I was leaving for the weekend to hang out with my cousin Lauren in DC and I’d be home again soon.  I had decided to write notes each day; just something little each day about where I was, what I’d done and anything swimming in my head that maybe I had been over thinking about – I tend to do that quite a bit.  A kind of journal, log, or foot notes guide.  My one big regret about my only other trip across the ocean (in 2005) is that I did not keep track of the places visited, things seen and routes taken.  This time, I wanted to be prepared.

(**side note to those who really know this story – going through customs this time around I realized that I couldn’t have lost my passport on the plane going to Europe because we went through customs After getting off the plane… so my clever self lost it between the airport and the hotel… haha. Still wouldn’t have changed a thing**)

My flight was out of DC, and thankfully, my cousin Lauren currently lives in the DC area, so I had a travel buddy.  I was able to drive down on a Saturday and stay with her for a few nights before my flight out on Wednesday.  Lauren however was traveling to New York City that Monday for a networking event, leaving me on my own before embarking on this grand adventure.  It was odd, even as I arrived at the airport and was waiting to take off (for some 4 hours), I could not wrap my mind around the fact that I was about to start a whole new stage of life.  I try to have few expectations; to take things as they come, and I fully believe things will go the way they need to and lead me in the right direction.  My only hesitation, an unwavering sense of unease – the formidable feeling of being alone.  I was essentially packing up my life in 4 bags and leaving everything I knew behind, not really knowing anyone, or where I was to live, or what to expect.  That feeling of being alone was my biggest worry.

Now, with that being said, I am thankful that generally, I am able to make friends easily. Have you ever felt alone even in a room full of people?  That’s what I was worried about; feeling disconnected from my surroundings.  Which I already was feeling since leaving Touchstone.
**I want to give a shout out to Lori and her husband from the DC airport, thank you for chatting and reminding me to take a breath and let the adventure guide me.**  (they were headed to Iceland for a few days vacation – I hope you both had a wonderful time!!!)

Once into the UK, I left Heathrow airport and made my way to Farnham – to the University for the Creative Arts and finally met my contact there: Rebecca Skeels.  Rebecca had been helping me the entire way through: the whole visa situation, trying to find housing, get in contact with the other residence, everything.  Thankfully, one of the residence, Hannah, was gracious to open her home to me until I found a place of my own.  I arrived in the UK on Thursday, January 8th, 2015 around Noon.  Over the next few days I got a phone, started reaching out to more places for a room to rent, and tried to get a feel for how things would be at the University.  Each studio has it’s own safety run through which I need to be signed off on and will be done over the next week.  The facilities are amazing, and I will have access to a forging set up equipped with coal forges and a power hammer, etching/anodizing, enameling, small metals/jewelry studio, wood shop, metal supply store in house, and possibly an engraving studio. And the best part, students and faculty are around working creating that learning and productive environment.  Here are a couple of pics of the UCA set up.

There’s a Castle in town!  And an 11th century Abbey ruins nearby!  The University is not open on the weekends, and only open from 9am to 5pm during the week, which allots for a multitude of exploring and ranging.  Farnham Castle once housed Queen Elizabeth I and her “entourage.” And the Waverley Abbey ruins were the first Cistercian abbey in England founded in 1128.  So many cool historic places to visit, castles to explore and things I’d like to do while here, I will have to plan my time out carefully.  I would walk everywhere if I could, but the time it would take to walk to some places, the day would be over by the time I get there.  Here are some pictures from my adventures!

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The weekend of exploring ends and my first week at the Uni (University) begins with inductions into each studio and beginning my sync back into the habits of making work.  I have begun sketching ideas for a flip (friction) pocket knife, a locking pocket knife, and a jewelers saw. I also have some ideas formulating for some small metal works… more to come on all this in the next post.

Oh, almost forgot to mention, I have a place to live!!!  Hannah, her boyfriend Vince, and their roommate Lilla are letting me rent out the room I’ve been crashing in while I am here!  Yay!  I end this week with a comfy room of my very own in England, access to the studios I need to begin making, ideas percolating in the fingertips and the adventure bug itching to explore Everything!  I cant wait.  🙂


So what did I do this week besides inductions to the studio’s?
And what should I do this weekend…?
Anyone fancy an adventure?

Stay tuned to find out…

Until next time, take care.
-Meredith S. Tibjash



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