New Mexico 2018: Color in the Land of Enchantment

Dates: January 24-28, 2019
Location: Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico

These blog posts have photos of the fun we had in Taos!

Molly Elkind:

My post:

Mabel Dodge Luhan House was a gathering place for artists of all kinds 100 years ago. It continues to be such a gathering place today.
The house and conference center is now a historic landmark. It opens its doors to small conferences for most of the year and in January 2019, I will be hosting a tapestry retreat there.

The Masterclass

Color use in tapestry can be the thing that draws us in and also the thing that seems the most challenging. Color in yarn can be deep and complex but understanding how colors interact to create an image is important if you’re going to weave tapestry.

Fortunately for us, the structure of tapestry is weft-faced so we don’t have to deal with the interaction of warp and weft colors. But yarn reflects light differently than other surfaces and the characteristics of materials are an important consideration. Beyond that, knowing some color theory and practicing how to use it on the loom is important.

In this retreat we’ll experiment with color both as an abstract concept and functionally in the weave structure. We’ll enjoy playing with weft bundling to see how putting different strands in the weft can shift the color dramatically. We’ll play with value and gain some understanding of how important this particular color concept is. And we’ll build our tool box of color terminology and see how concepts like color harmonies and simultaneous contrast can affect a design. We’ll use examples from other tapestry artists, woven samples from my stash, and you will create your own color play during the retreat.

We’ll look at the secrets of color gradation and shading and I’ll present both color theory-based and tapestry technique-based ways of mixing colors. I’ll send you home with further inspiration and ideas of how to expand your skills through exercises in yarn and paper.

New Mexico is a land of bright blue skies, stunning red rocks, turquoise jewelry, and snow-capped peaks. We’ll let this enchanted setting inspire our color experiments.

Skill level: Open to advanced beginner and intermediate tapestry weavers. You must have basic tapestry weaving skills such as completing the first two parts of THIS online class or similar evidence of weaving experience. If you’re worried about whether this retreat is for you from a skills perspective, please email me and ask! Please attach a photo of your recent work if you’re not sure. If you’ve taken any of my prior retreats, you’ll be fine.

The setting

D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Martha Graham, and Ansel Adams are just a few of the artists who stayed here at Mabel’s invitation. You too can enjoy the hospitality of Mabel Dodge Luhan, learn her story, and weave some tapestry in the process. Now a historic landmark and a not-for-profit organization, Mabel Dodge Luhan House hosts small conferences throughout the year. Enjoy the beautiful adobe architecture, open courtyards, and wonderful food. Kiva fireplaces warm your toes in the lounge and some of the rooms have their own fireplaces that you can use should you choose one of those accommodations.

We’ll enjoy dinner on our first night followed by breakfast and lunch for the rest of the retreat.

Mabel Dodge Luhan House (MDL) is a retreat-style facility with no televisions, alarm clocks, or telephones. There is wifi only in the main lounge area. You will have a key to this area (for 24 hour access) which includes sitting areas, fireplaces, and internet access on your own device. Please embrace this retreat as a time to get off your devices and into the experience of weaving in a beautiful setting. There is cell service and MDL House is within walking distance of downtown Taos.

For more information about the house, please see MDL’s website here:

You may bring a spouse with you if they are able to entertain themselves while you’re at the workshop. See additional rates under Pricing below. They are welcome at all meals.

She was Mabel Gansen Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan – salon hostess, art patroness, writer and self-appointed savior of humanity. She was a woman of profound contradictions. She was generous. She was petty. Domineering and endearing.

Today as you approach the house of Mabel Dodge Luhan, it’s easy to see why some of the greatest minds of the 20th century were inspired here. Situated at the end of a quiet road not far from the center of town, the house appears much as it did in the days when Mabel admired her views of the sacred Taos Mountain from the third-story solarium.

One can only imagine the tantalizing conversations that must have taken place within these walls. After all, Georgia O’Keeffe stayed here. So did D.H. Lawrence, Ansel Adams and Martha Graham, among many other notables.
— Mabel Dodge Luhan House website

What is provided

  • Workshop instruction with the full group each morning plus open studio with my assistance each afternoon. 

  • Dinner after arrival on Thursday night. All other dinners will be on your own but there are restaurants within walking distance in downtown Taos.

  • Breakfast and lunch Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and breakfast on Monday. In my experience, the food at MDL is excellent. They can accommodate special diets but please note your needs on the registration form.

  • Traditional adobe architecture with roaring fires (at least in the lounge but maybe in your room if you make one), views of Taos Mountain across Taos Pueblo land, immersion in a classic bit of New Mexico.

What to bring

For the workshop (detailed materials list will be sent after registration):

  • Looms: You must bring your own loom. It can be any loom you can get to Taos and that works for tapestry.

  • Tools: Please bring all your own weaving tools.

  • Yarn: I will have some yarn available, but I recommend bringing the yarn you like to work with in a variety of colors.

  • Warp: Please bring the warp you like to use.

  • Notebook, pen, pencil, headphones for your music, task light

For Taos:

  • casual dress, clothing for winter in Taos

  • walking shoes if you’re exploring the town of Taos or going hiking on the gorge or along the Rio Grande


Mabel Dodge Luhan House is an old historic house and every room in the historic part of the house is different. You will get to choose the room you’d like, though if another participant gets your favorite first, you’ll need to give me a second choice. Go to the Mabel Dodge Luhan website page about rooms here: Notice that the retreat rates (under pricing below) are divided into Historic House and Juniper House. Juniper House is the building where our classes will be.

Many rooms have two beds. Some are double/queen plus a twin, some are two twins. Please make sure if you are sharing a room with someone you don’t want to share a bed with that you request rooms with more than one bed. If you want to share a room with someone you don’t know, please let me know this on the registration form. I will match you up if at all possible. It isn’t always possible to find someone a roommate, so keep in mind that you may end up with a private room and will be billed for that.

After registration, I’ll send you a preference sheet for housing where you’ll note your first, second, and third choices for rooms. I’ll assign rooms based on registration order. We will be able to reserve any room at MDL except Auntie’s House.

You will be able to reserve rooms before or after the retreat at MDLs regular rates. If you’d like to do this after registration, please contact me and I’ll tell you who to call. They cannot guarantee that you’ll get the same room due to other conferences surrounding ours.



Price is based on the housing you choose. There are four options. For details on the rooms, visit Mabel Dodge Luhan’s website here: Please note that the housing rates on the site are not the ones for us as we have additional fees for the conference and food. Those are the rates if you are extending your stay.

Prices below are all inclusive. This includes your housing, taxes, the included meals, the workshop fee, all handouts and workshop extras.

Historic House Rates

Private room: $1550
Shared room: $1325

Juniper House Rates

Private room: $1425
Shared room: $1275

Companions: You may bring a significant other to this retreat. Your room will be billed at the private room rate and a fee of $350 for the double occupancy and all meals will be added to that for your guest.

Deposit: Your initial non-refundable deposit is $300 due upon registration. The remainder of the fee is due December 1st via PayPal or check.


Your $300 deposit is non-refundable. You can get a refund for the rest of your fees paid until December 1st. After that nothing is refundable unless I can fill your spot. If I am able to fill your spot, you will get a refund minus your deposit.



Arrival: check-in is after 3 pm
Dinner is provided, time to be announced at check-in
7:30 pm: Juniper House workshop room, welcome and plans for the retreat

Friday and Saturday                     

Breakfast in the Historic House on your own time
9-12 am  Workshop (all participants)
12-1 pm Lunch at MDL
1-5 pm  Open Studio with Rebecca or explorations of your own
Dinner on your own.


Breakfast in the Historic House
9-12 am Workshop (all participants)
12-1 pm Lunch at MDL
1-5 Open Studio with Rebecca or your own explorations out and about
Dinner on your own

7:30 pm: Workshop review, all participants. We’ll review what we learned, talk about what everyone made, and make some plans for future learning. This segment of the workshop is very important, so please plan on attending.


Clean up your space in the studio if you haven’t already.
Check-out by 10:30 am

Other considerations

Taos, NM is 7,000 feet elevation. This is an elevation that most people who are hydrated deal with just fine, but if you have had problems with higher altitudes in the past, please consider that when signing up for this retreat.

ADA accessibility: Mabel Dodge Luhan house is a national historic site. The grounds are not very ADA accessible, though they do have rooms that have better spaces for people with mobility challenges (please ask). There are stones over many of the paths, the steps are not even, and there are funky steps in many places throughout the grounds. There is some possibility of light snow in January and that can make surfaces slippery. Please think about this if you are mobility challenged.

Weather in Taos in January: I lived just south and west of Taos for many years. The winters are fairly mild, but there is a possibility of some light snow. Heavy snow is highly unusual. Snow makes things slippery, but it also makes the historic buildings beautiful. If you have a spouse who is a skier, Taos Ski Valley is a very popular destination and being many thousands of feet higher than the town, they get significant snow.

Getting to Taos

Driving: The quickest route from Albuquerque is up the canyon. This is a gorgeous drive and I highly recommend it. Just know that the road is winding in places though there are often passing lanes. Exercise caution and consider coming up the first time during daylight. There are three winerys in or near that canyon, so bring a designated driver and stop for wine and chocolate perhaps at Vivac on the way up.

Flying: Albuquerque is the nearest major airport to Taos. The drive from the airport to Taos is two and a half hours through Santa Fe and Espanola. The High Road to Taos is wonderful if you have extra time and the weather is good.

Shuttle: The Taos Ski Valley runs a shuttle from the Albuquerque International Airport to the ski valley north of Taos. You can find out more about the shuttle here: You would be accessing the shuttle from the Town of Taos stop. There are some good restaurants within walking distance of Mabel Dodge Luhan house, but they aren’t right next door. Plan to walk a quarter to a half mile to downtown restaurants and longer if you go farther afield.

Arrival at MDL

Your GPS is probably telling you correctly. The house is at the end of a very narrow lane. Remember, these roads were created centuries ago before we had SUVs. Just drive slowly and watch for oncoming traffic. You’ll see a large adobe wall with the Mabel Dodge Luhan sign on it to your left. Turn in there and you’ll find the parking lot and yoga studio as shown in the gallery below.

Image gallery

I have stayed at Mabel Dodge a couple times, always in the winter. I lived for three years west of Taos in El Rito and three years just south of Taos in Velarde. The weather in January can be stunning. It will be chilly, so bring winter clothes. But count on seeing the sun and blue skies with daytime temperatures well above freezing. If we’re lucky we’ll get a dusting of snow as these photos show. Taos does see snow, but usually only an inch or two. It is beautiful and peaceful, and it almost always melts by 10 am.

In the gallery below, click on the thumbnail for a larger image, hover for caption, arrow to move.