Sorry for such a basic question, but how does an Air get forced into hotspot mode?

I brought my Air out of my office last evening to use on the back porch for the fireworks (my network reception can be a bit spotty out there). I couldn't get anything to work. even with several reboots of both the tablet and Air, the tablet would usually hang at the opening logo, or, if it DID go into the app, would not allow me to see the music on it's USB drive. Ultimately, I gave up. When I brought it back to my office, all was fine.

I thought it went into a "hot spot mode" to generate it's own WiFi signal when reception was poor? My tablet nor my phone showed anything from the Air when searching for WiFi signals.

I assume that the problem was being in a fringe reception area for the WiFi network it was looking for.

Is there a way to just tell it to stop searching, make pretend it's in the middle of a desert, and generate it's own WiFi?

::::::: No disrespect to Axiom, but my favorite woofer is my yellow lab :::::::