What a week this has been so far! I've plunged headlong into TWO online workshops that started simultaneously on April 2nd.
Firstly, the fabulous Deryn Mentock's jewelry workshop, The Art of Closure. We'll be doing all kinds of wrapped and hammered wire (copper, bronze, silver, steel) to make clasps and closures. Some of my tools are still on order, but I'm dipping my toe in.
I have the most amazing (and HEAVY) chunk of smooth stainless that's serving as my bench block, thanks to my husband, Karl. It weighs ten pounds! I'll have to find a smaller, more portable one if I ever plan to transport my gear to an in-person workshop.... but it is WONDERFUL to work on. (Note to self: Do not drop bench block on foot!) I still need a proper sand filled bench pillow, but a kitchen towel is standing in for the time being. Learning to use my new cheap, but effective, chasing hammer. You think hammering wire is pretty simple-minded and straight forward, until you try it. It's not quite that easy... but a little practice goes a long way.
And this is how you begin the turn for a nice shepherd's hook... using round nosed pliers that are entirely too small for this class. (My larger, extra longs are on order.) Three inches of 16 gauge copper wire becomes a nicely formed "S" link... two shepherd's hooks going opposite directions... when you have the right pliers. Otherwise, you end up with one like my first attempt (see below), which is quite elongated. I had to shorten the length on my next two links. Third time's a charm!
Notice all my lovely hammering marks on the first two! Yes, there's an art to this... and I'm learning it. I had to skip the very first lesson which involved putting a patina on my wire with liver of sulfur, as this really must be done outside (severely unpleasant odor!). Since this is Katera's Spring Break week, and she and I are sharing the latest lovely coughing, snuffling virus, we're having to adapt and do what we can. It's also quite cold and wet outside, so I've decided not to risk getting pneumonia just to patina my wire. I'll try that out next week.
My second workshop is the 21 Secrets art journaling workshop, headed up by the amazing Connie Hozvicka of Dirty Footprints Studio. This one runs through the entire rest of 2012, which is a good thing, because there are twenty-one units, each with their own theme, assignments and techniques to learn. And yes, TWENTY-ONE instructors... including the likes of Diana Trout and Traci Bunkers, just to drop a couple of famous names! ALL of the instructors are fantastic artists, with unique talents to share.
I've only barely started the first one... and done just one page so far, in Aimee Myers Dolich's "Get Lost" class. Her first "detour" on our adventure of getting lost together was to recollect a time when you were lost, either physically or emotionally. I chose to draw on the emotional path... of the first few years of Katera's life, when everything was confusing, terrifying and raw. It certainly was not the most pleasant place to go with this, but it was the first thing that popped up for me from this prompt... so I went with it. It was definitely a difficult page to do.
I wrote and wrote and wrote out my grueling memories... and only stopped because there was no more room on the page, and I really wanted to leave a blank space directly in the middle, signifying the sense of "aloneness".
This page was done in an art journal I already had under way... an altered copy of The Secret Garden. The page was pre-prepped with gesso, with masking tape binding several pages together, and a card stock index tab, which I incorporated into the design. I used water color, colored pencil, stencils, magazine and collage images and a regular black roller ball gel pen... which I purposely smeared and blurred with water here and there.
Thank goodness for the National Geographic, which is where I found the wonderful image of the little girl. She was actually watching a military parade, but when I cut her out, she had an entirely different feeling... quite forlorn & almost Alice-like. Her image has a double meaning, both representing my own "child self" that will always be within me, which is vulnerable and scared, especially in a new and terrifying situation. It also represents the lost dream of my daughter, as she might have been if she had been born without the disability and challenges she has faced.
WHEW! This is bound to be an interesting journey. I'll be very busy, but gaining some wonderful skills and insights into my own creativity. As usual, my life requires that I accomplish everything while in what I like to call "molasses mode", but I'm very excited to be part of both of these amazing workshops. Stay tuned!