What’s Sitting on My Bench Top (Balcony). . .

rebbecca-tomas-seattle-maker-glue-up

Gluing up

Some new carvings, some old

Some new carvings, some old

It’s easier these days to work wherever and whenever I can fit it in. I cut the wood in my studio, filled it in at Paul’s shop, and glued it up on my balcony. Will prime and paint it at Paul’s (there are 5 large pieces). 

I can carve and sand the little guys anywhere.

 

In Process

rebbecca-tomas-seattle-maker-pratt-encaustic-workshop-IMG_7542-2

I’ve been really interested in process this past year. Well–I’ve always been interested in process, often to the exclusion of nearly everything else. But these past months, I’ve been thinking about what it means to have a practice, to have a space and stretches of solitary time within this space. . .and why I am drawn to this and what does it mean? Why do some of us prefer lingering in the “What if. . .?” to speedy resolution of the realized thing?

(As I write, I can hear my studio neighbor’s directive: “Do it faster! Get it done and get it out there!” It’s a temperament.)

Larry Calkins is a maker’s maker, a fellow process aficionado, and an engaging instructor. He and my colleague Kamla Kakaria are team-teaching another encaustic workshop in September. Already signed up for this.

larry-calkins-encaustic-workshop-IMG_7484

Demo: Larry in process

I love taking classes outside of my area of expertise, because I can just let my thoughts wander while I work, listening to threads of conversations here and there—it’s relaxing. I always learn something new from Larry, and after so many years of working together, Kamla really is a lot like a sister.

The last time I took this workshop, earlier in the summer, I stayed a bit longer after it ended, talking to Larry and Kamla, trying to explain the whole “what is a practice/what are we doing when we work” thinking I’ve been doing. And while they both knew exactly what I was talking about, they didn’t have ready words for it either.

Maybe this time we’ll crack the code.

Work by Larry Calkins

Work by Larry Calkins

Paperwork

rebbecca-tomas-seattle-maker-image-4-optimized

After: with acrylic paint and encaustic

rebbecca-tomas-seattle-maker-image-4-optimized-IMG_6520

Before: raw material

I like to have white paper on my bench at the start of a new project. It makes the space feel like Something is About to Happen. 

It also provides a fixed place for notes and sketches and anything else related to the work. I just keep writing and marking it up. . .and when the work is complete, I tear off the paper and discard it.

Except this last time. I decided that from this point on, I am going to keep the paper, but change it into something else. . .and right around this time, Larry Calkins ran his amazing encaustic workshop at Pratt. Perfect timing.

Wood Turning Lesson 2

Wood turning lathe set up for work

I went to Roger’s on Friday for another wood turning lesson.

This really should be moving at a faster clip—when two artists/makers are together to transfer information, learning is typically faster. Because if you have a practice and you understand process, you just need to assimilate the new information and things typically slip right into place. More or less.

But we probably spend more time talking than working when we’re together—so it’s just going to take longer to get the hang of things and finish even a modest piece.

Which is fine. Because we talked about a lot of interesting things.

Like relationships (and why we’re attracted to who we’re attracted to), my vehement dislike of narrative jewelry, some of his motorcycle trips of yore, and regret—mine specifically, over lost time and lost life with a lost person. . .

. . .And regret is what I thought about during the slow drive back to Seattle.

The first time I really noted it, I was having dinner at a friend’s in Iowa. He was in his 50s, and talking openly of his regrets, the kind that stack up over the years. It’s strange how personal and specific, yet how universal regret is. It was easy to pay attention because I was too young and too blank to have accumulated any of my own. So I listened to him talk while I studied his face, which seemed to me where the real information was—the information we haven’t yet figured out how to sculpt into narrative, or maybe we don’t even realize is there, and that often conveys more meaning than words.

And I remember thinking, This should be avoided if possible. And then thinking how unlikely this would be. And then wondering, for a moment, what I was going to come to regret in my life.

And now I know.

Though as Roger (and everyone else here that I know and love) has pointed out, were it not for that relationship, I would not know the people I know today. Which means I wouldn’t have been hanging out in his shop on Friday, half working/half talking. Everything is as it should be.