Monotype in Print and Enamel

A few weekends ago, Rickie Wolfe and I co-taught a new workshop, Monotype in Print and Enamel. She led class in the print studio on the first day, and I led class in the jewelry/metals studio on the second day. Our idea was for everyone to learn about and explore the similarities between the two media in a focused way (relying primarily on stencils and color in both studios, with creating monotypes as the unifying theme).

Like with Kamla and Larry Calkins, I have such professional respect for Rickie as an instructor and colleague. I also really like her art and her approach—she’s always learning something new (entire new skill sets!) and integrating it into her work. We have both taken classes from one another, so it was a natural next step that we teach together.

For me, the biggest difference between the print studio and the j/m studio is how soon visual information/vocabulary enters into the picture in print. Kamla and I have talked about this, and she thinks this is in part because there isn’t a steep learning curve for the tools and equipment there—without this in front of you, you’re forced to address your visual information/vocabulary right away (you can’t really do anything at the press until you have at least begun to resolve what you want to see on the paper).

In jewelry, you could focus an entire quarter on technique and process, with imagery a distant concern. It’s important, but you can still make a ring and bezel set a stone on top of it without having to pull from a visual vocabulary.

So I wondered: what would people make on the second day, what would they choose for their imagery? Would they stay with their coated tiles the way they did with their plates the day before, working into them again and again? (Yes!) What would their work look like?

Some examples of student work:

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What’s Sitting on My Bench Top. . .

Working up some samples for this weekend's workshop

I’ve been focused on wood for many months, but I am teaching an enameling workshop this weekend, so I spent the day in my studio pulling copper pieces from boxes and firing samples.

One of my favorite things to demo in class is stencils. I am not aware of anyone today using them as well as they did in the 50s & 60s. And I admit, I am more of a “found stencil” kind of person, as opposed to a maker of thoughtfully planned, fitted, and completely hand-cut ones that create exquiste apostles and Madonnas and whatnot. I like to use the stuff I find in scrap bins and at Fred Meyer and the sewing store (hence the big red flower above). And I like to build up as many layers as I can before sifting a pale transparent over the entire surface that forces everything into the background (well maybe not that red).

Enamels don’t really reliably behave as described in catalogs. A group of colors that should fire (fire to maturation, that is) at or around 1450 degrees may or may not actually fire in that range, or more to the point, fire well in combination with other colors. So working multiple colors, transparent and opaque, on one piece gives a pretty good picture of “who does what to whom.” You’d be amazed by how hideously wrong a piece can quickly go just by combining the wrong colors. . .

I call these hot messes, and save them to show students. For solace, as in “Take heart, it happens to all of us. . .”

Hands-On at Pratt

Yesterday, my friend Paul and I taught a Hands-On event in the Jewelry/Metals studio, a fast and fun introduction to metal. Our job was to guide patrons through the making of their own hand-stamped holiday gift tag, ornament, pendant, or whatever else one might create from a pre-stamped circle of brass and access to the studio’s equipment and tools—we were open to anything!

We decided we’d “tag-team” it, taking turns taking on students as they arrived throughout the night, and this worked fairly well. It was a bit of a challenge to get everyone going at staggered times, and then return to tutor them on the next step right as they were ready. Luckily, people were relaxed and happy to be hanging out in the studio, and before I knew it, we were helping the last person patina and wax her finished pieces.

I really enjoy teaching and the opportunity it provides to meet so many different people. And I love how, whether you prepare in depth for a class or plan on keeping things loose for something like the above event, you never really know how things are going to unfold until you are in the moment. Adaptability, along with curiosity, will carry you through the day.

Some images. . .