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:

Rings for People Who Don’t Want to Get Married

encaustic, draw through

encaustic, draw through

I took an encaustic workshop (again) from Larry Calkins and Kamla Kakaria. As usual, I prepared for the wrong class–brought the wrong materials, was oriented all backwards to what was going on. It took me until the last few hours on the last day to figure out what I most wanted to do–which, incidentally, circled back to the class I thought I was in, 2-D rather than 3-D.

And I found out that I love draw-through as a mark-making technique. I’ve seen Rickie Wolf demo this several times in workshops I’ve taken with her, and I’ve always found it intriguing. But this time was different–I feel like I met a new friend, and now we’re super tight. The day after class ended, I went out and bought 4H and 7H pencils. Because draw-through is even better with a fine line (in my perennially fine-line-obsessed opinion).

To do this, all you need is a board or plexi to ink up, black oil paint (which Larry prefers over ink because oil paint pigments are so finely ground), a brayer, and the cheapest tissue paper you can find. Ink the plate, roll it out, lay your tissue paper down, and draw on top of it. So simple. Then you can work it into your base layer of wax.

Here’s Larry prepping his draw-through demo. . .

Larry Calkins

And then here is Kamla demoing her painterly approach to encaustic artist’s books. . .

Kamla Kakaria

This workshop came on the heels of Morgan Brig’s master class the weekend before, which I’ve yet to write about. And it preceded this coming weekend’s wire workshop. At some point, I am going to need to stop for some sleep!

Hey, Why Not?: Found and Imagined Adornment at Pratt Fine Arts Center

For the past several years, I have been documenting ephemeral jewelry that I stumble across while out walking in the city. Sometimes, these pieces appear to me fully realized (Found Adornment), while other times, I see one or more elements in close proximity that suggest a relationship (given a little finessing) both to one another and to the body (Imagined Adornment).

I collect images of these pieces for my blog, and am particularly fascinated by the idea that each piece assumes a never-ending life online while its physical form is destined to deteriorate, sometimes moments after creation. How do we assign value to an object that doesn’t exist?

The moment the viewer sees and understands what each piece is, and visually places it on the human form, I consider it worn. In this way, this body of work is a triangular collaboration between maker, environment, and viewer–with each element necessary, and carrying equal weight.

Imagined Necklace 7, steel and string

We’ve got some extra space in our “hallway gallery” at Pratt, so I am filling it with images of Found and Imagined Adornment. On display some time this week through the end of the month.

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.

Remnant: Imagined Bracelet 1

rebbecca-tomas-seattle-maker-imagined-bracelet-1-IMG_7718

Recently, friends (all of us in some way affiliated with Pratt) helped Lise pack the truck for her move back to Boston, and this material was one of the only things left behind at the end. All it needed was some shaping and a knot.

Interestingly, no one in the group was native to Seattle. We were from Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Boston, Connecticut, Florida/Georgia/Hawaii, and Canada. I love that about cities–this mix of “otherness.”

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. . .