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!

Everyday Adornment Matters

Michael with his chain mail

This is Michael Roush of Wolfwing Studios. I met him at Pratt’s Open House this past Saturday. He was totally decked out in chain mail that he made himself. Check out the back of his jacket:

More chain mail

So sculptural. And if all that weren’t impressive enough, there’s the squid on his shoulder:

A chain mail SQUID!

Clearly, this is a guy who loves chain mail of all kinds. I was happy to meet him in person because I had heard about him last year from Julia Harrison, who taught a chain mail workshop that he attended. I always like to connect with instructors after we’ve run a new class, to see how things went. And I remember her mentioning Michael—not by name, but by reference to how into chain mail he was, and how good he was at it.

Running into him at Open House was a bit like running into a unicorn–you’ve heard stories but aren’t quite sure what to think, and then unexpectedly, right before your very eyes, you see it: loads of chain mail worn by its maker. . .

Nicely done, Michael!

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. . .

Layering Workshop with Kamla Kakaria and Rickie Wolfe

Color story: heading home from Pratt after class

A few weekends ago, I took a printmaking workshop from Kamla and Rickie. I’d taken an etching/intaglio class this summer, printing only black ink on a variety of papers, and distracted, I oriented myself in this direction for this workshop–which was instead monotype, and very much about building and layering image and color. Surprise!

Color, sigh. I am one of those people who can’t commit to color–to one, to many, to any. When I moved into my current apartment, I was able to paint it any color I wished. I spent a lot of time pondering this, painted a lot of “committed color” swatches on my walls. . .and ended up returning to the paint store, starting all over, and finally selecting two pale-ish, not-so-committed, but distinctly different colors: grey (bedroom) and cream (everywhere else). The woman who helped me carry everything to the car looked down at the paint swipes on top of all the cans and issued a statement: You like your whites. 

I felt deflated for a few moments. I’d spent weeks on my color selections. I’d invested so much time and research (shelter mags, interior design books from the library, frequent visits to Apartment Therapy) as well as thought and intention, and for what? To have a stranger point out that I’d once again gone with white.

But there is a difference between the colors we choose to live with on our walls and the colors we’re interested in working with in our art. In this workshop, I thought about color mostly as a means of generating and layering visual information–not something I was going to be waking up or winding down to every day.

Some images from the weekend. . .

Tap out--my first round of color testing

Inked plywood

I brought home from my studio a bunch of my wood color-test samples to take with me to the wood finishing workshop I attended the week after this workshop. . .and decided to ink over the paints on this one and print with it instead.

Detail from a long panel

Panels right off the press

I seldom finish anything in a workshop, and this one was no exception. The most important thing to me is getting the information and being able to test it. Leaving with an idea roughed out or a model made is a bonus. At the end of this workshop, I had several examples of what we’d learned. One of my favorite things about print classes and workshops is that it is fairly easy to go back into these random bits later, work them additively or reductively, and end up with a finished piece.

I just signed up for Rickie’s collage class in December, and will bring the above strips in to continue working on. Eventually, they’ll be cut down into an artist’s book.

What to do with your failures, the things that can’t be saved regardless of any additional working into? Cut them down, score and fold, and then adhere them into one of these amazing structures. . .

Rickie's scrap-prints ball

Rickie demoing Pronto Plates