Art & Soul 2019 — Portland

This past March I spent four days in Portland taking classes at Art & Soul. I hadn’t been in about five years, and it was great to be back. I recognize how fortunate I am in being able to drive to Portland and simply put all of my supplies in the back of my car.

This year I was able to check off some bucket-list classes including the two-day class on using a Dremel and a polymer clay class with Laurie Mika.

I shared this image last time, but imho it’s worth showing again.

The Dremel class was a good introduction to a tool I’ve had for more than a decade but have barely used. We etched glass, plastic and metal. We cut metal and clay and plastic. I think you could layer polymer clay and carve into (or away from) it and get a faux Fordite look.

I know that it’s a poor craftsperson who blames her tools, but my Dremel is so old, that I only have two speeds. I’d like to get one with “medium,” as that’s the setting the instructor most often said to use. Will that make a difference in my work? It’s hard to say. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I just need more practice.

At the end we made a small book for keeping all of our samples. And, our kit fee included a great set of bits and bobs for doing all kinds of things. I need to break that out and play with it some more before everything I learn fades away for good.

On the third day I took the clay class “Miniature Clay Quilts.” I’ve had Laurie Mika’s book Mixed-Media Mosaics for awhile and have always been smitten with her work. Plus, I’ve found a lack of polymer clay classes in this area, so I was glad to get some instruction in that medium.

We started out by making several pieces to assemble.
More clay elements from which to choose.

What I love most about my mini clay quilt is the Harry Frees cat with the basket of eggs. What’s especially great is that Walden loves this piece. We’ll have to find a good place to display it in the new house.

I can’t get into my new studio space soon enough to start using what I learned to make some pendants.

On my last full day of classes I had a book-as-art class. I was originally signed up for a class that would use tin shingles for book covers. That instructor had to cancel, so I opted for the other available book class. I was one of three students, which was actually kind of nice. We made two scroll books and something that is a more three-dimensional bit of book art.

Here’s a top down view of my book. See Sally on the phone on the left? She’s asking her dad for cookies. She’s my kind of kid.
Same book and from the side. Oh, those imperfections are painful.

I can see where I went wrong with this one, but, overall, I’m OK with it. Would I make another? It could be fun to make one for a specific special occasion with a book that lends itself to the occasion or person. I’ll have to think on that.

My last class was an evening class that I did not care for. (I might have even packed up my stuff early and left in a huff.) Maybe I’ve poured too much resin in my life to have an instructor who doesn’t offer any tips for students who have zero experience with resin. They were overpouring. Pieces were set in trays at an angle, which led to an overflow. There was no explanation of best practices for putting resin on the sides of something. I mean: Gravity! Pooling! Frustration!!

The woman next to me had never worked with resin before and said she likely wouldn’t work it again. I tried to offer some tips, but also didn’t want to be a know-it-all.

So, in a fit of frustration, I left early, got my nightly glass of wine and called it a night.

I did start this before packing up and leaving class.

My friend and I headed home the next day. Right away I started looking forward 2020’s week of classes. In fact, the schedule was recently posted online. Now I just need to make some decisions. I feel strongly about bezels and papier mache. I’ll fill in the rest with at least one journal-making class. Maybe one with watercolor and one that gets me out of my comfort zone.

Collage had a “store” at the hotel, and one of my favorite finds was a bunch of jukebox song slips/cards/papers. And this one is the best find of all.

To bridge the long wait, I have my eye on a kiln-enameling class in Seattle. But, in my new space I can play and play and play. It’s hard to imagine that I won’t find inspiration in such a large and dedicated work space.

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