Monday, July 29, 2013

The CREATE Artists' Faire

It must have been a pretty great weekend, since it has taken me four blog posts to tell you all about it!  In this fourth and final post about the CREATE Mixed Media Art Retreat in Somerset, New Jersey, I will share with you some photos from the Friday night Artists' Faire and give you a peek into the mobile art studio I created in my hotel room.

The Artists' Faire comprised about twelve vendors, many of them instructors from the art retreat, offering their original works for sale.  There were also a few vendors selling artists' supplies like jewelry-making tools, books, stencils, and rubber stamps.

I had just arrived when I attended the Faire, and still a little googly-eyed about the whole experience, so I don't have a very balanced representation of the vendors.  I took a zillion photos at Lynne Suprock's booth, called Simply Pretty Stuff.  I loved every item on her table!
Here is a closer look at some of the amazing items she had available, many of which you can get another look at by visiting her blog.  Check out these amazing necklaces created from salt shakers:
 And lovely mixed-media crowns:
 Absolutely adorable resin-covered booklaces:
 Super-cool shotgun shell bezel rings:
It was at the Artists' Faire that I had my first chance to chat with Seth Apter, who would be my bookbinding instructor on Sunday morning.
 A close-up look at one of Seth's collages:
I was absolutely delighted to chat with Jodi Ohl...what a sweet woman!
I enjoyed her work so much that I just had to purchase a piece to take home with me:
I also brought home an original piece by mixed media artist Elizabeth Nixon, using a rubber stamp from Julie Nutting's designs created by Prima and sold by Scraputante.
Back in my hotel room, I reveled in the opportunity to spread my art supplies out on the table and work on an art journal page to represent my weekend.
I've seen other artists on the road turning their hotel rooms into temporary art studios, but have never had the opportunity to do it myself before this art retreat weekend.  My page was pre-painted, so I basically just played around with pens and markers.
I came to a very important conclusion:  If you are a woman and want to be an artist, perhaps you should seriously consider changing your name to something that starts with the letter "J."  I was writing about all the artists I had seen already that evening, and besides Seth (the only man), I recorded Julie (Fei Fen Balzer), Jenn (Mason), Jodi (Ohl), and Joanne (Sharpe).  Do you think I've reached a valid conclusion here?

And there you have it!  My two-night art retreat experience in four blog posts.  If you missed my entries about Jane's class, Kari's class, or Seth's class, be sure to check them out.  And if you haven't yet entered the GIVEAWAY, you have until July 31 to do so!  The winner will be announced August 1.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Basic Bookbinding for Beginners with Seth Apter

Seth Apter, at the beginning of class
My final workshop at the CREATE Mixed-Media Art Retreat was a three-hour introductory bookbinding class with Seth Apter.  I was so excited for this class, since I have been wanting to try making my own books for a long time.  Though I've purchased various books on the subject, I just really needed someone to walk me through the steps to jump-start the process.  Seth's workshop was just what I needed!
One of my classmates, at work on her binding
Seth studied bookbinding at the Center for Book Arts in New York, which trained him to be very exact and precise in the bookbinding process.  Now, though, he describes himself as "a bookbinding rebel"; when it comes to cutting with a blade as opposed to freehand cutting with scissors, for example, he said, "I can't be bothered!"  He told us that he wanted to make the process "do-able" for us, and he succeeded in doing just that.
Bookmaking in progress!
After introducing us to a list of key bookbinding terms, Seth led us through the steps needed to create accordion fold books, the pamphlet stitch, and a simple form of Japanese stab binding.  He was hoping that we would have a chance to create one book of each kind following his instructions, and then create a second book of each kind to help build our "muscle memory," so we would be more likely to remember the steps.  We did not have time to create those second books, but he sent us home with all the materials we needed to make them on our own.  And, thank goodness, I took copious notes to take me through the binding processes back here at home!
Another classmate at work on her books
To show you what an effective instructor Seth was, I will show you the books I created for the class, as well as the books I've created since coming home.  What a great craft for those of us who enjoy immediate gratification!  It didn't take me long at all to amass a whole pile of hand-bound mini-books.
First, we created an accordion-fold book, and I was able to come home with Seth's materials to create a second one:
There is no doubt that the bookmaking process is majorly facilitated by having someone pre-cut all of the necessary pieces!

Second, we learned the pamphlet stitch, which is super-simple, easy to remember, and highly useful.
It's so simple, in fact, that I quickly ended up with quite a stack of little pamphlet-stitched books!  I especially like this tiny one:
And I made my first effort to attach beads as part of my binding here:
I enjoyed digging into my stash of hand-painted papers to create my books covers!

Even my five year old got in on the book-making action, creating a half-circle book (which I thought was brilliant!) and asking me to stitch the binding for her.
Finally, after a couple "false starts," I managed to master the simple version of Japanese stab binding that we worked on in class:
I kind of love the paper I made with my gear stencil!
I used scrapbook paper as a cover for this one.
The black and white cover is the one I completed in class.
Now I've pulled out all those art books with bookbinding instructions, and I feel empowered to try them all!  I know the lingo and I understand the basic process, and I'm excited to expand my repertoire of bookbinding options.  Many thanks to Seth Apter for getting me started down this path!


If you have not yet entered my giveaway, please visit the previous post to enter.  Please remember to include in your comment the art retreat workshop you would most enjoy taking!  I'll announce a winner on August 1, 2013.


I have one final art retreat post to share, giving you a peek at the Artists' Faire and my hotel room art studio set-up!  See you soon.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tiny Tarnished Tomes with Kari McKnight Holbrook (and a Giveaway!)

Saturday evening at the CREATE Mixed Media Art Retreat in Somerset, New Jersey, brought me to the workshop, "Tiny Tarnished Tomes," with Kari McKnight Holbrook, known on her blog as The Backporch Artessa.
Kari McKnight-Holbrook
First, we had an opportunity to make our own molds for polymer clay, using a product called Knead-a Mold.  Then, the majority of our time was spent in creating the front and back covers for our tiny books, using countertop samples from the hardware store (think:  little rectangles of formica) and Sculpey polymer clay.  Kari provided us with molds and stamps to make impressions and designs with our clay.
The front of my finished "tiny tarnished tome."
The back of my finished "tiny tarnished tome."
We gave our covers an aged effect by using metal coatings in our choice of bronze, copper, or iron.  (I chose the copper finish.)  We then spritzed on a product to create the patina-ed look.  The brand we used was called Sculpt Nouveau.
Once our covers were bound and in place, we had only a bit of workshop time left to sew our pages into place.  I was new to the bookbinding process, and would have liked a little more time to learn what I was doing, and find out some more options for adding buttons and beads to decorate my spine.  Kari graciously stayed late with us, so that we were all able to complete our projects.
Kari gave us a couple of priceless tips regarding bookbinding supplies.  She uses hockey tape from a sporting goods store as a binding tape; you can imagine how durable it must be considering its intended purpose.  And she uses floss threaders (like you use when flossing your teeth!) with her thread and beads when she is binding her books.  Brilliant!
This workshop exposed me to some interesting new products, and showed me a new use for polymer clay.  I thought it was very cool to use it in the creation of a book cover.

As a further bonus, Kari offered a drawing for door prizes!  And I won!  I came away with some of her own polymer artist stamps, which are based on drawings from her sketchbook.  They can be used easily as traditional rubber stamps, but are also constructed with polymer clay and encaustics in mind.
My door prize!
Because I registered for three workshops at the retreat, I received an official CREATE tote bag, filled with several fabulous and artful goodies.  There were two bottles of high flow acrylics from Golden, an amazing PITT artist pen big brush, a bottle of acrylic glaze from the Silks line of LuminArte, a pair of multi-purpose titanium scissors from Fiskars, a molding mat by ColorBox, a collage pack put together by Art Camp For Women, and a copy of PAGES magazine by Cloth Paper Scissors.  I felt like I was at the Academy Awards, getting my goodie bag!

On Sunday morning, as I munched on my croissant, I saw a group of women standing over a nearby table, and my antennae went up.  When I walked over, I saw that there were goodie bag extras available for people to take for free!  I thought of you, my wonderful readers, and knew that I wanted to offer you a giveaway opportunity.
Giveaway loot!
If you would like to win a copy of PAGES magazine, a molding mat for use especially with polymer clay, and a collage pack from Art Camp for Women, please leave a comment on this post.  In order to be entered into the drawing, please tell me what kind of class you would most like to take if you were attending an art retreat next week.  Would it be a sketch class, watercolor, art journaling, bookbinding, jewelry-making, oil painting, acrylics, photography, fiber arts?  Something else?  I'd love to know what you are most interested in exploring right now in your creative life.

Please leave your comment by July 31, 2013, and I will publish the winner on August 1, 2013.  Good luck!
If you did not see my first post about the CREATE Mixed-Media Art Retreat, click here to read about my drawing and watercolor workshop with Jane LaFazio!

And come back soon for my final post, telling you all about the Friday night Artists' Faire, and my Basic Bookbinding for Beginners class with Seth Apter!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sketching and Watercolor with Jane LaFazio

I'm back from the CREATE Mixed-Media Art Retreat in Somerset, New Jersey, and ready to tell you all about it!  I arrived on Friday in the late afternoon, giving me time to attend the Artists' Faire, where various artists and businesses sold supplies and original works of art.  I will share my experiences (and my purchases!) in my next post, but for now, I want to focus on my first workshop--a six-hour class on Saturday with Jane LaFazio, entitled "Sketching and Watercolor:  10 Objects 10 Ways."
Jane LaFazio, sharing one of the ten techniques we learned in her workshop.
We were a large group, but the room's big tables gave us lots of space to spread out our supplies and work.  Jane opened the workshop by introducing herself, and sharing the story of how she came to discover her talent and enjoyment for drawing and painting with watercolor.  She gave us each an opportunity to introduce ourselves and explain why we were taking this class, which I thought helped to build camaraderie that stayed with us throughout the day.  It also helped me make contact with two creative women who live very close to me!
Here I am at my worktable in Jane's workshop.
For the rest of the day, we would alternate between clustering around a table at the front to watch Jane demonstrate one of the 10 techniques she was teaching us, and us heading back to our work spaces to try out the technique for ourselves.  We drew with regular pencils and water-soluble pencils, regular pens and water-soluble pens, and watercolors.  We drew true to our observations and also created silhouettes.  We drew on watercolor paper, on text paper, and on tissue paper.

Jane made herself available throughout, offering encouragement and constructive advice.  I felt perfectly comfortable calling out, "Jane, help me fix this!" and she would come right to my aid.
A fellow student at work.  I enjoyed seeing the work spaces each artist carved out for herself.
Another fellow student at work.  Don't we all look content?
This was much more of a process/instructive workshop than a product workshop.  We didn't necessarily walk out with a finished piece of art, but we came away with ten different techniques for representing objects in our art journals or art pieces.
My page from my work in the workshop.
A pencil sketch from a piece of nature.
I love how Jane divides her page up into quadrants for each of the representations, using any remaining open space for a title or some other graphic element.  I look forward to trying out this approach in my own sketchbook.
A sample page from Jane's sketchbook.
I also love how she numbers the sections in different ways, using rubber stamps or stencils or some other interesting method.
A sample spread from Jane's sketchbook.
At the end of class, we all spread our pages out on the floor so we could look at, admire, and take photos of each other's work.
Student work spread out on the floor.
A little bit closer look and you can see the talent displayed over the course of the workshop.
When I was explaining why I chose to take this class, I mentioned that my art journal usually makes use of collage elements and a rather abstract use of paint.  I would love to be able to represent the things I see, that are relevant to my day or the subject matter of my spreads, using drawings that I have created myself, rather than "borrowed images."  This workshop has equipped me with ten different techniques for doing just that!  And best of all, the supplies are so simple and portable:  paper, pencil, pen, waterbrush, and small watercolor set.  Nothing expensive, nothing complex.

Jane is such an encouraging instructor, and an interesting person to talk to.  One of the greatest pleasures of my weekend was having a chance to chat with her over coffee on Sunday morning as we awaited the start of our morning workshops.  We talked about life and art, and she introduced me to her friend and roommate Helen Shafer Garcia, who was also teaching at CREATE.  (Her workshop "Negative is Positively Painterly" was on my short list when I was making my selections; hopefully, I'll have a chance to learn from her at a future retreat!)

I have so much more to share with you:  the Artists' Faire, my purchases and freebies, my other two workshops, and A GIVEAWAY!  So be sure to come back by soon to hear the rest of the CREATE retreat story.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Around Here

No one will ever accuse me of traveling lightly!
I am about to set off for Somerset, New Jersey, and the 2013 CREATE Mixed-Media Art Retreat.  I have a bag of clothing, a bag of art supplies for my workshops, a bag of art supplies for my personal use, and a bag of bathroom items.  That doesn't even include the mammoth purse that I'll grab on the way out the door!  Thank goodness I'm not going by airplane, so I can avoid all those tough decisions about what to take and what to leave at home.
I am putting all of my supplies for the workshops into this organizer tote from Michaels.  I figure it is easy to carry and easy to access the tools and supplies during the workshops.
Among the other items, I have a container of wipes, some latex gloves, and a couple of cloth diapers that I always use for dabbing my brushes when using watercolors.  Looking at my bag, it's a little tough to determine if I'm making art or diapering a baby!
For the first time in a long time, I bought a bouquet of flowers at a local co-op, and used a few little clippings to brighten the windowsill over the kitchen window.  I am definitely going to have to bring flowers into my home more often!
It's been a long time since I've posted about my progress in Index Card a Day (ICAD).  Here's a sneak peek, but I'll try to show the gallery sometime next week!

Have a happy art-making weekend!