Sunday, April 27, 2008


One of the best things about living on the east coast but visiting the west coast is the time change. I can probably count on one hand the times I've gotten up to see the sunrise in my time zone. My first morning in Port Townsend I was up before the sun. I took advantage of the extra time and enjoyed an early morning walk to the beach. At one point, I thought I might want to put my feet in the water. Once I got there, I was fine with just letting my boots touch the water. I can't think of a better way to start the day...time alone to commune with nature.

My first class of ArtFest was Creative Outlets with Michael deMeng. I've followed Michael's work for a few years and knew there was much to learn from him. He didn't let me down. I was completely at ease when I first entered the class and felt like I was hanging out with an old friend. We had plenty of space to work since class was being held in the Art Asylum. It didn't take me long to spread out my junk on the table and feel right at home.

The challenge was to use an electrical outlet as the base for our assemblage piece. I hemmed and hawed for the first part of the class not really feeling like I was heading in the direction I wanted to be going. Then I picked up an old Christmas ornament from one of the tables in the Art Asylum and it all started to fall into place. I learned to use the cut-off wheel and there was no turning back. Michael was a great teacher!

Here's the piece after I had pretty much worked all my magic on it. I am learning that I need to work more on photographing my artwork. I'm pretty impatient with this sort of thing and just like to walk around the yard pointing and clicking with the camera. It is what it is. You can click on the photo for more detail.

For anyone that was in that class with me, you'll probably remember that I got a little choked up at the critique. I used my grandmother's old hairpins on the piece hanging from the bottom of the outlet. I'm so sentimental about those sorts of things. I didn't actually cry but I felt my throat close up a little. It's a special piece to me.

Three cheers for Michael - he's a great teacher!

Man, that was the TIGHTEST schedule I have been on in my entire life. Since I stayed in the dorms (which were old military barracks) the shower was an open bay. We had a sign-up list for our 10 minute daily shower. Just enough time to shower and have a quick cup of coffee with some of the other gals in the dorm and then off to breakfast. Only enough time to gather my supplies for the next class before hoofing it across the campus. Oh, and about those bathrooms. I didn't see my face for 4 days because at 5 feet tall, I could only see the top of my head in the mirrors. It's probably a good thing because I didn't have one extra minute to worry about how I looked. I loved that part of ArtFest.

Friday's class was Flat to Stacked with Linda and Opie O'Brien and was held in the chapel. I loved that little chapel but be forewarned that while beautiful, the dim light filtering through the stained glass windows on a dark and rainy day is not the best lighting for doing extremely small detail work. Again, I hemmed and hawed during the first part of the class and then basically finished up the bracelet the next evening at the Art Asylum. It was a great class but very fast paced with so many people. I liked learning to make my own rivets with brass brads. It took me a few times to get it right. I used a couple of my PMC pieces on this bracelet so had to be a bit creative with the attachments. I'm happy with the way it came out and have received compliments on it the times I have worn it since.

You can click on the photo to see a larger view. I used a small faucet screen behind the cabochon bezel and noticed how it kept catching on my sleeve the first time I wore it. So, I whip stitched some copper wire around it and it's fine now. I was happy to be able to use one of my silver twigs, as well as another silver charm I had made. One of my favorite parts is the sliver of my moo card that I used under the smallest piece of plexiglass. It's fitting being my first ArtFest and all.

I'm sure there are lots of things I am forgetting after so long but I'll just hit the highlights since I have these 3 pieces. Oh, how can I forget vendor night?! I waited across the way at the Art Asylum (yes, I spent a lot of time there!) before they opened the doors for vendor night. Once inside, it was a crazy madhouse of lights and people and wonderful art mainly by the instructors of ArtFest but some other great artists, as well. My energy level was low and I didn't feel much like (politely) fighting the crowds.

I did make it to Judy Wise's table to introduce myself. Judy is one of the kindest people I have met in blogland. I fell in love with one of her pieces on Etsy long before I knew who she was. Now that I look back in my favorites, it's not there. Maybe I was mistaken. Maybe it's the first piece I saw of hers that made my heart flutter. At any rate, I bought it! It's a fabulous encaustic piece with a stencil of her as a child and wrecking ball. Layers of luscious wax and collage. I adore it almost as much as I adore Judy.

I also was able to wiggle my way to Catherine Witherall's table. Catherine is a terrific metal clay artisan who has given me much encouragement and advice about setting up my kiln. I was terrified the first time I fired it and had it outside on the front porch on top of a fireproof BBQ mat - I mean, 1650°...that's HOT! I've since moved it into the garage on a wheeled cart and am quite comfortable firing my pieces. I'd love to take a class with Catherine one day but felt it was something I wanted to save for later.

Another round of the tables and I managed to make my way to Susan Lenart Kazmer. I felt honored to be able to actually touch the pieces she had hanging on display. How could I pick a favorite? No way, it was just too much all at once. I did purchase her new book which I pour through every chance I get. I will take a class with her one day - it's just not what the universe had planned for me this time.

So, that pretty much wrapped up my vendor night experience. I was happy to see who I could and leave the madness behind. I went back to the Art Asylum (see, I told you I spent a lot of time there) and finished my bracelet.

I awoke on Saturday knowing it was going to be a great day. I had Nina Bagley's class Stone Soup and had been looking forward to it for months. The first time I discovered Nina (like Carolina) I fell in love with her work. Simple earrings made with natural river stones from N.C. - right up my alley! Spend a few minutes on her blog and you will be sure to understand why I felt a kinship before we ever met in person. She was just as welcoming as I had imagined. When we hugged, it felt (to me) like hugging a dear friend.

All it took was a few minutes of watching her demonstrate some of her tricks and tips to know I was just where I needed to be. It all fell into place and I was wrapping and twisting and dunkin' (my entire spool of silver wire into Liver of Sulphur) to my heart's content. I didn't completely finish the piece I was working on, it's more of a study. A combination of new techniques learned to carry with me on my journey of expressive jewelry. Memories from the past, pulled into the present, to take to the future. That's the best way I can explain it.

Again, my photography skills are lacking here. I photographed this in 3 shots. Starting from the bottom, a tiny bell from my gone but not forgotten Nana from Montana, then a cocoon bead made with a piece of the vintage quilt scraps I got from an elderly neighbor (1950s!) and some of the magical wire wrapping...

Some glass beads that I fell in love with sheltering one of my silver clay beads and a piece of old chain from a vintage necklace I took apart...

From there, a vintage crystal cut glass bead and finally one of my silver handmade twig beads. I love the way it all feels in my hands, the way it jingles lightly. There's just something magical about it to me. I may finish it into a necklace, then again, I may just leave it as it is. Perhaps it just needs to hang somewhere to remind me of all of the special people I met, the magic of ArtFest, the tiny promise I made to myself to be more artful in my daily life.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Leading up to Artfest...

Every day that passes takes me just a little bit further from ArtFest. I keep telling myself that I need to find my photos and post a little about my adventure before it fades from memory. I took so much in with my ears, eyes and heart that I didn't stop to take nearly as many photos as I normally do. Probably not a bad thing in retrospect.

Here are the snow capped mountains underneath the clouds as I was flying into Seattle. It's the first time I have ever been to Washington state that I can remember and I was so excited with anticipation of the new experiences ahead of me.

My friend Neal met me at the airport and gave me a quick tour of Seattle on our way up to his house. Can you tell I was under dressed for the cool winds whipping off of the water? I left my thick wool sweater and my favorite jeans back home by accident. Good excuse to swing by Pike's Market to look for something warm to wear on the beach at night.

Since we were on the west side of town, we popped in for a short visit with some friends of Neal and his wife's. She made us the perfect cup of coffee (it's a Seattle thing) to warm up as we walked around their gardens. I was mesmerized by all of the cool things. Her son is quite the creative one and built these great little gates and walkways. It was a perfect little space with art and plantings and lots of love.

From there we headed to the market which was just closing but I did luck out and get an alpaca wool pull over. I met the famous fish monger who tosses fish for a living. Funny guy, I called him a 'movie star' because I had seen him on the TV show Glutton for Punishment. Told him I came all the way from Atlanta just to meet him. He kissed a fish for me.

My photos are sporadic from this point on. I enjoyed the evening with N&K over a yummy home cooked dinner and a bottle of wine. Then it was off the next morning for my trip to Port Townsend. I had no idea what I would find along the way. The ferry ride was a trip all in itself. I only stayed up top for about 5 minutes to soak in the scenery before heading back indoors where it was warm.

I came upon the cutest little town called Port Gamble - had to stop and snap a couple of photos.

I have to stop here for now. Just about to head out the door to meet a girlfriend on our way to see Bruce Springsteen tonight. The Boss is in town!