Sunday, May 17, 2009

Workshop Thoughts

I had a blast in my two-day workshop with Barbara Becker Simon. We made both a complex porcupine bead and a much simpler donut bead. These are Barbara's samples from her class description page:

The technical details learned are all available in her recently published book, Metal Clay Beads: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration which is absolutely fabulous. We learned about carving texture plates, making polymer clay molds for forms, and (the biggy!) constructing perfect seams. Of course, there was lots more -- embedding wires for pearls, adding color with Prismacolor pencils, carving metal clay, and on and on.

I'm reeling with the implications for my own ideas.

Because of time constraints, we used Barbara's prepared textures and molds, but I'm really looking forward to making my own. Here's my porcupine bead, using Barbara's texture plates (which are going to be manufactured and distributed by Whole Lotta Whimsy, by the way).

Rather than duplicate one of her donut beads completely, I made mine smooth, then carved it before assembling. I've had those carving tools for a while now and not used them much. This was so fun! I got better quickly, and feel that with a bit more practice I'll be able to "draw" at will with a carving tool. I'll be giving this a lot more study.

Barbara was a very clear, prepared, and dedicated instructor. She answered every question and held nothing back. She also freely shared her thoughts about metal clay from a trained metalsmith's perspective, directed students to the work of other artists whose work she admires, and talked about education and marketing for the arts. I learned much more than just metal clay techniques, and I'm sure the benefits will extend into my future endeavors.