Stretching our Boundaries in Printmaking

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At a recent fast-paced two-day class, students in the Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network (BARN) explored ways to stretch their printmaking boundaries. Curt Labitzke, Associate Professor of Printmaking at the University of Washington, demonstrated how to use dry point, monoprint, collage, and hand coloring with acrylics and watercolor to create surfaces looking like ancient frescoes.

DSCN2570(Above, Renee Jameson)

“I love to print,” said Renee Jameson, one class participant. “I created a figurative work, but I felt challenged by the ink’s thickness.”

Jan Branham exclaimed, “I need more energy! I attended the class because of the teacher’s art and reputation.”

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(Left, Pam Galvani, Right Jan Branham)

The Seattle Art Museum presented Curt’s work recently in a group show. Bainbridge’s Island Art Gallery and La Bottega dell Acquaforte Gallery in Laguna Beach, California, also represent some of his work.

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BARN Print (9)

(Above, Curt Labitzke, our instructor)

“I wanted to learn as much as I could about different printmaking techniques. I found learning how to use the dry-point tools and how to scratch the surface deep enough was challenging. I scratched a landscape, and want to experiment with over painting using latex paint and printing over the top of old prints. Curt Labitzke was an excellent and inspiring teacher,” said Shelley Minor.

BARN Print (11)(Above, Donna’s first dry point project carved in Plexiglas and printed on BARN’s printing press)

At the class, Donna Lee Dowdney learned how to create surfaces evoking ancient frescoes. As a former student archaeologist, she felt intrigued about how to incorporate images of ancient statues and artifacts into her art.

Curt also showed the class some original prints from past centuries that he uses as inspirations. The neutral backgrounds using acrylic washes with cut or torn paper also showed students possibilities for depicting ancient figures. The class inspired all the students to think about their printmaking in new ways. They look forward to having Curt teach future classes for BARN printmakers.

Gillian Bull commented, “I am learning monotype from Wendy Orville, so Curt’s class gave me another dimension. I found that it’s hard to etch into the plate; however, this was my first etching. I created landscape etchings and experimented with oil sticks and oil pastels. Hurray for BARN!”

BARN Print (10)

(Above, students working with the press)

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(Above, examples of students’ prints drying)

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Creating a Canvas Mat while Building Friendships

For many years, artist Lynnette Sandbloom has created beautiful canvas mats. Last winter BARN (Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network) asked her to teach a class, which she taught from her Bainbridge Island studio.

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Lynnette Sandbloom, Instructor

Lynnette provided us with a primed and hemmed canvas mat on which to begin creating. She also gave detailed instructions as she demonstrated how to make our own mats and how to plan and create future mats. We brought ideas and materials for the mat design, and Lynnette guided us through the process of embellishing our mats using a variety of fabrics, textures, papers, ribbons, and even an old grain sack!

Lynnette said, “My only challenge was to anticipate the student’s needs before class. Because I make two different kinds of mats, next time I would clarify the project a little more, and have some homework before class began — depending on the student’s choice of materials. I enjoyed teaching the class. It was a talented and creative group. We came together not knowing each other, and by class end, we were friends. Floor mats have bonded us for life!”

The following photos show our alumni gathering at the Bainbridge Bakery, where we had a great time admiring each other’s mat creations!

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Linda Younker

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Donna Lee Dowdney

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Sue Van Duine

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Canvas Mat Class Alumni Gathering

To see BARN’s website, go to bainbridgebarn.org

Welcome to my Art & Travel Blog!

This blog focuses on art with a special emphasis on fiber and mixed-media art. The travel topics range from near to far-off places and look at art and design appearing everywhere, often in classes and museums.  Also check out my website at donnaleedowdney.com.

Challenges in Weaving at the BARN

My first Art & Travel journey led me to a wonderful new place only a mile from my home on Bainbridge Island, Washington. BARN (Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network) offers many classes, salons, workshops, and opportunities to learn arts and crafts in Electronic and Technical Arts, Fiber Arts, Glass Arts, Jewelry Making, Kitchen Arts, Metal Machining, Printmaking and Book Arts, Welding, Woodworking and Small Boat Building, and Writing.

The following story shows the journey I and my fellow travelers are making to meet the Challenges of Weaving.

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The “Weaving Fundamentals for Beginners” class taught us how to warp looms, weave using patterns, and use basic weaving equipment. But, there was more. The class also wove each of us together in new friendships as we identified and met unexpected challenges. We shared our discoveries and encouraged each other as we created woven samplers.

(Julie Shryock, left; Deb Sweet, right)

(Julie Shryock, left; Deb Sweet, right)

Julie Shryock, one of the students, says, “I have always been curious about weaving — admiring it as something pretty straightforward with tremendous potential for experimentation, creativity, and flexibility. Regarding BARN as Art Camp, I decided now is the time to give weaving a try.

“Warping the loom and learning the vocabulary were particularly challenging, but with practice, both became less daunting. I think the greatest challenges were the following:

(a) The size of the loom was hard to accommodate in our very small house. For the duration of the class, the loom occupied either the dining table or the coffee table between the couches. I learned that I like a project that is more portable — one that I can gather up when not in use, and then spread out when working.

(b) I’m more spontaneous and less strategic. Thus, anticipating the various threads/ combination/ lengths was a challenge. This will be a good growing edge for me.

“The red warp of the sample called to me. It was inviting, easy to see, and cheerful. I chose the bulkier blue for both its color and its heft – bigger goes faster! The gold is for bling, and I confess I’m not crazy about it. However, the three colors demonstrated very clearly the various stitches/ patterns we were learning. I could really see what was happening.

“I’m wondering what’s next. BARN has a smaller loom that will work comfortably in our house and for transit. I’d like to take Weaving 102 and make myself a gorgeous scarf, as wide as the little loom will accommodate. I highly recommend this class for anyone curious about the ancient art of weaving. Learning warping is an evolving mastery! For those interested in Art Camp: BARN is the place!”

(Heather Coats at the Warping Board)

(Heather Coats at the Warping Board)

Heather Coats was another student in the class. She says, “I wanted to learn the art of weaving. A challenge for me was calculating the length of the warp threads! My first sample was twelve warp threads, and the weft threads were of various types. My second sample was about forty weft threads, and the weft threads were all pearl cotton of various colors. The class was lots of fun! I am amazed at how beautiful the student projects are!”

Deb Sweet created the class and taught it at BARN. Deb says, “This was the first weaving class taught at BARN, and the first time I taught weaving. I have taught other things, but not weaving. I really wanted to teach it for several reasons. One is to build the weaving community as part of BARN’s Fiber Arts Group. There are so many ways to learn from each other, and to share ideas—all of which a community does. Another reason is I really enjoy weaving in all its parts and want to share my love of the craft. Finally, I enjoy the process of people learning how to do something new, and something they want to do.

(Deb Sweet, Instructor)

(Deb Sweet, Instructor)

“My first challenge was class planning and putting together the packet of student materials, which included class outlines for each of the six classes, a glossary, a resource list, plus lots of other references. Putting it together, including detailed steps, took more time than I imagined. The next “challenge” was finding ways to teach that worked with the individual styles of learning. Weaving is hands on, with a steep learning curve right off the bat on how to warp a loom. I did not want to lose any students to frustration with this process. Thankfully, everyone came back for the second class! I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the class, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Each student produced wonderfully unique samples. I loved them all because they reflect everyone’s approach to color, pattern, texture—very cool.

“I am very grateful for the hands-on help given by the teaching assistants. Caroline Browne was there every time. Sybil Carrere joined us for quite a few, and Jason Devinney was there for the first and probably toughest class. And I am also grateful for our students. They each had a sense of fun, determination, and adventure. When you learn anything brand new, not only are you learning a new language and methods, you are also learning about yourself. In this case, there were many points of grace.”

Sybil Carrere and Caroline Browne served as teaching assistants. Sybil says,” I was involved in the class because it was the first time it was taught. I helped because Deb Sweet is a great person. The fiber studio members are a very collaborative group of people, so it is always a delight to work with each other. A challenge was learning the best way to teach students how to do the steps of weaving, knowing that every person learns in a different manner. The samples used different weave structures and different colors.”

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(Deanna Wilkes-Gibbs, left; Sybil Carrere, right)

(Caroline Browne)

(Caroline Browne)

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(Jason Devinney)

“During our class, I was surprised to discover how mathematical weaving is,” says Donna Lee Dowdney. “I also realized how much easier it is for me to learn by reading about weaving than by ‘doing’ it. For example, over the years I have studied weaving pieces in museums and have collected numerous ethnographic weavings in my travels. But getting my hands on the yarns and actually creating weaving designs is totally different. At first I thought the shuttle would fly along as I created a masterpiece just as master weavers in various countries had done. Then I discovered anomalies in my warping procedure and had to start over many times and work slowly. My challenge is to learn to weave and then to incorporate weavings into my fabric art.”

(Donna Lee Dowdney, foreground; Deb Sweet, background)
(Donna Lee Dowdney, foreground; Deb Sweet, background)

The following class photos not only show us in action, but also reveal the pride we all feel with our beautiful samplers.

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(Photographs by Donna Lee Dowdney ©2015)

To see BARN’s website, go to bainbridgebarn.org