Saturday, August 15, 2009

Outside the Box

By Betsy of Stonehouse Studio

I'm artistically curious. I love to get a glimpse of the process behind the finished product, and one of the best ways to do that is to take a workshop. One of the first things I did when I left my corporate job a few years ago was to take a mixed media class at the Museum of Fine Arts here in Boston. I had already discovered polymer at that point and had no intention of pursuing wood block printing, pen and ink drawing or mono printing, but I wanted to get my head around how it was done. Workshops also give me a healthy respect for fellow artists and crafstpeople - only when you try your own hand at something do you realize just how much talent, practice and vision is involved in the creative process.

I also take workshops in my medium of choice - polymer clay. I love watching the masters at work and I get something out of each and every class I take. Sometimes the class is an epiphany - Maggie Maggio's color class completely changed the way I approach my work. Usually, though, it's not so much the technique, but one or two details that influence and inspire me. From Kathleen Dustin I learned that there is rarely a mistake that can't be fixed. Louise Fischer Cozzi taught me to just relax and be joyful in my work, and Seth Savarick taught me the importance of flawless craftsmanship. I also love meeting fellow polymer aficionados at these classes. I met Melanie West at my first workshop and we have gone on to take several workshops together - she has helped me enormously in making the transition from hobbyist to artist.

The picture is of a Japanese style inro box that I learned how to make in Seth Savarick's class. Vessels are lots of fun and a pleasant break from jewelry. So think outside the box and have fun - take a class!

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