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Plush Dolls Workshop April 11, 2011

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts.
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Plush Doll workshop

We had a blast this past weekend during the Applied Arts workshop on Plush Dolls led by myself and Anna the Red.  Participants were able to choose between designing their own template or a doll created from a glove. After creating their designs for their dolls, everyone quickly got to work selecting various fabrics to create their pieces.

Plush Doll workshop

This workshop also gave people the opportunity to learn basic sewing skills to either hand sew or use a sewing machine. After the pieces were sewn together, poly-fil was used to stuff the doll parts, which were then stitched together. Lastly, designs and eyes and other features were added on using a glue gun as an adhesive.

Plush Doll workshop

Plush Doll workshop

Plush Doll workshop

Plush Doll workshop

Chinese Calligraphy workshop April 4, 2011

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts.
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Chinese Calligraphy workshop

We hosted an Applied Arts workshop this past weekend on Chinese Calligraphy with artist Mike Mei. Mike creates his own unique calligraphic pieces and has won numerous awards and competitions both here and in China. Mike started out the workshop by giving everything a brief introduction to the history of Chinese Calligraphy, and how the styles and characters have evolved over time.  In the image above you can see a comparison of the same character written in five different styles. Next when we got into the studio with our brushes we were able to practice the various strokes to create these three characters: person, sky, and bird.  Mike gave several demonstrations of how to hold the brush as well as the various ways the brush could be held and controlled to get specific kinds of strokes. We all noticed the kind of meditative concentration needed to practice calligraphy, and got some great results in just a few hours!

Chinese Calligraphy workshop

Chinese Calligraphy workshop

Chinese Calligraphy workshop

Applied Arts: Handmade purses and bags March 8, 2011

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts, Textiles.
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Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop

This past weekend we hosted an Applied Arts workshop on handmade purses and bags led by fiber artist Antoinette Winters. We started the workshop by learning several simple applique techniques which allowed participants to create a design on the exterior of their bag.  The applique could be achieved by the zig zag stitch on the sewing machine, or using a technique called “stitch witchery” where one uses a very thin fabric that becomes an adhesive when it is ironed onto a sheet of fabric.

Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop

Next everyone spent some time on the sewing machine, experimenting and learning how to thread the machines and create a number of different kind of stitches.

Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop

Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop

Everyone spent time choosing both a liner and an exterior fabric for their bags, matching up colors and patterns that would look good together. Antoinette brought three simple bag patterns that everyone could select from.  From there, it was plenty of cutting, sewing, and concentration to assemble all of the parts of the bag and bring the structure all together. It’s remarkable what everyone was able to achieve in just five hours!

Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop

Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop

Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop Handmade Bags & Purses Workshop

Applied Arts: Robot Sculptures November 15, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts, sculpture.
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Robot Sculpture Workshop

This past Saturday we had an Applied Arts workshop on Robot Sculptures, taught by artist Ann Smith. Ann specializes in robot-like sculptures which are assembled from pieces of old electronics. Her work has been exhibited in galleries all over the US and she has had her work published in several publications as well.

Robot Sculpture by Ann Smith
(above) one of Ann’s robot sculpture pieces.

Ann brought an amazing range and quantity of old electronics, many of which were sorted in bins by shape and color.  There was one bin full of all different kinds of wires, one that was full of circular shapes, etc. Ann showed some of her pieces, and then let everyone rummage and go through all of the bins to collect parts for their sculptures. Part of the fun of this process was hunting for the specific parts and pieces that would come together to create the sculptures, or by being inspired by seeing a material that would be visually engaging.

Robot Sculpture Workshop

Assembling the sculptures had a lot to do with problem solving. All of the individual parts somehow have to stay together, and it took all of us lots of troubleshooting to figure out how all of the parts could fit together. We used a range of different adhesives and techniques to put things together: duct tape, double stick tape, a glue gun, copper wire, etc.  It was wonderful to see all of the various solutions people came up with.

Robot Sculpture Workshop

Below are several of the finished sculptures, it’s amazing to see what people were able to accomplish in just three hours! You can view all of the images from the workshop on our Flickr page.

Robot Sculpture

Robot Sculpture

Robot Sculpture

Applied Arts: Monoprint Workshop November 1, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts, printmaking.
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Monoprint Workshop

On Saturday we had an Applied Arts workshop on Monoprinting, taught by printmaker Myles Dunigan. Monoprinting is one of the simplest methods of printmaking, which as Myles explained offers instant gratification in a way that other techniques of printmaking do not. Known as the “painterly print”, monotype offers an incredible range of different approaches which can be gestural and painterly.

Monoprint Workshop

Myles introduced various approaches to monotype, starting with working additively and reductively on the plate. To work additively, printmaking ink can be mixed with burnt plate oil in order for the paint to flow more smoothly on the plate. To work reductively, an even layer of black ink is applied to the surface of the plate with a breyer. Areas of white are achieved by removing the ink with a cotton rag, a brush, or a Q-tip.

Monoprint Workshop

Monoprint Workshop

Monoprint Workshop

Another technique Myles demonstrated was the trace monotype, a technique where the sheet of paper is laid on top of a fully inked plate. By drawing directly on the paper, this allows for the ink to transfer directly from the plate onto the piece of paper. You can view all images from this workshop on Flickr.

Monoprint Workshop

Monoprint Workshop

Applied Arts: Photograms workshop October 25, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts, photography.
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This past weekend we hosted an Applied Arts workshop on Photograms with artist Lana Z Caplan. Photograms is essentially a technique which allows you to make photographic images without a camera. In the darkroom, you basically use light to record an image. We had a wonderful assortment of all different kinds of objects to experiment and make compositions with.

Photograms workshop
(above) Lana Z Caplan shows some of the earliest photograms.

Photograms workshop

Photograms workshop

We had ten people at the workshop, and you can see from the image below that we were very productive during the afternoon. View all images from the workshop here.

Photograms workshop
(above) a finished print comes out of the print dryer.

Photograms workshop

Photograms workshop


Applied Arts: Bead Weaving workshop October 19, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts.
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Bead Weaving workshop

This past Saturday we hosted an Applied Arts workshop on Bead Weaving with artist Jennifer Maestre ’81, who is known nationally for her unusual pencil sculptures and jewelry pieces which are assembled with bead weaving techniques.


(above) One of Jennifer Maestre‘s pencil sculptures.

We started out the workshop with the flat peyote stitch, the most simple stitch, starting with two colors so that we could see the weave more clearly.  Jennifer had simple charts for us to follow which explained the sequence of beads to create the woven structure. One aspect that I was surprised by was just how tiny the beads were; we used special beading needles to pull the thread through each bead. Jennifer explained that the size of the beads was traditional for bead weaving, and that in the past, she’s gone as far as to sand each individual bead to control the size of the beads more.

Bead Weaving workshop

Once we had mastered the flat peyote stitch, Jennifer demonstrated several techniques for making the weaving more sculpture: “decreasing”, “increasing”, and the tubular technique. Amazing to see what people were able to accomplish in just four hours; several people were able to create bracelets and even rings with the various stitches.

Bead Weaving workshop

Bead Weaving workshop

(above) the “increasing” and “decreasing” technique
Bead Weaving workshop

Bead Weaving workshop
(above) woven rings

Bead Weaving workshop

(above) the “tubular” stitch

Bead Weaving workshop

Applied Arts: Accordion book binding workshop September 27, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts, book arts.
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Accordion book binding workshop

This past Saturday we hosted an Applied Arts workshop on Accordion book binding with photographer/book arts artist Cynthia Katz. Cynthia started out the workshop by introducing everyone to the numerous ways that the accordion style could be used by showing examples of her own books and others that she brought.

Accordion book binding workshop

Accordion book binding workshop

Next Cynthia gave a demonstration of the techniques and materials used in accordion book binding. One of the first steps was to determine which way the grain of the paper goes; the accordions have to be folded in the direction of the grain of the paper. To figure this out, you roll the paper over, and gently press down.  You do this in both directions and figure out which way presses more easily. It’s also important when working to have a flat, clean surface.  Magazines or newspapers are good for covering your surface; newspaper is not because the ink can get on your clean paper.  Other tools that are important are sharp scissors with a point, a heavy duty utility knife with a retractable blade, and old painting brushes that can be used as glue brushes, rulers with a corked back, and PVA glue. (Poly Vinyl Acetate) You can view all of the photos from this workshop on the Jewett Art Gallery’s Flickr page.

Accordion book binding workshop

Accordion book binding workshop

Accordion book binding workshop

Applied Arts Workshop on Character Design September 20, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts.
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Character Design Workshop

We had a blast at the Applied Arts workshop on Character Design led by RISD Professor Shanth Enjeti this past weekend.  Shanth started the workshop with a lecture about basic principles of character design, followed by a discussion of his own work and experience as a designer, closing the workshop with a short exercise and group critique of the works. As I write this blog post, I wish there was some way for me to capture Shanth’s amazing energy and depth of knowledge.  He had all of us laughing uncontrollably throughout the entire lecture, while at the same time demonstrating an incredible depth of knowledge and experience.

Shanth emphasized several fundamental principles about Character Design:

1) Character design is not about drawing or rendering.
2) For a design to be good, a five year old should be able to draw that design in five seconds.
3) Great design is not complicated.
4) Creativity is an impulse.
5) You have to be able to think on an intellectual level for good character design.
6) Geniuses are very simple in their work.
7) If you make awesome stuff and you aggressively tell people about it, it can catch on fire.
8 ) There are some designers who are playing an entirely different game:  their game.
9) All successful designers have had international influences on their work. Examples:  Julie Taymor, Eiko Ishioka, George Lucas, Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki

Shanth moved on to talk about James Joyce’s alter ego Stephen Dedalus’ aesthetic theory: that there exists “Proper and Improper Art”.  Proper art is static while Improper art is kinetic. Kinetic art is didactic art and referrs to a design’s ability to evoke loathing in it’s viewer. Pornographic art refers to a works’ ability to arouse desire in it’s viewer, serving the purpose of creating visual pleasure. Human beings need characters that remind us of an emotional state.

Character Design Workshop

(above) Shanth Enjeti shows and demonstrates his drawing tools.

One of the major themes Shanth discussed in his lecture was the “four elemental closed forms”:  the circle, the square, the upward triangle, and the downward triangle.  The circle is considered by many to be the most appealing and comforting form, it’s the ultimate symbol which speaks to wholeness. Examples include halos in religious art, the Venus of Willendorf, the human eye, doorknobs, the click wheel on the ipod, etc. The most popular character in Star Wars is R2D2:  he has only one eye, and he’s all round.  Mike Wazowski from Pixar’s Monsters Inc. is an angry character, and yet he is loved by every child due to his simple and round design.

The square is a completely different scenario which can be seen both positively and negatively. Negatively, many westerners “fear” the square (“Don’t be such a square!”, “I’m thinking outside the box”, and cubicles.) A square environment represents submission and order: an example being Mussolini’s square colosseum. In Star Wars, Darth Vader, who is a representation of order and submission has an electronic square in the center of his chest. The Borg from Star Trek is a race that is all about losing your individuality and submission-and they fly around in a giant cube. From a positive view, Wall-e’s job is to take away the chaos by making squares and stacking them. The most popular game of all time, Tetris, is all about making us feel better when we arrange squares.  Legos, the most popular toy of all time is all about stacking blocks that even have little circles on them.

The downward pointing triangle is largely negative and all about submission while the upward pointing triangle is about aspiration and perseverance. Examples of downward pointing triangles would be Maleficent from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the Decepticon icon from the Transformers, and the Stormtroopers from Star Wars. The upward pointing triangles on Totoro’s chest, combined with the circular eyes allows that character to appeal to many audiences.  Life is disordered and chaotic: we put it into boxes and circles to make it livable.

Character Design Workshop

(above) Shanth Enjeti shows his corporate and commercial character designs.

Next, the workshop participants got an opportunity to create some designs themselves, and have them critiqued by Shanth. The assignment was to create two characters: one which represented your worst trait, and another which represented your best trait. Everyone had 15 minutes for each character in this assignment. You can see below several of the examples.

Character Design Assignment

Character Design Assignment

Applied Arts: Decorative Papers September 13, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts, book arts.
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Decorative Papers Workshop

We hosted an Applied Arts workshop this past weekend on Decorative Papers with artist Abbie Read. At the workshop we focused on paste papers.  Paste papers involve a mixture of wheat paste, methyl cellulose, and acrylic paints. In the mixture, the methyl cellulose is the adhesive, while the wheat paste gives it the body, and the acrylic provides the color.

Decorative Papers Workshop

To create the methyl cellulose, you follow the directions to mix it on the jar.  Then the methyl cellulose sits and attains a soupy consistency. For the wheat paste, Abbie recommended using cake flour for the wheat paste.  The wheat paste created by cooking 1 cup of flour to 4.5 cups of flour; this process brings out the gluten, which it changes to it into a jelly-like substance.

After the paste paint is mixed together, the process involves painting on paper in thin layers to create a design. This allows for many directions you can go in when you apply the paste to the paper.  It’s the layering of the paste paint- a mark on a mark, a color on color, that will give richness and uniqueness to the papers.

Decorative Papers Workshop

First the entire sheet of paper is dunked into water to thoroughly soak the paper. The wet sheet of paper is laid on the table and then wiped with a sponge to create consistency in the paper. Then the paste paint is applied to the entire surface of the wet paper with a foam brush, covering the whole sheet with color.

Decorative Papers Workshop

Decorative Papers Workshop

Next,  tools like combs, corks, old credit cards that have been cut into patterns are used to work directly into the sheets to create a range of patterns and textures. Stencils, wax paper, and aluminum foil can also be pressed into the surface with a roller to create more textures. Other items like dried pressed leaves, and carved foam blocks can create unique surfaces. You can view all of the images from this workshop on the Jewett Art Gallery’s Flickr page.

Decorative Papers Workshop

Decorative Papers Workshop

Decorative Papers Workshop

Decorative Papers Workshop

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