Himself played hookey on Friday and we set off for an overnight field trip to upstate New York, to take a one-day studio workshop in found object assemblage with Saugerties artist Fay Wood.
Fay and her husband Skip met us at the door of their wonderful old white clapboard house. I mean studio. I mean house. It was both: a large, winding exploratorium of Fay's sculptures, paintings, and assemblage that made it hard to tell where house stopped and studio began. Every nook spilled over with promise.
Our instructions were to come with a general concept in mind and specific materials in hand. Himself brought four objects: an antique beehive smoker, an weathered worm tin that loops on to a belt (for fishermen or folks who want to accessorize with night crawlers), a rusted industrial light shade and, of course, a set of dentures.
Yep, pretty much what he packs on all our trips.
I brought 33,995 pieces of ghost town glass,rusty metal shards, headless china animals,plastic toys coated in sea brine, weathered sticks in odd shapes, and old mattress ticking I ripped from a miner's cabin in Montana. And many other essentials a girl just cannot do without.
Fay is a perfect art teacher because she knew how to work with our very different needs. Himself has a fine sense of design, facility with tools, and the confidence to explore them both without vomiting. He loves technical tips from experienced artists and Fay had many valuable pearls from her decades of experience trying to figure out how to join one surface to another.
She also laughed at his jokes.
Me, well, I haven't a clue what I am doing with design or with tools and my insecurities are to my creative process as a bad shrimp is to digestion. Fay seemed to sense this and gave me suggestions that echoed my own intuition and kept me on course. I felt her pulling me out of myself and into the work and at the same time, gently helping me edit myself when my passion for a particular object didn't jive with the piece as it was materializing.
Plus she didn't yell at me for forgetting to close the lid on the glue.
We learned so much about working with specific materials, but its the bigger principles that really intrigue me. That's because they really apply to almost everything we create.
1. Everything starts with a base. And it must be stable.
2. What you add to the base should add texture or contribute to the story. Ideally, both. If it doesn't, does it really belong? And it must be stable.
3. Make everything look intentional, whether or not you intended it as part of the design or it happened because the drill slipped. And it must be stable.
4. Accept nothing less than excellence in how tightly you piece everything together. And it must be stable.
You can see more pix of us working over at Fay's blog. (Be sure you scroll down far enough to read the part about "two very well designed and thought out pieces...") Here's some close-ups of his completed piece...
My exploration of the mining ghost town, The Works, still needs something hanging from the top of this side.