Encaustic Workshop @ Arkell

The workshop was the first day of no snow, after getting 2 1/2 feet the 3 days prior!

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of being able to attend an encaustic workshop. I was lucky because this class was being taught at Arkell Museum which is located right in my hometown of Canajoharie, NY. I have seen encaustic works before....I did a post in 2008 about Kate Phillips work that I discovered on Etsy. I love the effect, but I have not had the opportunity to try. My collage comrade, Steven Specht, also signed up and took the class.
The instructor for this class was the enthusiastic and vivacious Joanne LaForest-Qua. She is based in Albany, and I think she said she teaches at SUNY. This was going to be interesting. I have not attended any collage workshops before. I am looking into giving some workshops in the future, so I was quite interested in how these things go.

The room before collage chaos began. Nice and neat!

We were ushered into a spacious and well lit room in the basement of Arkell. Joanne had brought a myriad of materials for us to use, and we had also been instructed to bring some materials (or "specimens" as Steven fondly calls them) of our own. I was pleased with the selection of ephemera that she brought, and there was a little bit of something for everyone.
At first, we were instructed to begin our collage work. Each person in the room had a different way of approaching the situation. I was intrigued and wanted to discuss the process with the folks that were there, but I was also trying to learn something and perform my own work, so my attention was limited.

Class participants began their collage work while the beeswax melts.

Steven (lower left) working in a creative frenzy.
Steven remarked to me that he wasn't usually able to produce good work at workshops. I was hoping for him that this time it would be different and he would find a good flow. At first we were both kind of over stimulated. There's new people, new techniques, stuff to talk about, and to do collage work we all know that a bit of concentration is involved. But after a short bit, we all settled down and the paper cutting began.

Collage work in a box using papers of vermilion and glitter that Joanne supplied for us

As for my work, I was in a totally white mood. We had a huge amount of snow this past week and all I could see was white. My mind was white. At home, I had collected quite a pile of white "specimens", including various birch bark pieces, maple seeds, age-stained linens and cottons, and pieces for a massive wasp nest. I proceeded with my work and ended up being able to produce a reasonable collage, even tho I felt like I wanted to be a little bird, floating around the room watching what everyone else was doing!

My work area: the sloppiest in the room and my piece, right before my first wax layer

Our working styles were seriously diverse. I had bark parts all over the floor, and pieces of fabric were floating all around my area. Meanwhile, Steven on my left, had an extremely neat area, with very little debris, not to mention his fine collection of exquisite little scissors that he arranged neatly in order of size. I laughed about this with him, since I use only one very messy, dirty, collage medium-laden pair of full size scissors. How different we all are! Phil, on my right, also kept his area quite clear of messes. Probably neither of them stood a chance, with my stuff flowing all over the tables like the River Nile.
Once we all had a layer of collage on our canvas, it was time to visit the Beeswax station. Joanne had set up a couple of hot wax pots along with some paintbrushes for us. There was also a heat gun for removing wax that was too thick. We continued to work thru our collages and the room got quiet. I was able to do a couple of layers of wax and I found that it was way easy to put too much wax on. Thankfully it's easy to remove.
When I was just about finished, I danced around the room with my camera and took random pictures of participants working. I am so sorry that I didn't take time to acquaint myself with all of these folks so that I could label these photos properly.

This person had a fondness for Mary Englebright and had many colorful pieces of ephemera with her work printed on it

This woman had wonderful copies that she had made on an old style copier. Some were copies that were done on already printed magazine paper. They were extremely rich in texture.

Game boards make a great base for collage.

Pat Castka is a neighbor of mine! We were surprised to see each other at the workshop. Pat challenged herself with a bunch of natural materials.

This woman did colorful work with a flat approach. The colors were saturated and the beeswax was a great accent.

Yours truly in her messiest art clothes on the left and Steven Specht to my right. Not exactly the most flattering pic, but I am posting it anyhow.

Welcome to my waxed white world. Finished piece.
I got to meet some new peeps, got to learn some new techniques, got to talk art with Steven for awhile. A good day was had by all!

Class Participants:
Toni Gaetano, Elaine Holdridge, Melanie Bouton, Sarah Johnston, Karen Katz, Sally Weinstein, Pat Castka, Olya Szyjka, Steven Specht, Julie Sadler

Now, the question. WILL I do this again, on my own? I am not sure. Although I will tell you that I have already acquired a wax heater and the beeswax. I still need Damar Varnish (to add to the beeswax) and perhaps I will have to experiment on my own. I like the fact that the pieces seem otherworldly. The wax adds a dimension that I cannot achieve with any other medium.


amy said...

Ugh, I totally meant to go to that workshop, but now I see if was basically melting was on a collage and not really encaustics I don't feel so bad for missing it!

Julie Sadler said...

it was basically melting wax on collage. i would have loved to see you tho!

Mary Carol said...

Julie, it was fun to see photos of everyone at the workshop. Thanks for posting! I've been meaning to post a comment on your blog for the LONGEST time...NOW I'm doing it: I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE your work. I have your collage we bought in our living room but I really want to move it up to my office so I can see it all the time. I love your fairy book! I haven't looked at the CD yet, but will soon...can't wait to see what surprises are in store on it. Your blog is GREAT too. Thanks so much for sharing. Keep the creativity coming!! :-) Mary Carol Durr (Steve Specht's wife)

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.