[caption id="attachment_17444" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Collograph with Feather and Fabric[/caption]
Last month’s printmaking class didn’t go as I’d planned.
The class was “Printmaking Paradise,” a survey of techniques, taught by Sally and Dick Walsh. In class, Sally taught us a few techniques each day. Some used the printing press, and some we could do at home with no fancy equipment. Sally encouraged us to have fun: to try everything but to go with the techniques we resonated with.
On day one, we tackled collagraphs. They seemed simple enough: spread ink onto a piece of matte board, lay found objects on top, cover with paper, and run the whole thing through the printing press. The first print will be a little sloppy, but the second and third will have more defined features, showing the textures of the objects. Sally’s example had a beautifully detailed feather printed on it.
I waited with eager fingers for my print to roll through the press. Then I peeled it off the board. My feather had printed as a disappointing white blotch: not enough ink. “Make another one!” Dick suggested, so I did, this time gopping on the ink under my feather. You can’t understand the process until you do it, I thought. Why did I expect things to be perfect the first time?
Next week is a special week for our Book & Paper Arts Program as our brand new beautiful studio opens its doors to students for the very first time. It's appropriate that the first class is a letterpress printing class considering that printmaking will flourish with the new space and room for equipment and presses. We talked with instructor Jessica White who is teaching the inaugural class about her craft and process. Enjoy our interview!CP:Congratulations on being the very first instructor to teach class in our brand new Book and Paper Arts Studio! So what drew you letterpress printing? Why is the medium meaningful to you? JW: When I was a printmaking grad student at the University of Iowa, I made drawings and prints that combined images with text. One day, a friend saw me struggle with different methods of printing the text on a lithograph, and he suggested letterpress. He showed me how to set and print one line of text, and I haven't stopped since!
For me, letterpress printing started as and still is a means to an end; I like all types of printmaking, but my love of text always brings me back to letterpress because it's the perfect method to printing my work.
CP:How would you describe your work?JW: My work tends to be humorous and looks sweetly charming, but there is a philosophical and slightly dark side. I've been told that my work is "what you get if Beatrix Potter crashed into Edward Gorey."
[caption id="attachment_16857" align="aligncenter" width="630"] "Never Mind the Bears" letterpress print by Jessica White[/caption]
The intricate paper cuts of Ingrid Lavoie draw you into a fantastic world of whimsy, nature, and storytelling. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) who fell in love with papercutting while on vacations visiting family in Denmark. Self-taught, she found her rhythm and style by using an X-Acto knife to "draw" images, instead of scissors. She enjoys unfolding a new work to reveal the paper's transformation, and has been teaching others this delightful art form for several years. Enjoy our interview!
[caption id="attachment_15948" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Children make cookies for the Holiday Kids Party[/caption]
The month of December is a special time at the Folk School. Events, parties, food, themed classes, concerts, dances and performances unite the community in the holiday spirit. When the wreaths, garlands, and handcrafted ornaments appear in early December, we know the magic of the season has arrived. Recently, I connected with Nanette Davidson, our longtime decorating maven and mastermind, to ask about holiday traditions at the Folk School. Enjoy our interview!
[caption id="attachment_15944" align="alignright" width="228"] Nanette in the Cooking Studio[/caption]
CP:When does the holiday season begin for you?
ND: Well, I think about this off and on through out the year, planning simple projects for the winter holiday season and for spring's May Day and June's Auction Gala sometimes many months in advance. I have asked for help from other artists and dancers in the community to generate handmade decorations including giant puppets for parades. Jan and I love the seasonal celebrations that come from many rural, agricultural communities. When you live in the Appalachian countryside where there are distinct perennial landscapes, it's easy to celebrate the beauty of the changing seasons.
CP:What is your favorite Folk School December holiday tradition?
ND: We have so many great parties in December for the local community as well as our students who come in for a week. In the original days of the JCCFS, the student body was closely tied to the community and seasonal events were held to pull everyone together. We still want to include our local community and they are present here at weekly dances and concerts. We have the Old Folks Party, Christmas Dance/Dessert Potluck, New Year's Eve Dance, and the Children's Party when Santa arrives in the BFD Firetruck, sirens wailing. I have always helped with the Children's Party which includes crafts, musical chairs, storytelling, Morris performance, homemade cookies, and live music and dance for the kids. Even though we are an adult school we reach out to our local kids at Christmas and in the summer. More and more show up on the dance floor now. Every child that has a great folk school experience can help us preserve the school for the future.
[caption id="attachment_15589" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Excitement is building in our Book & Paper Arts classes as the new studio construction is underway![/caption]
Next time you drive down Brasstown Rd., take a gander at the field by the Painting Studio and you will see construction in progress for our new Book & Paper Arts Studio.
The Folk School is approaching the end of the campaign for the new Book & Paper Arts Studio. We have been able to raise $483,490 out of our $508,000 goal and we hope to finalize the funding needed for this project in the coming months. The School has already broken ground on the structure and we plan to have the studio completed in 2017.
[caption id="attachment_9578" align="aligncenter" width="600"] An artist's rendition of the new Book and Paper Arts Studio by Harris Architects.[/caption]
“The new studio literally opens the doors to expanded class offerings, with increased light and physical space to spread out on new workbenches, with square footage for new equipment we have dreamed of for years. In fact, the FS was awarded a grant to buy much-needed new equipment, including a letterpress for printmaking, a pulp vat and Hollander beater for papermaking, and an industrial rack for drying all kinds of papers and prints, to name just a few! There is much more awaiting you in this new building, and we hope to be opening the doors next year. I would like to thank all of the campaign donors for your generosity and commitment to expanding our corner of this unique school.”
–Dea Sasso, Resident Artist of Book & Paper Arts, Printmaking, Marbling, & Calligraphy
Under my tree this year is another tree and it looks like this:
[caption id="attachment_14238" align="aligncenter" width="499"] My Christmas tree book & box[/caption]
In the Book Arts class, "Ornamental Books and Boxes for the Holidays" with Dea Sasso we tackled three ambitious projects for the Long Weekend.
The first project was the tree pictured above with a fancy triangular box. Dea bought a wonderful assortment of papers, book cloth, and leather and everyone picked a combination of colors. My tree fits into a blue box with gold tooled stars and a tree on the front.
[caption id="attachment_13548" align="aligncenter" width="600"]A rare book in need of restoration[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_13546" align="alignright" width="212"] Gian Frontini teaching in Lower Keith House Studio[/caption]
Gian Frontini has taught book making and restoration at the Folk School for many years. He runs a small bindery in Amherst Island, Ontario, and concentrates on restoration and conservation of early leather and vellum bindings. I talked Gian about his upcoming class: Book Restoration Clinic, about book making, the Folk School, and more. Enjoy our interview!CP:Tell me about yourself. Where are you from, and what originally brought you to Brasstown?
GF: I live on an island in Lake Ontario with my wife Pat, who is professional potter and weaver. Amherst Island is a wonderful and peaceful place, ideal to lose yourself in your craft. My wife is English and I am Italian. We both came to Canada 50 years ago. I was employed in an international company and Canada is the place we loved the most of everywhere I worked all over the world. Brasstown came into our life when Pat met Martha Owen in 1999 at a spinners' conference. The next year we came to the school, and since then it has become a bigger, and bigger part of our life.
[caption id="attachment_13544" align="alignright" width="272"] Gian's South Shore Bindery on Amherst Island[/caption]
CP:I know you have a cabin very close to the Folk School. Do you spend some of the year here?
GF: We spend three months of the year here, usually in the fall and spring. The summers are too lovely on Amherst Island and I love the fierce frozen wastes of the Northern winters. It is incredible that we have the choice of such lovely places.
CP:Why do you like teaching at the Folk School?
GF: The Folk School is an unique sharing experience for both teachers and students. It is rare to find a place where you can freely exchange ideas and knowledge. I love teaching at the Folk School because I learn from the students and make so many good friends.
[caption id="attachment_12188" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Painting by Sara Boggs[/caption]
Every time I see Sara Boggs around campus, like a giddy child, I ask her: "Can I see your sketchbook?" She always says "yes." You see, Sara is one of those artists who constantly carries her handmade sketchbook around, capturing tiny moments of life here and there - taking the time to practice and develop her drawing ability everyday. It has been incredible to see her book grow with the faces, places, and the spirit of the Folk School during her host term this fall. She permitted me to scan in some pages from her book to share with you. We also sat down over cookies and tea to talk about her experience as host and artistic journaler.
[caption id="attachment_12174" align="alignright" width="229"] Sara in the Folk School Painting Studio[/caption]
CP:You were recently a character in the night of Holiday Revelry hosted by David Vowell. Who did you play?SB:I got to play a couple of different characters: an all around reveler drinking wassail, the Little Pickle Boy in one of the tales about St. Nicholas, and Jack the Green in the mummer’s play. Jack’s character is traditionally full of mischief! In our play, Jack the Green saves the day in the story of St. George and the Dragon.CP: Very nice. So you are wrapping up your host term at the Folk School? What's been your favorite part of being host? SB: It’s the people… it’s for sure the people. Every week, I get to meet all of these wonderful people with amazing stories and wonderful things that they have done. They are all so sweet and encouraging – they make me feel like this world we have here that’s not quite real life – this fairy tale world that’s all fiddle music and blacksmith coal – is something that we can carry always. It’s been really wonderful to meet them all.CP:Do you have any specific memories that resonate with you?
SB: There have been quite a few. Maybe it was because it was so early on in my time here, but one that sticks out is a magical cooking class dinner party. The class was a wood fired cooking class and they had their Thursday night dinner outside on picnic tables, with candle light torches. There was wine, and ukelele music, and a beautiful pink sunset overhead… little dogs came wandering through. It was slow and delicious. I wasn’t even supposed to be there, I was just crashing, but they let me crash. It was a lovely evening and I felt like it was the right way to start off my foot here.
[caption id="attachment_12175" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Page from Sara's sketchbook: Thursday night dinner party for the Cooking Class[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_11908" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Student print and block project created in Jim Horton's Wood Engraving class at the Folk School[/caption]
I recently talked with instructor Jim Horton about printmaking, wood engraving, his upcoming classes and the new Book and Paper Arts Studio. Jim has been a printmaking/graphic design instructor for 43 years, with special interest in historic graphic tools and processes. His work ranges from job printing and book arts to limited-edition prints. Enjoy our interview!
[caption id="attachment_11904" align="alignright" width="285"] Poster by Jim Horton[/caption]
CP:Where are you from?JH: I was born in Oklahoma, but lived most of my life in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Midwesterner to the bone, but I sure like to visit the South.
CP:Tell me about your history with printmaking?JH: My father was a sign painter, the old fashioned kind using a brush and gold leaf. It was an incredible skill. He also did silk screen printing back when the fabric was real silk. He cut stencils by hand. So graphic arts was always highly respected on our family culture. Making woodblock prints was way cool. As a college student in art school, naturally, I gravitated to the printmaking studio. I was at home there. I loved the industriousness of proofing an edition of prints on fine paper.
CP:What do you do when you are not in Brasstown?JH: I was an art teacher, and at every level, teaching graphic design, studio art.. all mediums. That and always printing. A few years back I deeply got into letterpress and engraving. I live in a rural area, and love working outdoors, walking and doing yoga. I still love to draw too. I go over to the local universities and draw from life (models).
[caption id="attachment_11906" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Class photo and projects from Jim's class: "The Art of the Great American Poster"[/caption]
CP:How long have you been coming to/teaching at the Folk School?JH: I want to say about seven years. Dea Sasso got me here, and she was right. People like the Pattersons, we can only get down here in these hills.
[caption id="attachment_11910" align="alignright" width="480"] Folkehøjskole print by Jim Horton and illustrations by Nancy Darrell[/caption]
CP:What are projects are you working on currently? Where do you draw inspirations from?JH: I am illustrating and printing a book of traditional folk songs. I love cowboy songs...why? I don't know. I also love old gospel, though I am not the least bit religious in a doctrinal sense.