Saturday, March 22, 2014

Silk Painting Classes--a Heavenly Week

     Earlier this month, I took a whole week of silk painting instruction with Donna Kassab at the John C. Campbell Folk School near Murphy, North Carolina (yes, Rosemary guessed the location in her response to the previous post). It was glorious! Given my love of fabrics and color, silk painting is an art form that has intrigued me for some time. So it was a thrill to have an excellent instructor for a week of classes at this top-notch "art camp for grown-ups". Also a treat: my long-suffering husband, Mark, consented to go along and took a beginners class in throwing pots on a pottery wheel.
     We painted on 22" square plain white silk scarves and learned several different techniques for manipulating the dyes and creating designs. The photos here show my husband's favorite scarf--the purple, blue, and turquoise impression of the ocean--and the first scarf I made in the class--bright red-orange hibiscus (or whatever flower they turned out to be) with a soft sea green background. In a wonderful way, the dyes diffuse into the silk, only partially under the painter's control. For some designs, we used a resist called gutta to outline areas, which prevents the dye from crossing the line of gutta. Both of these scarves employed gutta in their creation, though in somewhat different ways. Even with gutta, results can be a delightful surprise; other results, of course, are less delightful, but take the piece in new directions if the painter remains open and flexible. As Donna often reminded us, "There are no mistakes in silk painting--only design changes." 

     Among the 12 or 13 varied classes offered during our week at the Folk School (from blacksmithing to pottery to quilting to mountain-style fiddle playing), our silk painting teacher and my husband's pottery teacher were two of just three instructors who were chosen to give open demonstrations during free time. The group photo shows our teacher, Donna Kassab, explaining the process of painting a silk scarf. Her husband, Magdi (in the cap), who helped Donna and our class members every step of the way, and my husband (in the charcoal grey fleece) are among those watching the demonstration. Note the frame Magdi made, on which the silk scarf is stretched and elevated for the painting process; the above photos of my scarves were taken while the pieces were still on the frame to dry. Once the scarves are dry, the dyes must be permanently set by a steaming process (a separate, chemical process removes the gutta, when used). For Donna's demonstration, all of the silk painting students had hung the pieces we had made to that point around the room, as you can see in the photo of a bulletin board.

     In future posts, I will tell you more about the equipment, dyes, and processes we learned and show you more of the scarves we made. There is also much more to tell you about the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Question of the day:  Let's dream a little: If you had the time, resources, and energy to go anywhere for a creative or other learning adventure, what would you do?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Where in the World Was Mary Lemmenes?

     We have been away for a couple of weeks, the second week spent at a lovely, creative place. Later this week, when I have time for a longer post, I'll tell you about the place and the experience. For now, I wanted to check in since it's been awhile and to show you a couple of photos. Some of you may know about this special place already.

     The last photo is a dead giveaway if you are familiar with the location and its purpose.