I've posted a few peeks of this on Instagram, but last weekend I had the chance to go take classes with Seth Apter in Virginia. Not long after coming home from Art is You Stamford, my friend Patty and I started looking at other classes where we could meet up and have a weekend away to play and make art. We saw that Seth was teaching at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria Virginia, which happens to be about 30 minutes from where I grew up and where my parents still live. So we started planning the trip and this weekend we finally made it! The prospect of trying to travel cross-country in February had me a bit stressed, but fortunately the weather cooperated and both Patty and I got there with no issues.
Our first day was Friday. After a trip to show Patty Wegmans, the #1 grocery store in the country (which is now official, FYI,) we went over to Alexandria for our first class. We got there a few hours early since we were trying to dodge rush hour on the beltway, which left us plenty of time shop and settle in. We attempted to surprise Seth, but he read the class list about 20 minutes before we got there and already knew we were coming. Sigh. lol. But we got situated, did some shopping (more on the store in a bit,) ate, and were ready for the first class - Photo Opp (just a 3 hour evening class to start.) This was where we learned different techniques to alter actual printed photos and it was a lot of fun! I can see myself doing a lot of those techniques again. Here you can see the photos where I applied some of what we learned in class.
I love the one on the bottom right (some ancient stupas in Myanmar) - it ended up looking like a vintage postcard - very cool!
Saturday was extra special for me, since I'd persuaded my mom to come with us for her first ever mixed media class of any kind. Of course, not only was Saturday mixed media, it was STENCILS! lol. This was a full day of dimensional stenciling, and it was a lot of fun as you can see.
Here's Patty - note how clean and organized her area is:
The first half of the class is where we make our little reference guide of different techniques. This was mom's favorite part - she's got the bumping technique down pat! The second part of class is where we're let loose to take the techniques and mediums that we practiced and make a larger piece. That's my favorite part :D Here you can see the fruits of the day's work:
Here's my mom's piece. I think it's awesome - especially considering it was her very first time doing this stuff! Of course, she wasn't happy with hers (a perfectionist... probably where I get it from... LOL) I made her sign it and told her I was going to hang it on the fridge. It mysteriously disappeared after we got home. I wonder why?
We finished class and did a bit more shopping - mom had to see it, of course. Eventually she went to the car because she was tempted to buy things and she doesn't even do any of this stuff! lol.
Sunday - the final day of classes - we had Collage Camp. I think this was my favorite of the three. We got to the store early because the owner, Judy, was going to give us a demo of block printing. (I have several at home and was purchasing several more at the store, but I've never had luck getting them to work so she was going to show us how.) When Seth found out she was giving us a demo, he arranged for everyone to have it, so that's how we started our morning.
They send their designs to someone in India whom they pay to go to the carpenters in the area and give block carving jobs to the ones who don't have work. He goes back after a while and picks up the finished carved stamps and ships them to America. It was really cool to learn about and support that kind of fair trade! (They have a fabulous selection in their online store as well.)
Now that I know what I was doing wrong trying to stamp with my wood blocks (which was most things, I think...) we went up to the classroom to start work on collage. The morning was spent on learning and practicing Seth's 8 principles of collage. We made a little 6x6 collage for each one of them. Mine all have notes on the back so I can refer back to them later.
The morning was a bit exhausting. Which I think was mostly due to my need to fussy cut and make everything a work of art instead of just illustrating the principle. But that's just how I roll, I guess.
We had a quick lunch break and I remembered to get a picture of the store:
This place is insanely awesome. It's not like any place I've been in before, in fact. There are lots of vintage goodies, a bit of mixed media, lots of fabric, beading, embroidery, and quilting. Wooden print blocks, of course, and they also make their own copper tjaps for batiking as part of their sister business and have brought in the most gorgeous batik (and aboriginal!) fabrics - many of which I believe they have made in Indonesia. There was a giant rack of amazingly detailed batik panels, all drawn and dyed multiple times to get so many layers of color. They were amazing! I admit that I bought a few - I have visions of adding all kinds of beading and a bit of embroidering and then quilting them to make wall hangings. You know, in all that spare time I have. ha!
Anyway... quick lunch, then back to class. The afternoon was once again about taking what we'd learned and applying it to a free-form project. Of course, to do a collage we needed a background, so Seth taught us a very cool background technique that we all did before starting on our collages.
They were all great classes, my mom had a fun time the day she came with us, and Patty and I both met some really delightful people. And the shopping... well, that was pretty darn amazing too. (My checkbook disagrees, of course.) We finished up our shopping and packed up all our bags and headed home where my sister and my niece Aubrey came over for a quick visit before I left the next day.
Aubrey, who is five, LOVES art projects. In fact, that's the entire reason she came over. She had bugged her mom about coming because Auntie Gwenny had promised to do an art project with her after we had our supplies back at the house. She wanted to see everything we bought (she also loves to shop) and everything we made in class. I showed her my collage and asked her if she wanted to make one. She looked at it, then looked at me and said, "yes, but something like this only for kids." She's kind of hilarious. So I gave her some paper and a magazine and scissors... we dug out the glue sticks, and she just went to town. I told her a few basics, and she selected all her own images and created her own composition (no 8 principles for a 5-year old, but she still did pretty well!)
She made three collages which also included some stamping. She then took them around to show to everyone and packed them up special to take home for her daddy. Pretty darn cute :) She also refused to cut off the overhanging piece of collage on the right side, even though (or maybe because?) it was driving my mom insane. haha.
We did most of our packing that night, then Monday morning I took Patty to the airport and came home to get ready for my flight that evening. Everything was looking good, but right before it was time for me to go to the airport, suddenly there were mechanical issues with the inbound airplane which still hadn't left Orlando. A few minutes later I had an alert that I'd already missed my connection in Denver, so I called the airline - it was the last flight into Salt Lake that night. So, they rebooked me for morning and I stayed another night with my parents and grandpa which was kind of a bonus, really. The next morning I got off fine - with upgraded seats, I might add, and headed out to Chicago where I managed to grab an outstanding Reuben wrap from the Berghoff Cafe in the airport, as well as two new-to-me and really cool magazines to read and then use for collage.
I made it home late Tuesday afternoon, unpacked, and crashed! But it was worth it... fabulous weekend with great classes, new friends, and a wonderful time with Patty and my family. And if you live nearby or are ever visiting, do NOT miss out on the chance to stop in at Artistic Artifacts... you won't be sorry! I'm looking forward to having a new place on my must-visit list (beside Wegman's, of course) on my future visits back home :)