Friday, October 7, 2011

Storing Up the Bliss

It's been over a week since I taught my first class at this year's ArtBliss outside of Washington, D.C.

I'm still full of happiness at meeting all my great students and all the wonderful friends I only knew from online conversations and from all the super-positive feedback I've received from everyone at the event.

I work in a home studio in a rural area and the majority of the feedback on my work comes from comments on photos posted on this blog or on Flickr. Hardly anyone sees the pieces up close and personal so it was a real treat to see how people reacted to my display of work at the Meet & Greet. I had brought most of the pieces that I made for my recent article in Belle Armoire Jewelry and I was very gratified by the reactions of the attendees.

As I commented to Cindy Wimmer, a good friend and co-organizer along with Jeanette Blix, it's like storing up sunshine from a fine summer's day. When I think about it--with the cold autumn rain coming down outside my window for a week now-- it's warming and energizing and I can't wait to start planning another class for next year! I'm so curious about how what they've learned will influence what my students do next in their own individual art-- I do so hope that their experience in my class will have some positive effect, some lasting inspiration.

Because that's why you teach-- not to become a millionaire. Organizing and schlepping close to the entire contents of one's studio to a venue is exhausting and teaching an all-day class at peak energy is like running a marathon but I would not ever turn down the opportunity to do it all again.

I only have a few photos of the event to add to this post, as I was so engrossed in what I was doing and making sure I covered all the material that I forgot to have someone take photos! Luckily, one of the ArtBliss staff took a few. I'm planning on contacting all my students soon and asking for some shots of finished or work-in-progress pieces.

When we got to our suite at the hotel, a fabulous bag of goodies was waiting for me-- including an antique stand used by offices to hold those old-fashioned stamp pads with handles. Cindy knows what an inveterate antiques hound I am. Doesn't it have the perfect patina and woodsy style as a holder for my Passion Flower brooch? I think I'll keep this one right on my desk staged just like this!

 I adore antique jars too and this zinc-top one is full of shells that Cindy's boys picked up on one of their last days at the beach this year. I'm thinking that each and every one of these was specially chosen by one of them and imbued with their happiness and wonder. What a very special memento, with its tag “Near the Sea we forget to Count the Days”!

And to accompany it was a big, fabulously-illustrated book on shells. I can't wait to delve into this one and create some new patterns in my clay work.

 One of the reasons that I teach is that I come home filled with new ideas and enthusiasm for my medium, polymer clay. I am so blessed to be able to pass that on to others but an equally special reward is that they re-inspire me. One of my students gave me some wallpaper squares that she brought to class. Thanks, Judy, and here are some little samplers I made with the textures. I used Genesis heat-set oil paint for the black base and highlighted the designs with silver gilders paste. Some of these may end up as bases for owl or dragon eyes for my porch pumpkins this year. Students also let me make copies of some of the mold-making originals that they brought to class.

 Finally, a few class pictures. If you go to the ArtBliss site and the instructors list, you can see other shots on their blogs. It's not as good as being there but maybe it will get you thinking about attending next year and joining the fun that we all had-- being together, talking about mixed media for three days and hanging out with good friends. It doesn't get any better than that!

 Gigantic thanks to Cindy and Jeanette for a well-run, energizing, and totally enjoyable event! I felt very taken-care-of by both of you-- you thought of everything! And special thanks to my students for being courageous, inquisitive, energetic, affirming and completely wonderful!


  1. Oh, Miss Christine! It was as fabulous as I imagined from your description. And makes me so sad that I couldn't be there, but so glad that it all went so very well! Those girls are the best and they have this wonderful way of making you feel that you are a the most treasured guest. Yes, please teach more! Please consider teaching at Bead & Button someday! I think that you would love it!
    Enjoy the day.
    P.S. Your wise old owl is in the mail today! ;-)

  2. from the person who uses neither capital letters nor exclamation points - WOW! you know, you seem to have all of the best qualities of a teacher and a wonderful philosophy... so very very glad you have your secret reserve of sunshine...

  3. Christine, we were honored that you came ALL the way down to VA to teach your amazing workshop. I have anticipated meeting you for so long, and am so thankful the day finally arrived...and the bonus was meeting Douglas too! I felt like we've known each other forever...well, it HAS been a few years now! You have to be the most enthusiastic instructor - so well prepared, and just beaming with excitement. Your enthusiasm for polymer clay is contagious and I know you left a positive impact on all of your students. I think it would be great to see their future work with clay, and to see the layering techniques that you taught them. My only regret is that we didn't have even more time together... but I have my store of sunshine too - seeing your work at the Meet 'n Greet, our mad dash to Wegman's, and all of the fun just hanging out and being together. Thank you for teaching at ArtBLISS 2012!

  4. ooops...I'm ahead of myself! I meant ArtBLISS 2011! We do hope to see you again in 2012, that's for sure! :-)

  5. I do sometimes wish I could through a grappling hook and pull the continents closer together... Glad to hear you had a great time - I am sure your students went away very enriched. The book of shells looks intriguing - I wonder what you will do with the inspiration?

  6. What stregata said about the continents! Sometimes I feel as though Canada is a continent away from the US (no igloo jokes, please...). Makes me feel warm just to read about your experience.

  7. The pleasure was all ours. You are a great teacher and lovely person. I spent yesterday making texture plates like you taught us. Can't wait to try them out.

  8. Christine, I know you put your heart and soul into your teaching and the students love you for it! You're so passionate about what you do, you pull us all into the excitement of that magical material called "polymer clay." I sometimes wonder how I escaped its mystic and the only thing I can think is that I was in school studying ceramics at the time ... for what I see in the material is so "me!" I identify with what you said about packing and the intensity at which we teach ... but aren't we the blessed ones? Big hugs!