Friday, October 4, 2013


This past super extended weekend, I took a workshop, Imaginative Captures, with Andy Cooperman at Touchstone Center for Craft. It was a great workshop and it was nice to take a workshop that challenged me in addition to learning. 

The workshop really helped me change the view in which I approach my work, which is not what I was necessarily aiming to get out of the workshop, but I am really glad it happened. I learned new ways to approach setting (everything and anything), skills on the flexible shaft, learned to pour ingots and make my own materials (such an amazing, rewarding experience), and to not get stressed out on a piece. Let me elaborate! There are a lot of different ways to set things and just because in a book it says to do something, doesn't mean it can't be approached differently. For example, there are many different ways to apply a rivet. While it lends itself to certain functions, such as a cold connection, or decoration, it also is a great way to keep the front a piece clean and keep the "mess" on the back. I know that's a simple idea, but for some reason I just didn't think about rivets that way... or really any settings. And the things I learned on the flex shaft! Just really outside the box. You'll have to take the workshop if you want to know about the specific tricks and tips and it's worth it. One of the biggest things I walked away with is making my own materials (something I approached more so during my "extra curricular time") which in turn really took away the stress of making a piece. I no longer have to worry about making a mistake, because if I do, I can just reuse that material for ingots to make sheet, wire, tubing, etc. That is a liberating feeling. Also there were many conversations during this workshop (a lot about craftsmanship) that gave me valuable things to think about and I am thankful for that. 

The campus at Touchstone and no, it's not photoshopped. Beautiful and relaxing. 

First project was to capture a taxidermy eye. Obviously I kicked butt. This was a refresher for me really. I've done "frame" type settings, but also learned a "volcano" setting, and a better way to approach a pin back. I also used a polishing wheel, which was adventurous for me and played with heat patinas on copper .

Capturing marbles. What was great about these pieces is how they came about. Sitting in the metal studio, late in the evening, a fantastic group of people from the blacksmithing workshop and our metals workshop came together to create conversation. Without that conversation these would have never happened and that's something I really appreciate. I love being able to talk and discuss ideas with other makers. It's an opportune time to push ideas. I will be totally honest, I am a little sad about being home because I miss that community. But THIS. This was challenging. It looks simple, but it wasn't. I figured out a trick to making the cages at the end of working on them for two days, but they were pretty tortuous. 

Nigel giving a blacksmithing demo. Always impressed by blacksmithing.

Emma, a friend who works at Touchstone, and I went out in Pittsburgh (the south side) after the workshop on Tuesday.

Touchstone is such a great crafts school. I really recommend it. I'll be going back next year for sure. It's a great creative environment in a beautiful area. While it's a little isolated, I find that provides some relief from the real world. I left feeling refreshed and motivated. 

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