Sunday, May 4, 2014

Alchemist Picnic

This past weekend was the Alchemist Picnic, hosted by Wayne Werner at Touchstone Center for Crafts.  What exactly was this whole Alchemist Picnic thing? It was an awesome opportunity to experience Touchstones campus while connecting with the Mid-Atlantic metals and jewelry community. It was a chance to network, learn, share, brainstorm, and absorb things through osmosis. Community is so important as a maker. I feel community is even more important as an emerging artist. Having support, talking about other experiences, and just making friends who understand your lifestyle is important. 

Metalfest. It just so happened that the Jim Campbell Hammer In also occurred, so it was a great mixture of blacksmiths and metalsmiths/jewelers. (By the way, Jim is 98! How awesome!) Friday night was the kick off, with a bonfire. I made a lot of fantastic friends that night and it was great to be able to just chat with people and hear about what they do. There were a good mix of people at this event - ranging from emerging to mid-career and well seasoned. It was also a little intimate, because the group was fairly small (compared to say a SNAG conference) which was nice! Why? Because a lot of times people are unapproachable at larger events. 

(fine metals studio)

(Sharons demo)

Saturday morning. Some important thing here- the food at Touchstone is good. Good food usually means a good day, just sayin. We started with introductions and then jumped right into Sharons demo on soldering and working with steel. I've never really thought about steel, but it is a really interested medium to work with and the tips Sharon shared were valuable. For example, how to clean the steel after soldering and what solder works best, etc. Using rust oxides in enamel was a cool idea. AND there was this camera set up, so we could see everything she was doing and talking about with process. 

(Wayne with Foredom Tools)

After lunch, Wayne demoed all these Foredom Tools. First of all, I learned a lot from these demos. Like I didn't know about the different flexshafts and which is best for a stone setter. It was pretty much like being in a candy shop. All these neat toys. I was particularly impressed with the lathe and filter hood. I also didn't know about all the neat attachments Foredom made for the flexshaft. They also carry a lot of diamond discs and flexbands, which I've been looking for in my neverending quest to perfect my enamel and graphite process. I'm excited to try them out.

(Todd's lecture)

Sunday. Todd Pownell lectured on the stone setting mindset. I was really impressed by the quality of lectures and demos during the past weekend, especially Todd's. I don't really work too much with stones, but I'd like to be able to do it well one day. He really talked about compressing the metal and the concepts behind stone setting. So instead of demoing stone setting, like people often do, we really talked about the process behind each setting and how much they relate to the other. He shared great tips. I learned so much and took so many pages of notes. Those notes will be really handy later!

Overall, I am really glad I took the time to attend. I am so thrilled to have spent time with the metals community, learned a few things, and an added benefit was to leave the city for a few days! It's hard for me to really sum up an experience like this in words, because it is the conversations that are so valuable. To my new friends - I am so glad to have met you! To the people who took the time to share with me experiences, ideas, etc - thank you for taking the time! I hope to attend again next year! 

P.S. I feel change in the air! This year is pretty exciting for me - I hope have to some awesome news to share with you soon!

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