Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Carving Out a New Hobby

This week I learned a new skill, and had fun doing it.

Local artists Holly Dean and Laura Starkey are putting on a series of mini 2 hour workshops, and I decided I wanted to get in on one of them.

I became interested in multimedia art a while back and looked into purchasing some interesting stamps to add to what I was doing. I found the prices to be rather high, especially since I wouldn't want to use just one or two stamps in too many pieces.  That would become rather boring, I thought. I considered carving my own, and actually came home with a blank 4 x 6 inch carving block from DeSerres one day, but I never did anything with it. This mini workshop was just what I needed to give me a kickstart in that direction. Holly and Laura taught me how to design, and carve a stamp all by myself.

First we were introduced to our cutting tools, and got to make various marks on scraps left over from Larry Thompson's Lino cutting, just to get the feel of things.  Of course, being the klutz I am, the first time I tried to change a blade, the whole tool assembly fell apart, and I quickly pushed the pieces over to the instructors to be put back together.  After that Laura decided she should teach us how to fix our tools if that sort of thing happened again.

Upon looking into the cutting tools available, I found a set that includes a little wooden dowel. It seems that using the blades often pushes them more tightly into the handle, and instead of risking cutting yourself, or having the whole assembly fall apart like it did for me, all you need to do is shove the dowel up through the handle to help push the blade out.  That was a definite selling point for me as I didn't find the blades easy to change.

After our practice strokes we were all given a couple of feathers which we could use for inspiration to make our first stamp. That was fun, and I learned a few tricks along the way working out how to accomplish what I had in mind.

Then the moment of panic arrived. We were given a blank similar to the one I had purchased months previously, and told to trace it on a piece of paper, and draw what we wanted to cut our stamps to look like.  We could cut the blank into smaller pieces if we wanted.  I was tempted to do that as I was still feeling the need to practice, and making more than one stamp would give me time to improve my technique.  But what do you draw when you are surrounded by artists, and don't think you draw well?  A moment of panic set in until Laura walked by me and suggested I had several interesting patterns right on the shirt I was wearing.  As my mind has gone as blank as the block in front of me, I took a look at my shirt. The patterns all looked pretty complicated to me, and I tried to draw a few of them on the paper provided.  I knew time was limited, so I set out to reproduce the picture of a bird on the blank, and started to really get into the process.

While this is the first time I've cut stamps, I think they turned out rather well, and know I'll be using them. Already I'm starting to see all kinds of designs in my day to day world that are calling out to me to make them into stamps. I think I may have a new hobby.

Maybe you would be interested in some of the workshops these ladies provide. Check them out at Artsy Life Workshops.

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