Earlier this month I held my first live artist workshop at Whole Wheat & Honey Cafe. I demonstrated how I make hand carved stamps, and then students followed along and carved their own potato stamps, which they used for making lots of holiday cards.
It was a really great way to mark the transition from my previous job as full time manager of the cafe for the past 4 years - to my new job - as an entrepreneur and creative teacher growing my business online.
Since we are moving away from my hometown for a year so that my partner can complete his Masters, I really wanted to host a live workshop at the cafe as a test run for the online stamp carving course I am hoping to release online before Christmas.
I won't always be able to be in the same room with the people who want to learn creative skills from me. That is why I really want to build creative courses that my students can purchase online and complete in their own home on their own schedule.
Like anything new, you always learn valuable lessons from your first experience. The evening was scheduled to start at 7pm and finish by 9pm. I had a single page workshop outline typed up with each section assigned an amount of time and also one scheduled break in the middle. Very organized.
When I made it to the front of the room to address the class that we were about to start, I couldn't find my outline, having misplaced it while unpacking all the supplies. After ad-libbing nervously for a minute, I just started going over the supplies we were going to be using and eventually found my sheet, hidden underneath, lol.
The class was attentive and eager to get started, which was so exciting. After a brief demo at the front of the room it was self-directed from there, as I floated about the room to answer questions and just be generally amazed at the awesome cards they were creating on their own.
I realized early on that we might run short on time, but instead of panicking too much I asked the participants if anyone needed to be home by 9pm as planned, but everyone was happy to stay until a bit later to finish up.
Once we got started carving our potato stamps and letting our first layer of paint on our cards dry - I thought it was also important to take a break and tell a bit about my own story and how I got to this point - teaching people how to carve stamps with the goal of growing a creative business.
The quick version - I have always loved fabrics - specifically the bright, colourful patterns and designs printed on fabric. That's how I first learned how to sew as a teenager - I would find something at the thrift store - like a large floral moo moo dress that someones grandmother would have worn - and I'd cut it up and turn it into a fashionable skirt in my own size - because I loved the print on the fabric so much.
Growing up in a small town there really wasn't a lot of options for shopping - so it was exciting for me as a teenager who wanted to wear something different - to make some truly original clothes myself.
My first career was as a Fashion Designer, but after leaving that behind in my early 20's to travel, I have dabbled in many other creative outlets and eventually back to my true love of textiles. In wanting to create print and patterns on fabric, I eventually learned how to carve my own illustrations into rubber blocks, that can be used for printing patterns on nearly any kind of material, including paper stock for cards, and of course onto fabric as well.
I also had on display the work that I completed as part of my artist residency this summer at the City of Fort St John Passive House. I took the month of August off to create a body of work that had been calling to be made by me for a long time.
This included drawings, many stamps, and ultimately 60 square feet of hand-printed fabric that I am planning to sew into a quilt before 2016 is over. By making art in the passive house I really wanted to convey what a special space it is - and recognize what a privilege it was to call the space our home and share it with the public through tours this past year (and more) as ambassadors of the demonstration project.
What I really love about making and using my own hand carved stamps - is how each stamp never really produces the same image twice. Depending on the colour or the surface material and the pressure used to push the block onto the surface - there will always be something unique about each print. I also love how the act of carving into the surface of a block, can bring a flat illustration to life with depth and texture.
What I loved about teaching this workshop was watching how with a little bit of instruction - each person in the room can take the same set of supplies and basic skills and create their own unique version of the project. It really is just as fun to watch others create as creating itself.
And the feeling was contagious based on the following feedback from a friend below!
I think this photo about sums up the evening - a whole lot of fun, laughter and creative abandon! #artandwine
I can't wait to share the online version of this course when I finish creating it in time for Christmas. And the evening was such a success that I might even try to drive back home for a live Valentine card making workshop in February - we will see how the winter roads are!