Thursday, August 9, 2012

What I learned in Long Beach

I was very fortunate to get into two workshops with Lisa Klakulak (whose name I now know how to pronounce - accent on the middle syllable) at Convergence in Long Beach last month.  One day was about making small ornamentation - balls, discs, cords - and was followed by a separate two-day class on felting a small vessel.

At this point you may be thinking, "But you've been felting vessels for four years.  Why do you need a class now?"  I figured that at worst I'd be bored, and at best I would learn a whole new way of thinking about felt.  Well, the best happened!

Lisa is an excellent teacher with an orientation toward technical detail.  That's not to say her art isn't imaginative, because it is.  But she taught herself felting using a very scientific approach.  So she knows not only what to do, but why - what's happening microscopically to the fibers under various conditions, how weight and thickness of fiber, and exactly how you handle it, all affect the results in very specific ways.  It's about achieving control over the material so the end product might actually approach what you imagined when you began.

Fortunately Lisa has the ability to convey this information in a step by step way that is easily understood.  Not all of it was new to me, but within the first two hours, I understood the reasons for some of the technical problems I've had with my vessels and what to do differently.  That alone was worth the price of admission. 

The differences may not be obvious to those who view or buy my work, but I can already see and feel a difference in my results.  And I have lots more experimentation to do.