The instructor of this fabulous class was Carol Simmons. The workshop, or retreat, was held at DeKoven Center, in Racine, Wisconsin. I arrived around 10:00 a.m.; set up my supplies and materials for the workshop, met the other participants. and prepared to learn; following lunch, of course. The reason I mention lunch, is because part of the fee for a retreat at DeKoven Center is FOOD. We were provided with 3 complete meals a day, and they were extremely good. They even went well above and beyond the call of duty to meet some of our special dietary requests.
Carol makes the most fabulous polymer clay kaleidoscope cane designs and pendants I have ever seen, and she offers a 6 day workshop called, 6-Day Kaleidoscope Pendant Intensive, and it certainly is intensive.
We all arrived with our own picture to work from and about 6 lbs of prepared clay in the color palette Carol had provided for us ahead of time.
We often worked as a group helping one another truly "see" the colors in our pictures (or in my case a shirt I wanted to use for color). Carol would also walk around the room helping us individually or answering questions we might have as we worked through the process. We had quite detailed discussion on how colors are perceived and how to reproduce those colors. Some of them were quite a surprise.
We finally got to the point where we had our colors mixed and started preparing small, fairly simple canes to use within the major cane we were building. At this point, I discovered another reason I needed this class. I was having a horrible time and just kept making blended bullseye canes and blended plugs and setting them up to work with but wasn't making any progress and was feeling rather frustrated and disgruntled (remember, I already "know" how to make canes, LOL, so why was this so difficult for me?) While working late one evening I mentioned my frustration (with myself) to another student and we started discussing it and realized that it was because I am a "whole to part" person. I can work and reproduce almost anything, I cane flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds, sea horses, and I do it well. I take the "whole" picture and can break it down into "parts" to make that picture or graphic. The process we were using for this workshop was a "parts to whole" process. We were not trying to reproduce our picture (or shirt in my case), but rather reproduce the colors and the "feel or flow" of the piece. It was totally abstract and foreign to me (like learning a foreign language). However; I persevered and just forced myself to do it, once I realized what my problem was. So that was part #2 that I learned without even knowing I needed to learn it.
I slowly built my "parts" and was the second to last to actually begin putting the parts together to form the "whole" of my cane. I was surprised to be "behind", as usually I am the over achiever who gets my polymer clay work done the most quickly and completely. So that was a bit of an eye opener, also. We finally got our canes ALL built, reduced them and had the great reveals, as we cut into the center of each of our canes. There was much cheering and whooping and hollering as we revealed the cane we had created. My cane turned out like this:
It was a complete surprise because of the way the canes were put together and once again, I learned some things about part to whole constructions and process, as I found some of the more intricate parts of my cane were in fact wasted effort and didn't look that good for this type of cane. Here is a perfect example of the reaction of the students as their beautiful cane was revealed.
Marji's picture and cane:
Priscilla's picture and cane:
Dee's picture and cane:
Now, how we get from this cane to the completed pendant (only one of many, many possible combinations of parts of these canes) I will leave a mystery for Carol to explain and teach you when you chose to take a class with her, but here are some examples:
It reminded me of something from Harry Potter and I kept expecting things to jump out at me or ghosts or somethings to go bump in the night. There were no locks on the doors and many of them barely even closed tightly. As anyone who knows me well, I am a bit odd about my sleeping and private facilities (which is why we own a fifth wheel in the first place, as I am not comfortable in many motel facilities). I know it's a personal quirk, but I was very uncomfortable and between that and being apart from Mr. C, I didn't sleep much. Average 3 hours sleep a night (not in one block of time) with 14 or more hours of claying per day, and I will just say I came home absolutely exhausted.
It gave me the feeling of being a nun in a convent or something, as I first looked into my room, with the old registers (still in use), sink in the room, small plain, barren rooms.
Restrooms "down the hall" or across from our rooms (the restroom closest to my room didn't have hot water and had almost non existent water pressure). With my personal quirk (read phobia) about public bathing facilities, it was a real bust as far as this subject. I managed 2 very quick, luke warm (chilly) jump in, get wet, soap up, rinse and get out and into warm jammies as quickly as possible showers and for a person who happens to bathe daily, this just wasn't a happy situation.
There was also no way one could sneak up or down the stairs or down the hallways, as they were so squeaky even a teen wouldn't have been able to sneak out in the middle of the night, LOL.
The DeKoven Center was in a lovely location, though, right by Lake Michigan. I sure wish it had been nicer weather so I could have taken a daily walk by the water. It was cold and rainy (or a bit of snow) every day we were there, though. I wonder if Carol ordered the weather specially so we wouldn't get distracted by the beauty of the locale.
Priscilla took the time to teach us how to make the cutest little "clear gift boxes" out of Coke bottles. They had to be Coke or Sprite products, though, as it was dependent on the shape of the bottle. If you cut them a certain way, you can fold down the "cut out petals" into a closed top to the little gift box. I am using one to give a gift this Thursday. Thanks, Priscilla.
|Open Gift Box|
|Filled and closed Gift Box with gift inside surrounded by shredded paper.|
|Carol, hard at work.|
I'm glad I went and my thanks to the following for
making it such a fun experience.
I arrived safely home on Sunday, late afternoon to see my Toad House Gnome proudly watching over some lovely spring flowers.
Mr. C and I spent today finalizing our packing and preparation for our next big adventure, so. . .