Thursday, February 12, 2015

Workshops with Jacqueline Sullivan

A few weeks ago I ventured back into workshop mode in the first time for -- well, I don't remember how long. The occasion was back-to-back workshops with Jacqueline Sullivan at SmittenDust. Two days, two projects.

SmittenDust is a mid-Michigan art venue where visionary Dusty DeHaven brings in nationally recognized art instructors for workshops. (The historic building also hosts receptions, showers, meetings and luncheons).

I have the most to say about the first, during which we made a book, as I learned tons of new techniques and ventured out of my comfort zone. I have never been comfortable making books. Writing them, OK. Putting things in books other people have made? Not a problem. Stitching up one myself? I don't think so. (Below is Jacqueline's sample for the workshop -- the thought I could ever make anything close to this boggled my mind!)

But it's something I've always admired. I did sign up for Karla's online tutorial on creating an art journal and haven't had time to do it. So I thought maybe with Jackie's class I'd get some hands-on mojo and then approach the tutorial with less apprehension. (I should mention that Karla's tutorial was $15 and includes instructions for several types of journals with very easy to follow instructions. It's just that sometimes I need to work with others to get started.)

For the book making workshop, there were only about eight of us and it was an excellent number. Jacqueline shared lots of techniques with excellent handouts and most of it was new to me, although I had worked with modeling paste before.

We made two books. The first was a 10-page practice book with just one signature and a "stick-type" binding, so no real sewing involved. I will probably make a lot of these once I get the Gypsy Caravan up and going.

I don't know who did this one but I am totally in love with the cover technique!

The main project was much more complicated and I probably will not make one like this again, although I really love it (and am totally afraid to write in it!).

The chief elements were the bookboard covers, a centerpiece for the cover, hardware for the corners and cover, leather to be punched, glued and stitched and of course the actual stitching it together.

One of the things I love about a class like this is seeing eight people do the same project and yet they are all so very different. Here is Joanne's. I've got to get that stencil!

And here's my finished book, photo courtesy of Dusty DeHaven.

As in previous workshops, Jacqueline's instruction was excellent, her handouts very solid and because there weren't so many of us, it was easier for her to give us the attention or suggestions we might need.

The second day was working on an art journal. It was the first time Jacqueline had taught the class and there were twice as many people. That made it very difficult for people to work easily. We were playing in paints, mediums, gesso and glitz, painting all kinds of papers and using texture materials like tea and coffee grounds.

It was pretty tough to keep neat when we were squeezed in tightly (though I loved my tablemates, so that part was fun!). Not that I'm big on neat. But I am big on having enough room to work without disturbing others at my table. More than one person had the papers they'd set out to dry stepped on by those working on the hairdryer or passing in back. And yes, if there had been more room to put them in another place, they would have been.

The class was primarily a technique class -- different treatments on pages, for example. (I love technique classes -- it helps me to see techniques rather than reading about them and fumbling. I'll fumble plenty in a crowd, but I'm energized by it.)  I found it less satisfying partly because I already knew some of these techniques, partly because of the size of the crowd but mostly because we never really ended up with anything finished. And maybe in a class like that you don't -- except I wanted at least one page fully done. What I have is several pages somewhat prepped to work on independently. As one participant put it later, she could have done with some step-out pages to help us along.

And I really never learned to layer things in the way that I wanted -- not just putting one thing atop another but integrating the layers so beautifully as Jacqueline does in her own art or as Patty does on Magpie Tales (and so many others of you whom I follow).

Overall, I'd say I got more than my money's worth for the first class and less for the second. I suspect as Jacqueline teaches this more, things will move more effectively as she is an excellent and generous teacher. I also suspect that from a scheduling and enrollment situation there is a place of diminishing returns. Yes, you can have 16 people in a very tightly crowded class. It's a business, not a charity, and the more students the better the payoff for the teacher. Dusty is very committed to bringing in nationally recognized instructors (Kristen Robinson, Kari McKnight Holbrook and Jen Crossley have been there in the past and will be again).

But at some point, you look at when the class is too large for the set-up. I'm not sure if there's always a way to know before, but in the case of the second workshop, it would have been far more satisfying for several of us had there been fewer people (and perhaps with two workshops, so there would be two journal workshops and one book workshop). That may or may not work with the teacher's travel schedule but it's well worth looking at, depending on the project.


Linda Jo said...

Well, it all looks great .... no matter what!!! Glad you are doing these classes. I'm soooo behind in my blog reading (much less posting)!!! I am taking one workshop... Mindy Lacefield. And I still have others that I haven't finished yet (Misty Mawn)... I just love online classes that stay up for a year or longer! Have fun..... I'll try to catch up with you.

Barb said...

Jeanie, Your book looks like it's just waiting for you to write in it! I'm like you - I often want to "save" something I like a lot. However, what are we "saving" for really? The more crowded workshop would give me claustrophobia. I need a little personal space.

Shelia said...

Hi Jeanie! Oh, this looks like so much fun and your book looks great!
Thanks for popping in to see me and hope all is well.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

~*~Patty S said...

Hope you were able to give feedback on your class experiences. It is a shame to pay all that money and set aside the time and then feel like things were lacking. I would not have been at all pleased being crammed into a space knocking elbows either.
It does look like you had a good time and you are very kind to give me and my Magpie's Nest a shout out dear Jeanie.
Thank you ♥

Tracy said...

Oooo... Jacqueline's book/sample is GORGEOUS! YOUR BOOK IS GOEREOUS!! The soft blues are so pretty... VERY fun techniques with the modeling paste--I LOVE using that stuff! Such a pleasure to see all the photos of everyone having such fun, happy play with paints & everything. Yes, splitting up the workshops and have more space for everyone would have been more ideal. I suppose that's why I love online classes more--at one's own time and pace--and not least, space! So much enjoyed all your Valentine play in your previous post too--I liked the heavy on the pink. ;o) All the foil glitter is soooo pretty...*swoon*... HAPPY VALENTINE Weekend :o) ((HUGS))

shoreacres said...

Speaking of "saving things" and not writing in them -- I have a few journals/notebooks made by a very special artist that I really ought to start using!

Just out of curiosity -- the font in your comment box has turned tiny, and not just tiny, but very, very light and splotchy. Have you noticed it? I don't know if it's a blogger thing, or Firefox, or what. But the top half of the letters aren't there in capitals. It all looks like it used to look when the typewriter ribbon needed changing! I'll have to start paying more attention, because it's not happening everywhere.

That's not really your problem -- just thought I'd mention it. I'm eager to see if the comment posts properly.

shoreacres said...

It did post properly, and I found the answer. It's the Microsoft update kb3013455! Who knew? They say if a person deletes the update, all will be well. I'm about to learn something new about all this-here computin' stuff!

Joanne Huffman said...

I, too, really loved the first class. The notebook you showed is mine; the stencil I used was a large plastic doily, so the paste was thicker than with the commercial stencils. I absolutely love the feathers on your cover. I still have to finish off my journal pages, as well as fill in the rest of the journal. I think it may be a good project to work on in small bits of time as it involves so much drying time.

Anonymous said...

I am not an artist, but how lovely those book covers are. It is too bad the second class was so packed with people.

Marilyn said...

I absolutely love your book and also the name for your business. I think I would have enjoyed this class especially if I could have sat next to you. I do love making books, but then never want to use them.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good evening dearest Jeanie! What a great opportunity to work amongst other enthusiasts. It's wonderful to see people gather together to celebrate the passions that keep them GOING. I went to a poetry reading last Saturday with former poet laureate, Billy Collins. THE ENERGY and excitement was phenomenal. I suppose a class full of artists could be just as electrifying! You enjoy your weekend, doing what you LOVE! Anita

psychelyn said...

I would have enjoyed more on the first day too. I like quality work and more personal approach rather than "plain commercial". That way simply works better for me.

Your finished product look great. I like the design - cool!

Victoria Zigler said...

The workshops sound like they were great fun. Though I agree that the second one would have probably been better split in to two smaller classes.

P.S. I don't appear to be getting any messages sent directly to my e-mail in reply to comments, despite my e-mail being public. I used to know how to fix it, but when I upgraded to using my gmail account instead of the old blogger account all the settings and setup changed, so now I have no idea even where to look for a possible way to make sure e-mail replies can come to me. I get follow-up comments if I tick the little box when leaving a comment, and posts are delivered to my inbox just fine, but not e-mail replies. If you - or anyone you know - knows how to change this, then I'd appreciate the help figuring it out. Personally, I thought if my e-mail was public - which it's meant to be, and appears to be from what I can tell - then I should be getting replies. But obviously not, since I know I haven't gotten any; not just from you, but from others who reply via e-mail too (I know for a fact at least one person has tried sending me e-mail replies that didn't get to me, because I sent her an e-mail to ask something that it turned out she'd already answered in an e-mail reply to a comment I left on her blog, and despite following three blogs via e-mail who say they send replies via e-mail, I've never had a response to a comment I've posted on their blogs). There's a link for my e-mail address on the sidebar of my blog if you want it.

The Artful Diva said...

i love making journals and books - you're going to be hooked for sure now, Jeanie!

Cheryl said...

Wow! You should make more books like the one you made it is stunning! You could probably sell those :-)

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Wow, beautiful! I am always so impressed what you and others are able to create with your hands. It would be tough to work on a project like this and be sort of packed in like sardines, though, but hopefully they come up with a class size that is economical for the teacher but gives you all enough room to do your thing!

Popular Posts