Recent Adventures in Teaching

This summer things were somewhat quiet with teaching, which is sometimes refreshing as it allows me to recharge for the fall. I did three really interesting (and diverse) workshops this summer, at the Eliot School, DeCordova Museum and with the North Shore Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth (NAGLY).

As part of my monthly book arts workshops at the Eliot School, I lead a workshop on Reclaimed Books. Participants could bring in a book that was ok to cut up, collage, etc or else use one of the books provided at the workshop. Reclaimed books or more commonly known as “altered books. They explored developing a theme for their books, use of tools and materials, book structure and restructuring, as well as variations on what is considered a “book.” Some went about cutting and collaging, and playing around with digging out the center of a book. Others obliterated the book structure altogether and instead used the books materials to create a new form not resembling a “book” at all.

Then in June, I went to DeCordova to teach a 2-day workshop on Pronto Plates. These are lovely polyester plates for quick lithography, easy to draw on or photocopy on and requiring NO chemical processing. For a 2-day workshop it was immediately satisfying to everyone to have already printed something before the first day’s lunch break! After folks got comfortable working with and printing the plates (using an etching press), they then began to explore its versatility and how they can use the plates in their own work. Some were cutting the plates into shapes. Some were offsetting textures (doilies, lace) onto the plate. Some were photocopying images from their sketchbook directly onto the plates and then reworking the images. It was very cool. And even converted one woman who had never done printmaking before! Score!

My latest (and probably bestest so far) adventure was a few weeks ago doing at evening arts workshop with the youth at NAGLY during their weekly meet up. I did a quick demonstration of some really easy and simple book structures, and brought examples of other types of structures. Then set out a table of all kinds of paper, thread, and additive material (colored vinyl, feathers, felt, wooden sticks, old postage stamps…) for use in their artist books. Most used an accordion based structure of various sizes, another finagled a pop-up book that transformed into a room (where she would them make furniture to pop out of). A young man was very excited to learn about Asian stab binding, and fashioned a book with cardboard covers, and pages of varied decorated papers and felt. At the start, one young woman immediately commandeered some of the vinyl, as well as scissors, a needle and thread, then sat down for an hour to cut up pieces and sew them together in a vinyl quilt/mosaic. She wasn’t quite sure where she was going with it, but that was how she wanted to start. And that’s really want it takes. Just a start.

I am returning to both the Eliot School and DeCordova this fall with a new round of weekend workshops. And of course I would love to return to NAGLY with a different art adventure for them…maybe silkscreen?

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One response to “Recent Adventures in Teaching

  1. Jenny – Thanks for letting your readers know about your classes at the Eliot School. I would love to have you do a NAGLY-style class for kids here next summer. Are you game?

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