This year I took the vacation of my dreams, in a place I never dreamed of—Idyllwild, California. Idyllwild Art Center campus is in the mountains above Palm Springs, where you can take a tram from the desert to the top of the mountain. If you drive in from the direction of Los Angeles, it’s an easy drive up the mountain.
In late January, I saw an advertisement for Idyllwild. Something in me clicked and as soon as registration opened I made a call. The instructors are well known in their fields and the classes offered during Metals Week were all of interest to me. What a dilemma. Which of these classes would be best for me? I quickly researched the instructors and their work and decided I should stretch a little and sign up for Harold O’Connor’s class on Surface Embellishment.
A winding, hairpin-curve road takes you from sea level to 6,000 feet and then down to 5,000 feet and to the town of Idyllwild. Said to have a human population of 5,000, I’m sure there are ten tall trees for every human. You can’t see through them but if you look straight up, you can see blue sky at the very top.
Idyllwild is like summer camp with its cabin-style buildings, lack of television, lack of cell phone reception, fresh air, cafeteria food and a few requisite bugs. My wish for the good old days, when you could leave home and no one could find you, was answered while I was there!
Campus living was sparse but adequate. There was one central phone for each dorm and no cell phone reception but there was available Wi-Fi. Some returning participants stayed in town opting for the amenities available at a motel. I, however, decided that the benefit of being able to walk to all campus activities outweighed the perks of a more commercial setting. I enjoyed being on campus and completely submerged in the atmosphere of Idyllwild.
The classrooms were large and bright with a maximum of 12 students. There was no smog, very little noise, and pristine air. The nights were crisp and perfect for sleeping.
The feature that drew me to Idyllwild Metals Week was the quality of instructors. Really. Do you know of another time or place where you can meet and informally interact with the likes of Harold O’Connor, Joanna Gollberg, Fred Zweig, Pauline Warg, Sandra Noble Goss, and Charity Hall all in one week?
This was the first time I had been surrounded by this much creativity. For a few days, the entire campus revolved around metalwork. Heaven! Many of the participants were attending for their second or third time and for them it was a class reunion of sorts. It was a supportive and interesting group. The expertise of the participants combined with the excellent instruction contributed to the overall creative experience.
Even the high school students who began to appear in the cafeteria by midweek were delightful to listen to. Their excitement about creative projects was contagious.
The major lasting effect from Metals Week for me is my increased enthusiasm and self-confidence. I stretched to keep up with techniques in Harold’s class and my work has improved considerably. I’m more lighthearted, more confident, and less fearful. Techniques that were at first foreign to me are creeping into my work in little ways. Nothing dramatic. I’m more daring, more joyful—less tolerant of time-wasters— and less critical of my work.
I am working on a 3-dimensional silver pendant and it is going much better than the one I made in class. Thank you, Harold. On another piece I used the technique of laminating metal that I learned in Surface Embellishment to make a copper and silver bi-metal pendant. On the copper side I applied a photographed design from a shard of Mimbres Valley Indian pottery from Southern New Mexico. First, I copied the design to PNP paper. Next, I transferred the design on PNP to the copper side of the bi-metal and soaked it in etchant. The next time I do this, I will use thinner copper as etching this piece took hours and was not as precise as I would have liked. However, it’s an interesting pendant and I do like it.
I’m anxious to set aside a morning to try granulation now that I have assembled the ingredients to make the glue using Harold’s recipe! I learned several techniques that improved my soldering skills and there is still so much to learn!
Plan now for 2012!
What will you do in 2012 to continue your education? I plan to go back to Idyllwild Metals Week and I can’t wait to see the selection of classes when they are announced in December on the Idyllwild website. I’ll study the classes, choose one, along with a backup, and sign up early.
If you go…
Bring your best attitude with you and look forward to a creative, rejuvenating week with great people and inspiring artists/instructors. Be ready to live, eat and breathe art for five days. Will I see you there?