Touchstone is amazing! Although my experience with craft centers is limited, Touchstone is by far the most put together and free spirited. I understand that this is only the first night of the weekend workshop with Sharon, but it has made an amazing first impression.

Through the scholarship, I was provided a room in the dormitory style housing. Each room is outfitted with two closet set-ups, a chair, two beds with separate bed lamps, and an overhead fan-light. There is a spacious central living area which all the rooms share complete with a studio apartment kitchen. I feel like I am staying in a mini-hotel. Plus, due to the perfect size of the campus (just right for walking around without being too big—just the right amount to explore), the building I have been placed in is within site of the metals studio.

With it being Mother’s Day weekend, and many of the students still being in school, the “Jewelry Fabrication in Steel” class is rather small—perfect for establishing a quick and tight bond between all involved. I believe this is a vital part of attending workshops; finding yourself immersed among a group of like-minded people from all over the country and all walks of life. There are only two things that I believe are capable of achieving this same bonding; workshops and conferences. It is for this reason that centers such as Touchstone are important to the craft kindred. Workshops serve as a place to be revitalized, encouraged, and inspired.

I met each of the four others in my class at dinner as well as made an acquaintance with the woman teaching the glass beads workshop this weekend. After dinner where we all learned a little bit about each other, we had our first official ‘meet and great’ as a class in the metals studio. Sharon spoke about her work, the attributes of steel, and shared other artists working in the material to give us extra inspiration. Some of the names she mentioned included: Pat Flynn, Rob Jackson, Lola Brooks, Dauvit Alexander, Megan Auman, Caitie Sellers, Sarah Holden, Rebekah Frank, and Deb Stoner.

From the hastily sprawled notes already filling my sketchbook, there is one tidbit that became my first eye-opener of the weekend. Sharon mentioned that steel does not conduct heat the same way as other metals... This just happens to insinuate that, in some situations, the metal can be held in place—no third hand, no tweezers, no locking pliers—but hand-held in place. As a jeweler working primarily in wire (which is as tricky as they come to hold perfectly still with a pair of tweezers while refraining from breathing) I was stunned. I had been interested in learning about steel before, but now I am downright exuberant!

 

(Day 1 and Day 2 to follow...with photos! Stay tuned!)

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