Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jewelry Camp

From Friday, June 15 through Tuesday, June 19 I will be away at....drumroll, please.....jewelry camp! No, they don't call it that, but it's how I've been thinking of the jewelry-making workshop at Peters Valley Craft Center. This place is out in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, meaning it's out in the woods. Normally this would be enough to put me off - I'm not a woods kind of gal. At all. Famously, at least among my friends, I once said to a hiking enthusiast, "So this hiking business - the idea is that you walk up the hill and then you walk down? That's it?" What could she say? "Uh, yeah, that's it...but it's really worth it!" Uh-huh. If that's the case, why is it that the stories you hear from hikers and climbers are always disaster stories?
"We had the most awesome weekend! We went hiking on Mt. Pointless and about halfway to the campsite we realized we'd forgotten all the tarps, but we went on anyway. Then Emma tripped and sprained her ankle so she had to give her pack to Kim and I helped her walk. Just as we got near the site these huge black clouds rolled in and the wind started to blow so hard we couldn't even set up the tent! Oh my god, we were so cold and wet! It was great!"
Fortunately it doesn't look like there's any obligatory hiking at jewelry camp, even though the studio is a short two-miles from the living/eating area. I'm bringing my car.

As if the ruralitude of the locale weren't enough of a trial, the list of things to bring contained this disturbing entry, complete with bold font for emphasis:
Insect repellent This season we are experiencing a high than normal amount [sic] of ticks and we suggest everyone bring repellent with them.
It gets better. Three lines down I read: "Flashlight with batteries, there are no streetlights here." Ok, so I'm going to be out in the middle of nowhere stumbling around in the dark with my ankles covered in fat ticks incubating a nice case of Lyme disease. This guy Frederick Marshall better be one hell of a teacher.

So why do I want to go to jewelry camp? When it comes to making jewelry I like to say that I've been raised by wolves. I've never taken a class - everything I know came from books and lots of trial and error. I'm sure there are easier, faster, more elegant ways of doing half the things I do on an almost daily basis. (Actually, that's probably true of a lot more than making jewelry.) And then there's soldering, my attempts at which fail around 90% of the time. I'd like to get it down to around a 50% failure rate by the end of the class. According to the brochure, we'll also learn to use "die forms with texture hammers and roller printing for surface design." And we'll bezel-set some cabochons. All of which sounds like heaven on a bun.

Nevertheless, it struck me last night that the real reason I'm going to jewelry camp is that I want to take a painting class. I've also been raised by wolves when it comes to painting and I'm starting to feel that I need outside eyes to look at my work and push me in new directions. I've been wanting to take a painting class for a couple of years, but it's difficult with work and, also, I've been scared. It's one thing to paint in the privacy of your home and show your work to friends and colleagues. It's quite another to put myself into a class in front of strangers, most of whom will no doubt be decades younger than I am, who have no reason to believe that I'm an artist of any kind. I'm getting a little nauseated at the thought even as I type this. Clearly, some healthy part of my psyche got annoyed with my lily-livered ego and said, "ok, if you're too much of a wimp to jump right into a painting class, start with something artistic that you don't have so many hang-ups about - like, say, jewelry."

The reason all this became so clear last night was because, for the first time, I actually got nervous about jewelry camp. I don't mean I got nervous about the ticks and lack of civilization (i.e., no Starbucks within walking distance). I got nervous about being a beginner in front of strangers. It's been a while since I've gone out on that particular limb and that's not a good thing. So, thanks for the push, hidden healthy part of my psyche, just don't expect me to go hiking.


DC Designs said...

Miss Maggie as always your blog posts are both hilariously entertaining and soul bearing all at the same time. You truly do have one of the most interesting blogs I've read on the internet so far.
You are going to do great at jewelery camp. Your work is unique you have your own style. You can be the most highly trained and skilled person at any craft but without your own voice the work falls flat and looks like everything else out there.
The skills and the techniques will come. Resigning yourself to spending four days out in the wilderness with nothing else to focus on should help in that department. Have fun and let yourself be free to experiment. Who cares what the other students are doing. This is a precious time for your development as an artist. Take advantage and make the most of it.
Maybe sitting outside on the stoop of your bug infested cabin staring out at the tree tops will bring new inspiration along with new skills. And look out for fairy rings will ya, we want you to make it back to the real world okay?! :)

DC Designs said...

and don't forget to put your name on your underwear!

TrueMirage said...

omg, I completely forgot to do that!!

knitsteel said...

I can't wait to hear about your week at adult art camp. I haven't been to Peters Valley, although my husband taught there quite a few years ago in the blacksmith shop.

TrueMirage said...

I would love to take a blacksmithing class there - actually, anything to do with working metal just fascinates me these days.

Athena's Armoury said...

Have a blast!! I just recently started taking a metalsmithing class and it rocks.

Anonymous said...

How old are people who go to Peter's Valley workshops? Any teenagers or mostly twenty-somethings?

TrueMirage said...

I think there were a couple of 18 or 19-year-olds there, but it's a little difficult for an old fogy like me to tell the difference between older teenagers and younger twenty-somethings. There was a huge age range across the workshops which is one of the things I liked about the place.