Adult Studio Arts & Writing Workshops

Adult Studio Arts & Writing Workshops serve as professional development opportunities for teachers, and appeal to adults of all ages. Workshops are typically held on campus the second week of August, offering six hours of daily instruction with studios open 24/7.

We are monitoring the Covid-19 situation and will announce our on-site in-person workshops as soon as we are able. School-year virtual workshops for adults are being developed for the winter of 2020-2021.

Blacksmithing

This workshop offers hands-on skill development in the ancient craft of blacksmithing. Making virtually anything that was made out of iron or steel prior to the age of mass production is fair game to the latter-day blacksmith.

On the first day, participants are brought into the experience of the blacksmith shop by learning to light the forge and by practicing hammering skills as a way to get a feel for the primary tools in our creative arsenal.

As you build your skills, you can undertake the production of small forged objects which require mastery of a number of different techniques. You then move on to design more challenging projects that are appropriate to your developing skill level, your ambitions, and your desire to work at the forge. Projects include everything from hearthside tools to medieval armor or forged-steel sculptures as pure expression in metal.

Faculty

Roger Ballou

Roger gravitated to blacksmithing as a creative medium and as a way of experiencing the material culture of earlier time periods. After five years working as a demonstrating blacksmith in a living history museum, Roger opened his own business, making everything from small gift-shop items to large architectural pieces. His ironwork can be seen in the movies The Scarlet Letter and Killian’s Chronicle.

Children’s Books

Do you have a children’s picture book inside of you?

This workshop will help you develop your project as an illustrator/author, with time to work independently and the opportunity for collaboration. Learn the process of making a book through various exercises, share your work with the wider community, and receive constructive feedback from your peers. Get your project ready to send to publishers or finish your book and format it for self-publishing.

Though geared toward the visual artist, this workshop adapts to the needs of the group. All levels of experience are welcome.

Creative Writing

This week of workshops and independent writing time is about memory and surprise. First, the memory part. Memory is a really, really good jumping-off point for anything. Memoir, yes, and poetry, yes— but also fiction. Mark Twain said this about memory:

When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. 

Through exercises and prompts, we will explore memory and we will be open to going where we go, wherever it may be. Whether we’re writing prose or poetry, we will do so with the understanding that even the smallest memories illuminate the deepest themes of our lives. That’s true in fiction as well as non-fiction.

Now the surprise part. One of the great pleasures of writing is the surprise we feel as writers when we go to places we don’t expect. Flannery O’Connor famously said about one of her characters in her story “Good Country People,”

I didn’t know he was going to steal that wooden leg until ten or twelve lines before he did it, and when I found out that this was what was going to happen, I realized it was inevitable.

Fiber Arts

This workshop is designed for beginning to advanced work in fiber arts. Our primary focus is weaving on four and eight harness floor looms with natural fiber yarns including cotton, Tencel, rayon, linen, and wool.

Beginning weavers learn to design textiles, wind warps, dress looms, and weave in a variety of patterns and with a variety of materials. If you are an intermediate or advanced weaver, you will have the opportunity to create complex textiles and large pieces using our 50 and 54 inch 8 harness looms. Quilting, sewing, needlework, knitting, crocheting, spinning, painting warps, designing knitwear, and dyeing are also options during the week. Participants may choose to focus on one area or explore a variety of techniques.

The weaving studio is equipped with 20 floor looms, sewing machines, spinning wheels, and a knitting machine.

Faculty

Melissa Johnson

Melissa moved to southern Vermont from Istanbul in 1973 and graduated from The Putney School in 1977. She attended the University of Vermont, Goddard College and apprenticed to Trudy Walker, a production weaver, before beginning her career as a weaver and knitwear designer. She teaches workshops on weaving, knitting, and natural and synthetic dyeing. Melissa is a designer, dyer, and color consultant for The Green Mountain Spinnery, and creates custom textiles on commission.

Glass Arts

Learn how to build a stained glass window from a mosaic of separate pieces of colored glass. You’ll gain a greater understanding of the art of stained glass design and of the traditional craft skills used when working with glass. This includes the safe handling of materials and the proper use of tools for glass cutting, painting, printing on glass, and soldering. You will learn techniques of using black enamel to hand-paint glass that is then kiln-fired. Many of the tools and techniques we use are largely unchanged since medieval times. 

Each person will make a single panel of their own design, assembled with copper foil and lead-free solder. Participants are encouraged to bring their own ideas and visual reference material to contribute to the design process. Debora’s techniques make it easy for complete beginners to achieve beautiful results. Experienced glass-painters who want to gain greater ease and fluency in glass-painting or develop a personal style are also welcome. There are no prerequisites. This workshop does not include fusing or slumping techniques.

A $60 fee covers the initial materials used.

Metal Jewelry

The focus of this workshop is on the fabrication of individual pieces: rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and pieces of your own design. Initial projects to design and craft rings and bezels are used to familiarize participants with the tools and procedures in the studio. Techniques are then taught for cold forging, forming, soldering, cold joins, stone settings, piercing, surface embellishments, and chain making. We work with silver, copper, brass, and bronze, and cabochons; the workshop is designed for those having up to intermediate experience with the craft.

A $60 fee covers the initial materials used.

Faculty

Jeanne Bennett

Jeanne is an award-winning freelance metal designer who has worked for custom jewelers in Vermont, New Hampshire, and the Virgin Islands. Jeanne teaches at the Community College of Vermont, The Putney School, and offers workshops in her studio in Westminster West, VT. She is a juried member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and a member of the Putney Craft Tour.  You can see some of Jeanne Bennett’s jewelry on her Facebook Page

Painting

Whether we work imaginatively from our minds or figuratively from the world around us, we share a common visual vocabulary of form, color, shape, gesture, and pattern. In this week-long painting workshop, student-artists will be encouraged to develop a deeply personal relationship to painting as a way of communicating what is within us and what is around us. The studio days will be structured to allow long periods of painting in the mornings and afternoons with group discussion time in the middle. This group time is important as a way of seeing a wide range of approaches to picture making and to address the painterly issues of composition, color relationships, space, light, and feelings that arise whether we work figuratively or abstractly. 

Throughout the week of classes and studio time, participants will have the options of still life painting, landscape, self-portraiture, figure painting, and non-objective (abstract) work. For those who would benefit from foundational practices of color mixing, seeing value structure, and relational drawing methods, there will be demonstrations and instruction in those areas. For those who want more autonomy in their work, the resources and instruction can be more specific to their artistic aims.

The emphasis throughout the week will be to develop a more personal sense of choice-making in painting, to uncover our artistic sensibilities so that we may work with more intelligence, sensitivity, and engagement.