I didn't know what I was getting into. I didn't even know how to pronounce it apparently. I certainly didn't expect to have something finished by the end of the weekend. And I wasn't sure if I would be able to do a freeform workshop; after reading many (glowing) reviews about this workshop on the internet.
All of these things taken into consideration, this weekend I took a one and a half day workshop on assemblage (pronounced awe-SEMM-blahwj) at Absolutely Everything in Topsfield, MA with Michael DeMeng. And now I know exactly how to pronounce it. And I'm no longer intimidated by it.
Because Michael is a wonderful instructor! He took a complete novice at using acrylics and had me mixing my own washes with abandon! He showed us how to create our own fluid acrylic washes – his favorite called "the UGE" (kind of like saying 'huge' but without the 'h'). It stands for 'the usual' color combination that he uses on every project at some point.
In the photograph above, he is showing us how to use the interference colors; and how they appear on white, and black, and with washes of fluid acrylics over them. Here is a closer look:
Ok. that is where the lessons started and went. And then some basic deconstruction / reconstruction tips for our books – and off we went. This is the point in reading the reviews where I felt a bout of intimidation coming on. But it wasn't intimidating at all! This teacher, group and store was so inspiring!
This was NOT a class about copying the sample. Everyone brought their own materials to make their projects; and a similar set of colors to work with. Michael walked around the room, offering advice when asked; showing how to make adjustments where necessary and making sure that everybody was comfortable with the tools that we had to work with.
While he brought many of his own works which were laid on the table throughout the two days for reference and inspiration — each person felt the freedom to use whatever color schemes and items they wished. I digress for a moment, but I want to point out that taking a class from an artist like Michael DeMeng is about learning HOW to use his tools of the trade in whatever way pleases YOUR eye. And there was plenty of eye-candy to view.
There were items assembled from wall light switch parts:
Books, such as the form we were making:
And even something that made me giggle every time I looked at her. And mind you, she was directly across from me – so I was smiling a lot during class.
But most of these pieces are too dark for my personal style. So I got started at making my own work using DeMeng-style techniques. For the cover of my book, I chose to make an aperture. Even after the Dremel demonstration, I was still intimidated to use it. But Michael was kind enough to make this guide line for me for placement of my window frame.
By the way, this is a text book from my first year at college, from Art History class. I felt it was time to revise its personal history. The insides still remain intact although removed from their housing.
I took a quick shot of my hands – with all ten fingers just for evidence, lest I lose a digit.
I chose a window frame piece from Renaissance Art Stamps for my front cover. I wanted an aperture into the cover with something to see through the window.
This is the reconstructed book shell, pages removed and open. The spine was removed and replaced with a much wider piece of foam core; which was connected to the front and back cover with Claudine Hellmuth's 'Sticky Back' canvas. Ingenious – it's book binding tape on steroids.
On the left you see the guide lines for me to cut out the front aperature. On the right, several pieces of foam core have been cut to size for the something I bought specifically for this class. Mind you, having no real idea how I could use it – but it inspired me… I'll get to it in a moment. For now, understand that it is heavy and interactive – so I asked Michael for his help in how to make it work with my project. Two concepts emerged, and the latter seemed like the easiest and strongest method. I punched four holes into the back cover and used wire to attach to the frame of my ephemera.
And here it is — a fully functional combination door to a mailbox.
Now you see why I was concerned about weight and interactivity.
That was about all I got accomplished on the first evening. I was about 15 minutes late to class. Boston traffic on Friday afternoon is a thing to be reckoned with. And I knew that I needed to get some things done in order to be prepared for the next day. So I went back to the hotel and proceeded to use all manner of gel medium, caulk, etc. to attach my window and door and create texture on my exposed surfaces of the book. Here is the inside cover.
And the inside 'page' to which I collaged a few pieces of Paris-themed papers and made a little concentric 'tunnel' treasure aperture.
And then I went to bed while it dried overnight.
The next morning, we had paint application lessons and then everybody was off creating their masterpieces. This is that inside front cover again.
and the collaged inside 'page'. Looking a little different than the night before, eh?
I haven't altered the appearance of the post office box yet. My Copic Marker and airbrush will be set loose upon it on Monday. I also want to remove the number label on the glass door. Inside is a little feathered nest. I haven't finished this page yet. The construction wires need to do something. Can't wait to finish it.
I spent a LOT of time on the front cover of my book:
Like any painter – my windows are sticking shut. I'm going to get them working again. (yes, they open and shut!)
This bright gold broach on the front cover was 'burnt' using Copic Markers and the airbrush system with a combination of Y35, BV09 and 110.
And that is where the project stands at the moment. I have the tools to finish it this week. I need to complete the outer edges, outside spine and the back of the book as well as some elements to peer out from the front cover. 🙂
Tomorrow I am off to New Hampshire to teach a Copic Certificaiton Class – so I will check back in on Monday evening, with a project update.
I hope you enjoyed this little walk-through of a Michael DeMeng workshop. Please avail yourself of his talents if he is ever in your area teaching.
This picture was taken after he autographed my copy of "The Secret of Rusty Things". Is there paint in my hair? Well it sure was a fun time. And I'm looking forward to teaching tomorrow, after having been inspired by a great teacher today.