Spring Flowers in Bloom at Valley Ridge
I arrived at Valley Ridge around 6:30 p.m., and was greeted by Kathy and Bill, the owners, who provide the most wonderful environment for artists to hone their skills under the direction of numerous well-known and published artistans from all over the United States, and even Australia! They go out of their way to make everyone's experience there absolutely wonderful. And the food there.......simply incredible!!! They did some extensive remodeling over the Winter. In addition to building their unbelievably amazing house, they renovated Kathy's former studio into a community room, where the lunches are served and artists can mingle and form wonderful friendships. The farmhouse on the property was turned into a guest house, where up to 4 students can enjoy lodging on-site. I was lucky enough to be able to stay there for my 8 days there, which was so much fun. The added bonus for me was not having to drive back and forth to Dodgeville every day like I had been doing for all my previous workshops there. The gals I shared the house with were great, and we all really bonded as we got to know one another.
Keith giving a demo on cutting jump rings
The first two days there were for the Wire class. The class was full...I think about 14 students were in it. Keith showed us many techniques for working with wire...from bending and forming it, to forging and riveting with it. The pieces he creates incorporating wire with found objects are amazing! He is such an inspiration, and such a character!
The Motley Crew of the Master Workshop
L to R: Pam (from Illinois), Janet (from Nebraska), Brenda (from Wisconsin), Keith (from Australia), Me, Kathy (from Illinois), and Anastasia (from Texas)
The second workshop Keith gave was a 5 day master workshop, "Beyond Precious Little." This workshop focused on using our metalsmithing skills and incorporating found objects to create wonderful pieces of art. We honed the techniques learned in previous workshops, and touched on other techniques such as etching on metal, making hinges and clasps, photographing artwork, and troubleshooting problems in assembling a piece of work. There were 6 of us in this workshop - with 4 of us staying in the farmhouse onsite. This workshop was the absolute best! We all got along so well...and we all did a lot of laughing and joking around! We even had several 'field trips' during the course of our stay! We went 'junking' on Friday evening, and ended up taking a tour of the 'Don Q.' Now that is a story in itself!!!!! It was truly a memorable and funny experience! I don't think any of us will ever be able to look at each other the same way after all the joking around we did there!!!!!!!! We also went to Mineral Point on Saturday afternoon, hoping to take in a few antique shops, but it seemed like the shops we were all geared up to go to were either out of business or closed for one reason or another. It was disappointing, but we did manage to squeeze in a few galleries on the main drag instead. And Keith just had to check out the old local hardware store. He picked up some copper and brass wire in there, and when he came out and told us they actually sold brass wire (which can be hard to find), we all went in to snap up some for ourselves, only to find he had bought all the brass wire they had on hand!!!Keith and Me (wearing one of Keith's Neckpieces)
The time passed so quickly, and it was sad to have the workshop come to an end this past Monday. It's hard to have to pack up all your tools at the end of the workshop, and say your 'goodbyes' to everyone; knowing you have a long drive back home ahead of you, and having to go back to the realities of everyday life. I can't wait until the beginning of August, when I will be staying at Valley Ridge again for 2 of Nina Bagley's workshops. I highly recommend checking out Valley Ridge's Website at www.valleyridgeartstudio.com, and registering for some workshops there. I'm so glad I did...this is my 4th year of taking workshops there, and it was the best thing I could've ever done!!!!!