Northern California Eggstravaganza 2018- “Winter Wonderland“
Crowne Plaza Northeast 5321 Date Avenue Sacramento, CA 95841
Show and Sale
March 3, 2018–10 AM to 5 PM
March 4, 2018–10 AM to 3 PM
March 1-4, 2018
It’s time to get these dates on your calendar. I’ll be selling my pysanky and egg jewelry in the showroom plus teaching two classes on Saturday morning, March 3. For more class info, click here.
Wow! The new catalog of classes for the John C. Campbell Folk School just came out a couple of weeks ago and my “Pysanky For All” class August 20-26, 2017, is nearly full. This is such thrilling news for me because it means I get to go back to that lovely spot in North Carolina and “play eggs” for a whole week with students of all skill levels.
I love teaching beginners. My favorite part is watching their faces as they remove the wax from their very first egg and see the colorful results. And I love seeing their excitement as they progress through the week, improving in skill and beginning to come up with design ideas on their own.
I also love teaching those already experienced with this wax and dye process. Helping them stretch their artistic muscles as they work with new colors, or techniques, or styles is great fun for me. I learn almost as much as they do as we work through the week together.
Here is a photo of the work my class did for the big “Show and Tell” celebration at the end of the week. Didn’t they do a great job? I feel like a proud parent!
This time of year often brings thoughts about new beginnings but a profound insight hit me recently. As I reached for a fresh egg to begin yet another project I realized that each egg gives me another chance to have fun, to change my approach, to improve my skill, to make a completely different egg than the last one. In other words, every egg is a “do over.” And I am so thankful that I don’t have to be stuck with the past, but can grow and change and develop as an artist as I work on the next egg.
Here’s the amazing thing though. This principle applies not just to egg art, but to life as well. All of life is one big “potential” when you think about it. Each day is a “do over” that waits for me to move forward one small step at a time. I really like that perspective. So look out 2012, here I come.
What a joy to spend a high energy week teaching kids about art and God. And I don’t say that very often because I highly value my personal, quiet spaces in life. I am definitely not a high-energy extrovert but I love watching kids blossom as they discover their own artist within.
This year’s class was the best ever. My five fifth and sixth grade girls picked up the basics of using the wax and dyes very quickly and soon began experimenting with colors and designs on their own eggs. And best of all, as they concentrated our classroom became a tiny quiet oasis amidst the chaos of over 400 smiling kids, helpers, teachers, musicians, and support staff across the Oak Hills Church campus. I think my class, students and teachers alike, especially enjoyed that part of each day.
The week finished on a high note with a Friday night Showcase for all the parents. Afterwards exhausted but excited, I found myself already looking forward to next year’s Arts Camp. Incredible, isn’t it? In spite of the hectic schedule, the crazy hours, and the energy it took many of us felt this same way. It’s a God thing.
April 9, 2011 from 7 to 9 PM
Enjoy a relaxed evening at the Fair Oaks Village Second Saturday Art Walk. I’ll be a Bella Fiore Florist from 7 to 9 PM answering questions about these eggs.
In addition this Saturday evening will be a time to say farewell to current owners, Bill and Deborah Brown, and say hello to new owners, Dawn and Chris Conyers. See their blog for more details.
St. John’s Art Festival opens with a reception Saturday, March 12, 2011, from 5 to 9 PM at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1701 L Street, Sacramento. This collection of religious and spiritual works runs through Saturday, March 19.
One of my pieces was accepted to this show, and submitting a piece to a juried art show is scary, there is just no way around that. Fear can keep an artist from sharing and sometimes even creating work. I know because I’m all too familiar with the self-talk that tells me my pysanky eggs are just a “little thing I do” and not really art.
When I stopped to think about my art-related fears, I realized they mirror my personal fears. “Will-anyone-else-like-my-eggs” is really just me saying “will-anyone-else-like-me?” “My-art-is-no-good” becomes “I-am-no-good,” and on and on.
I know to survive as an artist I must learn to separate my art from own self-worth. And to grow and thrive as a person I need to embrace this separation. The tricky part is putting this simple truth into practice. But practice takes…well, practice, so one step at a time I’m working on this personal spiritual discipline by putting my art out into the “real world” beyond my comfort zone. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort.
…or Making the Leap from “I Do This Art” to “I am an Artist”
It’s taken me years to actually refer to myself an artist. And I think I’m not alone in my reluctance to claim the label. There is something mysterious and wonderful and scary about that term. If I call myself an artist, then I have to produce art, and be good at art and sell art, and make money selling art, or so we think.
Truthfully the title “artist” is helpful because it describes a way people look at the world…not simply as things you can see and touch and define, but in a way that pierces the thin veil between our finite world and God-breathed eternity. And whether I call myself an artist or not doesn’t change the fact that I am an artist. Simple, huh? Well, not really.
Let me take you layer by layer through my own gradual journey to claiming the title artist.
Layer 1—I Can Create. As did many others, I began exploring creative avenues early in life. For most of us it starts with school projects. Those simple drawings led me to creative writing to playing at miniatures to quilting to cross-stitch to clothespin people and eventually to discovering the fascinating world of pysanky. And now looking back I can follow the thread of creativity through the years.
Layer 2—I Can Do This Egg Thing. Pysanky, the layering of wax and dyes on eggshells, is a simple art yet it holds endless possibilities in terms of color and design. I taught myself the basics from a book and found I loved the challenge presented by each new egg. Even the failures provided valuable lessons as I honed my craft.
Layer 3—I’m Improving. The finished egg was never the goal for me but the process of creating was. I treasured my quiet time creating, leaving the rest of the world behind. My family got to see those works but rarely did anyone else so years of finished eggs lay hidden away in a closet.
Layer 4:—Am I an Artist? Eventually I began to give away some of these treasured creations to family and close friends. I was so used to seeing these eggs and thinking them commonplace, that the response they evoked surprised me. It made me realize that in sharing my work, I not only gave pleasure to others, I felt incredibly blessed as well. Gradually I let others into the private world of my art, and with much prodding from other artist friends, I “went public” with a solo show at the Art & Soul Gallery in 2006. Developing a website seemed like a reasonable next step but it took years and much hand-holding. Making the eggs is easy, marketing myself and my work is not.
Layer 5—I Am an Artist…I Think. By releasing my work to the world at large, I opened myself to praise and to criticism. This is where real and imagined fears come to the surface and they can paralyze an artist. I know, I’ve been there. And sometimes I’m still there. Thoughts like these race through my head. What will they think or worse, what will they say? What if they don’t like my work, and by extension me? What if my work really isn’t good and no one told me? What if…? I have to remind myself continually that what people think of my art, doesn’t change my work or my passion for it.
Layer 6—I Am an Artist…and So Are You. Having come this far, I sometimes have the privilege of seeing and encouraging other fledgling artists in their own journeys. Being an artist is mostly a solo gig. There’s no getting around the hard, often solitary work it takes to produce art. But because of that, there is great need for community among artists, for standing shoulder to shoulder, for walking together, for helping others to see themselves as God-created artists. Whether we practice our art or not, each of us is an artist and fellow traveler in life’s journey. How much sweeter is the trip when we link arms and help each other along the way.
Saturday August 14 from 5 to 9 PM— Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the Second Saturday experience in Fair Oaks Village and be sure to stop by Bella Fiore Florist to see firsthand the painstaking work that goes into creating these eggs.
Personally, I really enjoy the opportunity to explain how I make pysanky (Ukrainian eggs). Most people are unfamiliar with the wax-resist process and find it hard at first to envision the steps it takes, layering wax on the eggshell as it is dyed color after color. The fun part for me at these demonstrations comes when that light bulb of understanding dawns and the onlookers grasp the whole concept.
Bella Fiore’s owners, Bill and Debbie, have transformed part of their shop into an art gallery where you can see some of my pysanky as well as works by other local artists. Take some time on this Second Saturday to explore and enjoy this wonderful venue.
Several years ago my sister and I attended a weeklong class on artisan bread-baking at the John C Campbell Folkschool in Brasstown, North Carolina. It was kind of like summer camp for adults, except that the setting was spectacular, it runs year round and the food is a whole lot better. Their website states they “provide experiences in non-competitive learning and community life that are joyful and enlivening” and I can say firsthand they certainly met that goal.
As I absorbed the atmosphere that week, attended class or extra activities, and enjoyed conversations with other campers during our communal meals, I realized that we tend to relegate learning to the young. Once we graduate from high school, or college, or beyond we don’t always give ourselves the permission to explore new things, to try and possibly fail, or to devote time and energy to an endeavor just for the fun of it. During that week I talked with many fellow students who were discovering a passion for some new art that they had never known before. How sweet to see eyes light up as they talked about their class and their projects.
On a more personal note, at the grand old age of 50, I picked up the cello for the first time. I can honestly say it has been challenging, fulfilling, frustrating, and beyond fun. My point here? There is never a “too late” when it comes to learning something new.
If you are interested in learning how to make these pysanky eggs, the next introductory class will be Saturday, August 21, from 9 AM to 12 PM. You don’t need to bring anything, or know anything, or have any artistic talent. You just need to come with a youthful curiosity. See the “Classes” tab above for more information.
When people see these eggs for the first time, they often assume I’ve painted them. In reality I use a wax-resist process. “A what?” is the next question I hear. And “Is it hard?” closely follows.
To answer both these questions let me take you step by step through this process.
Next, I dye the whole egg yellow and draw more wax lines to preserve the yellow color. Green dye must be painted in small areas and then covered with wax.
Now the egg receives an orange dye bath. Anything that should stay orange on the finished egg must be covered with wax.
After the red dye bath, the egg is ready for another layer of wax to protect everything that will remain red.
To reveal the finished design, I remove the wax by holding the egg near a candle flame and wiping off the wax as it melts.
Several layers of glossy varnish protect the design and complete the process
With just a few simple tools and a lot of time and patience, these colorful eggs really come to life.