A week ago Sunday morning, I was at Clayfolk in Medford, giving my Brushmaking and Decorating
demonstration (or, as I like to call it, Making Art With Roadkill
Now, there are a couple of ways to organize a 90-minute demonstration. You can choose a technique that's long and involved, and just do one or two pieces for the whole 90 minutes--Nancy Adams
carving and modeling one of her elaborate relief-sculpted dragon pots, for instance--or you can sit down at the wheel and wing it, throwing pot after pot until you've run out of time or clay. If you have the throwing skills of, say, Tea Duong
, this can enthrall the crowd indefinitely.
Because my demo is kinda schizophrenic, both making the tools and showing how I use them, and because I paint my pots so damn fast,
I've come up with a system that works well for me, especially given the drop-in and -out nature of the audience. I'll wax my demo bowls and set up my glazing station, talking about my process and organizational system--color coded brush rests, really--and glaze a few pots. Take requests from the audience and decorate them. Then talk about my handmade brushes, make a couple of them. Go back to the other end of the table, glaze and decorate bowls.
I was on my third repeat, had used up all my prepared bamboo handles for brush making, was preparing to decorate my last pot when a little boy showed up. As is my habit, I asked him for an animal suggestion, and he came up with two I'd already done (a snake and a jaguar). Wound up painting a portrait of Karen Rychek's dog, sitting on her lap in the front row.
So, brushes done, bowls done, ten minutes left. I got out my Magic Paper (a water-activated paper used by sumi-e painters to practice), handed out brushes and a water cup and gave everybody a chance to try painting.The kid was fascinated by the process, loved the way the brush handled, painted circles and spirals just to see how the line went from thick to thin as the line changed directions. It was great fun to watch, and at the end of the demo, I gave him a brush to keep. Told him when he'd drawn something he was really proud of with it, to send me a picture.
Fast forward to this Saturday. I'm digging around in the restock boxes in the back of my booth when I hear, Look Mom, it's Frank's booth. There's Frank! Hi Frank!
I look up and say, "I gave you a brush!" Big grin, nodding like a bobblehead. "How is it?"
It still works!, he says. His name, it turns out, is Evo, and he and his mom are looking for a present for his dad (she'd covered the rest of the family in Medford). They decided on a flamingo mug, and purchased it to smiles all around. Still looking forward to seeing his drawing...
But what were they doing three hours up I-5 from home? Thanksgiving, I guess.