Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 2013 Trip: Castine

Missy and I flew to Portland, Maine from New York on the Friday before Guild School started, in Portland we rented a car and traveled up Route 1 to Castine making a stop in Wiscasset to visit a needlework shop and Missy wanted a lobster roll from the famous Red's Eats, at least we didn't have to wait too long in line as it was rather cold and I was starting to feel rather frozen. We arrived in Castine at about 6pm, it was great meeting old friends on both Friday night and Saturday morning. And during the week I made a few more new friends with either first timers or people I haven't met in the previous two years.

Guild School kicked off with an opening dinner on Saturday night and early on Sunday morning classes started, I took both of Bill Robertson's classes, he is about the only teacher that teaches the techniques that I really want to learn. For me, Castine is too far and expensive to go and do a class just because it is nice, so I do put a lot of thought into choosing classes and then hold my breath until I know which classes I got as the classes are allotted lottery style and not on a first come first served basis. So far I have been lucky enough to get my first choice every year. This year I chose the bone chest class for two reasons, I wanted to learn how to get from a piece of irregular shaped bone or ivory down to a flat slab or square, there are lots of antique furniture that has ivory inlays or/and ivory knobs and then all kinds of lovely little turned items too, especially needlework items like lace bobbins, etc and then also dressing room items like shoe button hooks, etc. The second reason was the working lock on the chest. I chose the Rococo carved mirror simply because I don't have a lot of experience in carving or the tools needed and a lot of the furniture that I would love to make has  detailed and intricate carving and I didn't really knew where to start although I have a few books on the subject, but then I was pretty sure doing it in miniature wouldn't be quite the same as in full scale. I can safely say that I enjoyed both classes very much and did learn both the things I expected and one or two unexpected surprises.

 Bill was so kind as to send me some of the photos he took in class, although I had my camera with me, when I get busy I totally forget about taking photos. Well, this is what faced us on day one, farrier files and hacksaws, not exactly the kind of tools you normally associate with miniatures.

 Here we all are hacking away at out bones, we first filed a flat on side of the bone and then sawed off a slice with the hacksaw, pretty rough on the hands, bone is rather hard after all.

 Next we taped our piece of bone to some MDF and milled it down on the drill press to the desired thickness and then it was easy to cut on the table saw into the pieces we needed for the box.

Bill's prototype boxes, one of the unexpected techniques that I learned was using hand cut through dovetails to join the box with. Ever since Aubrey Cronje, one of my South African friends showed me his blanket chest that he made a few years ago in one of Bill's classes with hand cut dovetails, I wanted to learn how to do that too.

I am not sure on which day this photo was taken but by this time I think most of us was working on the metal work for the box, which involved sawing out really tiny pieces with the jewelers saw and adding details with files.

Since most of the metal pieces needed bending we had to heat them red hot with a torch to anneal them so that they wouldn't break while bending them.

And here is my almost finished box together with my mirror frame that is far from finished, the box only needs the strap in the front, mine broke soon before the end of class on the last day and I was just too tired to start a new one and I thought the chances of messing up again were good, I plan on finishing it next week, I think I am almost back in my own time zone :-)

A photo that Missy took of me in class, I must say that except for the first day cutting the bone which was hard work, I found the class relaxing and fun, I think the fact that I got used to working long hours most days now at home during the last year making miniatures full time really helped.

Here is Bill's prototype of the mirror frame, Bill also showed us how to make our own carving chisels, another surprise that wasn't in the class description.

And here is Debora carving away at hers, she made it look so easy, but then of course, she has done a quite a bit of carving before. By the way she had her savonarola chair with her, just breathtaking and much more beautiful than photos can ever tell, I also saw the real chair that she based hers on in the MET museum, I like the mini one more :-)

I didn't nearly finish my frame, for this kind of intense and concentrated work I really need to be alone in my workroom with just the dog and some good music. Do any of you work with music and what do you like to listen to? I work so much better when I have music to listen to, my favorites are the classics, yes, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven etc, didn't like it much when I was younger, but now I love them, another favorite is movie sound tracks, especially John Williams who did a lot of music for movies like Star Wars, ET, Harry Potter, Memoirs of a Geisha, can you tell I have lived with two teenagers for a long time, I watched a lot of movies with them and sometimes still do. Well, back to the frame, I plan to work a lot on it next week before I jump back into all my commissions and hopefully I will have it finished by next Friday.

It rained for most of the week in Castine and it was rather cool all the time, so the summer clothes never made it out of the suitcase. Of course on Saturday morning when we had to leave at 8am to get to Portland in time for Missy's flight and my train, the sun was shining brightly and we had this wonderful clear blue sky.

Wednesday night is the only night during Guild school that there isn't anything official happening, but some teachers and groups like to do things on that night that has become a tradition. One is chocolate martini's with Bill straight after class, here am I and Missy enjoying ours, well I guess I was finished with mine by then. Afterwards I joined the Petitpointers group for dinner and show and tell in Annelle Ferguson's class, it is always a treat to see one another's work up close and personal, photos never do petit point any justice. My favorite though had to be Frances Peterson's newest rug, I just love her design and the colors she chose.

I didn't buy a lot on sales night, here are most of my purchases, two wine bottles with real wine and a tin of yummy cookies from Christina Minischetti and a meat cleaver from Bill Robertson.

And all too soon it was Friday night, time for graduation and teary farewells, here is a part of the bone chest class display on Graduation night, we just had to include the file and saw in the display.

Me with Bill, do check out his lobster tie, the second most talked about thing at Castine after miniatures, lobster, most everyone seems to love it, except me and a few others, I don't like seafood, oops ;-)

And with my dear friend Stacey Sereno, there were lots of other friends too but no photos with them, we forget most of the time because it is such a busy week. Hope I didn't bore you with this long post, but then some of you did ask for a detailed report.

Next: a visit on the way home with a special blogger friend.


Idske de Jong said...

Yes, detailed reports with lots of photos are lovely! One day I really want to come to Castine, it looks like an intense experience with like minded people, relaxed but at the same time you learn a lot and go home with some amazing things you've made yourself!

Evelyne Martin said...

I loved the report, thank you so much!

I hope someday I can go to Castine too, the classes seem amazing and the techniques, brilliant.

PS: I don't eat lobsters either... ;)

Dorien Litjes said...

Dear Elga,
What a wonderful experience. Spending your holiday trip on doll house things.

miraclechicken said...

So glad you posted this report, love the photos, makes me feel like I was there!!!

Melissa Boling said...

Great report and pictures! I snitched the picture of me with the torch. ;-) The torch I ordered came in the mail yesterday, so now I can try to finish my chest.

Gee said...

What a super chest you made! Thanks for reporting and showing, it must have felt real comfy being there surrounded by people who have the same fascination, and having the opportunity to broaden your skills


Catherine said...

I also LOVED your report of your week at the school. You could have added another dozen photos and miles of text and I would have been happy.

Your bone box is gorgeous. I look forward to seeing another photo of it.

I LOVE Bill's animal meat cleavers. I really wanted on when I saw them in Chicago but I was so tired I couldn't make up my mind which one to buy.

I can't wait for your next post. XXX

Yolanda Morán said...

Unos trabajos fantásticos, y muy complejos me encantan, una maravilla.
un abrazo.

John said...

What a great post, Elga --I hope I can make it there, someday!

I like to listen to the classics when I'm working, too. I guess because I'm working on a 'classic' house --it only makes sense, right?

SMALL WORLD ALERT: Your friend, Missy, is designing a petit-point pattern for me! Hi, Missy, if you're reading this!

But I digress.

You make Castine sound so wonderful. Your projects are turning out beautifully. Thanks for the intriguing report!


Indy_Poppy said...

The little box looks great. I can't wait to see it finished. IndyPoppy

Margaret said...

Wow sounds like you chose the right classes and learnt some great techniques, and had some fun along the way. Look forward to seeing some of your new creations in the months ahead.

Melissa Boling said...

Hi John - I'm reading. ;-) I forgot to say I like to listen to classical music too. That and old show tunes or folk music.

elly in amsterdam said...

Wonderful report, thank you Elga! You sure do emphasize the enthusiasm firing you all throughout the week.
I only do calssical music , unless I am stitching which goes with anything :-)

Debora said...

Your trip reports are wonderful to read, you've done so much before, during and after!! When i got back from Castine i really suffered from jetleg and only this weekend i feel im back on my feet. I'll post about it soon too! It was awesome again, meeting you in person and everybody else too.

In answer to your question about music; I NEED music in my workshop too! Depending on my mood it ranges from Abba to trance, and from Bach till Beach Boys. While carving i like jazzy and classical music. Rosenberg Trio or Ella Fitzgerald? Something along that line. When im really groovy and comfortable on the job i love funk and a bit of soul too. But when the power tools come out i love some good old rock; heavy & preferably loud!

So yah, music to fit the mood :)

Josje said...

These reports can never be too long or have too many photos Elga! It gives me a little bit of a feel of participating myself.
You had a great week again with some wonderful classes. The carving class is one I would have loved to take. It looks like you have made a great start. Wonderful to learn how to make your own carving tools. It is these things which make these classes so immensely valuable to us!
It is interesting for me to see the photos of the bone chest, as you know I will be taking this class in about a month myself. A bit scary too as I am thinking how on earth we're going to get all of that work done in only four days (knowing I am a slow worker!!).
Thanks for another lovely post!

Josje said...

PS: as for the music question, no, I don't listen to music at all. I like it quiet, or I like to listen to people talking (news, discussion etc. )

Ilona said...

I LOVE to read your detailed reports with lots of photos, Elga, thanks :D!
Your work is beautiful although it is not finished yet, that bone chest is awesome!
I think it must be a wonderful experience to go to Castine.
I like to listen to the classics too, when I'm working, but also other kind of music, it is just how my mood is. At the moment I listen to The Phantom of the Opera songs whilst I am working on modern toys for kids ^0^!
Groete, Ilona

Giac said...

Hello Elga,
What fun. I really have to go to Castine one day! The box is incredible and I look forward to seeing your finished mirror.
Big hug,

Sandra said...

Thank you for your wonderful report and photos Elga - it is great to have faces to put to names and to see more detail of the things you mention on PPers. Castine is a wonderful experience, with all those fantastic classes and new skills to master. And meeting up with like-minded friends makes it a magical experience I'm sure. Sandie