Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Workshop that really resin-ates

Mikaela pipettes some colour!

Ever since I attained grade C in my art O'Level at the age of 15 (for my memorable still life sketch of a school vacuum cleaner) I've considered myself something of an undiscovered artisan.

Nowadays, apart from helping the kids with the occasional colouring book, I must admit that in truth the only thing I usually ever draw is the curtains (geddit?).

It was excellent therefore (if only to flex my artistic prowess) to get a chance to take part in a resin bowl workshop at the Makers' Hub in Canberra.

The wonderful Mikaela Danvers runs the Makers' Hub, established a couple of years ago in Canberra's north to allow local artists and crafty folk to turn their hand to countless hours of folding, moulding, painting and sticking opportunities. There's big scale arty stuff there too - from a kiln to a 3D printer and a printing press.

I must admit I didn't quite know what to expect when I went along to the workshop. I'd done a glass blowing course a couple of years ago at Canberra's (excellent) glassworks, and had also tinkered with a potters wheel for a couple of terms when I was at school - where I produced a few wonky looking vases (to exhibit alongside my vacuum cleaner sketch). Making stuff out of resin though was definitely uncharted territory.

Mikaela encouraged us all to introduce ourselves, and then acquainted us with a table full of strangely alluring(!) pink latex moulds which would allow us to create an infinite number of bowls, bangles or rings.

I opted to make a small bowl rather than jewelry - (figuring that I usually have a trouser-pocketful of coins or a stray cufflink which needs a home). We then discussed the assorted methods of mixing the resin with colours to create a matt or gloss effect and learnt how to introduce a swirl or pattern into your piece of artwork.

There were eight of us in the class and the conversation excitedly switched to our ambitious projects.

It's possible to hire the Makers' Hub venue, either for kids' parties (which I would imagine would be loads of fun) and also for grown-up sessions which would be great too. It's a bright airy studio and it's casually (but beautifully) laid out with bunting flags at the window and interesting/motivating signs on the wall. There's even a little (cute) crafty fox there!

Mikaela told us that venue hire works really well with small groups and it's a really flexible place as tables can be moved out to accommodate loads of different ideas.

I commenced pouring my first bowl with zeal. I followed our main instruction - 'mix fast, pour slow'.

I had high hopes for my output - it was going to be a trendy, simplistic, little matt number in light green - 'less is more' I figured. I was already day-dreaming about the gasps from my friends as I pulled my stylish, zen-like bowl out of my bag the next morning - people coo-coo-ing as to which gallery I had bought it from and then being able to brag to them that it was entirely fashioned through my own indomitable artistic talents.

The resin poured easily into the pink mould and then half way through went gloopy and then set hard.


I must admit I'd never worked with a material quite like it. Liquid one minute, solid as a rock the next. I was desperate.

My Donatello-esque inspired bowl!.....my Rodin-esque artwork!....(sorry I can't think of any more sculptors) suddenly became completely junk. Half a bowl with a big gloop of hard resin sticking out of the bottom. It would have been difficult even to pass it off as modern art. I don't think anyone would have bought my story about it being an "abstract interpretive piece" and it certainly wouldn't have been any use for loose change. Bugger it.

Fortunately a couple of other people had mucked up their bowls too. Others in the group had of course produced stunning bowls, rings and bangles first time (don't you just hate those people) :)

As it was I cleaned out my pink mould and was soon back to the 'mix fast pour slow' thing. I hid my rubbish first effort under some paper towels.

This time I was successful. I'd resorted to an old gold and black bowl (naturally) and second time around it came out beautifully. I WAS an artist after all!

I'd recommend the workshop to anyone, whether artistically inclined or not. It was great fun and Mikaela was a fabulous teacher and was both amusing and interesting to listen to. You also obviously get the benefit of taking home something you have made. If you live in, or are visiting Canberra and would like to do something a bit unique, then get in touch with the Makers Hub here

* People did like my bowl the next day. It was a bit rough at the edges and I'm sure when I make bowl number three it will be better still.

I guess though on reflection I'm unlikely to get commissioned for my "resin bowl-work exhibition" any time soon, but it was such a fun way to spend a (rare) child-free evening and I created a family heirloom which might show up in a gallery someday (albeit only if dug up out of the ground in about a thousand years time). Thank you Mikaela and Makers' Hub!

pink moulds with glitter!

Love the plastic apron

My bowl in the mould

Crafty like a fox!

objet d'art!
(I got to do the workshop for free. sorry you'll have to cough up and pay - but it's still great value!)

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