Posts Tagged ‘Navajo inlay jewelry’

Spending the Summer at Idyllwild Arts

Monday, July 19th, 2010
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(from L) Kim Christensen and Annie Gutierrez have taken three art classes so far

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At Idyllwild Arts, some people are taking one, two, and three art classes, and practically spending their entire summer here. But they wouldn’t have it any other way. Annie Gutierrez, a retiree from El Centro, and Kim Christensen, a teacher from Highland, have already taken three classes so far, and may sign up for more.

“It’s been a great summer,” said Kim, who has already taken two jewelry-focused classes, “Tool Making & Alterations,” and “Navajo Inlay Jewelry,” and is currently enrolled in another, “Soldering Boot Camp.”

Back in Highland, Kim belongs to a group that makes rocks into jewelry.Yet, they were limited in their tools. When Kim brought back a few tools that she created at Idyllwild Arts, her friends were impressed.

“The best tool that we learned to make helps with stamps,” Kim said. She wasn’t talking about the kind of stamps that you put on an envelope or help you make Christmas wrapping paper. “These stamps help you put an image into metal.”

Kim's Navajo bracelet shows stones on one side, and animal stamps on another

She showed off her bracelet that she made in her “Navajo Inlay” class. It was silver, and about 1/2 inch thick, with square turquoise and blue stones on one side, and two ancient animal shapes on the other.

Richard Tsosie, a Navajo jeweler and sculptor from Flagstaff, who taught the class, would show them how to do something, but they’d have to finish the piece on their own, Kim said.

She’s also enjoying “Soldering Boot Camp,” in which they use tools with a flame to connect pieces of jewelry together. According to the brochure, the purpose of the course is not to complete one piece, but to become proficient in soldering.

Annie Guiterrez has been coming to Idyllwild Arts Summer Program for many years. She is a quiet woman in her 70s, who was wearing a T-shirt that read: “My Next Husband is Going to be Normal.”

So far, she as taken “Folding Clay Slabs,” and “Mosiacs 101 & Portraits,” and is currently enrolled in “Creative Nonfiction.” But after a class she took last year, she experienced censorship.

She took the class from Cynthia Constantino called, “Figurative Sculpture,” in which they worked from a live model to create ceramic sculptures. Afterwards, Annie entered her sculpture in the Imperial County Fair and won first prize.

But then they told her, “No, you can’t leave it here.”

“It was a 2 1/2 foot clay sculpture of a nude woman,” explained Annie. “But so is the Venus de Milo. What was the big deal?”

After much discussion between the judges, they told her that she could keep the blue ribbon and the $30 prize money, but she’d have to take her sculpture home right away.

“It was pure censorship,” Annie said. “But El Centro is pretty conservative.”

Many adults in Southern California are spending their summer at Idyllwild Arts

“Folding Clay Slabs,” was one of the first classes that Annie took this summer, and the most enjoyable so far. It was a six-day class taught by Mary Kay Botkins, from East Dundee, IL, who exhibits her folded clay pieces nationally.

“Do you sew?” Annie asked. “Well, I do, and somehow Mary Kay had incorporated sewing techniques, such as pleats and darts, into clay.”

She taught Annie and the rest of the class to roll their clay super thin, about 1/8 of an inch thick, by compressing it.

“That was probably the hardest thing to learn how to do, but when the clay is compressed, it’s pretty strong,” Annie said.

Then, she’d watch Mary Kay create a container, by making a couple of pleats, or adding a waistband, or even a belt loop.

“When she was working, you’d swear that she was working with leather instead of clay,” Annie said.

The students in the class were also expected to be prolific, Annie said, because Mary Kay wanted them to take home a “set” that they could use as a reference. Within six days,¬†Annie created a cup, a vase, a tray and a container.

“It’s something I’ve never seen before,” she said.

For a copy of the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program catalog, stop by the Boman Center on campus, call (951) 659-2171, ext. 2365, or visit the main website, www.idyllwildarts. org, and click on “Summer.”

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