Before I start a paper cut I first draw some sketches with various ideas for the silhouette art. I keep in mind what I want the art to convey and its purpose. When making a composition I really try and create a sense of movement, whimsy and express an emotion or feeling.
The organizers for the Amuse Arts and Crafts Festival desired a poster design that portrayed shopping and a festive atmosphere as well as leaving room for the written information. We collectively decided on a hedgehog, a bunny and a fox all gleefully carrying shopping bags under a canopy of trees, bunting, and birds.
After the final sketch was approved I drew the image on the back of the paper that was to be cut with a pencil. Once everything was drawn out I start cutting the negative spaces away. The tools I like to use include lots of disposable #11 knife blades that are inserted into a comfortable grip handle, a self healing cutting mat, a mechanical pencil with #9 lead, and a kneaded eraser. As far as paper goes I’ve worked with all sorts: rolls of Tyvek for larger projects, tissue paper, and my favorite paper is Strathmore or Canson with a paper weight of around 90lbs. I find that this weight is easy to cut and holds up well.
I usually like to start in the middle of the paper then gradually cut my way out to the edges of the design. As I go I turn over the art and see it from the finished side, that way I can see the progress and if anything needs altered. Once the cutting is complete I turn over the art and make any final touches and attach it to the backing paper. For printing purposes I’ll take photographs of the art and reformat the size and add hints of color if desired. Sometimes the art is mounted up off the background in a shadow box so it will look three-dimensional.
I have cultivated a line of greeting cards and prints using my paper cut images. They can be found at Tin Top gallery in Winchester VA and in various shops and galleries throughout the U.S. and on my website www.gocarrgo.com
How do you get yourself out of a creative rut? I go on walks with my artist neighbor, Norma Coleman. It is there we tend to work out solutions in both of our work. Also, my husband, Russ Harrison – a painter and sculpture, is a good sounding board too. He brings much more experience to the table than I have so that little extra helps push me in the right direction
Favorite blog/movie/tv show/book that never fails to inspire or just clears the mind. If that fails, Watch Kiki’s Delivery Service. One of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki movies. We have an artist in a creative rut and a girl who has lost her powers to fly. It is usually because we are thinking about it too much so I love the down time and the remembering of keep it simple.
You have a time machine. Where are you going? I would definitely like to bounce around. Would love to see Great Britain in the times of the early Celts. I love the 20’s with all of its great clothes. When I was six – things were great then. Mostly, I love just being here now.
Share your process - bonus points if there's a story behind it. The process has evolved and still does as my business does. These last few weeks though have been wake up with the birds, do some work in the studio, after grabbing a cup of coffee, get my son off to school, grab a bit of breakfast and then back to the studio after looking at my list of what needs to be made that day – a new process that is really helping. Each day is different depending on what needs to be done. Pottery is a multi-step process including cleaning up the piece the next day and doing whatever is needed to finish the pot – such as handles, holes, etc., then there is glazing, and two firings, and the dreaded clean up. Some nights I go back in the studio to do work that is needed – clay doesn’t like to wait for people.
What's your dream project - if you had all the time and materials in the world? Make my own set of dishes and bakeware. I never have time for that.
What artists influence your work - who are your creative idols? Simon Leach, Bill Van Gilder. Both incredible potters taught by other incredible potters.
Describe yourself in 5 words. Creative, driven, caring, vocal, perfectionist
Describe your work in 5 words. Evolving, functional, beautiful, tough, handmade
ell us something funny that happened recently in regards to your artwork. I guess I must look for this more – or find more humor in the fact that a pot slumped and is not usable or a bowl blew up in the kiln.
How do you find balance? My husband and my son. Norma and I actually talked about this topic recently on one of our walks. When you find yourself out of balance, it really isn’t being out of balance, it is growth. As you change, your old ways of doing things, processes, etc change too which makes you feel out of balance, it really is just you growing and if you grow with that and recognize what it is, then the emotional upheaval that can happen, is minimalized. I actually think of my son when he was little and in a growth spurt, he would always fall over or as he got bigger, would bump himself a lot – you are just getting used to your new place.
Is there a story behind your blog/shop name? Yes, when my son was born almost 17 years ago, we did a circus theme for his room – even painting stripes on the walls…. We started a domain of harrisoncircus. I started a graphic design business a while back and called it Center Ring Design to continue on with our circus theme with the tagline of We put YOU in the center ring. Then I started the pottery. Well, one of the key things you have to do is center the clay on the bat, otherwise, it will flop. So, the name Center Ring Design stayed as the name when spoken sounds like centering. Our official real name is now Center Ring Design Pottery and Art Studio.
What's your typical day? Coffee!! Usually drinking coffee while checking how things dried overnight. After Liam is gone and Russ has gone into his office, I start in with whatever is calling for me the loudest. Each day I will be doing multiple things – glazing, throwing, trimming, firing, cleaning. Getting the shop ready to open this summer will me a bit of a change – that balance thing – but it will also include getting our new website shop up and open also. I try to close down around four – lately it has been six with a return at some point before bed to tackle any last minute items that need attention – like forming the spout on a pictcher.
Studio Three 17 is Textile Artist and Artisan Norma Fredrickson
Describe your work in 5 words: complex, primitive, evocative, tactile, resourceful.
The story behind the names:
Why Studio Three 17?
I have worked under my name for more than 40 years. And it never really satisfied me.
I am doing things differently now. I am working in Studio Three 17.
Studio because I am a life-long learner. A place with books, paper, computer, fabric, thread, paint, tools, and space to use them is a place I joyfully call home.
Numbers pervade my work and I have attached significance to them always. Some of it is like a personal mythology. I am always looking for threes, and there are many to be found. Spiritually, I am a Trinitarian. Finally, 17 is my personal number for abundance. It is a place from which I like to work. I was born on the 17th day of the month. One reason I chose Studio Three 17 is because I wanted to leave room for company. Often I like to work alone, but I wither without dialogue.
Fibergig is a mother daughter duo passionate about all things fiber. With 55 years of combined experience we have touched a lot of fabric and yarn. It is our joy to make things that grace peoples' daily lives.It is our pleasure to discover fresh takes on classics.
How did we choose our name? The fiber is tribute to our chosen mediums. The gig part is a both the summation of our mother daughter relationship and individual passions. Many years ago, while struggling with a homework assignment, it came to light that there are always good ideas in our brains and that we are Good Idea Gals! Gig also alludes to a music (Norma) and horses (Emily).
My creative idols: I like to return to the question of who would you have a meal with / any one in history. I have two sets of companions. Members of the first are Henri Matisse, Gustav Klimt, and the writer of the gospel of John. Lunch conversation with the guys is about artistic techniques and visual and verbal poetry. The second set of creatives includes Hildegard von Bingen, Emily Dickinson, and Annie Oakley. The ladies and I will be having a leisurely dinner, filled with purpose. These three pillars served as the metaphorical generals of my armies when I was battling hard stuff. And now I am in the midst of good stuff and my generals still help with tactical insight.
The most gratifying part of my work is when it serves its purpose well. I began creating custom work in collage. I particularly like the communication process of commissioned work. When a garment gives the wearer confidence and energy, when an art piece evokes touch, and when a mural creates identity, it is then that I know the joy of my work.
Cutting, shaping, sanding, and finishing natural wood into something functional and beautiful takes time, and as such I find myself in my workshop at Lighthouse Woodworking at 9:00 am Monday through Saturday; I’ll turn the lights off at 5:00 pm most days. And Sundays we take the time to worship, relax, read, and rest.
The workshop is located in a stand-alone, three-car garage that boasts its own heating, cooling, and ventilation system, 1 ½ baths, a separate room for applying finish, and a showroom on the second floor. It’s a fifteen second walk from our back door to the shop, in and of itself a blessing. If I ever need to lift my mood, I turn on the radio and listen to the traffic report coming out of Northern Virginia!
So….why wood? I love the smell, feel, and look of wood. Every wood species has its own characteristics: color, workability, specific gravity, hardness, ability to hold fasteners, and so on. Worldwide, there are thousands of tree species; most of the furniture I build, however, is made from North American hardwoods local to the Shenandoah Valley. These include walnut, soft and hard maple, poplar, hickory, and cherry.
Few people seem to understand what it takes to build a piece of furniture out of solid wood. Apart from learning and perpetuating the skills needed to be a woodworker, I find I am often educating people on the steps involved in turning raw wood into something useful. It all starts with a tree….
< This black cherry tree grows on our property, within view of my shop. I would guess that it is 75-95 years old. It’s not perfect, and that’s the first lesson in working with wood: from the tree to the board, wood is not perfect. My cherry tree is subject to drought, disease, a seemingly endless onslaught of indigenous and imported bugs (ash trees are being decimated as I write this by a non-native insect called the Emerald Ash Borer), gunshots, nails, screws, and fence wire. If a tree manages to survive these maladies, the amount of useful wood out of the typical log is often low, with a waste factor of 50% or more.
But…with a sound log, somewhat straight, and of a good diameter, good wood can be found. These days, it’s often milled on a portable sawmill, using a blade that is a mere 1/16” of an inch thick, minimizing the waste from the blade’s kerf. To the unbeliever this will sound quite strange, but there are few things as beautiful as a freshly cut plank sawed from a log. Every log is different, and just as Mr. Gump once said, you never know what you’re going to get. Simply stated, wood is beautiful. It’s a joy to be able to do what I do.
Milled cherry, ready for use. This wood has > air-dried for several years. It takes about a year to dry a board that is 1” thick, two years to dry a board that is 2” thick, and so on. The boards in the center of this pile are “live edge”, meaning we left the tree’s bark and natural profile intact. The pieces of wood separating each layer of boards are called stickers.
Once the wood is milled into boards and dried, it is ready for use. Well, at least it is ready to be brought into the shop. There I remove any defects developed during the drying process, such as warp, twist, cupping, fungal growth, and so on. There is more loss at this stage….and still no furniture to show for it!
Sound wood is jointed (the process of flattening one face, and one edge of the board 90 degrees to that face, on a machine called a jointer), planed (the process of milling the wood to the correct thickness on a machine called a planer), and then cut to the correct width and length with various saws, both hand and machine. Energy is consumed throughout the process: mine and the utility grid’s. More waste can occur even after this processing; overnight the natural stresses in a freshly milled board can cause undesirable twisting and cupping. When wood is dried in a kiln (think baking the wood in a large oven to drive out the moisture) these stresses are eased, but kiln drying won't guarantee wood won’t behave in an odd way.
We’re now close to having something put together that resembles “furniture.” In a typical dresser, there may be dozens of components and dozens more operations that were performed to join these components into a solid whole.
< Components for a cherry dresser, and two cherry nightstands. An error in any single component can throw off the entire assembly; making furniture requires a clear head and some degree of patience!
With the components machined and tested for fit, now comes the task responsible for most carpal tunnel syndrome problems woodworkers experience: sanding. It is not uncommon for a woodworker to spend hours, even days, sanding wood. While the task is somewhat mindless, a lot can go wrong: fail to sand every piece of wood to the same degree, through the same grits of sandpaper (I start with 100 grit, move to 120 grit, and usually progress through 180 or 220 grit), and the mistake will telegraph through the wood when finish is applied. (Even with all this sanding, it’s still a joy to do what I do!)
Left: When all components are sanded, and then assembled, we finally have “furniture”. The cherry dresser, nearing final assembly. Right: The cherry nightstands, without drawers.
“Finishing” the furniture is the next major task. In this context, “finishing” means applying some kind of substance to the wood to protect it and enhance its beauty. There are literally hundreds of finishing choices on the market, from natural beeswax, to highly engineered polyurethanes and oils. Some finishes are not compatible with others (think oil and water), and some are best applied with a spray gun or other means. I prefer a Danish oil product to awaken the natural beauty of the wood, and once the oil has cured for 72 hours, wipe-on polyurethane. I usually apply three coats of poly to the furniture case, and six coats to the tops. And….I sand between each coat of poly.
Left: The completed cherry dresser. For scale, the top is 22” wide by 72” long. Right: The completed pair of cherry nightstands. The tops are 22” square.
I’ve walked you through the construction of a relatively simple dresser and nightstand commission, probably two to three weeks of work. Masters of the craft will easily spend six months on an elaborate 18th century secretary or knee hole desk. Furniture size and complexity dictate the effort required; however, even the simplest of projects takes time to do well. And it all starts with a tree!
See more of Ron's work:
"We will be happy if any of our fine art images evoke a feeling of joy, serenity, empathy, or transport you to a place where you have always wanted to go or one that you visited and brings back memories and a smile to your face.”
We, Gerry D'Onofrio and Dora Ramirez, a married couple living in Northern Virginia with many years of experience behind the camera, founded GerDora Photography as a result of a long-time dream of sharing our fine art images with the world. Our interests include nature as well as traditional and contemporary themes reflecting different points of view. We work together and complement each other believing our joint efforts enhance our final creations.
We usually go out to shoot photographs together and, as we like to say, “We shoot together but separately” as we typically travel to the same location, we part from each other and converge, and later enjoy seeing how differently we “see” the same subject. We believe that, aside from capturing strong images, taking into account the basic rules of composition (and knowing when to break them), lighting, interesting subject matter, etc., oftentimes the artistry is defined in the creative post-processing phase. The right crop, rendering the image in black and white, sepia, or color are a few of the many decisions that have to be made to convey a particular feeling or vision.
We don’t want to limit ourselves to a specific subject matter or style, which may seem like a necessity in this age of “niches.” We are constantly experimenting and evolving. Our inspiration comes from the places we have lived and traveled and many times from the most unexpected ones. We are very proud to have won a number of awards for our fine art photography and our images are part of corporate and private collections.
Our greatest reward, however, is to know that there are people who show interest in our work and tell us they like it. We love the interaction with people and enjoy seeing how they react to our fine art images.
Recently, a customer acquired one of our framed images to give to her husband as a birthday gift. We were touched when she sent a message saying, “My husband’s birthday was yesterday and he absolutely loved the print. It is hanging prominently in our living room now. I love your work, it’s so beautiful and [of] wonderful quality.”
We really appreciate that friends have purchased some of our pieces and knowing that some of our work is hanging on the walls of total strangers really rocks our world!
We are very much looking forward to participating in Winchester’s Amuse Art and Craft Festival and interacting with the people who stop by!
Gerry and Dora
As an artist, my medium of choice is wood. The uniqueness of each piece’s grain, bark, and color variations allows for one of a kind creative expressions that are raw, natural, and beautiful. Art is an expression of self that connects with others in a way that, when unique and isolated, cannot be replicated or exploited.
The most difficult challenge other than time is letting go of pieces that I love, but one of the most gratifying things is letting go of pieces that I love. It is fulfilling to know people want to buy what I love to create. My husband would want the public buying my work to know that I say that the imperfections are what makes my work perfect. I would want everyone to know that it is an honor to share with them something that I enjoy and love more then I find to be a responsibility.
I find inspiration in the peace and balance of creating natural art for others. When I work, it is often accompanied by the words “Alexa…play Jack Johnson on iHeart radio.” My studio is the place I find to be most comfortable….in my home with my family rustling about. If I do get in a creative rut I reach out to my old friend Pintrest, or I find inspiration at the root of the medium. I love a good tree!Inspiration comes from looking outside or being in the woods, not from a computer or TV, and if I had a time machine I would go back to the days of the sapling and a time with far less tools.
The process began with scraps from my dad’s build that I found beauty in. It showed me the potential of wood. The love I received for my craft gave me the confidence to continue to try, and the continued reception has solidified my desire to make woodworking a part of my life. My dream project would be an Ardys in the Rough Tiny House!
My creative idols are family. My grandfather always had a unique way of looking at things and my father’s motivation and love for nature has guided me. Five words that describe me are a QUIET CREATIVE FORCE OF NATURE, and five words that describe my work are NO PIECE EVER THE SAME.
It is a little funny to me that after all I have done in life as a woman, wife, and mother, art has become one of the most notable accomplishments to some of those I know. I find balance with my art because it is a family affair! From the work we do, to the name I carry. Ardys is my great-grandmother’s name, my middle name, and a beautiful name for the girl we never had. Rough is reflective of the live edge finish I prefer.
I am a teacher by day and mother of two boys, a 6 and 10 year old involved in as much as they can be, by night. I am the wife of an amazing father and husband that helps me behind the scenes on this journey, and we all work on art together!
I’m originally from South Florida, and moved to the Northern Virginia area following graduation from Queens University of Charlotte, NC. I had majored in sociology. I am a “self-taught” artist; I do not have any formal art training. I would consider my artistic abilities as a gift from the great Creator. I began painting when a friend gave me a beginners paint set, with no idea that I would have taken to it as I have. However, from the moment I received that paint set, many years ago, I haven’t stopped painting ever since. It was almost as if I was destined to paint. The paintings come through me almost effortlessly.
My style is poetic, open, somewhat surreal, and somewhat abstract. My innate intent is to convey a sense of peace and tranquility through my art, and to share my celebration of good living. Within each painting, I invite the viewer to be a part of the art, and to bring forth their own interpretation.
Learn more about Rayhart at: www.rayhart.com and be sure come visit him and his work at Amuse on May 21st!