If you go
What: Seventh Annual Artists of Rappahannock Studio & Gallery Tour
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 5-6, with headquarters at Washington fire hall
Tickets and info: Pick up a map with driving directions at the fire hall; passes are $10 per person. For more information, call 540-675-3193 or visit raac.org.
This is the third in a series of weekly visits with some of the new and returning artists on this year’s Open Studio and Gallery Tour, now in its seventh year and sponsored by the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community(RAAC) every first weekend in November.
Hands-on demonstrations by several new artists have been added to RAAC’s open studio and gallery tour this Nov. 5 and 6 – five by artists who work in clay and one by a printmaker.
Margaret Rogers is the printmaker. She will demonstrate her printmaking process, which involves dry point (rather than acid bath) engraving. She will also illustrate the “pulling of original prints” on the tour, which she does on her Griffin Press.
And don’t be distracted by the delicious aroma of coffee. Rogers’s studio is tucked behind the roasting room at Central Coffee Roasters, in Sperryville, a business she operates with her family. Rogers is a designer by training, schooled at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. She has also worked as a potter, an illustrator and even a political cartoonist. However, her true calling is printmaking, she says, which she started doing seven years ago after taking a course at the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville.
Inspired by the etchings of Rembrandt, she works in the authentic intaglio method, a complex, multi-step process. This method began in the 15th century, purportedly by German Daniel Hopfer, who took designs made for armor and transferred them to paper. The method was widely used by Rembrandt, as well as such more modern artists as Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
The intaglio process involves cutting a design into the unprotected parts of a metal surface (called a matrix) either by acid or a dry-point instrument. This is then processed with ink, and transferred to paper. Rogers uses both methods.
“Paper is the canvas of printmakers, “said Rogers. “Wielding these giant sheets from drawer to working table make me feel like master of the ship’s sails. Each step throughout the etching, dry point or engraving procedure can be a pleasure, and a horror, and then a catharsis. The journey traveled is a good one,” added Rogers. Once she is satisfied with a work, she will produce a series of them, many of them quite small and featuring whimsical characters and landscapes.
The artistic process of Libet Henze, of Far Ridge Ceramics in Castleton, is using poured clay (items made from molds) instead of wheel-based or slab structure pottery. Henze’s main focus is designing and making custom art tiles, which she turns into tiled art panels or uses in architectural installations. However, she also makes ceramics for home and gift use.
Self taught, she brings intense creativity to her work.
“I never saw myself as an artist. That seemed so elite! I saw myself as a ‘doer,’ making things with my hands,” said Henze, noting that she was always making things, even as a child. “The only art course I ever took was an art history course in college!”
Much of her inspiration stem from formative years traveling the world with her family, in Europe, Turkey and Ethiopia and her previous work in antique gun repair and stained glass restoration. Many of her tile designs involve medieval architectural images or designs taken from embroidery, as well as her love for the handiwork of artisans.
More and more, she is experimenting with designs she finds in nature, which she calls her muse. She collects things, such as snails, bugs, tree bark or even weeds, which she uses as models to create tile designs.
She notes that you never know what will inspire you. A new design is a “Joe Bowl,” so called for Joe, her “studio assistant” Joe – a black lab mix who came to her from the Rappahannock Animal Rescue League (RAWL), and who recently lost a leg to cancer, but is managing to do the job on three legs. Henze is selling the bowls to raise funds for Joe’s medical bills, but says when those are paid, she’ll be donating any further bowl income to RAWL.
Other aspects of working in clay will be shown by the new Rappahannock Pottery Collective. The collective was spawned when four students of Jeanne Drevas, the longtime Rappahannock artist who works in clay and nature materials, decided to continue their work by opening a studio at the River District Arts Center (RDA) in Sperryville. Each of the four (Sara Adams, Doris Jones, Nancy Nord and Susan Hornbostel) is drawn to different creative facet of working in clay. They will show the various aspects of making pottery, ranging from wheelwork (throwing pots), which is Nancy Nord’s love, to making slab work structures, such as Ikebana vases, a specialty of Susan Hornbostel.
Hornbostel, who gets her inspiration from Japanese pottery and nature, is intrigued by the possibilities of color and form in ceramics. “My previous experience is in printmaking and landscape design. But none of this prepared me for the pleasure of working with clay.”
Nord and Jones love the focus that making pots gives you. “When you are throwing a pot you can’t think of anything else,” said Jones, adding that there is a pleasure in getting results quickly.
Jones and Adams find their passion is the final phase of the process, experimenting with glazes, temperature and paint to create colorful, fanciful creations. Adams and Jones also like to make functional expressions of clay that people can use in their daily lives. Adams likes the variability you get in slab work and mixing glazes and paints.
“I love to knead and bend the clay at all stages, and I am sometimes surprised at the finished products that emerge from the kiln,” said Adams, noting that even her cats prefer their food in one of her colorful bowls.