CREATE New Jersey!

Back in February, I began strongly feeling the need for a “thing” (as I call it), meaning an art retreat, a class, a video – something teachy-learny and fun and inspiring. (Because I don’t have enough projects stacked up in my brain already, apparently.)

After some research, I decided on one of the “CREATE” retreats put on by Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.  I had a ton of fun at the Houston quilt show the two years I attended, and that was mostly due to their super fun events and classes.  (Yes, that was the last time I did “the Pony” and “the Robot” while wearing giant pie-plate earrings, thank you for asking!)

Serendipitously, the New Jersey version of CREATE just happened to coincide with my dad’s 78th birthday – and he lives only 20 minutes from the venue!  So it was fate, clearly.  I HAD to go.

I decided on three classes; three because I don’t like to overload myself and get burned out, and also because that number earned you a tote bag with “goodies” in it.  I had no idea how good those goodies would be, and was quite thrilled to receive an awesome pair of (rather complicated looking) Fiskars scissors, some Golden acrylic paints, a Faber-Castell “stamper’s big brush” marker, a Colorbox molding mat, a jar of “Silk” paint and a collage pack from the “Art Camp for Women” people.  (I am seriously considering Art Camp for my next “thing!”  It looks like a ton of fun.)

Because my husband refuses to fly (long story), we drove to New Jersey from Florida, a trip of just under 1,000 miles, and I was worried we wouldn’t arrive in time to attend the Tuesday night welcome reception. Things got worse when we got stuck in stop-and-go rush hour traffic on I-78 and I vacillated between grinding my teeth, wishing and hoping, and just totally giving up and letting it go. But as luck would have it, we pulled in only a few minutes late, and I managed to not only get registered and pick up my awesome tote bag (thanks for sticking around, registration gals!), but also got to partake in the “Letter Me” flag challenge at the welcome party.  We were each given a 4×6 sheet of watercolor paper and there were art supplies to borrow; we could also use whatever supplies we had brought.  I don’t know about anyone else, but to me, “art supplies” are not only paints, pencils, inks, brushes, etc, but also vintage images, flowers, glitter, papers, lace and ribbons! So I had thrown some of all of the above and more into my little art box.  I whipped up this banner by gluing a decorative napkin to the paper, edging it with Distress ink, enhancing it with the provided watercolor crayons, and throwing on some of the ephemera I’d brought along.

create banner

It turned out fairly wonky, as the paper buckled from the glued-on napkin and watercolors, and I felt a bit rushed since Dude was waiting, so I didn’t get everything attached particularly straight!  But when it was time to pick up our banners later that week, I discovered I had won the challenge!  (Whoo-hoo!) What a great prize it was, too – eight Cloth Paper Scissors DVDs (I squealed pretty loud when I saw those!), a set of Derwent pencils, a jar of glitter, a set of Sharpie fabric markers and a roll of Smash tape (my favorite pattern, the black w/ white polka-dots).  It was so worth all that hurry and worry!

We spent Wednesday and Thursday visiting my dad and then I attended my first class on Friday, Collage Monotypes with Helen Shafer Garcia.  It was super fun, even though we had to (dun, dun, dunnnnnn…) DRAW! Most of my classmates drew birds, flowers and butterflies, as in her samples, but I already knew I couldn’t draw a bird to save my life, so I drew a cat.  Helen had some great tips for drawing that really helped; I’m sure my cat would have turned out much less cat-like if not for her guidance!

create helen

Don’t you love her apron?  She was a very friendly and patient teacher and the time just flew by!

Friday night was the Artist’s Faire.  I thought about skipping it, since I was already pretty broke from buying classes and the long trip, but decided to go anyway, at least to look around.  I ended up spending just under $50, got some great things and saw some beautiful artwork, so it was worth it (even though the room apparently didn’t have air-conditioning!  And never mind that the heat index that day was 108)!

Saturday I had two classes; the first being Pigments of Your Imagination with Cathy Taylor.  WOW, was that fun!  We used a product called Citra-Solv on the pages of National Geographic magazine; the results were amazing and the whole time you could hear everyone going “Ooooh, ahhhh!”  Cathy was an awesome instructor; very encouraging and generous with information.  After class, she let whoever wanted to stick around for tips on selling our work.  (I’m pretty sure everyone stayed – and we all took copious notes!)

create cathy

Here’s Cathy with my favorite of her samples.  (Cat themed, of course!)

My second class was a shorter, evening one, Eezy Peezy Photo Collage with Jodi Ohl.  It was held in a room with giant, bare windows, and we got distracted a few times by a lightning storm outside!  Most of the class was demo on how to use the free photo program Picasa, which was very informative, and I was glad to have a comprehensive handout for experimenting later.  We also did packing-tape and gel medium transfers, but unfortunately ran short of time to do more than a couple projects.  Jodi very kindly let us take some jars of Silk paint that she had samples of, and shared her art journals, which were very cool.  Here she is with one of her larger artworks.  Isn’t it fabulous?

create jodi

There were samples from some of the classes displayed near the registration desk.  Pictures of class samples can never do justice to seeing them in person!  I wanted to take every one of the classes after seeing these samples.

various samples

How cute are those books?  There was another class with mini books as well:

mini book samples

I’ve made mini books before, but they didn’t turn out nearly as amazing as these, and frankly I did not enjoy making them!  (I don’t know why I didn’t, I just didn’t.) I think I would have loved to make these!  And having seen the samples, I also wish I’d signed up for this class about making books with washi tape.

washi tape books

(I didn’t notice until I was editing the photo that the book on the left is upside-down and backwards!)  So, so cool – but then, I’m always drawn to anything having to do with books.  I’m fascinated by bindings and always love learning new ones.

So, that was CREATE New Jersey!  I had a blast and loved being with like-minded people and meeting some amazing and talented instructors.  I’m already looking forward to my next “thing” – whatever that may turn out to be!

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