I have lived in New York for over seven years, and by now I feel at home. But on many days I still haul myself home, exhausted by the unexpected and unexplainable weight of daily life here. And after too many days in a row like that, it can take a grand gesture on the part of city life to offer me needed perspective. My attendance at Lotta Jansdotter‘s surface printing workshop this past weekend did the trick to remind me of one of the reasons I do love New York: the easy proximity and friendly accessibility of so many talented designers and makers.
It all started with potato carving.
My design emerged in two stages. The first (on the lower right) felt a bit too evocative of Easter eggs, so I kept carving and eventually ended up with a sort of folk art version of a chrysanthemum instead.
After tackling this forgiving vegetable form, Lotta had us work on creating a stamp by carving a square of what I think was called EZ Cut. I made a leafy branch that I layered to create a strange shrubbery.
We ended our afternoon with a crash course in designing, cutting, and applying stencil patterns to textiles. I panicked a bit when it came to the design, but I finally settled on a parade of radishes that I applied to a tote bag. Here’s a close-up:
I always love being a participant, not a host (as I am at the library), at any hands-on event. But this workshop has much to recommend it specifically, and I came away enthused and excited about the work of surface printing. Lotta provided friendly encouragement and clear instruction, and her approach to teaching struck a balance between structure and freedom. My fellow students were inspiring as well, not the least for having traveled much greater distances than I (South America! Canada!) to take part in the workshop. New Yorkers are exceptionally fortunate to have such opportunities just a subway ride away, and that fact is well worth my remembering the next time I’m down on the city. Now, to start exploring the surface design books at my library.