Roll on summer!  Hilarious, considering spring seems to be experiencing considerable difficulty getting underway.  Yet the year is galloping on ahead despite the lag in the weather, and we are mid-May already!  I have already started plans and preparations for my various teaching gigs this year, so I thought it was about time I shared some information with you!  All this and more detail will go up on my website shortly, but here’s a nice little taster.

Blossom

My very first teaching engagement away from home will be, unusually, teaching in my role as a library conservator.  I will be teaching introductory and intermediate book repair sessions at the Canadian Library Association Conference in Victoria, BC on May 28th.  A chance to spend some springtime in Victoria can only be a good thing!

Create 2014 logo

I am excited to have some different teaching opportunities this year.  I absolutely love teaching at CREATE, and I will be doing so again this year.  Only . . . in different venues!  I am so excited to tell you I will be teaching at CREATE in Dallas, Texas for the first time this year, at a fabulously creative looking place called the Night Hotel.  I am offering five workshops in Dallas, and you can see details here.

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I am not long back from Texas and I will be winging my excited way to Idyllworks in Maine for a long weekend steeped in connection and art making at the beautiful Grey  Havens Inn.  A much more intimate experience, a group of us will gather to create our own journals and then work on filling them while we fill our souls with walks and wonderful food and sea air and companionship.  Just look at the details here.  Won’t you please come?

After Maine, I have a very, very exciting thing shaping up which I will need to tell you more about once the details have been pinned down.  For now, I will just say, all of you in Australia who have been asking me to come may finally get your wish!

And then, toward the end of October, it’s back to CREATE, this time in Seattle, WA.  I so love the Seattle area and am excited to have the opportunity to teach in this more northerly west coast venue.  I’m really hoping to see some of the lovely people in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada that I’ve been hearing from for so long.  In Seattle, I have seven workshops on offer, and there is so much more deliciousness to choose from besides.  Do check it out!

I will put greater detail on my website shortly, and you can always view updates on the latest on either my Facebook page or my Google+ page any time.  I hope to see you at one of these great venues this year.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
~Jacques Yves Cousteau11bc86ce365a11e1abb01231381b65e3_7

And so, the time approaches for me to make what is becoming an annual pilgrimage to the California coast of my childhood.  Excitement is building as I have made travel arrangements and begun my work on samples and supplies.  The opportunity to travel back to California regularly has become the greatest gift of my artistic life, and has given me a touchstone with my past that has long been absent.  We lived in the Greater Los Angeles area for a number of years during my childhood, and returned there often to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  I spent my childhood on LA’s beaches and imprinted my soul with the colour of its sunlight.  Visits have involved a kind of double vision for me, seeing the LA of today and the LA of my childhood overlapping.  My beloved grandparents lived out the second half of a life that was amazing to my eyes on that coast.  Returning brings me back into the arms of those aunts and uncles and cousins I so love and teaches me that, for me, California will always be home.

This year will be the fourth year in a row I’ve been privileged to make this journey.  The trip this year marks some precious landmarks in my life.   Once again, I will enjoy sharing and creating with all the enthusiastic, talented and creative students and teachers at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Irvine.  A full week of creation, good talk and fun times (with a bit of wine, I’m sure) to come.

50 birthday cake

The second week will be something very different.  For the first time since my husband and I met 27 years ago, I will take a vacation on my own, away from my family.  The trip will mark another of my growing list of Fifty Things I Have Never Done.  For June 6 will be my 50th birthday.  To mark it, I will undertake the next leg of my journey to complete the Pacific Coast Highway.  This time, I will tour north from Los Angeles, ending up with a few days seeing old friends in San Francisco.  I haven’t been to San Francisco since I was a very small child.  The trip will culminate in meeting with a most dear friend I have not seen since we were both in high school some 34 years ago.CA-Highway1Sign-XL

As with my trip along the Pacific Coast Highway in Washington and Oregon last year, my days and nights will be spent kicking along through the nostalgia of the small coastal towns, walking for hours barefoot on the beach, touching the sea and talking with my grandfather, whose ashes were scattered in the sea off that coast 25 years ago.  This poem was my grandfather’s favourite and was read at his funeral. The words of the poem go to a deep place inside me that expresses the feeling of my sojourns to the sea better than any words I could conjure. My favourite line? ” . . where the wind’s like a whetted knife . . ” I’ve never known another that expressed my family’s feeling for the sea quite so perfectly.

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

By John Masefield (1878-1967).
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)

I am eager for my days by the sea and for all those weeks will bring.  Leaving will be hard, harder each time, harder than ever this year with such special things and people to say goodbye to.    Even the prospect of a painful goodbye will not keep me away.  My beloved sea, I’ll be on my way soon.285789_10151228140617268_1161624324_n

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach–waiting for a gift from the sea.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

CREATE 2013 I'm Teaching ButtonAs April winds towards its end, I am beginning my preparation to attend the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Irvine, California.  This is a time each year that I relish for multiple reasons.  The atmosphere, new and old friends galore and creativity combine to make for a fun and enjoyable time.  I lived in California until I was ten, and it is always a joy to return.  Best of all is that I get to travel with my dear friend and colleague Tiffany Teske.  Tiffany and I both lead busy lives in the same community, and so time for anything more than the occasional cup of tea together can be hard to find.  We look forward to the time of travelling (and co-teaching in a couple of workshops) as our time.

This year, in both CREATE SoCal and CREATE New Jersey, I am teaching six workshops!  Here is a little run-down of the classes I’m teaching.  I do hope you will take the opportunity of a vacation with us in Irvine, California or in Somerset, New Jersey to play, create and join this band of friends.  Join us!

Here are the six workshops I will be teaching at both retreats.  There’s a little something for everyone.   Hope to meet you there!

BowWorkshop Name: Paper Quilting
Class Length: 3-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description: When working in collage, we are always looking for ways to add depth and interest to our surface. One way to build layers, depth and surface interest is to quilt your papers, or adhere embellishments with stitches or wire. In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to experiment with quilting techniques on paper and board using threads, ribbon and wire.
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Workshop Name: Magnificent Marbling
Class Length: 6-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description: Don’t let the intricacy and beauty of a marbled paper fool you. Those ripples of color may look hand-painted or machine-stamped, but they’re actually created by liquid paint. Marbleizing, which involves using absorbent papers to pick up ink or paint from a water bath, dates to the twelfth century, when it was practiced in Japan and possibly China. Join Dea Fischer to make your own rich and vibrant designs by marbleizing paper to use in your mixed media projects.
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Workshop Name: Instant Travel Journals
Class Length: 6-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description: You are in your hotel room. Sights, sounds and smells are teeming outside your window. You look in your suitcase and find . . . nothing. Once again, there was no room in the suitcase for journalling materials, but there are so many impressions to capture! Fear not, good journalling materials are to hand. In minutes, with few or no tools at all, you can have a great travel journal to write, draw, paint or collage into. Make folded journals, a flag book journal and a pamphlet stitch journal in this fun workshop.
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Workshop Name: These Little Wonders: Miniature books
Class Length: 3-Hour
Skill Level: Intermediate
Description: What is more delightful to the eye and the hand than a small and perfectly formed miniature book? Join book artist Dea Fischer to create a deliciously tiny mixed media treasure less than 2″ high to wear as a pendant or hang from your Christmas tree.

And co-teaching with my dear friend Tiffany Teske:

Image from "Nightfall"

Image from “Nightfall”

Workshop Name: Creating the Vision: Photography for Mixed Media
Class Length: 6-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description: Creating your own photographic images for your mixed media work doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or require a lot of fancy equipment. Join mixed media artists Tiffany Teske and Dea Fischer to learn how to use low technology methods to create your own images.  You will receive instructions and materials to build and use your own pinhole camera, and also experience other low tech camera equipment hands-on.  Tiffany and Dea will take you on a walking field trip around the area to experiment with Polaroid cameras and Fuji instant films, Holga plastic cameras, and cyanotype (‘sun’) printing with objects. You will leave the workshop with up to 20 finished images to use in your future mixed media work, some exposed films to process and your pinhole camera to further your experiments at home.

Detail from "Dictionary of Sorrows", Dea Fischer

Detail from “Dictionary of Sorrows”, Dea Fischer

Workshop Name:  Creating the Vision: Printing and Transferring Your Images
Class Length:  6-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description:  You’ve mastered the photography, you’ve created images you love.  Deepen your layers of creative engagement by learning to incorporate images of your own creation into your mixed media artwork.  Join Tiffany Teske and Dea Fischer to explore fascinating image printing and transfer techniques that can be tricky to master effectively. You will create cyanotype or ‘sun’ prints from negatives, and practice making gel medium skins and transfers, blender pen transfers, encaustic and heat transfers.  You will produce several pieces during this workshop that you can take away to use in your work.

I like to keep an eye on activity on my blog, website and Facebook page.  It helps me get a sense of what people are interested in, and really helps me to direct my content for future posts.Petal envelope 3 Petal envelope 2 Petal  envelope 1

There is a blog post I did in 2011 that still consistently gets hits every single day.  Yes.  Every.  Single.  Day.  For nearly two years.  What is this spectacularly interesting post?  It was a simple little photo tutorial on how to make a petal card.  Who could have known such a simple topic would gain such consistent popularity?Step 7

I enjoy creating mail art and exchanging it with friends and contacts all over the world.  There is something about the combination that thrills me:  The ephemeral nature of the mail art; the quality added to the art by handling and transit through the postal system; the idea of the interest and pleasure it brings as it passes hand to hand across the world; and the pleasure of contact and exchange engendered when the art reaches its destination.Mail art low res

I long since moved beyond prosaic mail art on commercially made envelopes.  My horizons expanded when I began to make my own packages and envelopes for mail art and to share with friends and family.  As this little blog post has garnered so much interest over such a long period, I thought it was high time I expanded the topic into a video tutorial to share with you.   And so, my dears, here it is at last:  a full length video tutorial on making your own envelopes and packages for mail art and other purposes.  I hope you enjoy it!

Dea Fischer snapshot 1I am honoured and pleased to be a Spotlight Artist for Art Camp for Women this month.   Through the course of this year, Art Camp will be spotlighting several artists in their newsletter and blog, and I hope you will keep in touch with them to meet some of the other great artists they will be bringing your way.

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Art Camp for Women is the only art retreat I have  encountered that genuinely embraces the true nature of a ‘retreat’ – complete, delightful immersion for mind and spirit; an opportunity to engage, share and connect with people who live fully through their creative spirit and provide you with an opportunity to do the same.  This year, I am excited to tell you that Art Camp for Women is giving you an opportunity to win a free camp registration.  What on earth are you waiting for?

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From the vantage point of the beginning of the summer, it seemed to stretch away, full of endless possibility.  Suddenly, the golden leaves in the woodland outside my window beckon my eye, school has begun again . . . and autumn is upon us.

Autumn is my favourite time of year.  The spicy scents of the woodland blow through me, the sunlight is mellow and golden, and the world seems to be under the Midas touch.  This autumn for the first time carries with it my first time teaching at the Art & Soul Retreat in Portland, Oregon.  I am excited to be making the journey to share creative richness with our west coast participants.  I am looking forward to the time, to the extra days allotted for driving the west coast, enjoying the autumnal scenery and discovering the city of Portland in my spare time.

After a day’s exploration, I will be joining the Retreat on Friday, October 5th to teach you how to create the starbook form.  It is a multi-layered, complex-looking book form that opens out to a full and dramatic circular display.I’m here to tell you it is not as complicated as it looks, and I will be with you to walk you through step by step to creating this wonderful book form.

Image by Greg Yavorsky

Detail from “Dictionary of Sorrows”, Dea Fischer

On Sunday, 7 October, I will spend the day teaching you many techniques to build and enrich your collage surface.  We will work from preparing our substrate board up through many layers to final embellishments, to give you the opportunity to really learn these many techniques for building depth and richness into your collage.  Photographs can’t ever quite convey the visual depth that can be achieved in these ways, but you will come away from the day chock full of inspiration and with your mind teeming with ideas on how to utilise these techniques to your best effect.

I am really looking forward to meeting you!  See you in Portland . . . .

“Remembering”, Dea Fischer

Home again, home again, jiggity jig . . . .

I have just returned from my first ever trip to Chicago.  My purpose was to attend and teach at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in the Chicago suburb of Lisle.  Not ever having been there, I really didn’t know what to expect.  Boy, was I surprised!  Chicago is truly a beautiful city in all the ways I had been led to expect.  Downtown is gracious, and full of beautiful juxtapositions of wonderful architectural styles spanning the last hundred and fifty-ish years since the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

Yet even more so, there was an atmosphere in downtown Chicago that I found incredibly charming.  People were happy.  People were friendly.  It helped that the city was bathed in a golden light from the slanting summer sun that made the entire city shine with a nostalgic light, but the thing that blew me away was the people.  It brought out the inherent friendly chattiness in my own nature, and I found myself having engaging, entertaining exchanges with people of all sorts, everywhere I went.  There was a genuine quality to their interest, not a ‘customer service’ be-nice-to-the-customer niceness.  People met my eye, returned my smile and my gaze, shared my laughter and extended themselves in my direction.  Not everywhere you travel gives you that, and in return, I fell in love with Chicago and its people.

Four full days were spent teaching and sharing with the most diverse, interesting and fun groups of people.  We made books, we learned collage techniques, we photographed and printed and transferred images together. And all along the way, we laughed, we talked, we shared, we hugged.  In my last class of the week, I was chatting away in a happily animated conversation with one student when I happened to glance down at her nametag and noticed her hometown . . . was the same town my parents live in in Missouri, a few states away.  I found myself saying, ‘Hey, my parents live there!”  One of those wonderful conversations ensued where we gave each other clues until we reached the meeting point:  This student was a member of my parents’ church and sat in the next pew!  Of all the hundreds of students and dozens and dozens of classes, she had become a student in my class.  This big old world of ours shrank a nice bit for me then.

The products to emerge from the classes were pure lusciousness, and I enjoyed the different aspects of the classes.  The only drawback was to be unable to attend the other workshops as a student!Evenings off led us on some wonderful adventures in other Chicago neighbourhoods, and a dusk sojourn to the Queen of Heaven Cemetery to photograph the old monuments . . . . Did I mention the behind-the-scenes tour of the Newberry Library?  I left Chicago with a keen appetite for more.  So much to discover, and I hope I will get back there soon.I would like to say a very big thank you to all my students for their keen interest, enthusiasm and creativity; to the ever-lovely Tiffany Teske, my travel companion, roommate, co-teacher and all-around partner in crime; and to all the staff at Interweave and on the CREATE Event Team for their organisation, calm nerves and stamina, and their ever-ready smiles.  What a wonderful week!

Did you know?   I will be teaching at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreats in southern California the first week of June, and in Chicago the third week of August this year.  Registration for both conferences is now open!  It has been so wonderful to connect with you all through Facebook and my blog and website, and I look forward to meeting you at one of these fantastic retreats.

CREATE was so much fun and stimulation last year, and I’m excited to be participating again this year. 

Here’s a run-down of the sessions I’ll be teaching. 

CREATE Mixed Media Retreat, Irvine, California,
May 30 – June 3, 2012

Just One Sheet of Paper
Join book artist Dea Fischer to learn how to transform a single sheet of paper into a simple and beautiful artist’s book. No needles, no thread and no glue required!  We will paint, decorate and embellish paper and add text or images to create a book form that you can use again and again.

Star Light, Star Bright:  The Chinese Star Book
Join book artist Dea Fischer to learn how to create her most intriguing and perennially popular book:  The Chinese Star Book.  The Chinese star book is an apparently complex, multi-layered book form that has many possible uses. It can be experienced in the hand like any other book, or opened out to a dramatic circular display.

Creating the Vision: Printing and Transferring Your Images (co-teaching with Tiffany Teske)
You’ve mastered the photography, you’ve created images you love.  Deepen your layers of creative engagement by learning to incorporate images of your own creation into your mixed media artwork.  Join Tiffany Teske and Dea Fischer to explore fascinating image printing and transfer techniques that can be tricky to master effectively. You will create cyanotype or ‘sun’ prints from negatives, and practice making gel medium skins and transfers, blender pen transfers, encaustic and heat transfers.  You will produce several pieces during this workshop that you can take away to use in your work.

Photo courtesy of Virginia Jaquez

Photo courtesy of Virginia Jaquez

Photo courtesy of Virginia Jaquez

CREATE Mixed Media Retreat, Lisle, Illinois,
August 22-26 2012

Rock, Paper, Scissors:  Enriching Your Collage Surface
The success of collage work often comes in the complexity and visual depth of its surface. Glimpses of images or words, translucent layers, texture and colour all come into play in creating a visually intriguing and stimulating collage surface.  In this workshop, we will explore collage layering techniques using a variety of materials from translucent papers and fabric to acrylic mediums, and building the surface through quilting, stitching and adhering embellishments with stitches, ribbon or wire.

Star Light, Star Bright:  The Chinese Star Book
Join book artist Dea Fischer to learn how to create her most intriguing and perennially popular book:  The Chinese Star Book.  The Chinese star book is an apparently complex, multi-layered book form that has many possible uses. It can be experienced in the hand like any other book, or opened out to a dramatic circular display.

Creating the Vision: Photography for Mixed Media (co-teaching with Tiffany Teske)
Creating your own photographic images for your mixed media work doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or require a lot of fancy equipment. Join mixed media artists Tiffany Teske and Dea Fischer to learn how to use low technology methods to create your own images.  You will receive instructions and materials to build and use your own pinhole camera, and also experience other low tech camera equipment hands-on.  Tiffany and Dea will take you on a walking field trip around Lisle to experiment with Polaroid cameras and Fuji instant films, Holga plastic cameras, and cyanotype (‘sun’) printing with objects. You will leave the workshop with up to 20 finished images to use in your future mixed media work, some exposed films to process, your pinhole camera and a Holga Micro with 110 film to further your experiments at home.

Creating the Vision: Printing and Transferring Your Images (co-teaching with Tiffany Teske)
You’ve mastered the photography, you’ve created images you love.  Deepen your layers of creative engagement by learning to incorporate images of your own creation into your mixed media artwork.  Join Tiffany Teske and Dea Fischer to explore fascinating image printing and transfer techniques that can be tricky to master effectively. You will create cyanotype or ‘sun’ prints from negatives, and practice making gel medium skins and transfers, blender pen transfers, encaustic and heat transfers.  You will produce several pieces during this workshop that you can take away to use in your work.

  • Dea Fischer and Pam Carriker, CREATE Costa Mesa 2011

I wrote yesterday about teaching again at Interweave’s CREATE Mixed Media Retreat.  I am really looking forward to that . . .   What I haven’t told you yet is that I will also be teaching at the Art & Soul Retreat in Portland, Oregon in early October this year!  Another new experience for me, it looks like I will be meeting some of my instructor friends there as well.  I haven’t attended this retreat before, but I know it by reputation.  I will be teaching two workshops in Portland, including a collage session and a book arts session.  Do check out the wonderful array of workshops, and I hope to see you there!

Can it really be that I have returned home from CREATE Costa Mesa already?  My week in southern climes flew by, divided happily between family visiting and hanging out with artists extraordinaire at CREATE.  The only blot on my So Cal landscape was only getting to spend three minutes on the beach in the entire week.  Very hard for a California girl, that.

The experience of CREATE was unbelievable.  So many skilled artists full to brimming with information, ideas and techniques to share, it was often difficult to distinguish teacher from pupil.  We became equals sharing together.  I find the experience of working in such an environment incredibly stimulating.  Everywhere you look, there are wonderful things going on, a positive feast of creations to look at and pore over and discover.  So many exclamations rang through those rooms of ‘How did you do that!?” and “Wow, that’s amazing!”  I was inspired, honoured and thrilled with the sharing and exchanging that went on during the workshops I attended and taught.  Let me tell you the story! 

After a day visiting with family, I arrived at the retreat on Thursday to meet all the wonderful  CREATE instructors, crew and Cloth Paper Scissors editorial staff.  It was amazing to be greeted like an old friend by such talented artists as Pam Carriker, Jen Cushman,  Barb Delaney, Jenn Mason and Jane LeFazio, names and faces I had become familiar with through Facebook and Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.  After much visiting, nineteen-to-the-dozen talking and laughter, it was time to get along to my workshop making pendants with Thomas Ashman.

Pendants, copyright Dea Fischer 2011

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And so at last, the time to gather my tools and head to California for the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat is upon me.  The excitement suddenly hit me at a visceral level last night, and I couldn’t sleep for all the ideas and plans and things to remember teeming my thoughts.  My suitcase is mostly packed, final materials are being prepped this weekend and then I’m off for a delightful week back in my home of Southern California.
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