Five things that make a really great workshop

All five things were in place yesterday at the San Antonio Art League Studio where seven of us gathered to construct little folding candle screens.

On the practical side, these make wonderful adornments for a table or mantle, and they are perfect gifts.

On the creative side, the process allowed us to experiment with many different techniques. And we got to practice our measuring skills!

Here’s the list of elements that made the workshop great:

  1. Focus and limits – we focused on mixed media collage strips that were 4″x12″ to construct small folding three-dimensional screen for electronic votive lights
  2.  An engaging process with an end in mind – we worked toward the specific construction of an object while paying attention to the process of surface alteration
  3. Limited materials, unlimited possibilities – we began with two methods – one included altered magazine paper with metal leaf, and the other included torn paper images. Each method has hundreds of possibilities and combinations
  4. Generous participants – everyone was willing to share both ideas and materials. When something wasn’t working (e.g., the paper was too wet to cut) we helped each other solve the problem
  5. Reflection and practical anticipation – we celebrated when we saw our candles lighted. Each one was different. We talked about how the process could be improved, expanded, and altered, but agreed that what we had done was absolutely perfect!

When you look at the video, try to see how each of the participants found different solutions to the concept of constructing these folding collage cards. It was indeed a great workshop!

Lyn Belisle Workshop at the San Antonio Art League: Votive Candle Collage from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

Here’s a list of the materials we used – very simple (I don’t believe in requiring expensive specialty craft products):

  • 9×12″ construction paper or other medium weight paper
  • Two 4×12″ pieces of decorative paper
  • 4 2.5” square pieces of translucent vellum or translucent rice paper
  • Two ½” bands of contrasting paper for side trim
  • Compass or large round hole punch
  • Craft glue or double-sided tape
  • Stamps, stickers, metallic pens – whatever “de-lights” your heart
  • Small twigs, reeds or sticks (optional)
  • A battery votive tea light
  • and – voila!!

Mary Ann Johnson’s work in progress

I’ll be scheduling more workshops soon, both at the Art League Studio and at my own studio! Stay tuned, and happy fall weather in San Antonio – at last.




Workshop: light a candle

Sometimes it seems as if the world gets scarier and scarier, and it’s awfully hard not to get discouraged. We just have to keep focused on creative ways to keep ourselves centered so we can continue adding a little beauty to life’s journey.

That’s not exactly the way I intended to talk about this upcoming workshop, but it seems fitting. I’ll be teaching once again at the San Antonio Art League studio on King William, and we’ll be lighting things up with a votive candle collage project. The date is Sunday, October 29th and the time is 2-5 PM.

I wrote about this project for Cloth Paper Scissors magazine a couple of years ago, but now I’ve added the idea of personal collage to the basic structure.

We’ll spend a relaxing three hours talking about art and life while we create these collage votive cards. I’ll provide all materials, including the little switch-on candles.

You’ll add your personal touches through the collage elements and the colors you choose.

There are four spaces left at this writing, and you can sign up here on my website.
A portion of the tuition will benefit the San Antonio Art League & Museum.

Let’s shine some light together. I am so grateful for you all —


Huipiles and votives and shards – oh, my!

Studio update – it was a busy, creative, rewarding weekend in a zillion ways. Our show and sale of Guatemalan artisan goods for Friendship Bridge was a huge success – both money and awareness were raised! Thanks for all who came to shop and learn – here are some photos:

Sunday was a day of rest – well, not exactly, but I had a wonderful time at our relaxing Votive Workshop. Seven of us sat around the table creating these little candle screens. It was the perfect way to spend a cold and drizzly afternoon. The Studio is a magical place sometimes.

Finally, last night, this girl realized she need to get to work and get her hands in some clay! These little faces will go into the kiln today and perhaps turn into Spirit Dolls, assemblages or Etsy send-outs to someone else for their own creations. Have a happy week, Y’all, and stay warm.

Winning Workshop (and Scent Shard Winner)

I never imagined that the space in La Vida Gallery could be so perfect for a workshop, but it was. We were surrounded by art and inspiration this afternoon at the gallery with light coming in from the large windows looking out onto the Southtown neighborhood. Carole Weissler, gallery owner, was a host and participant – she’s a talented artist in her own right. This group was motivated and creative –  the finished products really glowed with colors and textures. One particular participant complained about the quality of the glue sticks, but I noticed that it didn’t keep her from making two lovely votive cards. She also showed me a much better way to make the center cut. Sigh, live and learn. The whole afternoon was fun – see the video.

But wait – before the video starts, the winner of the Scent Shard (name drawn by Carol Mylar from Colorado Springs) is  . . . . . . .Sherry Palmer, who signed up for the mailing list during the last open studio and then subscribed to the Shards blog. Congratulations, Sherry – let me know how you’d like to claim your prize. I’ll be glad to mail it to you or you are more than welcome to come pick it up. I’d love to see you.

Now, back to the video: