Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Memory Jug Workshop

I have to admit I have a love-hate relationship with social media...blogs, facebook, twitter....emails!! It is all so handy for keeping up with the art world, friends and family....but I don't always feel like keeping up with everything and everyone. Sometimes I just need to retreat to my "art cave"... or "art hole", stick my head in the sand and not come out for awhile. Guess it's time to get my head out of the sand and get back to sharing some of my artful endeavors.

                                                The fabulous studio of Susan Wechsler.

The hand surgery and cast kept me from doing much in the way of art for's hard to accomplish a lot with one hand....and overusing it got a little painful. But I'm back with a bang!! I just returned from a truly amazing workshop in the studio of Susan Wechsler, a mosaic artist in Longmont, Colorado.  Susan has teamed up with artist Laurie Beth Zuckerman to host a 2-day workshop on Memory Jugs

                                  Laurie critiquing one of the memory jugs in the workshop. 
             It was fun to hear about all the memories evoked by the artists in their masterpiece.

As much as I love almost every type of art, my favorites have always been folk art and outsider art. I was born and raised in Texas and remember seeing memory jugs since I was a child.....I have always been fascinated with them. About 5 or 6 years ago I began trying to find out more about them...what they really are and most of all how I could make my own. I was surprised by how little information was available. I could not find out what the putty like substance was that most of them had been made from many years ago.  There just wasn't much known about them. I experimented with everything I could think of... even cement. Then a little over a year ago I found Laurie Beth Zuckerman, she had a book on CD which I ordered, 'Memory Jugs - Images, Instructions and Theories', ...I was blown away by how much information she had acquired on this little-known folk art.

        Judy Evans arranging her items for placement on the memory jug....or in Judy's case...her urn!!

When I received an email from Laurie announcing the workshop she would be giving in June with Susan I knew I had to be learn from the master!! The bonus was she was doing the workshop with Susan Wechsler, whose main forms of mosaic art are the wonderful 'Memory Dresses' and 'Altars' she creates from antique china, figurines and all kinds of other fabulous old stuff. I took my artist friend, Judy Evans, and together with 8 other artists from various backgrounds we spent two remarkable days learning from Laurie and Susan and each other. The collections of old stuff brought by these artists was a feast for the eyes and many brought things they had made to add to the jug... polymer clay, pottery, jewelry. I had some pieces I had made from air-dry clay as well as old jewelry pieces. I have been collecting for so many years it was fun to go through it all before the workshop and find pieces I wanted to include. 

                                                          Beginnings of memory jug.

                                            Finished jug, I also love blue and white china.

My jug was really large, it was a glass wine jug.... it had once contained a Carlo Rossi Sangria...but I liked the shape and wanted to see what I could do with the recycled bottle. Truly creating something from nothing. My favorite item I put on the jug is an old Toni Home Permanent Curling Rod from my grandmother. She use to give herself a Toni perm quite often....I can still remember the smell in the kitchen. I love my memory jug, it's on my mantle now .... I was thrilled to see the work done by the other artists at the workshop. Many had brought beautiful, collectible pieces from family members and made a true memory jug devoted to their family member. Perhaps the oddest was from my friend Judy (she's always a little odd, I think that's why we get along so well). Judy wishes to be cremated after her death and made her own urn for her ashes. I love fact I may steal her idea!!...and make my own urn as well. Let's just hope neither of us need it for awhile.

                   Close up of my jug, domino, jewelry, chain, air-dry clay piece and grandma's perm rod.
This workshop was so successful Laurie and Susan have planned another for September. If you would like to learn how to create your own folk art memory jug I highly recommend attending one of these workshops. It's a great location with great instructors and interesting artists working along side you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I could not find out what the putty like substance was that most of them had been made from many years ago." That, is how I found your page... looking for that same information. Maybe I missed something in your post, but you know what it is now that you used it... so what is it? I've been looking for ages and I can't afford to buy something which won't work. Your bottle looks like it turned out great so it seems to work.