Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Getting to know... Christine Woollacott

Christine Woollacott is a new instructor to BeadFX and we're super excited to be able to teach her two classes: Champlevé Enamel on Art Clay Silver and Cloisonné Enamel on Art Clay Silver. But, who is this person who is teaching these two great classes? 

"I have been interested in arts and crafts for as long as I can remember,” says Christine. “My parents were very encouraging, and would take me with them when they went out on weekend sketching trips and picnics in Northern British Columbia. It wasn’t long before I asked for my own small sketchbook so I could draw too. I have very fond memories of exploring beaches and forests and passionately collecting felt markers so I would have just the right colour.”

Christine got into creating jewellery at a young age too. “I remember begging my mom for a bead loom. She was hesitant at first, so she bought me a small bead bracelet kit to see if I had the patience for it. I still have that bracelet somewhere, though the clasp has broken. From that moment on I was obsessed. I was designing cartoon cuff bracelets with my own designs and giving them to all my friends by the time I was twelve,” she says.

“I learned beading through books, magazines, and trial and error. When I went off to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver I took my beading tote with me. I was the president of the UBC Bead and Craft Club from 2006 to 2007, and I met many like-minded crafters,” explains Christine. “In Vancouver, I had much more access to specialized classes like lampworking, silversmithing, and enamelling. Once I had tried enamel, I knew I was hooked. I loved the combination of colour and light against the metal. After I finished a Master’s Degree in Botany, I decided I needed to be formally trained in metalwork so I would feel comfortable having my own studio. I completed a diploma in Jewellery Art and Design at Vancouver Community College.”

Her inspirations? “I am inspired by nature. Many of my designs, even the geometric ones, begin with a flower or animal in mind. One thing that hasn’t ever changed is my love of colour and light.”

The process of designing an enamelled piece can be quite involved. “I begin an enamel project by thinking about the metal base. I do my designing on the computer, and then make a mock-up of the piece using stencil plastic, says Christine. “At this stage, I can usually determine if a design will be suited to enamel, or if I need to change aspects of the project before I make a silicone mold and begin working in metal clay and glass.”

As many artists, Christine collects and records ideas for future projects. “I am always thinking about what I should do next. Quite often I find it difficult to decide which design to make next because I want to do so many things at once. I have two sketch books for my initial ideas, and a folder on my computer with my more developed and polished designs.”

People are often surprised that Christine has a background in both science and art. “I find that my science background is one of the things that influences my art the most. I loved studying floral morphology and the genetics responsible for the shape of particular flowers,” she explains.

Christine loves sharing her knowledge with others. “Being able to share my enthusiasm on a subject is a wonderful experience. As a student, I prefer having a set of organized notes that I can add to. As a teacher I find it quite difficult deciding what is important enough to go into the note package, and what information is better to cover in a more informal way. The last thing I would want to do is scare someone away from a technique I am passionate about,” says Christine.

When not teaching, you’ll find Christine in her studio or in a garden. “I spend a lot of time working on my own projects and listening to audio books,” she says. “Last summer I was lucky enough to get involved with an organic farming initiative as a volunteer and I was able to learn about harvesting and growing food in an urban setting. I hope I can continue to learn about urban agriculture, and start growing my own garden vegetables.”

Christine’s advice to others who create? “Don’t let yourself be discouraged if something doesn’t turn out exactly how you envisioned it. Learn from each project you do, and do as many projects as you can. Enjoy the process of creating as much as the product you create.”

Upcoming classes with Christine Woollacott:

Saturday, January 31
Champlevé Enamel on Art Clay Silver
10:00am - 5:00pm
(continues on Sunday, February 1; 10:00am - 5:00pm)


Saturday, May 2
Cloisonné Enamel on Art Clay Silver
10:00am - 5:00pm
(continues on Sunday, May 3; Saturday, May 9; and Sunday, May 10; all 10:00am - 5:00pm)

The Champlevé class will be repeated on Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18  

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