Red Deer College’s annual Series Summer Arts School is the ideal place for pretty much anyone to see their artistic visions come to fruition.
Classes, which are being held through to Aug. 3rd, run the gamut from ceramics, glass and metalsmithing to bronze casting, antler carving and beadmaking. Experienced and amateur artists from across the province and beyond attend every year, relishing the opportunity for personal and professional development.
Another highlights is that instructors have been presenting and sharing images of their work with the students on Tuesday evenings – there is one last chance to check this out on Aug. 2nd from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in RDC’s Farside Bar & Grill.
“Students take a wax sculpture they have made either in this class or previously, and we attach it to a spruing system of wax. We coat that in a ceramic shell, melt it all out, and that’s the ‘lost wax’ process,” explained instructor Robin Lambert.
Intricate works can be achieved by this method, which actually dates back thousands of years, he added.
Into that mould goes the bronze, and there you have it – striking works that can be extraordinarily detailed in design.
Lambert said folks in this year’s class are from Alberta, and are either practicing artists or they are just interested in this fascinating process and are also looking to develop some new skills.
“Basically it’s a two week class – the first week we make the moulds and the second week we pour the bronze and come up with the finished product.”
According to Britannica.com, over the years the process has been common on every continent except Australia, and it dates from the third millennium BC sustaining few changes even since then.
Lambert has taught bronze casting for the last five or six years as part of the RDC curriculum.
“Other schools do it, but we make it a real priority for first year students getting an experience with casting bronze. It’s such a complex, multi-stage process that the problem solving and trouble-shooting aspects of it teach the students to be able to think around the problem in so many different ways,” he said. “We introduce it fairly early.
“It’s that multi-stage (process), starting with ‘X’ adding ‘Y’ and doing ‘Z’ onto it that makes it more complex. We find that getting first year students to do this helps to get them thinking many steps ahead to a final project when they are starting with something else.”
Lambert said he loves seeing the transformation from something that is a common material, candle-wax type of thing to a metal. “Also, just watching people’s ideas come alive and having them learn over the steps all the different things you have to do in order to come up it.”
Lambert mainly teaches sculpture and drawing at RDC, but also instructs classes in ceramics and foundation studies.
“Sculpture and drawing are my main two.”
Working in the Series program offers Lambert an exciting means of connecting with folks who might be new to the art world in general.
“We have people from all walks of life. They may be here to make pieces for an art exhibition or for personal purposes or maybe as a gift.”
Karin Schubert, who lives near Calgary, is marking her eighth season with the program.
“I’ve taken bronze casting three times now, and I’ve come back to it because it’s the only place that I can work with metal and come out with eventually a finished piece,” said Schubert, adding she also does watercolours, too.
“I like the fact also that I can do this work in three dimensions, which is not something I normally work in. It’s a whole other feat from just working in two dimensions, which is what most art work is.
“You are trying to give the impression of three dimensions a great deal of the time but this is, in fact, three-dimensional,” she said.
“I also come back to the Series because they always have fabulous instructors who are really on top of their game.”