Workshops will allow participants to dabble in several art forms

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For the fourth year, the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts (MMCA) will offer a series of winter art workshops. Starting in January and running through early March, the low-cost workshops will provide instruction on a variety of mediums, from clay and painting to wool felting and basket weaving. (NIT file photo)

During one of the clay sessions, Mike Kabele will lead the class in making decorative wall pockets. (NIT file photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

For the fourth year, the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts (MMCA) will offer a series of winter art workshops.

Starting in January and running through early March, the low-cost workshops will provide instruction on a variety of mediums, from clay and painting to wool felting and basket weaving.

“What got it started,” said MMCA board president Sandy Stevens, “was that we wrote a grant to work with students. We were able to purchase a kiln, pottery wheel and other supplies.”

The art center has since added a second pottery wheel and other items.

“Now that we’ve built up that equipment base,” Stevens noted, “we wanted to make sure it’s available to the public.”

What began as several clay and pottery workshops has grown to include other art forms, with new instructors.

“We added wool felting last year, and it had a good response. Now we’ve added basket weaving,” Stevens said. 

Classes will also feature three different types of painting: acrylic, watercolor and alcohol ink.

Each workshop is taught by an artist who exhibits at The Left Bank Shop and Gallery, at the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts. Some, said Stevens, are former art teachers who specialize in the craft.

The 2018 series of workshops will begin with three clay sessions. At the first, held Saturday, Jan. 13, Mike Kabele will lead the class in making decorative wall pockets. On Saturday, Jan. 20, Judy Carlson will share her skills in creating garden art, like wind chimes and bells. Both sessions will utilize basic wheel throwing and hand building techniques. In the third session, on Saturday, Jan. 27, staff from the art center will guide participants in glazing the projects they created in the first two classes. All three sessions will run from 9 a.m. to noon, at the art center, in downtown McGregor.

On Saturday, Feb. 3, from 9 a.m. to noon, the workshops will transition to other art forms. Sally Marshall will help the class explore the versatility of acrylic paint while creating a work on a canvas panel.

The following week, on Saturday, Feb. 10, DeeAnna Weed will lead a session on wool felting. During the session, she will provide information about the ancient art and also help attendees create a durable, handsome bowl, vase or other vessel from loose sheep wool. The class will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., plus a 30-minute break for lunch, so bring a sack lunch and drink. 

Participants are also asked to bring two or three older bath towels, a two- to four-quart bucket for water, sharp scissors and paper and pen to take notes. 

Attendees should dress in layers, with a top that has sleeves that can be rolled up. Clothes could get damp, so bring a water-resistant apron if you’d like. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes, as participants will need to stand for an hour or more. You must also be able to work with your hands in an activity similar to kneading bread dough or giving a body massage.

Sessions will continue Saturday, Feb. 17, with basket weaving. Margaret Stone will lead the class from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., advising people on how to turn raw materials into a finished basket, just the right size to hold tea bags. The basket will measure 2.5 inches wide, 5.5 inches long and 2.5 inches high, and be decorated with dyed reed and black ash curls. Participants should bring an old towel, snap clothespins (about one dozen), tape measure, water spray bottle, ice cream bucket, small screwdriver and pliers. Since the class is longer, people may also want to bring a sack lunch and drink.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, explore watercolor painting in a class taught by David Prehm. You’ll have a chance to meet the artist and learn how he creates a painting. Prehm will lead attendees through some basic watercolor techniques, then give people the chance to create their own masterpieces. The class will run from 9 a.m. to noon.

Workshops will wrap up Saturday, March 3, with an alcohol ink painting session led by Ann McCullough. Using a synthetic paper as the surface, the group will drip, dribble, tip and run gorgeous inks to create beautiful works of art. McCullough will also share tips on how to continue enjoying alcohol inks beyond the class. Participants should consider wearing clothes that won’t be damaged by a little ink. Gloves will be provided.

“There will be plenty of guidance,” Stevens said. “Any of the classes can be attended by a beginner or people who want to advance their skills. Some people come back year after year.”

Stevens said she hopes participants will discover a hobby they’ll want to continue for years to come.

“Clay requires more equipment, but a lot of these things you can do on your own without making a huge investment,” she said. “Hopefully this will pique people’s interest.”

The workshops, Stevens noted, will also give attendees the chance to share an experience with friends, family or other like-minded individuals.

“It’s something I enjoy. It’s fun to hang out with people who have similar interests and support that creative vibe,” she shared. “It could also be considered a gift option. You can create a memory, with three hours to spend with someone doing something new.”

Learn more about the various art workshops and find a registration form at the “classes and workshops” tab on the art center’s website, www.mmcenterforthearts.weebly.com. Profiles on all the artist instructors are available, as well. Class sizes are limited, so those who are interested are encouraged to sign up soon.

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