December 15, 2012

Card-making class helps Colby, Common Street Arts make exhibits a hands-on experience

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- Lukas Stewart worked diligently on applying red glitter and beads to his Christmas tree card.

click image to enlarge

James Stewart, 44, of Oakland, and his son, Lukas, 6, work on making a Christmas tree pop-up card during a holiday card-making workshop at Common Street Arts in Waterville on Saturday. The workshop was sponsored by Common Street Arts and the Colby College Art Museum.

Staff photo by Rachel Ohm

click image to enlarge

Bryce Keith, 6, selects a Christmas tree stamp during a holiday card-making workshop at Common Street Arts in Waterville on Saturday.

Staff photo by Rachel Ohm

His father, James, watched and offered direction on where to place a large snowflake, while around them other parents and children sorted through piles of stamps, construction paper and Styrofoam letters.

The Stewarts were among 16 families to participate in a free community art class on holiday card making offered by the Colby College Museum of Art and Common Street Arts on Saturday.

Common Street Arts offers five free community classes during the year, including Saturday's holiday card making class, which started with a gallery viewing at the Colby College Art Museum.

"It's a way of seeing art at the museum and then making art downtown," said Kim Bentley, 45, an art instructor at Common Street Arts.

The classes are open to anyone, but on Saturday most participants were parents and their children around ages 5 to 15. They gathered in a gallery at the museum where they looked at an exhibit called "Comedy, Seriously," a collection of pieces that incorporate humor as well as both printmaking and collage -- the two mediums the young card makers would be working with later in the day.

"It's an offbeat, fun exhibit to look at with kids," said Lauren Lessing, 44, the curator of education at the Colby College Art Museum. Lessing said participation was limited for the class because of the limited studio space currently at the museum.

That should change, she said, when construction is complete on an addition and new building set to open in July. The new space will make the Colby College Art Museum the largest museum in the state with 38,000 feet of exhibition space, she said.

"We are kind of a bridge between the community and the college. We're looking forward to having the studio space for community classes like this," she said Saturday morning as children and their parents walked around the exhibit with pencil and paper sketching out ideas for their cards inspired by the art they saw.

Later on, they used their drawings as templates for their cards, working with cut and recycled paper, watercolors, beads and Styrofoam. In addition to collage, an assemblage of different type of materials, the card makers used the printmaking technique to draw a design on a piece of Styrofoam, cover the design with ink and transfer it to a piece of paper.

They hung their cards in the window of the gallery to dry while Christmas carols played in the background.

"We've been to some of the similar programs. My wife looks for these things a lot and she thinks it's a really good program," said Stewart, 44, of Oakland.

Rachel Ohm -- 612-2368
rohm@mainetoday.com

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