Sunday, February 13, 2011

Totally Torch-Worthy Today


, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I'm torch-worthy! What does that mean? You might be asking, and I'd be here to explain.

Today, I was over at encaustic central, doing the second day of the totally hot encaustic workshop (and I do quite literally mean "totally hot." There was actual fire involved.)

The workshop itself was fabulous; I learned a lot and had tons of fun. One of the demos today was using tar and other featured a burning technique involving wood glue. Now I'm really a beginner in terms of encaustics. I mean, yes, I've been doing them for a bit now and, yes, technically I understand what's happening with the paint, most of the processes and all, I've even got a few pieces here and there that I almost like, but I still consider myself a beginner. Still very much learning, practicing, and making it up as I go along.

Part of being a beginner is that I've never really graduated from the heat gun up to the "big bad" blow torch. Call me crazy, call me a coward, but something about using a blow torch just sort of, well, frankly, it scared me silly ok?

So, let's recap. Me? Paint with a *blow torch* ?? Um, no. Not going to happen. Not in this lifetime. No way. Not safe, too scary, too hot, and just plain, "that will not end well!" written all over that.

At least not until today. Picture it. We're sitting in the big demo room and our fabulous instructor shows off the burning technique. "Add flammable material to this," she explains, "and there are several flame-generating tools you can use." She went on and explained about small torches, creme brulee style torches, and then finally told us about the "big bad" style of blow torch-the separate tank of propane, mega-hot, "stand back! This is going to blow some serious HEAT!" type of blow torch.

Yeah, yeah. All well and good. A few of us even commented during the demo. There was an, "oh that looks like fun for somebody else to try. I'll stick to my heat gun thank you very much," here and a, "but I like my eyebrows and I'm even afraid of matches!" there. A few of us stood back and even started shaking in our shoes. It was that kind of a blow torch, ok? I think there were several people standing behind me for the demo bits and even I was starting to wonder if I had gotten too close for comfort. And I was in the back of the room!

So what happened after the demo?

I was feeling a bit uninspired and wanted to try something new. I grabbed some tar (the most toxic and "scary" of the materials we had available for us to use today) and plastered an entire board with tar. It was thick and black and gooey all over the place-that kind of a tarring. Then, I took it outside. At first I was all content to let it dry out in the sun-I had wanted to let the tar harden so that I could then try some pastels on the surface of the tar-and I was all set to do that. Honest, I was. Swear on my mother's grave and all. Seriously. All set to just let it dry, sit on the patio for a few minutes and chill. Yup, that's me. Little Miss Chill, happy to meet you.

Then, something came over me. Attack of the false bravado! I saw somebody else torching something and I thought to myself, "well, that doesn't look so bad. She still has eyebrows, at least as far as I can tell. Maybe I should try that too?"

So, in a fit of bravery not seen here in Carol's Little World for a *long, long* time, I grabbed the flammable material, then I painted over the tar, and then that's when I did it. I grabbed the *BIG SCARY BLOW TORCH*-yes, the one with the separate jar of explosive propane and a steady stream of HOT flame coming out the end-and I torched my artwork. I pulled the trigger, there was this loud "swoosh" of ignition, the flames came out, the board went up in smoke, the trick worked like magic. My art piece came out fantastic and I had used the big bad scary blow torch for the first time all in one swoosh of very hot fire breathing blow torch of a moment.

Nothing quite like going big, is there? Nothing quite like the feeling of reaching for the top, grabbing on, and swinging for that ride, let me tell you. Can I get a "Boo Yeah!" in here, please? We're going torch-worthy today.

After the fire went out (phew!) and some cooling happened, I took my piece inside. Everybody commented on how great it looked. Some other folks who were or had been, like me, afraid of the big bad torch lined up to try the same technique. They were now itching to burn some tar too.

Yup. You guessed it. We turned into tar/glue flaming fools. The folks, all of us, who had been afraid of the blow torch? No more fear. Nope. Fear had been replaced with, "out of my way! I'm lighting this on fire! I'm going big! Stand back, this is going to blow!" and "Oh now doesn't that look great?"

Can you almost feel the heat from where you sit? Yeah, it was kind of like that. We all inspired each other. We all went BIG. We went for it. We seized life by the bullhorns (actually, by the blow torches.) We lit up like Christmas trees. Burn, baby, burn. Yeowza!

Now, I could tell you all kinds of great things about my workshop, and I probably will at some point. Once I collect myself, rest up a bit, and finish gathering my thoughts. But, honestly, the biggest takeaway I have from today is that the entire group of us, everyone from beginner to advanced/mature artist, was totally torch-worthy today.

I'm totally torch-worthy. I'm no longer afraid of the scary big blow torch. Stand back! I've got flames to fan. My fire's been stoked. Yes, since it's coming to a close, I'd have to say it was that kind of a day. I'm totally torch-worthy today.

I hope you're enjoying just as much greatness and fire as our torch-worthy day, wherever you are.

Until next time...

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