Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Workshops with Otherwild + Women's Center for Creative Work

The two super rad forces of Otherwild and The Women's Center for Creative Work combine to host a series of Summer Camp Workshops.

images (except top) courtesy of Otherwild

Otherwild is a retail store and graphic design studio here in Los Angeles. The shop / studio is dedicated to carrying beautifully designed and curated selection of goods from "jewelers, perfumers, ceramicists, herbalists, musicians, witches, dancers," . . .  all individual artists and designers rather than companies of mass-made products.

I love how in the bottom image, all the women are working in different mediums

The Women's Center for Creative Work is a collective cultural work space based on "inclusivity, process-based reality and transparency" with the purpose to support female creatives of all endeavors. They are interested in thinking "about how creativity and artistic practice can play a role in all all sorts of work and life practices" and to "create a sometimes roving, sometimes static platform where the idea of being a maker can be explored through the discourse around what constitutes a making practice." (uh YES!) By looking back at previous feminist models like the Feminist Studio Workshop in the Woman's Building in Los Angeles and at other current women's co-work spaces in the U.S. such as Double Union in San Francisco, they are aiming to offer a "collective workspace to provide an environment of solidarity and community, a sanctuary where women with all sorts of small businesses, artistic practices and personal projects can come get some work done within a supportive atmosphere." (again, YES!) more info here.

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At the Otherwild shop in Echo Park, you can learn or just hone your skills in basket weaving with Nanette Sullano, tie-dye with Maricolous, letterpress printed book-making with Bullhorn Press, preserving plant medicine with Homestead Apothecary and fermentation with Emily Ho.

Links and details for all classes are below. But to start, the ladies of Otherwild and Women's Center for Creative Work gave me some insight to this series and their collaboration.

How did Otherwild (OW) and The Women's Center for Creative Work (WCCW) come to know each other?

WCCW: We all knew or knew of and admired Rachel and Otherwild before really getting WCCW up and running. Rachel (Berks of Otherwild) and Sarah (Williams, Managing Director at WCCW & also for many years has with Bettina Korek at ForYourArt) had a chance to really get to know each other and work together when Otherwild participated in ForYourArt’s project for the Hammer Museum’s Arts ReSTORE LA: Westwood by creating a crystal bar. And since WCCW’s gotten going, we’ve found all sorts of great ways to work together!

What have you done together in the past? Are you joining forces to bring more focus on feminism in LA together? (yowza major radness!!)

WCCW: Rachel has been an early days super supportive member of WCCW and so generous in making her space available, connecting us with her collaborators and offering help at every turn. We host the ongoing Feminist Reading Group every other week at Otherwild (currently reading Caliban and the Witch) and now we have this series of great workshops.

This is a heavy loaded multi-tiered question, but of course I have to ask: How do you see feminism and women coming together in LA now? (How do you see it in the creative fields? What do you think needs to change, if any, and what is lacking?)

WCCW: One of our goals is to remove the need to apologize or feel heavy about serious questions about feminism. We’ve felt a serious surge of interest in feminism within our contemporary art and design communities. As WCCW reaches out past those initial groups, we also hear it echoed throughout the architecture, writing, film and television communities. I think as people get excited about these ideas, as we did, they make the realization that the only way we can make change and feel less alienated in the world is by forming groups, and creating real connections with people. I think what we all need, and what we’re trying to cultivate with WCCW, are ways of communing with each other – especially across boundaries that would generally keep us separate. We’re doing this with the workshops at Otherwild, with the Feminist Reading Group and Consciousness Raising groups, with the dinners. ... These all bring people together, who might not have otherwise met each other, not have talked about their lives, not have made something together.

How did you come about with this series and how did you pick the artists / makers that would host them?

OW: As a teenager, I was fortunate enough to attend an incredible arts camp in Connecticut, called Buck’s Rock Camp. There you could learn glassblowing, metal-smithing, batik, weaving, woodworking and modern dance, to name a few. Buck’s Rock has always been an inspiration to me and Otherwild. Hosting workshops in a variety of creative disciplines felt like a natural progression of the shop. Everyone wants to buy handmade these days, and many want to also learn the skills to make with their own hands.

Could you tell me a bit about the workshops? And the price ($45 for most classes) is kind of amazing. You don't get much lower than that.

OW: I liked the idea of hosting a Summer Camp at Otherwild, especially since I know so many talented, creative people with tremendous skills. We’ve only begun to scratch at the surface of what Otherwild artists / designers can share and teach. I am interested in activating this space in many ways – and workshops are just one. We have also hosted readings, live music, dance performance, a food swap, vintage clothing sales and the feminist reading group through WCCW. (and I've gone to a wonderful book launch party there, too!) The Summer Camp prices are as low as possible so that hopefully many people find them affordable, while still providing the instructor with a proper fee for the time and skill-sharing.

Lastly, as a graphic designer, I'm a fan of Otherwild's studio design work and love the rad combo logo of OW + WCCW. Is that your genius Rachel? Damn, girl - you are gooood! (more of Rachel's work here)

OW: Thanks, Sherise. The overlapping OWWCCW came out of a conversation between Kate Johnston (Creative Director of WCCW & a freelance designer) and myself during the last WCCW women’s dinner. It felt appropriate to create a logo that reflected the spirit of this collaboration.

(Not mentioned specifically above, but also a team member of WCCW is artist Katie Bachler, Director of Community & Community Programs and currently on residency at The Baltimore Museum of Art.)

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Ashley at Eastside Handmade this spring with her beautiful woven and dyed goods

Tie-Dye with Maricolous
Saturday, July 19th, 2-5pm
Tie and dye has been practiced for centuries and in many cultures; to carry on the continuum, fiber reactive dyes and resist techniques will be used to create fun surface designs.
Ashley Thayer of Maricolous Textiles will be leading this class.

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Thursday, July 24th at 6pm
(currently sold out, but you can sign up for the wait list)
This workshop covers the essentials of preserving plant based medicines including the basics of water-based medicines, tinctures, vinegars and beyond. You'll learn when to harvest and how to use easily accessible plants, get an overview of preservation methods and make a take-home tincture.
Taught by Nicholas Weinstein of Homestead Apothecary. (see more about this lovely Oakland-based apothecary here and here)

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Letterpress Printed Bookmaking with Bullhorn Press
Saturday July 26th 11am-2pm
Who doesn't love letterpress? In this workshop you'll learn the basics of operating a Vandercook letterpress, create a piece to print and then construct into a book without the use of stitching or glue.

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Thursday, August 14th at 6pm
Lacto-fermentation is an ancient food preservation method used to make sauerkraut, kimchi and lots of other flavorful and probiotic-rich foods from salsa to soda. In this workshop, you'll learn how to confidently and creatively ferment food in your kitchen and start your own jar of fermented pickles and ginger soda along with some recipes to try out at home.
Taught by Emily Ho of Roots & Marvel. Emily is a writer, educator and consultant, as well as a Master Food Preserver and founder of the LA Food Swap.

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Basket Weaving with Nanette Sullano
Sunday, August 17th 10am - 4pm
Due to high demand, a second class was added after the first quickly sold-out class last weekend (images of this one directly above).
This is an introductory workshop to learn how to coil and shape a basket with locally foraged pine needles, using the swirling stitch with sustainably grown cotton yarn. It is also a gathering – of learning, sharing stories and weaving your personal story into a vessel holding small treasures. From what is taught, you can use as a foundation for weaving with other plant materials and fibers.

images other than those mentioned, courtesy of OW + WCWW

Thanks much to Rachel of Otherwild and the ladies of Women's Center for Creative Work for taking the time to speak to this and share images! I'm heading to this weekend's Tie Dye session. So, hopefully I'll see some of you there :)

various dates and times listed above

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