Unusual mediums make for great art

“Boxes, Gourds, Books and Eggs” exhibit opens Aug. 1 at Old Town Gallery
By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal staff writer
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The artists being featured at the Old Town Gallery next weekend don’t fit into your normal medium categories. Four local artists present their unusual work during the “Boxes, Gourds, Books & Eggs” exhibit at the gallery starting Aug. 1. “We often do shows, every few months we present something,” said KC Hannah, spokeswoman for the gallery. “But these artists don’t fit into any category, like painting or sculpting. These four seem to be outside the usual genres.” Judith Thompson of Auburn presents handmade books. Jamie Baxter of Auburn presents her work on eggs. Vivian Justus of Auburn transforms ordinary cigar boxes into works of art and Carla Bratt of Fiddletown presents her gourd work. Thompson is a “hand bookbinder” trained in the method of European design. Using handmade or decorative papers along with leather and fabrics, she creates albums, journals, desk accessories and other items. Her work has been exhibited in Europe and the U.S. “I do a binding on the cover that reflects the story on this inside, whether it is the illustration or what’s in the book,” Thompson said. “It’s only limited to one’s imagination what to do.” Thompson said she uses tulle, hand-marbled paper and leather as some of the decorative items for the books. “It’s a wonderful way to present the craft and my interest with an artistic approach,” she said. Baxter grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where she attended a visual and performing arts school. She said she loves the fact that she can take a chicken egg and turn it into an intricate piece of art using a method that involves wax resist — similar to batik — and egg dye. Baxter said she uses a wax-resist method to design the eggs. “I take the egg when it is white and use hot beeswax to design on the egg,” she said. “I will then dye the egg yellow and do all my yellow designs, then use other colors. The wax protects the eggs from each layer of dye and when it’s done I remove the wax so you can actually see the design.” Her designs vary from very traditional to modern designs inspired by tattoo art and Christmas tree ornaments. “I actually use Ukrainian Easter eggs,” Baxter said. “The area in Canada where I grew up has a very large Ukrainian population. It is something very unique down here, but very mainstream up there.” Each of Justus’ cigar boxes are hand painted. She formulates her own finishes and makes her own stencils, often mixing discordant paints to simulate aged textures. Justus formulates her own finishes and makes her own stencils, often mixing discordant paints to simulate aged textures. Bratt is a gourd artist with 20 years of experience. She is currently producing a new Southwestern/Native American series of very large carved, burned and painted gourds. Her published work can be found in two Lark Publications books, “Gourd Art: Beyond the Basics” and “Gourds: Southwestern Gourd Techniques.” Thompson said what is interesting about the four artists presenting together is that though they are all so unique, they use some of the same methods. “The fun part about what the four of us is that in what each of us do, there is something we all do,” she said. “Some use tulle, or will use some of the same things.”