Witness art’s color, shape during studio tour

Artists opening work spaces this weekend
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Rita Forman is a glass act. Step into her Auburn studio and you’ll find trays upon trays of colorful beads of varying sizes and shapes occupying counter space. Rods of glass create rainbows at her workstation, where she patiently heats, pinches, twists and twirls those rods to create beads. “I like small things,” Forman said. “I like beautiful, special, small objects, and that’s what beads are.” Forman is one of more than 70 Placer County artists opening their studios to visitors this weekend for the 16th annual Autumn Art Studios Tour. A $10 ticket gets you a sticker and a map and access to more than 50 tour locations — most of which are individual studios — between Colfax and Roseville. “It’s something you don’t want to miss,” said Rosie Stilwell, event coordinator. “For anyone with an interest in art, it’s definitely a must-do.” Forman uses a centuries-old technique, lampworking, to create her beads, which many times become part of earrings, bracelets and necklaces. “I like making jewelry, but the beads are just as nice on their own,” she said. With lampworking, glass is melted in a flame and then manipulated by the artist. Forman uses a mandrel, a thin, stainless steel rod, to shape the glass into beads. “We’re basically doing the same thing that has been invented for centuries, but with better equipment,” she said. Forman made the transition from pottery to glasswork a few years ago, and said she’s working in her studio every day. “I hear people say, oh, it’s just too hard,” she said. “It just takes time. It takes lots and lots of practice.” Lampworking also requires attention to detail. “Your designs can be ruined in a minute if you’re not watching what you’re doing,” Forman said. “It’s about temperature and heat control.” Forman gets most of her glass from Italy and Oregon, but also works with glass from Japan and Germany. Although Forman has participated in the Autumn Art Studios Tour in the past, this is the first time she’s opening her studio up since she transitioned from pottery to glass. “I used to do open studio with pottery, so people who come by are in for a surprise,” she said. “I’m looking forward to visiting with people with Auburn.” Forman likes the idea of having visitors this weekend. “I think it’s wonderful for people to be able to come to studios and to be able to see how people make a space to do art,” she said. “I think it’s great that people get out and see where artists work, and it’s great for the artists, because we’re pretty isolated. I don’t work in an office. I work by myself for hours and hours.” The Autumn Art Studios Tour is one of three events marketed under “Art, Verse & Vine” weekend, in addition to the Placer Hills Fall Winery Tour and the Cowpoke Fall Gathering, featuring cowboy poetry and more. Stilwell said the economy has impacted this year’s tour somewhat. “I think it’s a challenging year, due to the economy, and I think the artists are aware of that,” she said. “I think they’re making art at a lower price point so it’s more affordable.” Tickets for the studio tour are $10 for adults, and admission is free for everyone under 18. Get your tickets at the Arts Building, 808 Lincoln Way, the Auburn Old Town Gallery, 218 Washington St., and the California Welcome Center, 13411 Lincoln Way. Reach Loryll Nicolaisen at __________ Art, Vine & Verse Weekend What: 16th annual Autumn Art Studios Tour When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Sunday Where: More than 50 locations throughout the county Cost: $10 for adults, free for youth under 18 Info:, (530) 885-5670 What: Placer Hills Fall Winery Tour When: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Where: Wineries throughout Placer County Cost: Free; some wineries may charge tasting fee Info: placerhillswinetour. com What: Cowpoke Fall Gathering 15th annual cowboy poetry and music event When: Now through Sunday Where: Most events happen at the Blue Goose Fruit Shed, Loomis Info: Call (916) 870-6028 for ticket availability; many events have sold out