Q: Why the name “Weaselwerks”?
A: Many, many things went into the choice of the weasel as the identifier for the studio; an insult by a sibling, the comparative rarity of finding a stuffed weasel, absolutely brilliant photos of weasels in their natural habitats, etc… I like things that are rare, underrated unjustly, beautiful and higher up the food chain.
Q: Ok, but the “werks” part?
A: I took a lot of German classes in high school and college and I’m sort of enamored with the U.K. I actually spell pretty miserably in American English, but get by in Brit English. I spell really well in German, so I chose the German version. “Werks” implies a shop or factory, “studio” for me feels a little like there is an art degree floating around somewhere.
Q: Is there an art degree?
A: Haven’t found one yet. There are some certificates of achievement, a “diploma” from Miskatonic University and some ribbons from county fairs, but no official art degree.
Q: Caffeine. Is that important to your process?
A: Yes. And no. But more yes. Absolutely yes.
Q: What kind of caffeine?
A: Caffeine comes in coffee flavor only in the werks. Not necessarily good coffee, just lots of coffee.
Q: Multimedia gets used a lot these days and can mean different things to different people. What does multimedia mean to you?
A: That’s a really important question. Usually multimedia refers to the use of more than one craft or art form in a finished piece. At Weaselwerks, multimedia refers to the different processes that go on in the one space, but not in one piece.
Q: A little more specific?
A: Weaselwerks produces items from a variety of materials in a variety of processes: Sewn goods (book covers, totebags, lap quilts, table linens) that incorporate heirloom sewing techniques and hand stitching, Hand Embroidery of wearable garments and small knickknacks, Tatted Lace (yardage, baby articles, wedding items, towel embellishments, bed linen embellishments), Paper Items which are mostly folded page art books but also include a truly odd marbling technique for some art pieces, Metal items that are crafted using cold connections or hot connections to make jewelry or small art pieces and Stone cabbing and faceting to fashion gemstones suitable for fine jewelry.
Q: That’s a lot of different mediums that don’t really overlap. Why not focus on one set of skills?
A: For me, life is about learning skills and putting them to some use. I have other skills that I don’t use to produce items in the ‘Werks, but they still lend to the process. For the range of medium in the ‘Werks, I see it all as manipulating a material to form a pleasing shape. The mediums range from the lightest of materials/hardest process to hardest of materials/easiest process.
Q: Is stone the hardest material and easiest process?
A: No. Stone is actually the lightest material and hardest process. When you facet gemstone, what you are actually doing is creating a matrix that bends light. The sparkle of a gemstone is the light that is being reflected through the stone and returned to our eyes. So, I’m manipulating light when I’m cutting a stone. Deciding what shape to cut, how big or small, how deep or shallow the stone will be is a process that goes on before I even start to cut a stone. I can spend a good four or five hours deciding how to cut a stone and then the actual cutting and polishing time is at least another eight hours. At least.
Q: So what’s the order of lightest/hardest to hardest/easiest?
A: Stone is lightest/hardest since I’m bending light, Tatting Lace is next since I’m working with a single thread, but it takes a lot of focus, patience and time. Hand embroidery is third since I’m working with floss (multi strand thread) on usually a fabric surface – it takes a good deal of time, but moves pretty quickly relative to tatting. Sewing – I’m working with fabric and altering it with a lot straight line for the most part so I can see progress pretty rapidly. Paper is next, which seems odd, but it is easier to work with than fabric and the marbling process is super fast and totally unpredictable. Paper wants to make flat shapes with defined edges, so it is less flexible in the construction process although paper is very forgiving when folding, you can always refold, but once you cut a mistake in fabric, you’re stuck with it. Metal is the hardest material but the easiest, for me, to manipulate. It has the advantage that if a wire link or a metal shape is not right, you can always melt it down and make new wire or flat sheet from your mistakes.
Q: It seems like everything takes a lot of time and patience.
A: Well, yes, they all do. Focus and patience are the two basic skills that a craftsperson or artist needs to build all other skills on. I think everything else can be learned, mostly through experience, but I’m not sure if focus and patience can truly be learned. I think one needs to enjoy being focused and sort of enjoy the length of time it takes to make a really good piece. If you are not enjoying the time you are spending at your work table, your finished piece will reflect that.