ABOUT WORKSHOPS > TOTEM WORKSHOP

Totems, Stacking Totems and Narrative Clay Sculpture 5-Day Workshop

A totem is one or more objects that helps tell the story of an individual or group. Totems, like shrines and other empowered objects, are a way to zero in on what inspires you or is meaningful. In this workshop, we will employ exercises such as collage on paper and sketching in clay to collect and play with images, ideas, stories, forms and surfaces that you might want to incorporate. From these source materials, we will develop and design one or more totems to make in clay. You may end up with a number of standalone pieces or pieces and parts for a stacking totem. You are invited to scale your work to a size that best suits your objectives for the week and comfort level, and within that scale, I will provide guidance and instruction in construction. We’ll look at a couple of approaches to stacking totems that are key to the design process. Some handbuilding experience is helpful, but not required.
5 days, 10 am–4 pm (plus open studio hours) in West Linn
Tuition includes materials and bisque firing.

Interested in a future workshop? Let me know. Email sara.swink@gmail.com or call 971-271-0480.

Read comments from participants below.



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Here's what people had to say about the July '18 workshop:

“It was a wonderful workshop. I was inspired by Sara’s generosity and support. As an instructor she creates a safe and nurturing container for creative exploration.” G.P.

“The workshop was freeing, inspiring, educational, supportive…. It far surpassed my expectations. I love that you make us be silent, that you create an atmosphere that fully gives permission. These two things I almost never experience. As a teacher, I was impressed with the level of your presentations: movie, demos, gallery field trip, the techniques you showed, notes you gave, Power Point presentations, books shared…. Your generosity is endless and your space has given me space.” L.R.

“Exceeded all expectations!!! Wonder-filled!! Loved getting out of my head—not overthinking, just looking, gathering, delving into images that attracted. Collaging really created a lot of ideas to be realized some future date. Just loved the process, the Jungian approach, the symbolism that emerged, the unconscious made conscious, from the infinite world of possibilities to the finite world of creation. Just makes me happy. A joyful process. I will apply all methods learned to my group to give their work freshness and so it may become more uniquely their own, so they may appreciate their own creativity.” MH

“I came to this workshop with expectations of wonderful—and my expectations were exceeded. Sara brings a wholly focused, generous approach for anyone looking to explore the creative process and find their own way with it. The collage and doodle exercises are very approachable for any student. Her presentations and demos are very thoughtful, yet she encourages us all not to overthink, and be silent as much as possible—all very welcome and hard to come by outside her class…It is a joyful process.” M.B .

“Beyond my expectations and very approachable. The creative process work was very inspiring to me; I feel it provides a portal to developing my work and an outlet for personal growth, enrichment, art, etc.” S.S.

“I took a long ride on the collage railway. During the ride, “Aha Peak” was crossed and “the Valley of Despair” was bridged. Several passengers boarded the train at its various stops—birds in bright plumage, a shady character who seems to show up every once in a while, and an odd character resembling Mr. Potato Head. Surprisingly, inspiration came from a brush, a very imprecise and floppy brush loaded with rich black ink. Doodling took me someplace entirely new—a place where straight lines are outlawed and where color cascades across a page. Totems, totems, totems—I have pieces of works in progress and many ideas for more…and more. And a good group of clay people!” L.P.

“Sara is an extremely patient teacher who can skillfully manage different-level students at the same time. She is very generous with her time, energy and supplies. She’s gracious as well. A delightful workshop. My expectations were met and exceeded. Collage and doodles were powerful. I went to face the shadow and found the light. I’m sorry to see it end.” LJ

“The workshop was a most enjoyable and challenging experience. I was not sure exactly what to expect, but I was hoping to gain insight into Sara’s creative process and be able to learn to tap into my own inner dialogue and story more readily by learning about her process. I was skeptical of collaging as a creative process, but upon reflection, it all makes perfect sense now and I see that can use this technique again in the future for my own work and as a tool to help my students with their creative process as well. Five days was barely enough time to manifest the ideas that were generated, but for me, having that crunch time helped to increase my productivity and focus. Thank you for a most informative workshop and for your thoughtful guidance.” A.B.

“When I’m in Sara’s studio, I feel like anything creative is possible. I walk in with an open mind and try to limit my expectations so I can experience all the workshop has to offer…be a sponge…soak it all up and then ask for more. The collage works. It’s the beautiful perfect beginning—even for the people who don’t understand why. The doodle is great for bringing color to the clay. The clay is the goal. Thank you for sharing, giving, creating, teaching artistic spirit. A gift.” M.R.