A Monoprint Making Workshop

Today a group of eight girls had the opportunity to take a short trip down the road to visit the working studio of Ann Dergara, a painter and print maker living here in Brevard. Ann is a professional artist with more than 50 years of experience showing her work, writing and teaching, and she’s a great friend of Rockbrook.

monoprint roller.monoprint paintingmonoprint makingmonoprint resultWhen we arrived, we were greeted by Ann and her small dog, Alice Cooper. The girls enjoyed Alice’s greeting and were very eager to pet her furry back. Ann and Alice then led us into their cozy basement studio where Ann stores and creates some of her work. The girls immediately began taking in the different paintings and prints displayed around the room. Ann wasted no time as she described the unique art of print making. She informed the group we would be working on monoprints. The magic in monoprints is they are original and are only printed once. Ann flipped through several of the prints she has created telling us she has made around forty thousand in her career.

Ann then lead us through a doorway into the room where the fun happens. She had a table set up with a bright assortment of colored inks, a variety of fresh brayers (used to roll out the ink), and some clean plexiglass plates. As Ann spoke, she used a plate to demonstrate how monoprints can be made. She took a brayer and began rolling thick black ink onto her plate. She then grabbed a paint brush to add a layer of grey ink filling in the rest of the white space. Ann wrapped up her demonstration by adding textures onto her plate with different types of fabric. The girls were “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” every step of the way.

After aprons were on, each girl found an open spot around the table. Some immediately grabbed a paint brush or a brayer while others planned in their heads what colors they would use and what they would create. Similar to all aspects of camp, each girl had their own beautiful way of approaching their print. Voices chattered ideas back and forth while also applauding and encouraging one another. Those girls who hesitated at first quickly began to feel more empowered and confident in their decisions! In no time, each girl was happily creating their print with confidence and joy.

As the girls began completing their prints, Ann had them step up to her printing press. The printing press is where the magic happens. It is the machine that finishes up the printing process. Ann would place a decorated plate on the press before covering it with a damp piece of paper. The press was then slowly rolled over the plate and the final result of the one-of-a-kind monoprint is revealed. Once again, everyone applauded each other over the work being produced. After all of the prints were complete, the girls were then ready to begin the process again by creating a second print. This time they had some experience and felt more confident stepping up to their plates.

Like monoprints, Rockbrook girls are one-of-a-kind. We travel from different corners of the world to spend a few weeks of our summer at camp. Once here, we bring our diversity together to teach, encourage, empower, and support one another. At the end of our print making session we were able to go home with beautiful prints. Similarly, all of us at Rockbrook will be able to return to our homes with bits and pieces of our summer. Girls may come home with friendship bracelets, cabin-made t-shirts, other art projects, or bend-a-back beads. They bring home all of these gifts, along with their sweet memories, which they will cherish until they can once again return to the Heart of the Wooded Mountain.

mono print workshop

Colorful Works

girls camp pottery classThis is the time during a camp session when girls can be seen spending some of their free time doing crafts. You see, some of the craft projects can take quite a bit of time to complete. Take weaving, knitting or friendship bracelet making for example where a basic unit— passing the weft, knitting stitches, tying overhand knots —is repeated over and over again. Depending on the size of the project, this can require extra effort to complete. Likewise, other crafts have multiple steps involved. A painting may require a simple pencil sketch before layering on paint, for example. In pottery, there’s shaping the clay (on the wheel, using coils or slabs, etc.), letting it dry, applying different colored glazes, and then firing the pieces in a kiln. The pottery instructors want to fire the kilns on Monday, in time for the girls to pick up their finished work before going home, so there seemed to be a non-stop glazing party in the upper pottery studio today. Both kilns will fire two times over the next few days producing several hundred pieces of colorful ceramic works of art. At least one of them is bound to be yours!

Girls camp woodworking classThere’s always something special, out of the ordinary, being offered at Rockbrook, and today it was a visit to George Peterson’s woodworking studio for a tour and project workshop. Two groups would spend either the morning or the afternoon learning from George and his wife Margaret who is an Alumna of Rockbrook. George is a successful working artist here in Brevard who creates sculpture and functional pieces from different species of wood, old wooden skateboards and skis. He’s displayed his work in galleries across the United States and abroad. It’s no surprise when you see his work. Take a look at his portfolio: The Circle Factory.

Visiting George’s studio is fascinating. He has stacks of raw materials, powerful cutting tools, drills, torches and other scraps of metal he uses to shape and scar wood. There are piles of saw dust, paints and ink, straps of leather, completed projects displayed and works in progress.  Today’s project had the girls making a leather and wood bracelet from a chip of a multilayered skateboard. George and Margaret helped the girls use a drill press, a vibrating carving tool, sandpaper and a metal “RBC” brand to shape a colorful chip that they then sewed to a leather strap. As they completed each step, the girls soon had very cool “wrap around” bracelets to wear, and an exciting story to tell when they arrived back at camp.

There’s a rumor circulating among the campers that there was a midnight party last night. Some of the campers remember being woken long after they went to bed and being coaxed out to the hill where they found glittering fairies dancing, food and drink, and loud Beyonce music. Still half asleep, disoriented by glowing balloons, multicolored glow sticks, and the antics of the fairies, the campers soon found themselves having a fun, outdoor, nighttime dance party! Then as suddenly as it began, the fairies disappeared and the girls were back in bed. It’s just a rumor whether this fairy party happened or not, but I think I spotted some glitter on the hill the next morning. That makes sense, since at Rockbrook, we all know fairies are real.

3 girl campers matchingmatching girls campers

All Fantastic

George Peterson teaching artSanding wood turningSaturday is a day when we sometimes arrange a special workshop offered by a guest artist or performer, making it an optional activity the girls can select to mix up their schedules. Today we had the treat of George Peterson and his wife Margaret (who is an Alumna of Rockbrook) presenting a wood turning class. George is an artist who lives here in Brevard, and is well known for his work using wood. He makes both functional and sculptural pieces by carving, etching, sawing and marking the wood using different tools and methods (e.g., burning or branding). He has sculptures displayed in galleries all over the United States and abroad. Later this month, for example, he is traveling to Japan to present two shows of his work. Check out his studio or some of his exhibited pieces, and you’ll be very impressed.

Camper Wood Turning ProjectGeorge began his session with a demonstration of a wood lathe, taking an eight-inch cube of wood, turning and carving it into a shallow bowl. The 12 campers watching were wide-eyed as the twisty chips of wood flew out from the chisel he used to shape the bowl. After the lathe, he showed the girls how to form the outside and bottom of the bowl using an electric carving tool. The girls then took turns carving their own bowls with the tool (George had cut the interior of these pieces in advance), and using sandpaper to make a smooth finish. George also has a cool metal brand of the letters “RBC” that he heated and burned the letters into each piece. The final step involved painting their bowl with mineral oil, which, as you can see, really warmed up the grain of the wood. The finished bowls all look fantastic.

Girls hunting natureThere are 3 different creeks that run through Rockbrook, each providing easy access for the girls to explore the insects and other creatures that live among the rocks, mosses, and cool waters flowing down the hill. Armed with nets and loaded with curiosity, the campers who select the activity we simply call “Nature” are sure to spend an hour getting their feet wet in one of these Rockbrook creeks. There are worms to find, but also tadpoles, salamanders and crawdads (aka, crayfish or mudbugs). The nets you see in this photo make it much easier to catch these larger critters, and putting them temporarily in cups is a nice way to get a good, up-close look at what they catch. With this kind of outdoor exploration going on at camp, there’s certainly no deficit of nature around here!

During lunch rumors began to spread that we would be having a dance with the boys of Camp Carolina tonight, so as you can imagine, our never-ending-hot-water heaters began to get a workout long before dinner. Fortunately, the rumors were true, and all that cleaning up and hair brushing paid off because around 6:30, we loaded up all our buses and vans to transport our Seniors over to CCB for their dance. At the same time, the younger Camp Carolina boys came over to Rockbrook so we could make each group a more reasonable size and tailor the mood of the dance appropriately at two dances simultaneously. Some girls felt more comfortable to attend our “Dance Alternative” friendship bracelet party instead of the dances. These dances can get a little hot and sweaty as the crowd jumps around, sings and laughs to each familiar pop song. The group dances like “Cotton-eyed Joe” kept a lot of people moving, but all the Taylor Swift songs clearly had the most pull. Everyone was enjoying the silliness of the event, and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. Thanks for a fun evening CCB!

Girls Camps Dances Camp dance kids