Dubuque Democratic Socialist Free School Grotto-Planter Demonstration

Photos from a recent demonstration/workshop at the Dubuque Democratic Socialist Free School at Prescott Elementary in Dubuque. I brought in some old light fixtures rescued by Key City Creative Center, and some awesome kids (especially Iris!) helped me turn these into grotto-inspired planters. 

Sacred Space: Pocket Shrine Workshop with Kristi Norman + Wahlert High Shrine workshop with Sarah Conlon

Since grottoes and shrines have so much in common I wanted to share the results of a recent workshop hosted by Kristi Norman and me at the Abundant Wellness Center in Dubuque- we made tiny personal shrines in altoid tins. Stealing a phrase from the Unarius Academy I like to refer to these as "cosmic brain batteries"- not necessarily a place of deity worship but a small symbolic space of beloved objects, affirmations, fantasy, memories, dreams, an escape- whatever you want to charge yourself in whatever way you desire. I brought over my craft supply stash and some prints of deities, mandalas, etc. Dried moss and vintage fringe/trim were huge hits- and attendees brought some of their own items such as crystals, pebbles, and vials of essential oil. Kristi made small votive candles out of bottle caps. It was really inspiring to see how quickly everyone dove into the project and began experimenting with materials- and of course, every shrine reflected it's makers personality.  Thanks Kristi for the great event idea and everyone who attended! Scroll on below for the results of a second workshop...

I was also invited to attend an altoid-shrine workship in Sarah Conlon's art class at Wahlert High School in Dubuque. I spoke about Rotto Grotto, grottoes in the midwest and my path as an artist. For their shrines, the students were asked to choose a saint, deity, or Greek god/goddess. Many just experimented with materials. I was impressed with their creativity and enthusiasm. Thanks for having me! See the results below:

Antique Spectacular Show & Bathtub Grotto Demo in Cedar Falls

Last month I was invited to do a small bathtub-grotto demonstration at the Antique Spectacular show in Cedar Falls, Iowa. It was a 3 day event.  I spent some time exploring the antiques in addition to working on the tub, and I scored some cool Iowa-themed items.

This was my first time doing this live and in front of people which was an interesting experience that came with it's own challenges (mortar dries quickly when you're chatting!). Next time I'll be sure to wrangle some dedicated assistants. The entire week prior to the show - usually last minute preparation crunch time - I found myself suddenly preoccupied with taking an unexpected college course in construction to prepare for my next job in stained glass restoration - completely exciting opportunity but timing was definitely a challenge to prepare properly for this event.

Despite those challenges I did have many enlightening and informative conversations- it was encouraging to meet other artists who were supportive of what I am trying to do. Lots of people asked me what material I use to adhere the items to the bathtubs- hopefully to make their own!- I am using Polymer Modified Mortar which I buy at Menards.

note: this grotto is not finished!