Pratt is full of fire. White-hot fire that melts metal and glass. And creative fire, passion to experiment with tools and materials, to make new things. You can learn how to use fire to make art at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle’s Central District.
Sherri Gamble, an artist and instructor, showed me wax casts of hands. In her mold making and casting courses, she guides students to make casts of their own hands or other objects, then proceeds through the steps to invest the waxes in plaster and set them up for glass to melt and flow into the void. In the finishing steps, you can refine the cooled glass hand to emphasize details, fine lines and tendons.
There are several openings in the July offering of Teen Casting Intensive in Bronze and Glass, taught by Sherri Gamble and Mark Walker. The first week, instructor Mark Walker teaches how to make the sculpture and mold. Then Sherri teaches how to cast glass in the second week. In the third week, your cast will be filled with molten bronze! I can see why they call this class intensive! You get to learn so much and use lots of different materials.
“I love that feeling when you take the top off the mold and you see that smooth glow. Ah, it’s such a great feeling!” – Sherri Gamble, instructor for Teen Casting Intensive in Bronze and Glass, among other classes.
Not everything at Pratt is about fire. You can learn hot techniques like welding, metal smithing, glass blowing, metal and glass casting, and jewelry making. Or discover your temperate skills, such as drawing, painting, woodworking, letterpress, book arts, screen printing, etching and other printmaking techniques. You can find classes for youth, teens, and adults in their extensive online catalog of workshops and summer camps.
Don’t worry about feeling cooped up this summer. Pratt is a big, light-filled space, with huge windows and extensive ventilation. Pratt is located next to a park and playground, where you can take breaks at a picnic table while you sketch your ideas.
In addition to classes, you can gain access to their tools and studios through the Studio Access program. Members can buy access at an hourly, daily, or monthly rate depending on studio availability and guidelines. For example, you could pay the $35 daily rate for the metal fabrication studio, arrive at 8:30 am and work until 10 in the evening. For $45 a day you can build furniture in the woodshop, or for $25 you can print posters for your band in the huge print studio. Each studio provides an online calendar of what is happening daily, so you can plan your day around events or classes.
You’ll need to pass a test to gain studio access, showing that you can turn the machines on and off, use them safely, and follow each studio’s protocol. Most of the beginner classes at Pratt will teach you enough to pass the safety test for studio access. www.pratt.org/studio-access
At previous Seattle Maker Faires, Lisa Geertsen demonstrated blacksmithing techniques with a mobile forge and heavy anvil. Lisa is coordinating the plans for the Pratt Fine Arts Center booth at the upcoming Seattle Mini Maker Faire on September 19th and 20th.
The outdoor Pratt booth will likely offer hands-on activities creating molds and casts, artist demonstrations with stone and metal, and a variety of art created by masters and students. Maybe your summer project will get displayed at the booth?