Sunday, April 17, 2011

Meet Our Teachers...

Introducing Ruth Greening

How long have you been working with metal clay? 
I was introduced to metal clay in 2000.

What did you do before that?

I still have my dreaded 'real job'. I'm an electric meter journeyman. Not a meter reader - I install, test and build industrial metering for the power company. I have always had some form of art in my life however. I started with a simple cake decorating class and developed it into doing caricature and wedding cakes with hand built flowers, wonderful English fondant and filigree pieces of edible art.

What other mediums do you work with?

I find it very interesting how the tides change in our interests. I saw someone doing beautiful silver wire wrapped jewelry and fell in love. I soon realized that I needed to learn to cut and polish my own stones. It was during the stone work that I took a little side trip into soapstone and alabaster carving. Now I work with glass, silver, copper and brass metals and wire.

How did you come to be a PMC Connection Senior Teacher?

After taking a beginner class and found out the advanced class I was going to take next had to cancel, I started checking into more classes and found the certification program.
Sondra Busch was teaching, traveling all the way from Kansas! When I asked why she traveled so far she told me there were no senior teachers in this area.  I thought about it for a while and on the third day I looked at Sondra and said “I want your job!” As it worked out Sondra recommended me to Mary Ann Devos and I flew back to Georgia to take a Level 2 with Mary Ann and Ken.  Then in April 2004 Mary Ann called and asked if I would be interested in becoming a senior teacher.  I was so excited I could hardly speak!

What do you think is the most exciting aspect of teaching?

The “AH-HAW” moment!  When a student has been struggling with a task or a concept, all of a sudden their design and the concept join and they get it!!

Do you have a studio in your home? What does it look like?
A very small one, if it were ever totally organized and neat I could easily have one student.

Do you teach at home or another venue?
Very rarely do I teach at home, because of the previously mentioned condition.  I am only 5 minutes away from Shipwreck Beads in Lacey, WA.  For me that is the very best place to teach, great people, huge class room, great deli, not to mention the world’s largest selection of beads and findings. It’s hard to beat that!

Do you like to take classes yourself? What kind?
In the past two years I have really started to ‘allow’ myself the time to do that.  Honestly, if a teacher does not continue their education they will die on the vine.  Our students are so interested and talented in so many things and the ‘cross-craft’ world is the place to learn and grow in this industry.

Grandma's Pearls
I love metals, hammering, cold connection and mixed media.  I also like to take metal clay classes from people who I admire for their non-traditional ways of creating.

Do you sell your work? Where?
That is not a real ‘goal’ but when it happens I really appreciate it.  I have a friend that takes some pieces to sell in her shop and to sell to other shops, but there are only so many hours in a day and somehow selling my pieces is not near the top of my list.

Where do you find inspiration?
I love looking at ancient cultures art and jewelry, the work that was done with what we would consider crude tools; it just makes me step back in wonder.  I enjoy looking at traditional metal pieces and say how can I do that in metal clay!  Books, painting and photographs of all kinds of art are always inspiring.

What are you working on at the moment?
I joined the Ring A Week group but found that the challenge is not making the ring - it is photographing and posting it!  I have some reversible hinged projects rattling around on the drawing board in my head.  I want to get better and more refined with all the new clay products and seeing if I can do some of the things that “can’t be done”.  I do not mind ruining what I am working with as long as I learn something.

Where has your work been published?
  Exceptional works in Metal Clay and Glass by Mary Ann Devos, 2010 PMC Guild Annual, and a number of the PMCC advertisements and retreat ads.

Tell us about an artistic hero or influence.
I have to say my dear friend Debbie Rijns from South Africa.  I am always amazed what she can do with some very unusual materials.  Give her a rusty piece of metal, some horse hair, bit of wood and a ’scrap’ piece of metal clay and she will produce an amazing piece of art!  She made me realize that deep down I love ethnic art and it is OK to be strongly influenced that way!  She has such an eye for beauty and is able to translate that into what she creates. And passion! What a passion she has for this art form. I always feel so full and lifted up after spending time with her. I just want to go to my studio and not come out until all the ideas are out of my head and ready to grace someone’s body.

Is there a new direction that you
d like to explore? 
I think the idea of offering classes that will challenge the student out of their comfort zone that so many of us stay in, me included.  What would happen if you walked into a class and were handed a “grab bag” and you had to make an art piece, jewelry piece out of the contents of the bag?  There is actually a great book on that very subject!  So I would like to see who is willing to get “outside the box” with me once in a while!

What else would you like to tell us about yourself?  
I don’t suppose that too many can say that they were once a Mermaid!  I was a Weeki Wachee Mermaid (in Florida) and did shows there for 4 wonderful years.  We still have reunions and have an amazing diverse group of ladies that share that special bond (that sounds familiar!).  I also worked with Flipper the dolphin and Hugo, one of the first performing Killer Whales at the Miami Seaquarium.  That was a very special time when you could get that kind of job because you loved the animals and did not need to have a piece of parchment to work with them. They are special memories that make me smile and helped to make me who I am.

Oh My! How I would have loved to have seen you in your scales and tails! I bet you were the most exotic maid in the surf. Ruth will be teaching 6 great classes at the upcoming PMCC Retreat at Arrowmont in just two weeks, including the above pictured "Grandma's Pearls". I expect a few long evenings of tale spinning and Flipper exposés.


Deb Fitz said...

I took my level one and two certifications with Ruth...we had so much fun! And I learned a lot! Wish I could go to the retreat, but anyone who can and has a chance to take a class with Ruth...go for it!!

Everett Headrick said...

I've taken three levels of certification from Ruth. She is calm with frustrated students, soundly based in her PMC knowledge, makes her classes fun and always has interesting projects art to show her classes.

jen said...

Ruth, so funny - I almost tried out to be a mermaid, but I couldn't stand the thought of getting in that cold water all the time! I grew up in Spring Hill... small world. I eventually made my way to TN where I started taking classes from Teva Chaffin and I love working with PMC! You have some very interesting pieces. I hope to take a class from you some day!

Jen Blumenthal