Daniella Woolf & Maiwa School of Textiles  / by Bethany Handfield

Daniella and Bethany gazing into the future....

Daniella and Bethany gazing into the future....

I was thrilled to participate in two classes with encaustic legend Daniella Woolf last fall at the Maiwa School of Textiles in Vancouver, BC. My attendance at both classes was made possible by a grant from the Thea Haubrich Legacy Fund (which is administered by the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan). 

To say I was thrilled would be a huge understatement. Daniella was an artist I had followed for years through her books and videos. I had been captivated by the boundaries she pushed both personally and in physical space with her work. Limitless repetitions created with a seemingly simplistic grace, but complex in meaning and scope, and all done with great panache. Her installation work was a revelation to me about how far you could go with encaustic off of the panel and paper.  

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During the Encaustic Minimalist, a three-day gentle intro to encaustic, we focused on using the Waxmelter Palette, painting on 6x6 wood panels, and using delicious R&F paints. The Maiwa East studio in Vancouver was a delight – spacious and welcoming. We even got to fuse with Iwatani torches. I was able to let go, relax into process, and become fully present with my creations.  

It was in this class that I found myself drawn to the symbol of the triangle. Often associated with the Trinity, the triangle to me denotes a journey with the past, present moment, and future possibility. I feel it is a very active symbol. In my paintings the triangles were pointing up to denote strength and rootedness.  

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During RUSTEA, the final two-day class, we explored using rust and tea as mediums with encaustic. We rusted through stencils on paper, rusted fabric for embedding into paintings, and painted on paper with various steeped teas. We then introduced encaustic to this mix for very cool results.  

Daniella was an extremely funny and gracious teacher with a wealth of knowledge.I would be remiss if I did not mention Jane Kenyon who assisted Daniella and all of the students over the 5 days. What a huge job. Jane is an amazing artist in her own right too. If you get the opportunity to take a class with Daniella, Jane, or at Maiwa I would wholeheartedly recommend all. 

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I would like to thank the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan for making this dream trip possible with their assistance. The resulting painting series that bloomed from the seeds planted in this course became "Whimsy Peaks" and is now on display at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna, BC. This series is presented as a dual show with Salmon Arm artist Heather Yip.