Demonstration Day at Tome Art Gallery

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Tomé Art Gallery is a place for original gifts and to learn how to make them.

The gallery is hosting its annual Demonstration Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8. Artists will show how they make their artwork.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Greg Schwirtz is a weaver, spinner and felter with artwork at Tomé Art Gallery. He will demonstrate weaving on a loom from between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.

Soft, hand-woven knitwear, silky hand-painted scarves, traditional New Mexico pottery cookware, a wide assortment of stoneware pottery, saint sculptures, slinky woven scarves and all sorts of jewelry are some of the items for sale.

The gallery is just a short distance south on N.M. 47 from the Los Lunas Y, and the demo day is a way to meet the artists. The demonstrations are a preview of classes and workshops the gallery offers.

Visitors at the demonstration will be invited to “make and take” Shrinky-Dink ornaments with Pati Woodard, and decorate holiday candles with Layne Hedrick.

Dora Hernandez is going to demonstrate making “ollas,” the garden pottery that slowly leeches water to flowers and other plants.

“It’s a traditional, ancient way of watering,” said potter Jan Pacifico.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Gary Hutchison works in semi-precious metals using metal stamps, often using petroglyph figures from Tomé Hill to produce bracelets, pendants and other jewelry

The event will have weaving and spinning, metal work, pottery throwing, jewelry making, plus a tasty treat of green chile chicken posole. Potter Vilis Shipman will be cooking the dish in a traditional, micaceous clay pot on the premises.

Shipman hand builds the ancient style pots, and has sold at Santa Fe Market.

He travels to Northern New Mexico to dig the special micaceous clay the pots are made with. They were developed by Pueblo Indians, who shared the method with Spanish settlers before the railroads came in. Until then, these cooking pots were the easiest to obtain, Shipman said.

There are sparkles of silver mica throughout the clay that acts as a natural insulator, so heat is evenly distributed, he said.

“It allows it to cook a lot like a crock pot — you’re not just heating from the bottom, you’re heating from the sides as well,” said Shipman. “But what sets it apart is the fact that a micaceous pot will only heat to the fluid level.

“Above the fluid level, even if the fluid inside is at a rolling boil, you can pick the pot up bare-handed and carry the pot to the dining room table.”

This traditional cookware has been used since the 1300s when all the cooking was done in a fire pit. The pots bring out more of the natural flavor of food than any other cookware, he said.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: The public is invited to learn how to needle-felt with Deb Schwirtz on Sunday at the Tomé Art Gallery.

Visitors will be able to sample the green chile chicken posole that Shipman will cook, and he will also show how the pots are made.

The pots can be used on gas and electric ranges and in the oven.

“It makes wonderful beans and rice,” he said. “It adds a sweet flavor to the beans that is so unlike anything else you can cook in.”

Another potter, Toni Edwards, will demonstrate throwing pottery on the wheel. People who are interested can take a try at the wheel.

“We just added 10 new classes in pottery here,” said Edwards, who is also a basket weaver.

In her pottery, she uses stoneware, which is a nice, medium type of clay that stands up well to wear, she said. It can be cooked in, used in the microwave or the oven, and can be cleaned in a dishwasher.

Stoneware just can’t be put on a flame or it will crack, Edwards said.

If the weather is good, Joan Prokopiak will demonstrate the Japanese firing technique called “Raku.”

“It alters the glazes to iridescent, or copper, white crackles — really interesting glazes,” said Pacifico.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Potters Toni Edwards, front, and Jan Pacifico, back, will demonstrate how to throw pots, and crystalline glaze porcelain at the annual Demonstration Day at Tomé Art Gallery Gallery from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8.

Pacifico will demonstrate the process of crystalline glazing on porcelain pottery. She celebrated 50 years of pottery making and has been giving classes at the gallery for years. She is retiring next May but until then, she has classes every Wednesday and Saturday.

Metal worker Gary Hutchison will demonstrate working with metal stamps to create jewelry in copper and pewter metal.

He has a large assortment of pendants and bracelets designed with petroglyph figures from the Tomé Hill area.

“They’re some of the most beautiful petroglyphs I’ve seen anywhere, and I’ve seen a lot of petroglyphs,” Hutchison said. “To me, it’s a communication from thousands of years ago. Those people are communicating through time.”

Hutchison’s Sand Hill Crane petroglyph jewelry caught the attention of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge gift store manager, who bought a large selection for the store.

Hutchison also sells jewelry at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge closer to home.

Fiber artist Deb Schwirtz will show visitors how to needle-felt snowman ornaments, which she also has for sale.

“The white is fleece felted over a Styrofoam ball, and then the black and orange (nose and eyes) are dyed fleece,” she said.

Her husband, Greg, will demonstrate weaving on a loom. He produces soft, colorful neck scarves woven with processed wood pulp fibers. He has several scarves that can be purchased.

“I’m a weaver, spinner and felter,” Greg Schwirtz said. “Most of my weavings are natural fibers. What I’ve got on the loom right now is bamboo — it’s really a beautiful fiber.”

Tencel, rayon, and bamboo fiber are all highly processed yarn from wood pulp that he uses to weave neck scarves.

He said Village Wools in Albuquerque is the only place where there are always used looms for sale.

Several other artists will show how they make their art, and people will learn numerous techniques and where to purchase supplies.

Some of Tomé Art Gallery’s workshops coming up this month are basket weaving with Toni Edwards Sunday, Dec. 15 and 22, a tin Christmas ornament workshop with Carisa Otero on Sunday, Dec. 15, and a domino pendant workshop on Dec. 22.

In January, Pati Woodard will hold a creative journaling workshop. Workshops are $30 and include all the supplies.

There are several ongoing gallery classes in coil-style and wheel-thrown pottery with Vilis Shipman, Toni Edwards or Jan Pacifico. All the classes are $15 per session. Dora Hernandez offers $10 pottery classes for special students, kids and young adults.

For more information, visit the website at www.tomegallery.net or call Tomé Art Gallery at 565-0556.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.