Although Winter Park has enjoyed a mild winter so far, nights have begun to dip into chilly territory lately.
Luckily, locals will have a chance to turn up the heat at the Crealdé School of Art’s eighth annual Night of Fire celebration Saturday, Jan. 12.
The nighttime event will have guests exploring the Crealdé School and discovering new mediums, including kiln firings, steel-cutting, light photography, old-fashioned storytelling, blacksmithing and more. The school also will host its Open House reception in the Showalter Gallery. That event will feature artists Janvier and Gustaf Miller and offer guests wine and food.
One major part of the night is a light photography demonstration during which digital photographers will photograph burning steel wool being spun into shapes on Lake Sterling. Night of Fire attendees won’t be doing all of these activities alone, of course. Each workshop and demonstration will be manned by Crealdé teachers and staff.
And don’t worry about any lack of experience. People should be excited and try something new, said Mila Dykes, marketing manager at the Crealdé School of Art Dykes.
“The campus is just bustling with activity in the evening,” Dykes said. “Art is for everyone, and everyone doesn’t have to be professional. But trying new things and trying new materials, being creative — it keeps you alive. It makes the quality of life better.”
Dykes said of all the different art methods at the school, there is something special about wielding a welding torch that can reach 3,000 degrees. She says it is like doodling — just with fire.
Also a fellow in the sculpture department, Dykes, along with sculpture department head David Cumbie and Lynn Brenner-Katz, will be in charge of the torch-cutting demonstration, during which pieces of steel will be cut into unique designs with the welding torch.
What’s more, guests will have the chance to cut through the metal with the torch themselves. Dykes, who was introduced to metal-cutting through Crealdé and David Cumbie, will guide people through cutting pieces of metal. There’s a power to the activity, though, that literally can’t be overlooked — welders and onlookers are required to wear welding masks and special protective goggles respectively to avoid eye damage.
“It’s really exciting to have all that fire in your hand and have all that metal melting away,” Dykes said. “The fire is kind of freeing, I make a lot of primitive and tribal designs. I love creating them in the metal. There’s just something magical about it.”
She recommends those interested in taking the blowtorch for a spin to wear closed-toed shoes, jeans and have protective gear.
Raku Firing and Gas Kiln
Vince Sansone has been with the Crealdé School for more than 40 years and is experienced with pulling intricate pots and ceramics out of thousand-degree heat.
“It’s kind of theatrical; it’s a spectacle for people who haven’t seen it done before,” Sansone said.
Sansone, manager of the school’s ceramics department, will be operating the Raku firing and gas kiln area. There, Sansone will be creating ceramic pieces in a kiln that heats up to 1,500 degrees throughout the night. When each piece is glowing orange after being heated for 20 minutes, it’s placed in a bucket of newspaper to combust and blacken the clay and melts the glaze. What results is a design unique to each piece.
It’s been a Night of Fire staple where Sansone and other staff operate the Raku firing as well as the gas kiln that reaches 2,400 degrees. All of the pots and other ceramics from the night will be put on sale for guests.
Photography teacher John Baker is well-aware of new styles and crafts being offered at the Crealde School. But to him, there’s still no school like the old school.
Baker, also a facilities manager, will be hosting a series of photogram classes for children. The kids will place objects on dark-room paper to create black, white and gray images. From there, children will go through the dark-room process to develop the photos to take home.
“It’s great to teach the kids the old ways,” he said. “This (process) goes back to the 19th century. It’s great to see the kids see the magic of the image appearing in the developer.”
Baker estimates he, along with other workers, will be able to teach about 35 to 40 kids how to work in a dark room before the night is through.
IF YOU GO
Crealdé School of Art’s Eighth Annual Night of Fire
WHEN: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12
WHERE: 600 Saint Andrews Blvd., Winter Park
Gas kiln and Raku firing
Light painting photography display
Torch-cut metal demonstration
Cats in the House Band