Floral Arranging Workshop with Deanna King of Strawberry Fields Flowers and Finds by Quirk Gallery

We are so thrilled to be hosting our first floral arranging workshop with Strawberry Fields Flowers and Finds! September 20th Deanna King will be teaching you how to create a beautiful arrangement with locally sourced flowers and lush greenery. Each attendee will construct their own bouquet in a handmade pink vessel by Mary Hooper. Workshop fee includes instruction as well as all materials and no experience is necessary. Sign up by calling the gallery at 804 340 6036. Limited spots are available!

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Here is a little information about Deanna King, owner of Strawberry Fields Flowers and Finds and the instructor for this floral arranging workshop!

I was born and raised in Rochester, New York. My dream of owning a flower shop began in my youth. I have always loved flowers & plants- pretty things! My experience working at Bauman’s Farm Market & Greenhouse really sparked my passion for floral design. I attended VCU and became a teacher for ten years. I was given the opportunity to buy Strawberry Fields from the previous owners, who I had actually worked for during the summer. My husband was extremely supportive of this venture and here I am ten years later. Having my shop, Strawberry Fields Flowers & Finds, has given me the opportunity to infuse my passion for floral design into the Richmond community & make my dreams come true.

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We asked Deanna a few questions about the workshop and floral arranging in September!

Quirk Gallery: What will be the style for this floral arranging workshop?

Deanna King: Loose, airy, gardenesque, picked from the field.

Where does Strawberry Fields source their flowers? (We are so excited to use locally sourced flowers and greenery for the workshop!)

We source our flowers from several local flower flowers including Wind Haven Farm in Topping, VA, Prospect Hill Farm in Bumpass, VA, Essex Farm in Tappahannock, VA and Burst and Bloom in Powhatan, VA.

Can you give us a few tips for floral arranging at home?

1. Always keep your vase and water clean; the flowers will last so much longer if you change the water every few days, clean the vase, and re-cut your stems.

2. Keep your flowers in a cool place, not near a heater or the direct sun.

3. Criss cross your stems while arranging to keep your flowers in place.

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In contrast to the blooms in Spring and Summer, what are your staples for floral arrangements in September?  

In September we commonly use more fall colors, berries, veggies, etc. Items such as dahlia, crocosmia, ornamental cabbage, artichiokes, thistle coxcomb, etc.

An arrangement featuring artichoke, cabbage, bittersweet, dahlias among others.

An arrangement featuring artichoke, cabbage, bittersweet, dahlias among others.

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Make sure to sign up for Pretty In Pink by stopping into the gallery or calling us! 804 340 6036

Wednesday, September 20th  I   5 PM - 6 PM

$75 per participant includes 1 hour of instruction from Deanna King, locally sourced flowers and greenery, and a vessel for your arrangement handmade by Mary Hooper. 

 

 

 

 


 

BEAT THE HEAT by Quirk Gallery

Hard to believe this summer's more than halfway over! Here are some of the tunes we haven't been able to stop listening to. We suggest this as the score for your next indoor/air-conditioned dance party or hangout sesh.

Follow us on Spotify for more playlists. Keep an eye on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for music updates! 

NASTASSJA SWIFT OF D FOR DOLLS by Quirk Gallery

Nastassja Swift will be joining us July 29th for a Felting Workshop! Nastassja is a VCUarts alumni and former Quirk team member. Nastassja currently works as a visual artist and sells her handcrafted felted figures under the name D for Dolls. Nastassja sees these dolls as miniature sculptures, each doll has their own personality and is needle felted, styled and dressed with a pinch of charm and a whole lot of sass. We sat down with Nastassja and talked about her practice and the upcoming workshop!

Quirk Gallery: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Nastassja Swift: I am a visual artist and lover of these little people I call dolls. I’ve been painting for the past eight or nine years, and I’ve kind of placed that medium aside and have really been focusing on wool as my primary medium and needle felting as my go to process. I began making dolls during my junior year at VCU and they’ve stuck with me ever since. There’s just something about the personality, sass and individuality that is present within these little ladies that I’m very much drawn to. It literally puts a smile on my face with each completed doll and seeing who they become. This past summer, I decided to push my dolls as more than just these little objects that I make every once and a while, and really give them a platform to exist on their own, separate from the more conceptual work I was working on. From that decision and desire to give my dolls more, D for Dolls was born.

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Jo  I  wool, woven cotton, clay  I  dfordolls

Jo  I  wool, woven cotton, clay  I  dfordolls

Iman I  wool, woven cotton, clay I dfordolls

Iman I  wool, woven cotton, clay I dfordolls

Quirk Gallery: Your workshop with us will focus on felting, when did felting become an important part of your practice?

Nastassja Swift: I learned the process of needle felting my junior year at VCU. As I was stabbing this little needle into these pieces of wool, I immediately thought of dolls. Prior to that moment, I had always been extremely intimidated by the genre of sculpture as an art form. Being that my work has been figurative since the beginning of time, I used to believe that I didn’t really fit into the realm of contemporary sculpture. However, working with wool and the process of needle felting allowed me to find my way into sculpture and it felt appropriate for the kind of work I was interested in making. Felting became important because it allowed me to translate these figures from a 2D surface to a 3D space and it was something I was really excited about trying out

Concealer | merino wool, wire | 31" x 27" x 3" | 2016

Concealer | merino wool, wire | 31" x 27" x 3" | 2016

Quirk Gallery: Your background is in Painting and Printmaking, how does this inform your textile work (weaving, felting, etc)?

Nastassja Swift: Thinking of my paintings, I’ve always wanted to take advantage of the physicality of paints – allowing layers to build in ways where if one is viewing my paintings in person, you can actually see the ridges and slips that occur on the surface. In regards to my fear of sculpture mentioned in the previous question, I would always tell myself,  I’m still a bit of a sculptor, just on canvas. And that tactile quality that I felt I needed within my paintings definitely informed my decision to take on a medium such as wool in my practice. But aside from surface and texture – color is just as important with comparing the mediums. I’ve always been told that whether it was a weaving, embroidery or something felted my fiber work feels like my paintings- and I think that has everything to do with color. My paintings have always been pretty saturated and that has directly made its way into my color combinations of wool and yarn.

Being Seen | oil on canvas | 42 x 30 inches | 2015

Being Seen | oil on canvas | 42 x 30 inches | 2015

I Unpacked While They Played With Their Dolls | wool, clay, cotton, wire, acrylic paint | 21 x 13 x 4 inches | 2016

I Unpacked While They Played With Their Dolls | wool, clay, cotton, wire, acrylic paint | 21 x 13 x 4 inches | 2016

Quirk Gallery: Throughout college you started the online gallery, Mist Gallery, with Lizzy Servito, what is the current status of Mist and how has it evolved since it began?

Nastassja Swift: Mist Gallery started off as this crazy idea Lizzy and I had the summer before our senior year. At the time, I don’t think we really knew what we were getting ourselves into. We were just extremely eager to take on this new venture, but very much excited to be able to give ourselves the professional title of “Gallery Directors”. From developing contracts, curating artists’ work, maintaining a blog, designing the website, establishing a presence on social media platforms – we have definitely been able to experience some of what it means to be involved behind the scenes of an exhibition. The list of artists we’ve worked with has grown tremendously, and the Gallery has become something that people actually look forward to being a part of.

As of now, we’re taking a bit of break to explore other opportunities, however Mist is still very much alive and I’m anxious to see where and how it exists in the next few years.

Quirk Gallery: After graduating from VCUarts you’ve had many amazing residency opportunities including Vermont School and VCUarts Qatar. What was the most beneficial part of those experiences for you?

Nastassja Swift: So I went to Vermont at the end of the summer following graduation, and literally a week later left the country for my residency in Qatar (pretty crazy stuff). I remember arriving at the Studio Center and just being really excited to be able to be making work outside of the school environment, and to have other people and other things influence my work. For the first time I felt like an artist, as opposed to the art student that I’ve been for every year up to that moment. Both experiences gave me the time and space to think about my work and really just sit with it, without the pressure of deadlines. I could breathe and really enjoy experiencing my work in a way that I hadn’t before. That time and space helped with figuring out what my work needed to do and say next, so I definitely attribute my works growth and direction to both of those residencies.

In progress shot of Two's A Crowd Self Portraits  |  gouache and soft pastel   |  2015 In progress work from her time at Vermont Studio Center. 

In progress shot of Two's A Crowd Self Portraits  |  gouache and soft pastel   |  2015

In progress work from her time at Vermont Studio Center. 

Self Portraits | woven cotton and alpaca wool, cotton, wood | 11" x 14" x 1.5" | 2015 Part of Swift's solo exhibition in VCU Qatar Gallery, Doha, Qatar, 2016. 

Self Portraits | woven cotton and alpaca wool, cotton, wood | 11" x 14" x 1.5" | 2015

Part of Swift's solo exhibition in VCU Qatar Gallery, Doha, Qatar, 2016. 

Quirk Gallery: As a former Quirk intern, we’re so happy to have you back with us teaching. What are you looking forward to bringing to Quirk at this workshop?

Nastassja Swift: I’m definitely looking forward to contributing to Quirk’s continuing conversation and support of contemporary craft. I think that’s always been something I’ve loved about the space and the work you guys show - your strong inclusion of the wide range of craft mediums. I’m so excited to return and that you all continuously welcome me back with open arms!

To sign up for her workshop and learn how to needle felt, call Quirk! 804 340 6036. You can also stop in the shop and sign up, limited spots available. 

 

If you have specific questions pertaining to the workshop you can email emily@quirkgallery.com 

KATE KOCONIS OF LITTLE BLACK SHEEP STUDIO by Quirk Gallery

Kate Koconis is the creative mind behind Little Black Sheep Studio. She makes handmade goods from her home to yours; weavings, hanging planters, pillows, blankets and more. Kate's weavings have been a staple of Quirk's store for the past year and we are so thrilled to host her for her first workshop! We sat down and talked to Kate about her life, studio and the upcoming workshop. 

Quirk Gallery: Can you tell us a little about yourself? 

Kate Koconis: I am originally from Wisconsin, and moved to the East Coast to attend school at MICA. That is where I officially learned how to weave. I grew up playing fort with my moms large rug loom, but that was the extent of my use of our family heir-‘loom’. As soon as I could, I signed up for a weaving class, and I loved it immediately.  I knew I wanted to do something with the fiber arts, but until I took that first weaving course I wasn’t sure where fibers would take me. I only stayed in school for a couple years, but I managed to take every weaving course they offered, some twice.  The rest is history, I’ve been weaving for over 10 years now. A new job for my now husband is how we made the move to Virginia 7 years ago. We bought our first house 4 years ago and I was able to finally put together the perfect studio space for myself, so I could start to grow Little Black Sheep Studio. 

Quirk Gallery: In your weavings you typically use natural materials, where do you source these materials and what is the importance of using natural vs. synthetic?

Kate Koconis: I prefer natural materials to synthetic materials, but I do use both. Depending on what I am making will determine which materials I’ll use. When I am making a scarf, blanket, or something that is going to be in contact with you, I choose materials based on how they feel and what they are made of. I use a lot of alpaca wool, sheep wool, cotton, and linen.  When I am making a wallhanging, or something that is intended to be viewed, I’ll choose materials based on what they look like. I still prefer natural materials when working on a wallhanging, and mostly use blends of cotton/nylon and wool/acrylic. The only time I use fully synthetic materials is when that material is glittery. I’ll always find some excuse to use glittery things, and there is nothing natural about glittery ribbon. My yarns are from all over. I can’t go to a craft store without walking out with an armful of yarns. I’ve found yarn in antique stores, and flea markets before. I also use online sources like Etsy and WEBS, if I find a yarn and I like it, I’ll scoop as much of it up as I can. 

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Quirk Gallery: Where did your use of traditional weaving techniques come from? 

Kate Koconis: I use traditional weaving techniques because I don’t think there is any other way to weave. Even with the big computerized looms in factories the general concept is the same, it’s just a computer doing the thinking instead of a human. I think it is important to remember the skills/crafts of our past, and to not forget that we can make things with our two hands that are just as good, if not better, than a big computerized machine.  One of my favorite things is when I surprise someone when I say everything in my store I made by hand. We live in a world now where the hand craft is being forgotten as a valuable skill. There is a shift happening where more and more things are becoming mechanized, and I don’t want to see these incredible skills we have be lost. There has been a definite growth in the handmade community more recently, and my hope is that it continues to grow.  

Quirk Gallery: Can you talk about the value of a handmade object and the relationship between you, the maker, and the customer who brings this piece into their home?

Kate Koconis: Handmade to me means quality. I think when most people hear the words “craft fair” they don’t necessarily think quality goods. I want to change that thinking. When you buy something that is handmade, you are getting so much more than just that item. Hand making something takes longer and usually is harder to do, but you can see the time, energy, and care someone took to make it. I get so much joy out of making, and I get even more joy when I see someone fall in love with something I’ve made. Everything I make has a memory and joy attached to it and I hope that joy goes home with the item. I think there is more care and planning on the customers side also when choosing something handmade. Obviously I want customers to buy from me, but I want those customers to feel good about their purchase, and be excited to get it home and display it. 

Quirk Gallery: You incorporate succulents and air plants into hanging planters, nests and even hanging weavings. Why create spaces for these plants in your weavings?

Kate Koconis: Adding plants to my work was an of course kind of moment. I have always loved gardening, and farming, and plants in general, and it just seemed all too perfect to add them into my collection. I love being outside and being in nature. There is a calm and ease of being when surrounded by nature. I think it is important to bring some of that ease of nature into the home. I like to create peaceful cozy environments, and adding plants to the equation seemed like a no brainer. Plus I have a slight plant obsession. 

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Quirk Gallery: This will be your first workshop teaching weaving, what inspired you to share your process?

Kate Koconis: Wanting to share my craft with others goes back to this feeling I have of it dying away. The more people I can get interested in weaving the better the chance it has to stay alive. Even if all you’re doing with it is using it as a relaxation tool on a Wednesday night after a bad day. Or making gifts for your family. Or even if you love it so much you choose to turn it into a business, all of these options are keeping weaving going and not just in the history books. 

 

   

 

 

Thankfully we have had such a lovely response to Kate's workshop that both dates have sold out! If you were interested in attending this workshop but were not able to secure a spot, sign up for our mailing list to get updates about future workshops! If you are interested in purchasing one of Kate's weaving, stop by the shop to see her beautiful pieces. 

There are still spots available for our July workshop, Felting Workshop with Nastassja Swift.