Eugene Daub Workshop at Brookgreen Gardens

By Marie Jean Lederman

From June 3rd to 7th at Brookgreen Gardens at Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, magic happened in Eugene Daub’s Medallic Art Workshop. The workshop was to cover instruction for modeling a relief; molding and casting of negative and positive plasters; letter-carving, and various reduction techniques. We learned all of that and so much more from Eugene and from each other.

A letter sent from Eugene before the workshop sounded as if this was going to be a useful, productive week. He suggested that we bring an 8″ X 10″ photo or digital image of someone or something that would be modeled in clay and then cast in an 8 inch dished basin. If we were going to work from a portrait he suggested a side view, preferably not showing teeth. He also suggested bringing sketches or ideas with us and included a list of six tools which we would use when working on plaster.

Eugene Daub and Alex Palkovich

Eugene Daub and Alex Palkovich

It was indeed a productive week, and it turned out to be much more: a week of passionate work and friendship. While the workshop was scheduled for 9-4pm with an hour for lunch, the times were elastic, starting at 8:30 and sometimes stretching until 7:30. We were enjoying our work, our instructor and each other so much that we had to be reminded to leave so that the building (and the offices which shared the building) could close.

Eugene is a master teacher as well as sculptor. For those of us taking a workshop with him for the first time he was a revelation – low key, encouraging and full of information. Sometimes he demonstrated techniques and tools. More often he spent time with us individually and invited others to take a break from our own projects and watch and learn while he gave special instruction to individuals. While Eugene said at the start that we were not to aim for a final product but to focus on process, but most of us – miraculously – did finish a relief, and a pretty good one at that.

We quickly coalesced into a group. It rained for all or part of each day, and we piled into a couple of cars to break for lunch in one of the cafes in the gardens. The threat of almost hurricane/tropical storm Andrea hovered in the background, but we were all so happy working, it barely registered in the workshop. During lunches and, sometimes, dinners we learned a lot about each other. We were a pretty diverse group – geographically and in terms of our work backgrounds. We came from California, the state of Washington, Texas, Ohio, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia, South Carolina, Illinois and New York. Some of us were retired – and some still practicing – ministers, lawyers, businesspeople, farmers, psychologists, knife makers, professors and real estate agents. Some were professionals working on commissions and some were experienced relief sculptors. Some had been sculptors all of their lives; some came to sculpture later in life. What we had in common was a love of making art. Those more experienced generously shared their knowledge of techniques, experiences and enthusiasm with the group.

On the next to last night Lou Rainey, who has a house nearby, hosted a fabulous dinner party, amazingly organized as she spent that day in the workshop with the rest of us. Lou was the commanding general as she assigned tasks so that we all helped to make it come together in her beautiful – and large – kitchen.

Robin Salmon, Vice President of Art and Historical Collections/ Curator of Sculpture, was the presiding angel prior to and over what was truly a magical week. Workshop participants were: Lou Rainey, Bob Kramer, Donella Lay, Lois Fortson, Susan Westover, Robert Ongaro, Jane Hemmer, Tom Player, Alex Palkovich, Albert Bardenstein, and Marlene Askins.