Friday, August 23, 2013

The Albany Brass Ring Carousel

My name is MaryElise Collier and I am a junior Fibers major with concentrations in Illustration and Experimental Fashion. This summer I interned at the Albany Brass Ring Carousel in Albany, Oregon. I live in the next town over, and some family friends mentioned I should check the carousel project out. I visited the studio during winter break and asked Tyson Brown, the volunteer coordinator, about internship possibilities. The carousel operates almost 100% on volunteers and will take most anyone who really wants to learn to carve and paint, so setting it up as an internship went very smoothly.

As an intern I started by carving a pineapple, which helped me learn the process. I quickly carved two pineapples and Jack, the lead carver, deemed me good enough to move on to a ‘hobby horse head’ of a quagga, an extinct species of zebra. That took much longer, nearly a month, to carve, but it was a great experience and I learned a lot from it. It was an exercise in turning 2-D images into a 3-D form. When I was done with both the pineapples and the quagga, I was able to paint them. We used all oils and were instructed to use the stippling method so there would be no visible brush strokes. Toward the end of my summer there, Jack allowed me to work on carving detail into one of the actual carousel horses. I worked to correct a dog that had already been carved but not to the carousel’s standard. I thoroughly enjoyed all projects, but I am most proud of my quagga head. I was able to work a lot of detail into it, and the paint job on it also came out very nicely.

I had a great time at the carousel and wish I could have spent more time there. I learned a great deal about hand-carving and even bought my own set of palm tools and files. I was also able to learn a new painting technique that I am sure will come in handy later on. Being able to learn in that environment was invaluable; I was able to work without pressure of a looming deadline while still being able to get assistance from experienced workers whenever I needed it. It was an all-around amazing experience and I will most likely return there when I am home for break.