3 Generations of the Garkisch Family Enjoy a Week of Craft at Touchstone
L-R: Hans Garkisch, Leo Garkisch, Gudrun Garkisch, Edan Mobed, Felix Garkisch, Thilo Garkisch
Gudrun instructs a student on the fine points of nature printing
Tools of the nature printing trade.
In June, Gudrun Garkisch came to Touchstone to teach a nature printing workshop, just as she has for many years. What made this year’s visit extra special is that she brought 3 generations of her family with her. One of Gudrun’s own workshop students was her 12 year old grandson Felix Garkisch. While she and Felix spent the week in Touchstone’s Sarah Studio rolling, brushing, etching and printing, the rest of the family were taking instructor Glen Horr’s “Irons in the Fire” blacksmithing workshop. Touchstone’s Hart Moore Blacksmith Studio was filled with Gudrun’s family: husband Hans, son Thilo Garkisch, and grandsons Leo Garkisch, age 16, and Edan Mobed, age 18.
Gudrun and Hans live in Irwin, PA, about an hour’s drive from Touchstone. Thilo and his sons Leo and Felix were visiting from Illinois and Edan traveled to Touchstone from Malvern, PA outside of Philadelphia. The whole family stayed on campus in Touchstone’s dorms gathering together three times a day in the dining hall for meals. As Gudrun explained, in the evenings the “blacksmiths of the family” headed back to the studio forges and worked late into the nights. She and Felix often went to visit them. Her grandsons enjoyed exploring Touchstone’s woodland campus and the evening bonfires. One of the family’s favorite campus wide events was “a very special Friday dinner, our last night together on campus. Chef Meryl made the most delicious pizzas and we got to watch her bake them in the new outdoor bread oven.” “For me and Hans, this week was a very special time for grandparents to spend with grandchildren who live far away.”
Gudrun has a long relationship with Touchstone as both an instructor and a student. She has been taking workshops at Touchstone since the 1980’s, mostly in printmaking and fiber arts, including shibori, a traditional fabric dying craft. Since 1995, she has been teaching nature printing workshops at Touchstone and has a loyal following of students who appreciate her knowledge in this time-honored traditional craft. Gudrun studied with Robert Little at Touchstone and continues his tradition of teaching at Touchstone where there is a scholarship in his name. Gudrun, who has participated in many juried international exhibits, was the 1996 Touchstone Artist of the Year. She is a member of the international Nature Printing Society and the Pittsburgh Print Group, and has conducted classes for many civic centers. As one of her students noted, she inspires them to focus on the details of the craft but also to improvise.
Touchstone Center for Crafts has also been the setting for a recent Garkisch family reunion. Last year, in celebration of a special birthday, Gudrun and her family gathered at Touchstone and Chef Meryl catered the event. Family traveled from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Germany and her daughter flew in from England. Touchstone is honored to be such an important part of the Garkisch family gatherings and we are deeply appreciative of all that Gudrun has offered through her craft, her teaching and her friendship.
Diane DeNardo, Touchstone Board Member
Touchstone is located in Farmington, Pennsylvania, amid the natural splendor of the Laurel Highlands. Founded in 1972 as the Pioneer Crafts Council, Touchstone’s was founded to foster interest in the preservation of the traditional craft forms and culture of the Appalachian region. Today, the craft school has expanded to include a wide variety of traditional and emerging craft forms, including blacksmithing, ceramics, metals, jewelry, textiles, glass, painting, drawing, photography, and printmaking. In addition to offering seasonal craft courses taught by nationally renowned artisans, Touchstone provides underserved audiences in the region, from senior citizens to public school students, with craft-centered educational programming. Touchstone’s artistic, educational, and residential facilities sit on 150 acres of lush woodlands and pristine wilderness. The campus is covered with towering trees, unique rock formations, and wildflower meadows, and is crossed by McIntire Run, a rushing stream. Not only is Touchstone Center for Crafts the only residential craft school in Pennsylvania, it’s the natural setting for your creative nature.
Touchstone’s mission is to advance excellence in the arts and crafts by educating and encouraging individuals to develop technical skills, good design, and innovative expression.
To realize this mission, the school offers workshops, exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations, and other forms of artistic and educational programming throughout the year. Dedicated to achieving national prominence and local relevance, Touchstone strives for national distinction by recruiting some of the best artists in the country to teach high-quality craft workshops that attract a geographically diverse audience. The organization strives for local relevance by providing educational and outreach programming that serves a wide variety of the underserved populations in Fayette County and other parts of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Touchstone Center for Crafts prohibits discrimination in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference. Touchstone Center for Crafts also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to its facilities and programming.