An old darkroom at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre is featuring a brand-new look.
The basement room, which dates back to the building’s police station years, was recently transformed into a jeweller’s studio.
When Victoria Strange, executive director of the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, first took on the role in February, she says she tried to revive the darkroom. “I could not get anyone to use it,” she says.
She thought maybe it could be used as another artist studio that the centre could rent out.
This spring, fresh off a series of jewellery classes held at Garnish on Mackenzie Avenue, which is owned and operated by silversmith Arleigh Garratt, an idea struck Strange.
“We had this huge response from the community,” said Strange of the jewellery classes.
She walked into Garnish and told Garratt she thought the darkroom should be converted into a jewellery studio.The timing couldn’t have been better. Garratt was renovating her shop to have more retail space and planned to move her personal studio into a room in the basement at the centre, just across the hall from the former darkroom.
So began a months-long renovation of the darkroom. It had to be cleared out and photographic equipment rehomed. Wiring needed attention and the location of the door was moved. The black walls were repainted. Safety equipment was installed and the workstations – called jeweller’s benches – were built and installed by woodshop manager Ken Talbot.
Hours and hours of volunteer time built the space.
“We’ve done a pretty good job of what was a pretty awkward space,” says Garratt.
The space now looks nothing like it used to and is completely outfitted with five benches and a bunch of tools including a torch, pickle, fordum and polisher.
“It’s been a long project,” says Strange. “But we’re pretty excited about it.”
Garratt is really excited about the space and has visions of bringing in visiting artists to offer workshops.
The first class – a stacking ring workshop taught by Garratt – ran last week. It was the first time the space was used.
Garratt, who used to offer classes in her private studio at Garnish with her own tools and equipment is happy to have the space to share with others.
“I just wanted to see more artistic things come to Revelstoke,” she says.”It’ll be neat to see where it goes.”
There are similar group working spaces at the centre. There’s a woodshop and a pottery studio upstairs.
“We’re offering the community another medium they can work in,” says Strange. “The community doesn’t have anything like this.”
The jeweller’s guild membership will be $80 per month or $750 for the year.
The monies generated will be put back into the studio to purchase more equipment.
People with jewellery experience are invited to contact Strange if they’re interested in using the space.
Others who are interested, but don’t have experience will have to wait until the new year when the centre will be offering a workshop to teach about safe use of the space.
The next class in the space will be on Nov. 29, when Garratt offers a wide textured band workshop.
More information about the classes and the jeweller’s guild can be found at revelstokeartgallery.com