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Spiral Apprenticeship Program

with Cari Buziak

by apprentice Shirley Mangione


I met Cari Buziak a good six or seven years ago at a Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild meeting when we moved to Calgary. When I saw her art, I was immediately impressed and I had wanted to learn from her ever since. So when Judy asked me a few years ago to make suggestions for a workshop, I thought of her right away. Fortunately for us, she agreed to come, and we learned the basics about drawing Celtic knots and such. But it wasn't enough: I wanted more, much much more! Then I visited Cari's website and found out she gives "distance courses"! Wow! I don't even have to leave the house, perfect. Therefore towards November last year, I signed up for her "Spiral Program" without hesitation.

This was a six-week long course and every week she would send a package consisting of: Discussion of the subject, methods of drawing, examples, and finally homework.

The topics covered were: how to draw spirals of course, their construction, directions of spin, connections; filling in different shapes; how to link these spirals to each other; how to finish loose ends; creating rundles; plugging in knotwork elements; space dividers; creating all kinds of different panels; how to figure out heads and tails; and in the last week, how to develop original designs for use in any medium or project from researching ancient designs, for example in the Book of Kells, Book of Hours, Durrow, etc. and how to copy them. Yes, the program is jammed packed and fast paced!

I found the program exhilarating and exciting. Every week I looked forward to receiving Cari's comments from last week's homework and how I did, and receiving the next week's package. At times when I was lost, I just had to write her an email, and she would reply with detailed explanations within hours. What I couldn't understand is that, when I looked at her website, she has so much going: designing Celtic jewelry, designing custom dance clothes and normal wear, coming up with new paintings, and coming up with new lessons in her free tutorials, etc. etc. etc. It boggles the mind! How many hours does she have in a day anyway, to fulfill all these commitments, AND, answer my questions at the same time.

As to the critique I received each week, I couldn't do ANYTHING without her noticing it. The critiques are always positive, but VERY thorough, as if she's telepathic. She always seemed to know exactly what I was trying to show. I think this is largely due to her extensive knowledge on the subject, she just casually "whips up" the image you wanted to do, but are too clumsy.

I am now continuing my Celtic Art education with her. Over the next six weeks we are doing the first part of her 2-part Zoomorphics program, which by the way, means "Life Form" - I didn't know that. I have just finished my first week's lesson, and, again, it is as excellent a program as the last.

So if you're interested in pursuing Celtic Art but didn't know where you could learn it, now that you know, I encourage you to do it with Cari!


Homework images: copyright 2005, Shirley Mangione


Week 1 - Create 1 large spiral panel


Week 2 - A 'Flowing rundle' with 'C' and 'S' connections and embellishments


Week 3 - Take an old homework and embellish it in 2 different ways.


Week 4 - Filling in a square with different joints: adding embellishments


Week 5 - Filling in irregular shapes "Hey, duh! why don't I prepare for my Christmas Card?"


Week 6 - An attempt to copy a section of a 'G' from the Book of Kells