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photoRobin Doggett, left, and Laura Gunnip, owners of Door No. 3 at the Methow Valley Community Center, show off their most recent projects.

Negotiating Paper
Door No. 3

If you’ve ever wanted to learn about print art or bookmaking, you can at the Community Center building in Twisp.

Through the double doors of the Center are sepia-toned pictures of past students, stacks of tourism brochures and the hushed ruffling of pages from the library. Across the hall a cacophony is muffled behind Door No. 3.

With hands and aprons slathered with every color imaginable, 11 kids fervently scrub a glass tabletop, smearing and pushing ink and leaves and pine needles everywhere. The children giggle and laugh and appraise their completed projects with pride.

On this day, Laura Gunnip, co-owner of Door No. 3, showed as much excitement as the 6 -11 year olds around her. She hosted one of the Confluence Art Gallery’s Kids Art Parties at her studio. Going into their sixth year in the Community Center, Gunnip, along with Robin Doggett, have more than just kids’ art parties available.

photoLaura Gunnip exhibits a finished product at the Twispwork's Harvest Potluck printing demonstration.

When Gunnip arrived in the Methow in 2007, she knew what she wanted to do. The Methow Print Arts had folded and the press that they were using was put into storage in Doggett’s garage. Determined, Gunnip did what she had to do. “I just called her up,” Gunnip recollected, “I said, hi, I’m Laura and I’m moving to town and we’re going to start a print making studio.”

Gunnip and Doggett spent a year researching and seeking out a commercial space for their print shop. “We could have just done this out of our garages like many people do because it’s expensive to run,” said Gunnip, “But it was obvious that we needed to figure out how to endear ourselves to the community—how to integrate ourselves and to be something.”

In November, 2008 the pair rented the third room on the right on the main level of the Community Center and Door No. 3 opened. “We really wanted to have a community resource and make art publicly accessible,” says Doggett. “We wanted to introduce people to how to do these things as something completely new. I think we’ve affected the landscape of the arts community by how we decided to go about it.”

Their purpose is to teach people about new avenues of art and, as Doggett said, “We want to create a thriving print culture in the Methow.”

Gunnip teaches both at Door No. 3 and throughout the Okanogan School District. “Because we don’t have as much funding to work with teenagers and kids we really need to be subsidized so I go to where the kids are,” said Gunnip. She teaches block printing and screen printing to 4th, 5th and 7th grades at Methow Valley Elementary and Liberty Bell Junior High every year. This year Door No. 3 will also do a screen printing wearable art project with the Independent Learning Center (ILC) in Twisp.

Both Doggett and Gunnip have years of teaching experience. Robin taught and was previously the education coordinator for the Confluence Gallery and Art Center and used her expertise to create and promote classes for the valley through Door No. 3.

After receiving her MFA at Bradford College in the UK, Gunnip taught a few classes in Leeds, but it was through Door No. 3 that she found a love for teaching. “I found my teaching feet here and it’s something that I passionately love.”

photoThe finished natural prints done by students at the Confluence Gallery and Art Center's Kids' Art Party! at Door No. 3.

Door No. 3 offers classes in a variety of printmaking and book making throughout the year. Until Christmas, Door No. 3 will be open on Thursdays from 1-6 for those interested in making their own personal printed newsprint gift wrap.

The next class in January will have a guest letterpress teacher, Jessica Spring of Spring Tide Press. The class, “Daredevil Letterpress Valentines” is in conjunction with an exhibition of Spring’s own work. This class will teach how to use letterpress, the meticulous setting of letters, and create Valentine’s Day cards. Spring created the “Dead Feminist” series of cards which feature letterpress quotes of famous late women.

Other classes will include screen printing for fabric and paper, block printing, book binding, collage and zine (chapbook) creation. The zine class enables people to create their own bound collection of literature or art. The classes are very hands on with a variety of teaching methods for every kind of learner, and everyone leaves a class with something they have created themselves.

In today’s world of technological and glossy perfection, Doggett and Gunnip want to highlight the craft of the human sense of art. “Everyone’s a printer at the moment because everyone has a printer at their home,” Gunnip says, “but what we’re losing in simply pushing a button is getting our hands dirty and seeing the hand in something that’s not a perfect line. Not physically negotiating paper and sewing and printing and pushing the treadle on a hundred year old press.”

Door No. 3 also holds art shows and also offers demonstrations at various events throughout the Methow. For Twispworks’ Harvest Potluck, Gunnip set up her screen printing and made t-shirts with the “Methow Made” logo.

It’s in these spontaneous demonstrations that Gunnip and Doggett really get to perform. “We make a splash and do some sort of event like inking up bike tires and having them ride over paper and people are naturally curious about it,” Gunnip said. “And what it does is it gets people through the door.”

To find out more about Door No. 3, and the classes available, call (509) 449-1789, stop by the studio or check out the Door No. 3 booth at the Methow Valley Craft Bazaar Nov. 23rd and Dec. 7th at the Community Center in Twisp.


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