Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Little Mermaid - Art Bead Scene Blog: July Monthly Challenge

Art Bead Scene Blog: July Monthly Challenge
This month's challenge at the Art Bead Scene is a work by Edmund Dulac, a French-born illustrator.  We were challenged to make pieces with art beads from a specific piece of Dulac's titled The Little Mermaid:
To make my Little Mermaid inspired bracelet, I first made polymer beads using a texture sheet described in my Flickr photostream here.  I thought the textures were especially good for an underwater feel.

The polymer clay beads I made were textured, painted and adorned with magic gloss, micro beads and metal leaf.  I added some vintage metal beads from my flea-market stash for a spiky flash.
Here are some views and details for you to see my beads and bracelet:

Monday, June 30, 2014

Challenge Noir hosted by Parole de Pâte

The latest challenge organized by Tewee of the group CréationFimo and presented by the blog Parole de Pâte was all about black.  Participants were asked to use only black clay combined with at least three surface techniques including textures and metallic foils, paste, micro beads, or  glitter.  I LOVE black and metallics and textures, so this was a joy from start to finish. Actually I went through more than a pound of black Premo making my pieces. 
These pendants feature textures in black clay made by Queen Anne's Lace, fabric, and impression from a vintage Japanese tin jewelry box.  The textures were highlighted by guilder's paste in gold, silver and copper.  Finally you will notice bits of foil added here and there and especially on the edges of each piece.  

I took photos of some of my creations to share with you today, and will most likely post a few more here tomorrow when I can take advantage of natural sunlight.  I will then explain with some short tutorials how I made my textures.

The necklace above was created by using black clay, guilder's paste, micro beads and textures.  Note the findings using the same surface techniques.  

A simple textured black pendant with foil accents

This pendant used some stamps made by hand from buttons.  

The texture in this piece is from the same Japanese tin as above but with more copper and gold foils and paste and less silver.  

These are but a few of the dozens of earrings I made from the odds and ends of textured clay left from making pendants and bracelets.

To finish off today's article I will leave you with some necktie-shaped earrings in honor of Marie-France Tournat, one of the most creative artists I know.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Art Bead Scene Blog: June Monthly Challenge.

The writers at the Art Bead Scene Blog chose the work of a biologist and botanical artist, Marianne North, as the inspiration for their June challenge.  North traveled the world discovering species of vegetation previously unknown to Europeans. Here is a video I enjoyed watching that explains her challenges and accomplishments:
 She made beautifully accurate and detailed oil paintings of vegetation from too many parts of the world for me to name.
 Her contribution to the science of botany is astounding especially considering the obstacles she must have faced as a British lady living in the 19th century.
As I write this short blog, I have to push away my frustrations of not being able to travel beyond the inside of my home.  I broke my ankle and had surgery a couple weeks ago.  I am on the mend, but cannot walk at all.

 Sometimes I feel so trapped! Honestly, I have nothing to complain about. The pain is less each day.  I have a family who cares for me, and friends who have been helping too in so many kind ways.
I also have had plenty of time to sit in my little studio and create.  This keeps my hands busy and my spirits higher than they would be otherwise.
When making my challenge piece, I took a few work-in-progress shots to share with you.  Here are my canes, and how I placed the slices on a background of mokumegane and silver leafed clay:
Here is how I formed my beads using a metal necklace I found at a flea market:
I used "blue tak" (actually white) to hold everything in place while putting my clay veneers over the metal.  To be sure that my finger prints were washed away, I painted on a bit of clay softener over the beads before curing the first time.
As you can see in the following photo, I added more clay to the back side including channels for beading.  You can also see my signature on the center bead:
After making this piece, I played with my leftover clay to make several more pieces and earrings:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Challenge Tirelire - Piggy Bank Challenge

Aujourd'hui sur Parole de Pâte le challenge tirelire...
My friends at Créationfimo have been whipping up creative savings contraptions for a "piggy bank" challenge.  Tewee is an immensely kind person, an amazing artist and the official "goddess of challenges" for the francophone polymer art world.
 This tirelire challenge was so enjoyable for me!  I gathered together my most colorful canes and went to town.  Some of my canes were gifts from others.  If you are Nancy Buchanan, my sister by birth, or our sister in clay, Anna Sabina Stratton, you might see a bit of your handiwork in my piggy.

On Friday afternoon this Mr. Pig is going to be raffled off as part of our school's French Club's fund raiser.  My students seem to really like this little guy, so I'm sure he will be going to a good home.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Art Bead Scene Blog: April Monthly Challenge

Art Bead Scene Blog: April Monthly Challenge

Upon seeing the inspiration for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge my heart took a little leap.  It combines two of my favorite things, art and French.  I have loved Degas' work since Madame Ward, my very own beloved high-school French teacher, presented us with some samples on a film strip more years ago than I want to ponder.   
Since the impressionists including Degas would not have blended the colors on their palettes, I echoed this idea in my challenge piece by employing roughly mixed together Skinner blends in the style of Sandra McCaw. I enjoyed learning to do her technique by reading a tutorial in  Judy Belcher and  Tamara Honaman's delightfully readable and engaging book, Polymer Clay Master Class: Exploring Process, Technique, and Collaboration with 11 Master Artists 
Keeping my theme feminine with plenty of movement was also a goal.  Each large polymer bead is connected with glass spacers as you can see in the following photo showing my construction: 

  For a bit of sparkle I "sprinkled" bits of gold and copper colored leaf along with some micro beads along the branches and leaves on the focal beads.  My little roses are blue-green like the tutus worn by Degas' lovely dancers in the foreground.  
After curing my piece I hand-carved the edges smooth with a whittling knife.  I rather like the effect, do you?  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Challenge Peaux de Bêtes

Time to roll out our wild things!  A new challenge is unveiled on Parole de pâte today.

Our participation required that we base our creations in clay on actual animal spots and stripes; anything except reptiles that is.  I chose to work on replicating the beautiful markings of the clouded leopard.

Here are my canes:

My beads are made with long, toothy Kato-clay Skinner blends in shades of gray accented with tiny snakes of mixed colored clay.  I topped these with balls made of dark annealed steal wire and tubes of clouded leopard "fur" in warm browns and tans.  The piece is held together with leather braids accented with crocheted "furry" yarn.  Disk coconut beads and other wooden beads accent the polymer focal beads. 

I had so much fun with this project.  Each challenge by these francophone friends keeps my energy flowing.  
My "leftover"s necklace was featured on Polymer Clay Planet just yesterday!  What a thrill for me!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Art Bead Scene Blog: March Monthly Challenge

Art Bead Scene Blog: March Monthly Challenge

The Art Bead Scene Blog  writers have chosen for
their challenge the work of a “naïve artist” from Switzerland, Adolf Dietrich. Do
you already know about primitive and naïve art?

I have been a fan of Henri Rousseau, whom I had always considered a primitive
artist, but I had not heard of the naïve art movement.
   Now I
have also met Dietrich who was sometimes called the German Rousseau?
I learn so much from reading the Art Bead Scene’s articles. What
fun it is for me to ponder and hopefully create something inspired by a
particular piece of art each month. Even when I cannot possibly find time to
meet a particular challenge, viewing the other entrants’ pieces is a source of
wonder for me. 
This month the ABS
writers chose Dietrich’s painting titled “Birds on Riser” (paint
on wood). 
Initially his painting felt
unbalanced to me, which bothered me a bit.
Naïve art often has this effect on viewers since the artists choose to
ignore “rules” of perspective (reducing details, reducing size, and reducing
the vibrancy of colors to give the illusion of distance on a two-dimensional
I loved the subject of a bird feeder and the birds with detailed
plumes of many colors.  I could
appreciate how his painting seemed to be a visual haiku – a candid snapshot of
a moment in time.  Unfortunately I
continued to be bothered by the lack of perspective and the 
over stimulation of
details in the work.  Even the top seemed
inadvertently or mistakenly cut off like the heads of people in too many family
Finally I came up with a strategy for my own appreciation of the
piece when I decided to focus on the scene inside each pane of glass, one by
one, each as a separate painting.  That
was my breakthrough to know how I would make art beads for a necklace inspired
by Dietrich’s painting. 
 I did some searching online
to learn more about Dietrich, and found that the little garden in this piece actually
existed and exists still.  People
visiting his home town of Berlingen can still enjoy it.
I also found that the little blue gazebo was prominently figured in
several other of this artist’s paintings.

My piece is all about the main ideas I see in Dietrich’s
painting.  I focused on his birds, on the
garden and on the gazebo.  I structured
it with strong themes of squares and frames.
See how I repeated the squares in the choice of chain and dangle at the
closure as well? 
To make the faux cloisonné effect in clay, I used Sage Bray’s method of carving in
wax to make a mold.  After texturing the clay in the wax, I painted and dyed the surface until I was pleased with the colors.
 If you would like to learn how to do this sort of texturing, you can.  The well-written tutorial is in the Winter 2011 issue of  The Polymer Arts Magazine.   Sage Bray's article explains each step involved in her wax-impression technique.  I highly recommend it, and back issues are so reasonably priced.  I feel the need to warn you; I am fairly certain that you will be addicted once you read your first issue.  Even if you are not into polymer, the marketing ideas (how to photograph jewelry, ideas for packaging products, and more) are worth the cost of a subscription.  
After texturing my pieces I like to use metallic paints and guilders paste sometimes before and sometimes after curing.  When I’m finished I seal my creations with Renaissance Wax to keep it shining and colorful for years to come.