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.    

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Shades of Gray... and More


The latest challenge by my friend, Tewee,  was to use the gradient colors between black and white... 
 gradientplus one other pure color.  My choice to meet this challenge was to use some of my gray canes - mostly peacock feathers and plumage along with a face cane of my grandmother's face.  I shared my progress and stories of making the face cane on Facebook.  To these muted grays I added a color soothing to my tastes - a mossy warm green.  The resulting cuff bracelet is made with this shade of green on the inside, and a hint of the same outside.  

 Please visit Parole de Pâte to see the many lovely interpretations of this particular challenge.  What a joy it is for me to create alongside the members of this talented group of francophone clayers,  CréationFimo!

Merci pour le challenge Tewee!  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Le challenge fractale 
(Un challenge pour PDP organizé par Tewee )
     As a member of CréationFimo, I love to participate in the challenges which are certain to move me outside my comfort zone.  I always learn something beneficial from the experience of exploring new techniques or designs.  It is compelling and reassuring to see that other artists also struggle as they explore new ways to create.  I love the general attitude of this group which seems to have a collective sense of humor and a heart for cheering one another. 
    The latest challenge presented by Tewee  was especially interesting and “challenging” for many of us.  She asked us to create something using fractals.  I had to study to understand how to respond to this call. Fractals are everywhere in nature, and I felt like initially I understood what they were.  Unfortunately, when I actually tried to put my finger on the concept and create it in clay, the idea squirmed away quickly enough.  
   While I was snowed in this past month I found inspiration to tackle Tewee's challenge in a book by Tracy Chevalier titled, Remarkable Creatures.  It is a historical novel set in the early 19th  century along the English coastline.  Chevalier invites her readers to explore an extraordinary friendship between two fossil hunters, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot.  In their time and place it was not acceptable for people of different social classes to interact on a personal level, but Mary and Elizabeth soared above those restraints.  At the same time it was acceptable for "men of science" to steal the a woman's intellectual property and honor.  To add insult to injury, these ground-breaking women found themselves in a bitter conflict since the fossils they had found seemed inexplicable proof of the heretical notion that living things change form over time and were not simply created "as is". I can say no more without giving away much of the plot! I must say this story based on actual events and people gave me pause to think.  I would enthusiastically recommend it to my own dear friends.      
Of the fossils the ladies collected, the ones that most intrigued me were called ammonites. Ammonites it turns out are some of nature's best examples of fractales - perfect for Tewee's challenge. 
I was lead to do some research into these ancient organisms.  You might like to learn about how they lived here .  I would love to go fossil hunting along thecoast of England, wouldn’t you? 
Oh, and their fossils can be carved and polished to reveal the most lovely details, designs and colors.  The exteriors of the shells were covered in interlocking sutures: 

Ammonite Sutures 

Ammonite sutures revealed
As I explored ammonites the fractals challenge finally clicked for me.  I started by making canes, my favorite part of claying!
Here is my first cane made for the challenge:

Aren’t these photos of ammonites  just breathtaking?  

And my second one of the ammonite sutures:
Here you can see that we had enough snow days to allow time for creating a piece of jewelry using my canes.  I used these mostly translucent canes on metal leaf that I’d tinted with alcohol inks.    Voici mon collier, un torque ammonite:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Art Bead Scene Blog: January Monthly Challenge

Art Bead Scene Blog: January Monthly Challenge: Lois Mailou Jones.
Neckpiece created with my own clay canes for a challenge sponsored by The Art Bead Scene Blog.  
I just love making polymer canes, and this winter break I had plenty of time to clay.  We were snowed in for a week!  My husband made more snow with boiling water!  

The Art Bead Scene challenge this month features the art of Lois Mailou Jones .  I've been collecting photos of her work with links to articles on a new Pinterest board.  What an intriguing adventure it has been to learn of Dr. Jones.  
I began this by noting that the colors in the ABS challenge piece were very vibrant and matched the new Pantone color palette as well.  I had to make myself avoid the greens that I'm so fond of, and here is the result.   
This is a variety of canes all lined up neatly in my simple slicer.  (I love my simple slicer!)  

If you are wondering how to go about making polymer clay canes, there is a new group on Facebook. Each week there are links to tutorials and everyone posts their new creations.  

I added my canes to some skinner blended clay beads here:
Then I cured, sanded, polished and  put it all together with some glass and wooden beads and leather cording.  
A tiny butterfly made from a cane dangles from the clasp for a touch of fun.  I did love the time off to clay, but you can tell I'm dreaming of summer already, right?!  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Art Bead Scene Blog: October Monthly Challenge

Art Bead Scene Blog: October Monthly Challenge

This month's Art Bead Scene challenge is based on the work of Ohara Koson:
The soft colors and simplicity of the original inspired me, no doubt; but I have had a struggle staying within these limits. I knew I wanted to use texture as the most important element of my piece.  I adore texture and have no end of fun bringing out the details of items found in nature which I then press into clay.  My trouble was that each time I set about doing a piece using art beads made with this theme, I ended up with much more blue and gold than should be included.  Here are some examples to show you what I mean:

I made another piece that was a better color match, but my owl ended up so huge it didn't fit on a piece of jewelry so well. I think it will be used to decorate a purse?
 Finally, I made a tiny owl on this "torque" neckpiece, and I'm fairly happy with the results.  

The beads are made of polymer clay that has been textured with my handmade stamps and natural materials (twigs, leaves, seeds).  My little owl  was sculpted on top of the painted, textured clay. I made all my own findings with brass wire and the string is actually two colors of rats tail.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Challenge Transparence - CréationFimo

 On CréationFimo we were asked to take part in a transparency challenge. You should come visit Parole de Pâte today (September 3, 2013)  to see the collection of beautifully transparent creations made for the challenge.
    When I think of lovely transparent polymer, the first name who comes to my mind is  Kathrin Neumaier.  What amazing things she does! Her work is such an inspiring puzzle to me.
  Trying to emulate her hollow forms, I used everything from wax to rice flour and had very little success for weeks!  I'll not show all the failures, all my attempts that went sadly wrong.  At the end of the trials, I did come up with a few pieces that make me smile.  Here is a small collection of those that I like; although the level of transparency is not quite what I'm trying to achieve.
  This is the closest I've been to doing a truly transparent piece.  I used an actual pepper and cured liquid Fimo on it with my heat gun before putting it in the oven.

The next few were not as transparent, but I liked the shapes.  I used cornstarch packing peanuts to make these hollow shapes.  

Here is a lily pendant with a transparent dragonfly wing as its support.  
And a pretty fairy pendant.  
Well, now it is on to the next challenge.  Can't say what it is yet, but I'm really going to have fun with it!