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:

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