Fall Fortune and Luck

I didn’t realize that its been so long since I last posted. It must be because I’ve been so busy this year with the FRCC Art Club, with finishing my Media Graphic Design degree (one business math class to finish and I’m there!) and all the stuff that has happened this year with family, floods, and other such Stuff That Happens.

Even in the midst of turmoil, I manage to get a few things done. Look for the release of two new books from PolyMarket Press this month, and two more of mine in the works for next year’s releases.  I’ve also ALMOST finished my Fortune and Luck necklace that is a fabulous cascade of pieces that I’ve made or collected over the years. The from the 16 strand kumihimo braid that is the basis for all the hanging bits and pieces, to the mahjong tiles, religious medals and mementos of my travels, this necklace was many years in the accumulating. I have to add the endcaps and clasp, and it’ll be done!

Eye-Yi-Yi!

eyesWe’re almost done with Spring Semester and in between studying for finals and doing my homework, I’m working on projects for upcoming books through PolyMarket Press, my burgeoning publishing empire.

I went back to college to learn the programs needed for publishing, and I’m now one Business Math class away from an Associate of Applied Science degree in Media Graphic Design (Print and Publication). I’ve taken a lot of art classes along the way too, which, though they don’t count towards the degree, have been wonderful learning experiences in ceramics, metal work, and watercolor as well as web design and graphic arts.

I’m signed up to finish this degree during summer semester–along with finishing several new printed books and E-books. Some are mine, and some are with other artists and authors. I’m excited to see the growth of skill and projects and the forming connections that strengthen both the work and the workers.

doll-sketchesI’m also getting back to working with polymer clay now that the weather is turning warm again. I’m documenting the progress of dolls for Making Faces, Molds & Forms.

That includes new forays into ball jointed figures and making set-in eyes as well as painting eyes on clay and on fabric.

Here’s a look at a sketch for ball jointed dolls in several scales and a pair of eyes that are part of the 15 inch doll I’ve started. I’ve got the foil armature covered with a layer of paper mache, all ready to cover with polymer as soon as school is out and we are on break. It was easy to work to the right size with a sketch. Thats not something I usually do, but I wanted to give it a try along with with making the ball joints instead of a single pose sculpt.

The eyes are shown  on the back of a business card, to give you the scale. They are around 1/2 inch in diameter. I’ll be making lots more too, as I’ve got dolls to make and tutorials to write and shoot.

They just HAPPEN to be sizes that go with the projects I’m putting together for Think Inside The Box-which will feature many projects that transform boxes into beautiful miniatures in several scales and styles!

Here’s the armoire that is part of that doll’s suite. She gets an armoire, a bed, a bedside table, a rug and other decorative details, and a wall. 

There will be variations on that in other sizes and styles; but this is a start!

How DO They Do It?

polymer clay miniature mask by Shane SmithI’ve switched from the active production of masks, faces, and beads to taking pictures and editing, racing towards my deadline  to put together “A Collection Of Polymer Clay Masks” and have it in print by Halloween. It can be done!!–but only if I put in some serious Photoshop hours. So that’s what I’m doing; going through miniature polymer clay masks I’ve made and collected since 1997.

In the process of participating in and hosting “swaps” for these among polymer clay artists around the world, I’ve amassed an amazing grouping of these little beauties–each measured to fit inside a 3 inch square.

After I photograph them, my husband will mount them all in framed pieces for display. We have one such piece with over 50 masks–now we’ll have several, and we’ll be doing a gallery showing along with the book when its all said and done.  The book will also include photographs of full sized masks contributed by artists for this publication.

polymer clay cane made by Donna Kato and Shane SmithAs I was going through my carefully wrapped boxes and bags of masks, and going through my file folders on the computer, I found images I took during a tutorial by Donna Kato and Shane Smith. They had been making mini-masks using scraps of canes, and didn’t have enough leftover bits at this point  at our retreat, so they made a cane up special for it, and then Shane made some masks to show us how they were done. We each got a few inches of the cane to play with, and I got their permission to do a tutorial with the photos. I’ve got a “Making Faces and Figures” book planned out and in the works, but its not the  one I’m working on now–it’ll be a companion to this one that will show how-to, and I that is NEXT years’ project. For now, here’s a look at the cane that started these masks, and the finished pieces by Shane. Thanks so much to Donna and Shane!

masks made with polymer clay by Shane Smith

Flowers In Her Hair

ceramic flower girl maskThat’s a line from an old Cowsill’s song, an early Family Band that doesn’t get as much nostalagia air time as say, the Osmond or Jackson Family does now that everybody is all grown up. “She was the flower girl–well, I don’t know just why, she simply caught my eye….”

And here’s my own flower girl, a life-size ceramic mask glazed with cone-06 low fire glazes.  I might have to do some more of these big masks as they are indeed fun, though pretty heavy compared to the miniature ceramic masks I make more often. And speaking of those, I am now arranging my summer schedule, and THIS year I’m taking the summer off from school to finish photos and editing for my new book  “A Collection Of Polymer Clay Masks”.  It is on-track for release this Fall. That’ll keep me busy, and I’ve also scheduled a trunk show and classes at Nomad Beads in Boulder where I’ll be selling miniature ceramic and polymer faces, beads, and more! Come see all the goodies on display Mother’s Day weekend, May 8-9 at Nomad Beads, 1909 9th in Boulder Colorado, and say hi; I’ll be there creating beaded Spirit Dolls and jewelry.

Skinner Blends and More!

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On our PolyMarket Press side of things, work is progressing on new books. In 2010 we will see the debut of two new books from me–
Making Faces, Molds & Forms and The Art of Polymer Clay Masks. Learning a lot more about using programs like  Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign has been keeping me very busy this year, and now I’m focusing on using them to produce new books. I’ve assembled a fabulous array of hundreds of images from polymer clay artists who create masks, and I am looking forward to sharing them all in print.

skinner blend rainbowrainbow skinner blend-completeJudith Skinner is also beginning work on her new book about the Skinner Blend, the variations of it and the many uses it has for polymer clay. There is a tentative publication date set for Fall 2010.   If you are a polymer clay artist who uses this technique and you’d like to submit images for consideration, contact me at sarajane@polyclay.com Judith is seeking the best that’s out there with high resolution images (300ppi) in a size format to fit within a 9″x7″ pages. Submission deadline is March 2010, which gives you all some time to get pics of your best pieces that make use of the Skinner Blend technique. Contact the email above and I’ll respond with the full information letter.

Images will be edited as needed to fit. Each artist will be credited by name so include that along with information as to the size and listing of all media used.  Since it was first developed and shared with the polymer clay community, artists around the world have been using this color gradation  technique in amazing ways.  Just wait till you see the variety gathered into one great book!

Houston’s International Quilt Festival 2008

houston08bLast week Judith Skinner and I were vendors for our third year at The International Quilt Festival in Houston Texas. The show is the absolute best in the world, and there are more beautiful quilts and amazing wearable art pieces than I could possibly imagine–and I have a VERY good imagination!! We go every year to promote our books, including Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay and The Business Of Professional Art as well as to sell our polymer clay jewelry, beads, faces, and Spirit Doll kits. Next year we’ll be bringing new titles as well–I think its time to ship all the books ahead, though. We take all of our booth setup and displays and all merchandise with us, and things are getting heavier the more titles we add! This year we shipped some of the books, and that worked out very well. The Houston Polymer Clay Guild helped out with Receiving and made us welcome at a lovely evening reception too! It is always great to see our friends there again.

houston08kIn addition to seeing polymer clay vendors like Jennifer Patterson and Karyn Kozak, we get to explore as much of the show as we can. There are 20 rows of booths, and thats not counting the Quilt Display areas!!

There’s an area in the farthest back block for Embellishments, where you can find us in our PolyMarket Press Booth and many other suppliers of textiles, trims, buttons and beads, and other great stuff.

houston08iLike Glitter! Barbara Trombley was there with her Art Institute Glitter. Not only do she and her sparkly assistant Nancy show off the uses of an incredible line of glitters that are compatible with polymer clay use, Barbara’s line of “Elements” make great inclusions in translucent polymer clay and all the supplies in their booth have possibilities when it comes to mixed media art that is so dear to many, including me!

As a certifiable color addict, I warn you to be careful when looking at her color samples. Many, many colors, in very many sizes–like seed beads and paint chips it can be an occasion for gazing a long time.

Where Women Create

I also had the opportunity to meet Jenny Doh, editor at Belle Armoire magazine. It was lovely to see in person someone with whom I’ve worked well and happily as a writer of the Business Of Professional Arts column there. I rthoroughly enjoy working with talented, creative people, who are very good at what they do.

It was exciting to see the “Where Women Create” booth and to meet her and the other ladies there. WWC is all about the “inspiring work spaces of extraordinary women” to quote their website. Keep an eye out for this newly debuting magazine!

Click here to see more about this exciting show.

NEW book!! Making Faces Molds & Forms

Book Cover–Making Faces Molds & Forms, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.

This is the front cover of my newest book–“Making Faces Molds & Forms”

It is a how-to guide to sculpting faces from polymer clay and using 2part RTV silicones to make molds; and thats just a start! Then I show how to use the molds to make many different faces, and use them in doll making, altered art, collage, jewelry, and more.

This book will debut in late October 2008, in time for the International Quilt Festival in Houston Texas.
(Its ALMOST finished!!)

AuntieEstablishmentarianism

Aunt Acid's tie dyed banner
I’ve been “phased out” at my day job in town and though it may sound strange to some, I see it as a kind  of liberation and a sharp nudge in the direction of spending more efforts on my own business. In addition to returning to my websites and putting items up for sale again, I’m busily working on projects that have been languishing due to my spending my time elsewhere. Back to books! Back to magazine articles and web content and photographs and more.

Aunt Acid--Ask Questions!Particularly dear to my heart is a long-term project that has been years in the making and will definitely take many more months of effort—but I think she’s worth it! I’m referring to “Aunt Acid” who is the star of her own reality,  an upcoming Internet variety show, and more.  When I got the word that my services were no longer required elsewhere, I came home, got my head together and stuck it in the oven……and felt great about it! Of course it was really Aunt Acid’s head, and she’s made using polymer clay.

Take a look at her blog to find out more on her origins and beginnings. 

In addition to creating the puppets, props, costumes, and stage sets (and stage!) we’re writing, direction, filming, and making the music. We have loads of talent and ideas tons of work to do, and no funding as yet–so we are also creating merchandise that will help support the cause. But Aunt Acid has a soft heart