Playing Dress-Up With PODs

Well this certainly is fun! I took a 3 Inch by 6 inch piece of metal (seen at right) and painted it with alcohol ink and gave it several coats of Rustoleum Varathane, Then did the back of the metal with a design in a simpler but co-orrdinating color design. After that I took pictures, and now I can use the pictures to create POD (Print On Demand) products. Right now you can buy through their website, but I am in the process of putting my  own store together with Shopify.

The original art is seen at right. Below in the gallery are the pieces and the POD items

These particular items, a scarf, yoga leggings, a draped kimono, tote bag and zipper carry call are all from Art For Where in Montreal Canada.

They mill their own fabric, print it, cut and sew and drop ship the orders. Then I cut up the metal, ground down the edges, and got the pieces ready to make into jewelry!

 

 

 

Major Metal!

We’ve been spending the past few months digging in with creative endeavors here in our new place. We’re producing new art, music, writing, and also preparing for winter. (We’ve already had snow three times!) I’ve been putting major efforts into metal work that has been languishing unfinished or unsorted for a while. I had a pile of etched metal and metal with beautiful patinas as well as decorative ways with inks. Now I have quite a few trays filled with earring parts, pendants, cuff bracelets, and sets. I’m selling components to other jewelry designers and having fun seeing what they do with them.

I’m reaping a bonanza harvest of brass, bronze, nickle silver, copper, tin and aluminum components for making earrings, pendants and charms. I’m selling on Facebook groups and also wholesale to stores. Plus, when the winter days keep me indoors, I’ll have plenty to choose from when making jewelry.

 

 

New Ways in the West

I love the vivid colors and fun effects that are obtainable with alcohol inks on metal. For my first art experiments in my new home state of Wyoming, I got all my inks and my embossing powders out for several days of summertime fun! I’ve wanted to see how the inks and powders held up to cutting and filing for some time, but life in Colorado and then moving kept nudging project days to the side. But here in my new studio spaces (I have several now–indoor, outdoor, and a shed, all  with power and lights!!) I’m finding it much easier to get some art time.

My experiments started with cutting up some 30 gauge aluminum and getting it cleaned up and ready for the inks. After having lots of fun with color, all the pieces were carefully heated to help further set the inks permanently, and then sprayed with two coats of polyurethane.

After that, I cut up the pieces, making  2″x4″ rectangle pieces for my embossing experiments, and 4″x4″ squares, and a larger piece that will get played with later and cut up to make decorative parts for boxes, mobiles, and jewelry. Some for now, some for another time! I want to do some that incorporate other elements too, like metal leaf.

In the course of our recent move, I got to see all my art supplies, and now they are out where I can see them all the time, motivating me to actually use them. While accumulating tools and supplies is a lot of fun itself, I’ve pared down to the ones I want to use, and it is very satisfying to use them. I love seeing how the different things go together.

Once I have the prepared metal pieces, I like to cut them up further and make things like jewelry components or inserts for decorative boxes. For jewelry use, I use a large metal shear to cut straight across, disc cutters to make circles, and metal shears to cut more complex shapes. In order to easily duplicate shapes, I made myself some laser cut templates of shapes that I like. I used a Open Source program called Inkscape to create my shapes and then used them with the laser cutter at Tinkermill, the makerspace in Longmont Colorado. Makerspaces are great hubs of creativity, and I hope to see more of them established.

Here are the templates I cut, with all sorts of shapes, flowers, leaves, and more. I use them in metal, paper and textile work a lot. The set on the right is particularly useful for making earring pairs and pendants or pins. Now I have a lot of different pieces and can try a variety of different things. I love the freedom to experiment and play with colors and textures. Sometimes I go too far, but I always learn things that inform more pleasing work later.

I cut out shapes and then smooth the edges with a habilis 00 file, some sanding, and then I can pierce holes with the Euro Tool punch, glue pieces to leather or other backings, or embed the pieces in polymer clay to be cured. (Pieces with embossing powder cannot be heat cured–embossing must be done after the baking step.)

The next step for me is to make some finished jewelry, and I’ll be doing that this week; from where I am sitting now I can see just the right beads to make these all up. Check back soon to see how they look when finished, and please do view the results of my ink and embossing experiments as well as other work.

Transformed!

The process of transformation can be fascinating–I love starting with a flat, shiny sheet of copper, brass, bronze or nickle silver and then using electricity, fire, hammers, rollers, and chemicals to change it completely. Each step along the way–patterns, textures, shapes and colors is part of a trail of discoveries. After etching, hammering, cutting, creating a patina, waxing or spraying,  grinding, filing and sanding–I have developed a relationship with the metal!

Some pieces I make into earrings, pendants, and bracelets. Cuffs are great because they offer a larger “canvas” to show off the gorgeous colors that are possible with patinas. The processes involved are a mixture of precision and serendipity, and seeing what occurs is a gift that I get to unwrap each time. Sometimes surprising, always fun to explore; each piece is individual.

In addition to metal, wood, ceramics, polymer clay and textiles, I’m changing things around here at Creative Connections as well. I’ve been building up inventory all winter long, and now that the snows have melted and Spring is here, its time to get things out to market.

I am now selling finished jewelry and components for designers who want to use them in their own art. The Store section here at Creative Connections is just getting started, and will continue to grow, so do please check back again soon to see what is new!

Spring!

I think everyone would benefit from a having at least one crown. Pageants take up too much time for only one or two crowns, and not everyone is born into families that have a few to pass around. So, making your own is the way to go! I’m hosting a class at Tinkermill to do just that.

It has been such a busy season making things and taking pictures that I have not had much time for posting them here! I’ve been exploring the business side of social media and Facebook, and there is a Creative Connections Facebook page in a beginning state. I’ve found some great groups there with a growing array of artisans displaying their wares to a world wide audience. It’s hard not to spend too much time looking, and so I’ve been at the metals workbench, the dye pots and the laser cutter. I believe there are lots of colorful new things coming up this Spring! A little flower fae told me so. I like how she looks, just playing with the bits and pieces I have around on the workbench well enough to think it would be fun to host an after noon of making these little cuties too. I’ll have to add that to the calendar for later in April!

I’m marketing jewelry, components and digital downloads through several online outlets, galleries and bead stores. I’m also enjoying the luxury of big tables, lights, and cool tools at Tinkermill in Longmont. I’m teaching a wide roster of classes there each month, and I’m about to add some new ones.

Right now I’m enjoying an infusion of color and flowers for Spring. I Iove being able to bring all sorts of different elements together, like making a spring princess crown of copper coils, carnelians, and hand dyed ribbons, which would be at home  in celebrations long ago and far away—and then decorating it with flowers made from handpainted watercolor paper cut with a laser beam! Such an artistic luxury to be able to combine drawing and hand coloring with laser precision. Computers and other great tools are a LOT of fun..particularly if you get to add paint, and dyes, and beads…so many projects comic right up!

 

Houston International Quilt Festival 2012

Quilt Festival-Houston 2012

I’m home from Houston, after another wonderfully colorful and inspirational Quilt Festival. What fabulous things people can make with fabric and fibers of all kinds!

With an eye towards historical, vintage and cutting edge (literally; there are several booths selling scissors and sharp tools and pointy things of all sorts) textiles and fiber arts, there is so much to be seen at the George R Brown Convention Center that you just can not do it all in one day. It is as large as 9 football fields, with over 1000 vendors–and I was one!–plus amazing exhibits of quilts, textiles from around the world, art  dolls and more.

I had a wonderful time and came home inspired, as always, with how to change my booth display ( more grids–they work really well for me, pare things down and keep back-stock), what to make for next time (more of the Painted Face Bags and more polymer clay Victorian Hands, more of my dyed fabric in wearable form that goes with more colorful jewelry!

But that’s next year…. now its time to finish up final projects at school and get little rest over the upcoming holidays. Maybe I’ll have time to learn how to learn to use the kumihimo braiding wheel my friends got for me at the show!

Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival 2012

Laura Humenik of Lands Glory Artisan Jewelry and I had a booth at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival this year. I saw lots of beautiful quilts while there, and the dolls from the Hoffman challenge too. While sales were slow, it was good to get out and try my new grid display and new ways of presenting things in the booth. It’s also a great way to see what is popular in this area and what I need to make more of before the next upcoming shows. All in all, we were glad for a chance to try and new venue and see how everything looked set up in this configuration! I really do like my new grid displays. This time I have them set up like a folding screen. Here are some pics from the show–click the image to see a larger version.

Colorful People

little-spirit-dollsQuilters, beaders, and textile artists are some of the most colorful people I know!

There will be a lot of us–and a lot of color going on–at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival coming up this August 17-18-19 in Loveland, Colorado.

Please come see me and Laura Humenik at our booth #LL and see all the hand dyed scarves, ribbons, textiles, and Spirit Doll Kits. Shown here are some three inch tall colorful babes that are hand dyed cotton with polymer clay faces attached, all ready to decorate. Now I have to finish packing them up with sequins, and dyed feathers, ribbons, fabric and other trims! The colors are all a result of our Annual Dyeing Days color marathons.

We’ll have beads, cabochons, buttons, and all sorts of beautiful, colorful wearable art, and art-parts!

Title: Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival

Location: The Ranch | 5280 Arena Circle Loveland, CO 80538 Booth #LL
Link out: Click here
Description:
Fri. August 17, 2012 10 am – 5 pm
Sat. August 18, 2012 10 am – 5 pm
Sun. August 19, 2012 10 am – 4 pm

Start Date: 2012-08-17
End Date: 2012-08-19

New and Old Years, New and Old Projects

spiritdoll pinkpurple session1Not only have I made a start on the pink and purple spirit doll, I’ve also had some great ideas recently about how to combine textiles, metal and clays to do bead enhanced spirit dolls with ceramic and metal bodies. I’m looking forward to getting back to school in the new year to make up examples of what I’ve been seeing in my imagination. A few things finally fell into place with the “how will I do that?” aspects and I look forward to realizing these very soon.

In the meantime, there’s lots to do with making up Spirit Doll Kit Samples and getting the bits and pieces all pulled together for making the new ladies and producing new finished work to get out to stores and galleries.

So much to do–and I do love doing it! Over the semester break I’ve  had a chance to rest, see family and friends, read, and to delve into my art supplies to work on old and new projects both.

What a wonderful year of artistic and personal opportunities its been in so many ways…and I’m looking forward to more in 2012!

May we all appreciate and cherish  the marvelous parts of  our lives, past present and future…with lots more to come!

day1-pinkpurple-spiritdoll

Playing With Dolls

Large Spirit Doll KitI’m enjoying the break between semesters and taking some time to restock the shelves at my Etsy store. I’ve had a very busy and productive year in 2011, and now it’s time to share some of the results.

I’ve revamped the packaging and I’m putting together more Spirit Doll Kits  with ceramic and polymer clay faces that go with dyed cotton doll bodies, fabrics and trims.

In addition, I’m making up the contents of each kind of kit for a sample or two, and taking pictures as I go.

ceramic face and buttons, dyed doll, fabric and trimsHere’s a picture of the contents of a Large Spirit Doll Kit. I’m going to spend a few days working on this doll, adding some beads and silk flowers from my stash of stuff, and do a bit of embroidery.

I’ve been wanting to do a little needlework and this is a perfect spot for some! I’ll be taking pictures as I work on the doll, and I’ll post an update after Christmas.

Large Spirit Doll Kits like this one have contents that include:

  • one ceramic face, hand drawn and painted with under-glazes and clear glaze, affixed to
  • one (premade) 12″ hand dyed cotton doll body,
  • one 18″x 22″ (fat quarter) piece tie dyed cotton jersey
  • assorted dyed fabrics, trims and embellishments

ceramic face

 

I also sell the ceramic faces by themselves.

I made a specially shaped cutter from a strip of aluminum, cut each face from a rolled ceramic sheet, then shaped each one with a curve.

After they dried, I sanded each one to get smooth edges and a good surface for drawing the faces.

After the pieces were bisque fired, I drew and colored them all in with painted under glazes and gave each a finishing coat of clear glaze before firing them all again!

The results are colorful “dolled up” ladies all ready to turn into dolls, or wearable art.

 

 

A Splash Of Color

tie dye fabricActually, it involves LOTS of splashes and lots of colors–I think we had 43 colors this year at our Annual Dyeing Days event.

As always, it was a marathon event, spanning 10 days of mixing, dying, rinsing, washing and of course cleanup!

This year we added a pole vaulting event. That is to say, we raided the vault which is our garage full of precious stuff–like old pvc pipes–and did some shibori arashi.

Susan's shibori shirtThis form of resist dyeing (shibori) is done around poles to create an effect that can look like rain in a storm (arashi).

Or it can look like feathers, or leaves. You can see the shibori arashi designs we did this year on garments and fabric yardage in the tiedye slideshow.

Our friends come to dye along with us at these events. Here’s Susan shown unwrapping a shibori arashi dyed shirt.

Here’s the pattern it created on the shirt.shibori arashi

This year as always I dyed lots of fabric–cotton jersey and kona cotton this time as well as some lovely cotton gauze. I also did lots of doll bodies, silk handkerchiefs and lace for making up more Spirit Doll kits, and this time I even did feathers. They took the dye beautifully!

feathers

Fringed floral fantasy!

beaded face pendant by Laura Humenik A summer time face pendant with a flowered babushka head wrap and beaded embroidery shows off  luscious fringe in beautiful  shades of berries and teal with long crystal twist  is a great example of the fun can that come from collaborations. I made the face from polymer clay, and Laura Humenik of LandS Glory Artisan Jewelry did the yummy bead work. She has amazing patience, a wonderful sense of color, and has collected an amazing variety of beads. Her beautiful pieces are wonderful–do take a look at the the LandS Glory gallery page. Laura creates all sorts of things that are better with beads–pendants, necklaces, Spirit Dolls and more plus dyed textiles that showcase more of her love of color!

I’m making lots more polymer faces in the same “babushka” style with lots of different millefiore cane patterns for the headwraps right now, and I will show them off in the next few weeks. Between the silver and bronze metal clays, ceramic clay, and polymer clay, (even painted textile faces!) I’m making hundreds of faces, and each one a bit different. Be sure to check back in the next few weeks to see more!

Share

Millefiore Canes

millefiore canes in polymer clayI’ve been working with ceramic clays lately in addition to all that I do using polymer clays, and there are also precious metal clays in bronze and silver, and now there is even glass clay, made using frit. I enjoy working with them all, and will continue to show off what can be done with them at my website Sarajane’s Polyclay Gallery.

I’ve been re-doing the pages there and just finished the brand new page on making millefiore canes using polymer clay.

I LOVE making canes, and this is a technique where polymer clay has all sorts of advantages over other kinds of clays.  Not all polymer clay artists use caning as a technique–some sculpt, paint, texturize and do all sorts of things without ever create these little packets of pattern.

Other artists do nothing BUT make canes and sell them to others to use. Many artists use their own canes to create fabulous jewelry, sculpture, objets d’art, and even illustrations for books and magazines.

Here’s a horse covered with millefiore canes made by Judy Summers. Jewelry artist Klew made the gorgeous necklace  and pendants using her cane slices applied to other shaped pieces of polymer clay. Carolyn Potter’s curvaceous goddess is also covered with quilt block style canes.

These are only a few of the incredible artists using canes in their work.

Miniature Polymer Clay Mask Swap 2009

Cowles2009
Whew! What a huge undertaking, and what wonderful, amazing small rewards! I mean small as in “miniature”, or specifically “fits inside a three inch square” (more or less). Several years ago I was invited to take part in a Polymer Clay Miniature Mask Swap by Sherry Bailey. I was in one of the several groups, and sent in my masks. Shortly thereafter I got my box of goodies, and kicked myself all around the room for not having been in every group—there were pictures included and I missed out on some real gems. I vowed never to repeat THAT mistake! And also to be in another mask swap ASAP. I ended up taking over the job and expanding the number of participants (my artistic greed knows little about bounderies or sensible work loads in some areas…)

So for the last few years, there’ve ben annual swaps that attract wonderful artists who ALSO want collections of these minimarvels. When announced, interested parties sign up for one, two, or three groups of ten. The SwapMistress (thats me, in this case) keeps track of who signs up, and fills the groups. We do a total of ten groups of ten people. For each group, the participant sends in ten masks, all signed/with a card and bagged. When they are all here, my husband and I alphabetize the incoming boxes for easier finding, and then start filling up Group Bags by lining up the brown paper lunch bags. Starting with 10 bags marked “A” we check the All Powerful List  and take out each participant’s set one at a time–If Mary is in group A, we put one of her masks in each bag, and the same with the other 9 participants. At the end, each person in Group A will get a Group A bag mailed back to them, containing one of their own and one of each of the other 9 people’s masks. Sounds fairly simple, right? It kindof is…except then we do it for B, C, D, E, F, G, H I and J groups. This generally takes a full day–there are a thousand little masks. Then, the next day, my dear sweet hubby and I start packing boxes. If Mary was in Group A, D and F, we pull an A, D and F bag and put it aside for her in a grocery bag marked with her name and the groups (cross checking is pretty important!! ) with the mailing lable and postage she sent. This also takes a day or so…and then there’s the packing and sealing of the boxes, and three hours or so at the Post Office.

I, being the SwapMistress and therefore In Charge, get to violate the “three groups” thing and be in ALL ten groups. This is great because I get to keep one from every person in every group–no more missed gems!! Except of course for the people that make it harder to choose by sending ten that are all different for their sets.  Then I still only get to keep one, but I DO have the opportunity to unbag and photograph them all, then rebag before putting them into the group bags.  So I say it again—its a huge undertaking, but OH-so-worth-the -effort.  I end up making and giving away 100 miniature masks, and getting 100 masks to keep. All are individual works of art showing a vast array of techniques. All have miniature size and polymer clay in common, and “masks” as a theme, but all are astoundingly different interpretations of that theme. I will be photographing the collection that I have gathered over this decade, and putting them in a book, but I’ll share a few of them here on this blog, and you can see some masks from previous years here.

The group of ten Warm and Cool Masks shown above was sent in by Karen Cowles. The two masks below made using the alcohol inks on polymer clay were sent in by Nina Owens. The light was fading and I only had time to take a few pics. I took more the next day, so watch for future posts! You can also see more at other participants’ blogs like these by Laurel Steven and Tonja . Click the pics to see them larger.

Owens2009

Aunt August

AuntAugust, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.

I’ve had a great time at college this semester. My favorite class has been Adobe Illustrator 1 , and I’m looking forward to taking level 2 this fall. Adobe Photoshop has long been a favorite tool and plaything both, but although I had an ancient version of Illustrator, I didnt use it. I’d poked around with it a few times, but it’s not intuitively easy to pick up just by poking the buttons, and the Pen tool is downright scary without a little guidance. But Oh—–!!!! Once you get a bit of familiarity, this program is the Magic Coloring Book that I dreamed about when I was little…the kind that can be any picture you can imagine and drawn much more smoothly than I could manage by hand. The kind you could color in and then change all the colors to different one just by picking them!! “Darker green there…no, blue.”  And the 3D modeling makes this program extra sweet. I’m not so great with perspective and mathematical formulae, but the computer is, and it makes creating images a LOT of fun. Of course, there’s so many choices its also difficult, but thats the way it is with any art, and its all part of the fun.

Here are two images I created using Adobe Illustrator. The assignment was to make two calendar pages. You can see the other one over at Aunt Acid’s blog.

Aunty is a wonderfully patient model. She’s shown in these two images in homage to the art nouveau stylings of Alphonse Mucha. I’m looking forward to spending months learning more about this program, now that its not quite so intimidating.

a-aug-cal

Egg Ladies

Ornamental Egg Ladies

eggladies1, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.

These ladies are made from blown eggs that have been painted with three layers of Liquid Polymer Clay and baked in between each application.

Each one was then given a hand-drawn face using a Micron Pen (this brand is compatable with the clay). Acrylic paints supply facial coloring, and the hair is more liquid polymer clay–it comes in gold, silver, black, and other colors.
The eggs are incredibly light weight, and can still be crushed if not packaged carefully but they are much stronger than untreated eggs.

Its fun to further decorate them with Easter Bonnets or Christmas Finery and use them to decorate a tree or hang from a branch!

Here are some more pages from the PolyClay Gallery about decorating eggs with polymer clay!

A Free Holiday Paper Doll To Print & Color

Holiday Paper Doll Page1, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.

Happy Holidays!
In the spirit of the seasons of giving thanks and more, I’m posting this two page set of paper dolls that I drew at full resolution size–please print them out and have fun coloring, or give a set to someone who will! This Victorian Era young miss has a party dress and accessories for celebrating  all sorts of holidays including Thanksgiving, Santa Lucia Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Soltice.  Ring those bells!

I remember when I was younger, and the best presents of the holiday season were art supplies, and the time and freedom to use them. Fresh sheets of white paper, a new box of crayons with  LOTS of colors–freshly sharpened colored pencils….those are wonderful things still! Although these days I’m learning to draw with my Wacom digital pen mouse  and color with tools in Adobe Photoshop, I still have a fascination with a fresh sheet of plain white bristol board, a sharp pencil, a micro fine tipped ink pen..and then the fun of coloring in the results of my drawings with inks or paints. The computer is a wonderful art supply. But there’s just something about drawing and coloring on a cold winter afternoon when you don’t have to be someplace else like school, or work. Creative play brings about some of the warmest holiday memories still!

HolidayPaper Doll Page 2, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.

Here’s the second page of this Holiday paper doll set, with a wooly and warm coat and bonnet ready for Yuletide Caroling, a nightgown and cap complete with Christmas stocking ready to hang by the fire, and a seviceable Pilgrim’s gown and bonnet with a basket of harvest fare.

If you’d like to see more please visit Polymarket Press or my etsy store.
Blessings to all in the upcoming year!

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.

My Favorite Time Of Year!

Day of the Dead with Aunt Acidoh, I do love the time of year when summer is over, winter isnt here yet—and the fall weather starts to make  inroads into the garden. There are wonderful holidays at this time, including Halloween, when I’ll be in Houston Texas at the International Quilt Festival again with Judith Skinner, taking lots of new beads, jewelry, faces, and other items made from polymer clay, plus spirit doll kits and more. 

The Day Of The Dead gets celebrated around here for more than just one day, as do many holidays. This year my polymer-clay-headed spokesmodel Aunt Acid is taking a turn displaying her flowers and skulls decked out in DOTD finery and seated with her dogs in the front window of Nomad Designs, a fabulous bead bazaar in Boulder Colorado where you can find all sorts of exotic things.

Masks and More

mask and moonlight

I just returned from the Tougaloo College Summer Art Colony in Jackson Mississippi. This year was #12 for this week long celebration of art. Its also the second time that I’ve been there as an instructor. Our class made masks, spirit dolls, icons and boxes, beads and more…all with polymer clay.  Click here to read more about it and follow the links to see what we made!

The mask shown above is a full sized domino style mask. We also made a lot of miniature masks, making the original sculpt and then creating silicone molds using Amazing Mold Putty  by Alumilite. The bacground in the banner is a digital picture of the night sky with full moon as sseen from campus. The picture didnt come out all that well–but parts of it are beautiful, and as instructor Carmen Hathaway (Digital Dreams) tells her students, the original photograph is just the starting point. I would have eagerly taken her class–or any of the other classes given by VERY talented instructors. Seeing what other artists do, and speaking openly with them about making and marketing art is tremendously inspiring and helpful. I had a wonderful time at the Artists Colony, and I encourage everyone to spend some time this summer viewing the work of other artists and making more of your own!

A Poured Epoxy Resin Mosaic Table

table corner

Here’s a link to a brand new page with the mosaic table Bryan just finished. There’s a LITTLE bit of polymer clay in this one–but mostly stone and ceramic with crystal glazes. It ended up looking kinda like a game board! It has all the beautiful pieces swimming permanently in a poured two part epoxy resin surface. The picture shown here is of one corner of the table. Featured are crystal glazed tiles created by master crystalierre and potter Fara Shimbo.

http://polyclay.com/epoxyresin.htm

 

Dyed In The Wind

dyed pursesDyed in the wool comes this weekend…but LAST week we dyed the cottons and silks. While we rested up and things dried, we put together a quick 30 second video with an ambient music soundtrack.

I’m learning how to use a webcam and the digital camera as a video recorder, and playing with the hardware and software is how I learn best.

 http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=36089812

Music provided by Bryan Helm. If you like it, take a listen to his podcasts at My Life In Sound.

 

We’re Dyeing For More Color!

dye swatches

 

We’ve had rain all the first part of this week, and we needed the moisture. It is beautiful in a sunny way today, and we’re starting into the annual dyeing days! Today is prep day–I’ll be mixing dyes, and getting them into the bottles.  I just ran off the sheets of labels for the plastic bottles. This year we have:
#03  Golden Yellow 
#05  Soft Orange
#8A Pagoda Red
#09  Scarlet
#13  Fuchsia Red
#14A  Hot Pink
#15  Amethyst
#18A  UltraViolet
#19  Plum
#19A  Lilac 
#21  Teal Blue
#23  Cerulean Blue
#25  Turquoise
#27 Midnight Blue
#28A  AquaMarine
#37  Bronze
#44 BetterBlack
#45 Jungle Red
#47 Chartreuse
#50 JadeGreen
#60  Lavender
#62 PeacockBlue
#64  Orchid
#96  Lapis
#97  Citrus Yellow
#105  Pewter
#111 Black Cherry
#112  Periwinkle
#113 GoldenBrown
#115 Eggplant
#118  Yucca
#312 Strongest Red
#510 Basic Brown

silk spirit doll detail kitWe use Procion MX series coldwater fiber reactive dyes. We’ve found that labeling the bottles after mixing them up makes it easier to tell what’s what, when you have lots of colors. We also have bagged swatches (that’s the picture at top) so that we know how the color is going to come out, mostly.

Another good tip I’ll share with you is to mix your dyes with water and then pour through a coffee filter into the bottle, that way those pesky little red or turquoise spots are not a problem.

Spirit Doll KitThis year I’m dyeing lots more pieces of turned wood, because I LOVE how last years batch turned out. No ribbons this year–I did a lot of them last year.

They went into the current crop of Spirit Doll Kits along with the cotton and silk fabrics, and polymer clay faces. I’m selling them on Etsy.comwhich is an on-line site presenting handmade and vintage items. I’ll be adding lots more items in the upcoming weeks as I clean out the studio and help fund upcoming shows and projects.

 

dyed textiles and ribbons

I’ll also be dyeing some t shirt dresses and shorts for my own summertime wardrobe, and backdrop and curtain fabric that will be used in the Aunt Acid Show. They WERE beige muslin–how drab!! They were great when I did out door shows and needed backdrops that did not compete with the displays. But for this particular show, we can take LOTS of color. I’ve been gluing mosaic set pices, and things are coming along splendidly in a visual sense. Now for another big dose of color, and we’ll be onward into the Summer of More Love…and we happen to love art and music and humor, so I’d say these good times to “Be Happening”.

Speaking of summer time fun, I’ll be teaching a week long seminar on using dyed fabrics and polymer clays to make spirit dolls, icons, and masks this summer at Tougaloo College Summer Art Colony. July in Mississippi is time for some HOT ART!!

colorful doll bodies

 

Guitar Art

Tumbling Blocks GuitarBryan Helm makes audible and visual mosaic art.  Some of his instuments can be used for music. The ones that can not keep a tone are recycled into beautifully encrusted works of art that Senor Gaudy might well have liked.

He uses polymer clay, glass, wire and found objects and each finished instrument is different. Here’s a photo of the back of it that I’ve taken into Photoshop and played with a bit, taking the creative connections even a little bit further.

Many of the impressions that were stamped into the polymer clay tiles that cover this piece were made using custom stamps anda molds we had made at Ready Stamps in San Diego, using dingbat fonts to create our own designs, then to rubber–then to polymer clay and now here.

We’ve recently opened an online shop at Etsy.com, where handmade items are featured for sale. Please do come and take a look at our items up for sale there, which include the Tumbling Blocks Guitar shown here and in the book “Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay”.

He’s recently finished the Little BlueGlass Guitar, and has just begun the Big Green Twelve String. We’ll be sure to show it off when it is finished!

He is also tiling a table for a commisioned piece locally, and it features gorgeous ceramic tiles that have crystals grown into the glazes, made by Fa Shimbo.

 I’m gluing too–working on the tiled backdrops and set pieces for the Aunt Acid Show. That’s sure to show up here in the blog soon too!

When the Spirit Doll Moves!

flowerdoll.jpgI’ve been having fun playing with face masks, dolls, and beads. All the cotton jersey that I’ve previously dyed has been cut into fat quarters for making into doll bodies and spirit doll kits. I’ve got some premade bodies that were dyed as well, and I’ve put together dozens of kits. Now I’m ready to make more sample versions so people can see what can be done with the kits. Here’s the start of one floral doll. She still needs lots of beads though! It is important to remember that spirit dolls take several sessions to really come together.

Spirit DollIt all takes a long time….but eventually it’ll all be organized together into a how-to book and a lovely display of dolls, kits, and polymer clay faces. This book comes AFTER the new “The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks” in its release date.

March Window at Bead LoungeI’m working on the text and pictures at the same time. It’s making for a very busy winter, when you also factor in my “Day Job” building web pages for other artists, musicians, and local businesses.

What Mask Today?

mask by Val Aharoni“What Mask Today?”
Thats the question that is posed in Valerie Aharoni’s beautifully articulated miniature polymer clay mask. Shown here in closed and open versions, Valerie’s mask has a variety of different looks, depending upon how it is arranged.
Submitted to the Internet Miniature Mask Swap 2006, hers is a colorful take on an age-old issue. It’ll be included in the upcoming book “The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks”, due out later this year from PolyMarket Press. There are hundreds of masks included in the collection, and most, like this one, measure less than 3″x3″ and are made of polymer clay. I’ll be featuring them here in this blog as I continue to work on the book, and you can also see more at the other side of this Creative Connections blog and at the Polyclay Gallery website. I’d say I’m about one third of the way done with photographs. If only seeing them all like this didn’t give me such an urge to go hide in my studio and make more!

mask by Valerie Aharoni

Front & Center

Pieces at ChristmasI had fun with my creative co-workers  decorating the Christmas window of the local bead store here in town. We just kept adding more and more…fused and slumped glass bowls, hand dyed silk scarves, dolls, the miniature quilt store, (which we decorated  for Christmas too),  a polymer clay covered wagon and even Golde in a box.  She’s my full sized cloth doll, who shows up in many different roles here. This time she’s wrapped up like a present right in the front window, along with lots of other hand made gifts and goodies. The pictures here are all of the little store “Pieces”. It measures 2’x4′ and is in “fashion doll scale”.

Pieces--a miniature quilt store

Books and more books

Ukiyo-EI love books. And while I am a big fan of stories and words, I admit that I also get them just for the pictures. I adore going to the public library and I believe that thats where the “free” part of free speech finds its most equally available home in America. Anybody–absolutely anybody–can go there and look at books and magazines, as long as they are behaving themselves in a non-violent way.  But though I keep many of “my” well-loved books on the shelves of the library when I’m not reading them, there are some that I just have to own outright and keep at my house for whenever I want them, no sharing neccessary. Two of my favorite places to buy books are at Amazon and through Bud Plant’s catalogues. Mr. Plant specializes in very reasonably priced art and comic art books. Great illustrators, wonderful compilations—it is a treasure trove. I’ve recently updated my Books section on my web site with two pages of  recommendations from the newest selctions there. And, there are also 4 updated pages of books available from Amazon having to do with dolls and miniatures, textiles, and more. 
large Japanese Girl Beads
The book shown above is Ukiyo-E, Japanese prints from the “Floating World”, which has been a HUGE influence on my own artwork. Japanese prints also influenced the work of artists like Mary Cassatt, Van Gogh, and other greats.  I like to use the pictures as reference when making my Japanese girl beads and pins with polymer clay. The colors in these meticulous block prints really speak to me–even though they were created as much as 150 years ago!

Home again, home again

floral cane earringsMy, but what a lot of traveling I’ve done this Autumn! The Holiday Food and Gift show in Denver, The International Quilt Festival in Houston, and two days of classes in Columbus Ohio with the polymer clay guild there. I had a great time with them, and also got a chance to get together with family and friends.

I’ve got an upcoming Bead Buglearticle about the results from the millefiore caning, mimicking textiles, and beautiful beads classes. It should be on-line sometime this month.

Shown at left are a pair of earring dangles (no hooks on them yet!) made from canes made in those classes. I’ve been having fun making charms and dangles with baked cane slices using my leather mini-hole punch from Tool-Smith. It makes the cleanest easiest holes through baked polymer clay!

millefiore floral caneThe triangles at the bottom of the dangles show one way that color can be gradated in polymer clay canes. This kind of “3D” color gives the illusion of blend when it is taken very small. You can also see it in the petals of the rose shown here.  Polymer clay artists David Forlano and Stephen Ford of “City Zen Cane” made this color stacking  technique very popular at one time. Along with Judith Skinner’s “Skinner Blend”, these two techniques allow for the appearance of shaded parts in cane images. I love the way I can get a very graphic style in clay and then take it down in scale with reduction!

millefiore geometric caneThe wedge from which the dangle slice was cut was a leftover piece from the making of the cane shown at left. The similar uses of form, color and multiple repeats are very much present in textile designs too.  Sandra McCaw uses these kinds of color stacks in her caning process. Hers is far more precise than mine, and taken to much greater levels of reduction and recombining. Its always interesting to see how different artists can use similar materials and techniques in ways that suit their own styles.

This Little Poly Went To Market…

PolyMarket Press
PolyMarket Press
is the name of my own little publishing empire. I’ve authored books with Krause Publications as well, and last year saw the debut of “Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay” as the very first book through PolyMarket Press.  This incredibly colorful , informative and highly detailed book was co-authored by Judith Skinner and myself, and it is self-published, and printed through lulu.com .

calendar by Sarajane HelmI’ve also got a new version of a favorite set of illustrations done into a calendar for 2008–
“The Pig Family Has A Party”.

Ever wonder why those little piggies were so busy? When “This Little Piggy Goes To Market” it’s in order to prepare for the Pig Family Party! 12 brilliantly colorful, delightfully detailed pen and ink drawings by Sarajane Helm along with silk painted borders by Chris Murphy illustrate a fresh look at this familiar piggy tale.

Business Of Professional ArtAnd there’s lots more to come! We are celebrating the purchase of our first block of ten ISBN numbers and preparing for the upcoming release of this year’s new book, “The Business Of Professional Art” in November of this year.  A compilation of columns first published in Belle Armoire magazine between 2003 and 2007, this pocket-sized book is designed for artists who yearn to earn and to be successful entrepreneurs. Each column addresses a different aspect of sales and is packed with information and tips on how to present your art to the buying public.

Publication dates for the third and fourth books from PolyMarket Press are targeted for July 2008,  with “The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks” and “Making Masks With Polymer Clay”. The first will feature photos of miniature masks from my growing collection, and the second will concentrate on how-to projects creating miniature and full sized masks.

Shopping cart

Subtotal
Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.
Checkout