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!

 

New Work in a New Year

It sure is snowy outside, but I’m growing a fresh crop of flowers (metal), several new classes to put on the calendar, and a brand new membership at Tinkermill in Longmont. Also an educational nonprofit, Tinkermill.org is a creative maker space, filled with all sorts of interesting people with skills–and tools–and space to use them. My family joined, and are eagerly awaiting orientation so as to get to work on projects that are too big for the kitchen table, or require tools I’ve not yet acquired!

Something that really iced the cake for me is the classroom space that is available there. I will be offering classes in the upcoming months both in Gahanna, Ohio and in Longmont, Colorado in the upcoming weeks, so sign up for the newsletter if you’d like to be notified when they are on the schedule. Media will include digital, metal, polymer clay, and textiles.

Every Little Bit Helps

Polyclay Gallery favicon In this instance, the little bit I’m referring to is called a “favicon” and its the itty bitty picture that shows up on a browser bar or bookmark along with the URL or the title of the page.  VERY little–sixteen pixels by sixteen pixels. These little images with a .ico file extension help identify the site and serve as a visual reminder. Pages that don’t have them show a blank page with one corner turned down. At the start of this post you can see the images that show for Creative Connections and for Aunt Acid. One should be showing up in your browser bar too–bookmark this site or keep it as a favorite and it should show there! If you don’t already have one for your website, I bet you’d like one too!

You can reduce the size of  a photo  to create a favicon, or create one pixel by pixel. An easy and free site to visit called favicon.ico Generator makes it fun. You can download the finished favicon.ico file and then upload it to the root directory of your site along with your other files. I just love scale models and miniatures. And that’s something so easy to do with computer art–play with size and scale things up or down.

Duh, Dorothy!

Since it is Spring, I’m not only finishing up my final projects for school, I’m doing a little spring cleaning both at home and on the business side of things. I’ve used my own name “Sarajane’s” for a long time because I do a lot  of different things that don’t fit neatly under one title. I make costumes and dolls, stories and graphics and books, websites, dolls, ceramics, textiles, polymer clay…my interests wander around a lot, but they come back together on many points. But I never really liked how it looked on the display cards, and I’ve tried LOTS of variations. “What to do,” I wondered to myself yet again, trying on some new looks for business cards much like a new hair style or bathing suit for the Upcoming Season. What would cover the digital, polymer, textile, ceramic aspects of where my creative stuff connects? It didn’t really hit me (sometimes these things take a while) until I was looking for an image to use as a favicon.ico file for my websites, and I looked at the one I use for the header of the Creative Connections blog. Polymer clay, textiles, digital manipulation..duh, Dorothy, there is no place like home. So today I played around a bit and designed a new business card and hang tags for the items I’ll be selling. It’s fun to try on new looks!

I have been studying programs  like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and DreamWeaver at Front Range Community College. Plus I’ve taken courses in ceramics, digital photography and creative writing! It’s great to use my hands and my brain both, and to learn new ways of doing art.  Four semesters of soaking it up and learning as much as I can possibly hold, and now its time for a couple of months  putting all that I  have learned in my classes  to good use. I’ve got a big schedule for my “summer vacation” that includes finishing the photography and editing of my upcoming book  “A Collection Of Polymer Clay Masks”. It’s under way and going to be in print by October of this year. I have booked the majority of the summer just for this.

I’m also going to be be an instructor at Tougaloo College’s Summer Art Colony for a week in July.  The annual Dyeing Days are coming right up the first week of June when we’ll be getting Very Colorful, and I’ll be making lots of beautiful new things and packaging them up for sale. That’s my backwards count-down of what I will be doing for the next few months, along with liberal applications of gardening and the occasional hike into the mountains. It’s important to get outside and remember what a beautiful place the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is, particularly in Spring.

Skinner Blends and More!

polymarket logo1

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!

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

A stroll down memory lane….

slideshow

With a CanoScan 8800F scanner in the house for the last month, I’ve been scanning slides and family photos, editing with Adobe Photoshop and making slideshow presentations to burn onto CD’s.

The scanner gives me access to all the slides that always lived in the box at my Grandparents’ house, first cupboard on the left in the living room, top shelf. And if we were good, my sister and I could look at them in the viewer.

Looking at those slides now digitized, thinking of the technology I access now and the technolgy of then–our world (my world) has certainly come a long way since the late 1950’s! And somethings are just the same–I still like to draw. Its just the tools that change, not the joy in the creative connections!

newbutton7I’ve done a slideshow for my friend Margie’s family reunion too. (Take a look at her freshly updated glass art webpage here.) Her family brought photos dating back to the 1920’s, and we scanned them right there at the reunion, as well as getting pictures of the event. Later, I put them all on a slideshow cd that she can distribute to the whole family–those that were able to come and those that were not! Its great to be able to better access the past while we still have the memories of those around us available to tell stories about the pictures, and identify the people, times and places.

When I went to school the first time, it was A Very Big Thing to be allowed to learn to use the ELECTRIC typewriter. The mimeograph  and ditto machines did not allow for “undo” or editing….

Now I have computers and digital tools available to me, and I am going back to school to learn how to better use them. This will no doubt continue to change how I am able to do my work in the future, and I’m looking forward to it! I’m also looking forward to using slides and pictures of past work and using those new tools to present things in new ways.  I’m starting with pictures of Madame & Her Shady Ladies dolls in minature sets that were taken by Bobby Grieser in 1992, before I had my digital camera or computer. Now I can use them! You can see more of them at Aunt Acid’s blog, and there’ll be a page and even a calendar later. I’m looking forward using them alot in this coming year of 2009. Hard to think that we’re more than halfway through that first month already, and so much going on! Here’s a view of one of the ladies. She’s about 8 inches tall, and shown with a paper and epoxy resin fan made by my friend Elaine.

spacecadet

Both sides now…

Snow Mask

Snow Mask

Do you remember being a kid (or a college student) and learning in school about how January is named after the two-faced god Janus who looks forward and backward in time? It seems very fitting to me that while working towards the future, I’m also having a wonderful wintertime reunion right now with my own past. (I think Einstein was right, about time!)

With the use of a new  scanner that is equipped to convert film negatives and slides, I am going through boxes and boxes of prints and slides and getting reacquainted both with my own childhood and my early work.  Seen here is a polymer clay mask representing “Winter”. I’ve got a new web page up on how to make snowflakes, click the link to visit and see more! This mask and the snowflakes shown below by Dawn Naylor were both first seen in the book “Celebrations With Polymer Clay”.

My husband and collaborator Bryan has been doing the same review and reformat thing in an auditory way with his pod-cast series “My Life In Sound” which archives the first quarter century of his musical output. He’s been playing guitar, keyboards, drums and synthesizers  in musical loops all the while that I’ve been working on polymer clay projects. And we all use the computer in turns,  including the children that we somehow managed to beget and raise at the same time everything else was getting done. They are creative too…just imagine!

I’m finishing up or reformatting projects that were started a long time ago too, working in the warmest room of the house and having fun.  I’ve gotten family slide shows put together, and added some new pages to the Polyclay Gallery website.  I’m also updating existing pages  there at the site and getting ready to start school at my local community college to learn more about the programs and tools that will important  in web page design and all my upcoming publishing and Internet projects.

Snowflakes by Dawn Naylor

Snowflakes by Dawn Naylor

Like polymer clay, using my other PC requires me to pay attention to what’s been done in the past as well as keep a close eye on the new. New clay formulations, new ways of manipulating the clay, new software and hardware, and ways to improve on using it all are the challenges for the upcoming year. Along with survival and all that too!

snowmask1

Snow Mask digitally altered

And along the way, I’m enjoying the ways I can use one with the other, polymer clay and personal computer, old work and new work. Sometimes I just let myself play with them, rather than having a fixed idea that I try to achieve.

Here’s an image of the same polymer clay mask, when I play a bit with the file in Adobe Photoshop. Using the filters and experimenting gives me a little experience with what the tools can do. I’m looking forward to my classes in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator because being self-taught  means that there are many areas of the programs I haven’t had anything to do with…yet.  Stay tuned to see what sort of effect it all has when I learn more! Learning is always important–no matter where you are on the time line, no matter what the season.

Moving Up!

I’ve decided to take the plunge and move this blog onto my own server, where I have more control over the storage and also the options…it means going from the free  WordPress.com site to WordPress.org instead—both are free to use, but the first is easier and more limited in some ways. The second requires hosting abilities—do let me get you a napkin! Actually, napkins dont really figure into it….

So until I figure out all the switching details, I’m working on the site and adding to it while I learn both here and there. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are a different code than HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and I’m not a native born speaker of either…when I was learning to talk the new rage was the Electric Typewriter, and computers were just something my GreatUncle worked on at the Census Department, where mysterious machines filled rooms and did less calculation than my three dollar solar powered calculator does now.
While I figure this all out, do take a look at both the versions–here and there–and let me know what you think of the differences.  polyclay.com/blog

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