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!

 

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!

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Amazon Dancer Spirit Doll

Yesterday my friend Laura of LandS Glory Artisan Jewelry and I set up shop for the day at the Lyons Outdoor Market in the beautiful foothills of the Rocky Mountains here in Colorado. It was a gorgeous day, and we got to see some lovely art, listen to live music and do a few hours of beading on Spirit Dolls. Laura and I both enjoy seed bead embroidery and finding just the right bits and pieces to go into the dolls. There’s no pre-planned design; rather, these pieces start as a collection of bits and pieces and parts and then as they come together, other bits and pieces seem to show up and present themselves, demanding to be used.  “As the spirit moves” is the way Laura and I  both prefer to work, rather than using any sort of drawings plans or patterns (other than the basic doll body outline pattern that I drafted).

This project got started a few months ago, but is just now really starting to come together. I pulled a few items for this doll that included some green tie dye fabric (click here to see the slide show of textiles from our annual Dyeing Days, beads, a glass cabochon made by my fusing friend Mad Margie that I beaded, and I made a ceramic face and two ceramic buttons for her breast plate.

I cut,sewed and stuffed the body. My least favorite part is stuffing, and sometimes I just use pre-made cotton bodies that I dye, but only for smaller dolls. Its worth the turning and stuffing drudgery to get to use my own textiles… and since we are only talking about less than an hour, I somehow manage to get through it!<g> Then comes the fun part, hours of beading, adding dyed trims and other costume fun.

These dolls come together in several sessions for me, a few hours at a time. Usually as I’m working, I’ll find other pieces to integrate into the piece–like some beautiful teal dyed cheesecloth, or peacock feathers. (they’ll be part of her skirt and head dress, eventually—along with more beads!)

This time, I lost a piece. One of her busty-buttons went away somewhere in my workspace. I’d already sewed one on, so I looked and looked…nowhere to be found. I thought about making a new one to match. I thought about taking the one off and using something different. Then I realized, as I looked at her again and again, that she was just right the way she was, with only one. After all, sometimes these things happen. She’s beautiful anyway, and I choose to see her as just right, not as missing half a pair. How we look at things is just as important as how things look.

She has a sort of Amazonian Dance Hall Warrior style going on, and I love seeing her progress. I’ve got a lot still to do, with adding hair, shoes, sewing on her skirt, and sequins and beads for the other arm and leg. And of course MORE BEADS!! I’ll post another picture of her when she’s finished, and here’s how she’s looking so far.

“Gonna take a trip….

travelcdsand never leave the farm!” is the way I recall that refrain.  What song its from is a little hazy, but thats the way summertime and songs ’round the camp fire can be. This year we’re embarking on a World Tour while staying cozy right at home, thanks to the fine folks at TwistedPapers and their fabulous cds! Stan and Russell have put together outstanding collections of all sorts of vintage and original art that can be used in all sorts of creative ways. Shown here are three cds from their Vintage Travel Ephemera Collections. Tickets, maps, menus, hotel brochures, cruise line posters and an incredible array of advertising art from long ago and far away are reproduced in high quality, full color, high resolution files. Thumbnails are easy to view, and you have your choice of file formats too. My husband is using them as part of his musical “world tour” and I have plans to print out a sheet of these little beauties to decorate some vintage luggage for Aunt Acid, and also a charm necklace or bracelet–these images are perfect for printing at a smaller size on photo paper and using liquid polymer clay to create transfers.  The collection of vintage perfume, soap, and beauty product labels is another of my favorites. Many thanks to Stan and Russell for creating and selling these fabulous resources. Take a look at their site and see what YOU could do with these vintage graphic goodies! (I just went there now, and they’ve added new vintage art and reduced their prices too!!! What a deal!)

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More Miniature Masks

Rumseymasks09Click the pic to see a larger version.

These whimsical wonders are 10 more miniature polymer clay masks from the 2009 Internet Mask Swap. Created by Ellen Bellenot Rumsey, these little works of art are each small enough to fit in a three inch square. She’s used an amazing array of textures and colorful pearl-ex powders. The mica in the powders and in the gold polymer clay give it all incredible glowing lustre.

I’m taking a few hours away from my school work to catch up on taking pictures from the Mask Swap and from the Dyeing Days. These are two huge annual events that take around a week to put together and somehow managed to both happen within a month of each other this year, and along with going back to school full time. We got tremendous amounts done and both events went very well, but I havent had any time to chronicle and share the results.In fact, the massive amount of reading and computer time I put in for the 4 classes I’m taking leave my eyes feeling as though they look very much like the ones in these masks.

I’m going to play hooky  from homework once in a while and get some pictures up, so look for more soon!  IS it playing hooky to take pics and edit them in photoshop when your classes are in digital photography and photoshop2?  hmmm, perhaps I should take an ethics class and see if my homework there answers the question there…

“You are what you love….

 helm_collage

“You are what you love–and not what loves you back”.

That’s so true–and its also part of a line from a song by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins from a CD that I really love, “Rabbit Fur Coat”.  It is a delightfully witty and beautifully played set of songs. I’ used to love to listen to music and do my homework….Recently I went back to college after a long winter break that lasted 30 some years. I’m enjoying all of my classes, especially learning about Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. What wonderful tools!! I’m learning a lot of things that I had no clue about in these programs; some of the tools  just don’t lend themselves to easy self-discovery. Even reading about them isn’t the same as having someone show you what the tool does and how it works and then practicing it for a while. Oh, the joy of realizing that something you’ve been frustrated at can indeed be done!

Now I am doing something I really love a lot; taking bits and pieces of art that I have and re-contextualizing them in new ways. Collage and mosaics and masks and miniatures and textiles and image manipulation all play a large part of “what do you do?” for me, and its wonderful to be moving into the next layer of “how do you do that?”. School can be really illuminating; and it certainly lights up lots of new creative connections, even in older brains like mine! Using what’s old and making it new again is what creativity is all about.  Here’s a recent assignment; a collage  that uses Photoshop layers and masks, plus a quote. It features a doll (BonBon Bertie) and her setting that I made with fabric and FIMO polymer clay photographed by Bob Grieser back in 1999, and other images–plus the quote by Jenny Lewis!

You can see more dolls here, and at Aunt Acid’s blog.

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!

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.

Backstage Life

Aunt Acid on her soapboxFor every scintillating moment of a fabulous show, there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of hours of creative work that go into making it happen. “My Dad has a barn–my Mom has some costumes in the attic…lets put on a show!”. Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland knew how much went into each shining moment, no matter how easy they made it look  in the final cut. Lighting, sets, costumes, hair and makeup, choreography and music, and many more special skill sets and jobs come into play. Things progress from the design phase, where many choices are tried out and refined until the designer has a pretty good idea of what to do to make it all real. Then the production phase takes over, and things have to be flexible in the process of making the designs come to life. Intricate work takes a great deal of time and effort. But oh, my…it really is worth it. At first glance, you’d never know what all goes into making up the event you see on stage.  Things start out as ideas, progress to sketches and more specific designs, and with a great deal of attention to detail on the parts of many people , things get done.

Lately we’ve been working on lots of things that tie up together in creative connections. We’re making mosaic tiled tables, set pieces for our upcoming Internet puppet show extravaganza, “The Aunt Acid Show“, encrusted instruments, even a sequined soap box or two. Costumes and props, stage and set construction are all progressing, and Aunt Acid herself is all pulled together and ready for her fittings and her closeups!

setsketch.jpg

This is the design sketch for the show’s set pieces.
Just wait till you see how THAT turns out!

With a show debut date of July 4th, we’ve got a
tremendous amount to do…
Check in again soon and see how its all coming along!

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.

How About A Hand…

Sister CollywobbleI spent an hour or two yesterday looking at links on the ‘net, and adding several favorites here, plus a little re-organization–some links fit in many catagories; they could be Dolls/Miniatures or Puppet/Props or Costume/Textiles…so be sure not to overlook some great links due to the organizing, do poke around! I’ve added more than a dozen new links. Quite a few are in the new Puppet/Props catagory. We really like puppets and all sorts of animation here at our house. “Gumby” was one of the first popular claymation characters that helped introduce American audiences to the potentials of polymer clays. Although made with the non-hardening varieties, the clays offer ease of  movement that animators love. The “Wallace & Grommit” shorts and features made by Aardman Animations are another well known use of clays in animation. Cloth puppets often make use of some clay parts, notably eyes and teeth, and polymers also make for great costume details and props. My son Ian is in film school, and uses puppets in many of his movies. Here’s one created for his movie “Collywobbles”. Sister says “Do It Now” which is sort of a family saying here….

He used polymer clay to make faux rocks in which the  Title was inscribed—much easier tha carving REAL rocks. The creative connections come home to roost  along with the chickens here at our house, and Ian gets a hand here with the costumes (from Mom) and music for soundtracks (from Dad) and a round of applause for the finished productions from the rest of the clan. In his spare time he writes reviews with his cronies–take a look at confusereviews.com if you’d like to skew your slant on the day with some darkly humorous pokes at movies, games, books and more.