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.

Aurora Rose

AuroraRoseI’ve made great progress on projects this Spring, and I’m celebrating the Summer Solstice working on more.

I’ve learned a lots recently–from odd count peyote stitch and right angle weave beading to making my first ball jointed doll in polymer clay.

Meet Aurora Rose! I really like how she turned out; not bad for the first try. Of course, I’ve made a few dolls of various sorts before…but I also know that each one gives you experience in new things, and she certainly did. 

I rearranged my living room and laundry room to provide more work space and access to all my fabric and my sewing machine. After a good cleaning and oiling, it runs like a champ, and its been doing so since 1960. I just love my heavy old Singer, and wouldn’t trade it for the newer models. 

I got patterns for her clothing from Matisse Fashions (Brenda is an incredible seamstress/designer) and found that I remembered how to sew pretty well but will no doubt improve with more practice this summer. Lots to do!

She’s show here in a variation of the pleated chemise and drawers patterns. I didn’t add the waistband, and left it a bit long to be a set of cool cotton pj’s made of fine cotton lawn and embroidered with peach roses and teal green leaves.

Dharma Trading Co. carries cotton lawn and many other wonderful fabrics for use in doll making and clothing too. 

See more info and pictures of how Aurora Rose came together here.

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.

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!

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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!

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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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Miniature Polymer Clay Mask Swap 2009

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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.

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Spirit Doll Kits

spirit doll kitJudith Skinner and I are VERY busy getting things prepared because we will be doing the Houston International Quilt Festival November 1-4 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston Texas. All sorts of new faces, jewelry, kits and beads are being created and packaged for sale. I’m having a particularly good time putting together Spirit Doll Kits, and utilizing my stockpiles of hand dyed silks, cottons and rayon in ribbons, lace, and cloth, and building up each set around a miniature polymer clay face mask.

So far I’ve got 75 kits in 3 different sizes and styles! (And I have one week to finish all the packaging and packing…eek!) Some have cotton jersey cloth thats been tie-dyed, or cotton or silk handkerchiefs or cotton plush velour; with three different sizes and pricepoints there’s lots from which to choose! Visit the polyclay.com website to see some of the others.

If you are in Houston at the start of November do come and see us at the Quilt Festival, where we will be in our PolyMarket Press booth, #1951. In addition to all sorts of polymer clay beads and embellishments, we’ll have our book “Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay” and also the new book, “The Business Of Professional Art”.