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.
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.
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!
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!
There were are many challenges to be met in 2016, and the results of some remain to be seen. The challenge that my beady friends and I undertook turned out really wonderfully. Our group has been beading together for a while, and we share our discoveries of new stitches, new suppliers, and the occasional project.
The parameters of this one when it started last year were that we use the two pieces of fabric and the packet of beads we were given. Anything else could be added..and it needed to end up as a piece of wearable art.
Last week we got together and three of us showed what we had made. We’ve still got several members’ work to be unveiled, and I am looking forward to seeing what they did!
The Longmont Bead Group meets on Thursdays…and sometimes on weekends…because we all love beads. Its also more fun to work on time-consuming projects with friends so that the hours fly by and the beads get strung, woven, embroidered, braided, knit and crochet, and more. One member gave another a cloth owl that was totally bare of embellishment, and what was to be a few hours of beading stretched WAY beyond–but looks fabulous.
We help each other learn new techniques and share our sources, sometimes buying in bulk together (sometimes just buying in bulk, period, because one just NEEDS that many!) I recently was guided through the intricacies of spiral and straight herringbone stitch, have learned right angle weave and peyote stitch, and how to knit and crochet with beads. Connecting with friends and learning new things is great for the mind, body and spirit; and it is easy to become isolated if you don’t make that effort. Hang out and be creative with a friend soon!
I graduated from Front Range Community College with my Media Graphic Design degree, and I’m going to continue taking ceramics, jewelry, and other art class as I can afford them. We have some GREAT classes and instructors there, and I will stay on as a student or community member of the FRCC Art Club. We are seeking new officers there, as Josh and I are no longer full time students on this campus.
One of the things I’m doing in this new year is new art and instruction in a new studio space. Located at 364 Main Street in Longmont, the Kay Carol & Priscila | Gallery and Working Art Studios is home to 4 artists in residence, instructors, art groups and community organizations who meet there, and a gallery plus meeting/classroom/workshop space. I’m very fortunate to be there, and I have started a website there with a calendar and a page that lists upcoming classes and events.
I’ve already had fun with several Spirit Doll sessions, and here you see the new faces and molds I made during the polymer clay face sculpting class. I’m looking forward to using them with polymer, ceramic, bronze and silver in the upcoming months. They’ll be useful in the upcoming Miniature Mask Swap, and in the month long exhibit of masks and art from my PolyMarket Press books in June. That may sound like a long way off, but as I have so many things to make and write about for upcoming books as well as hundreds of masks to mount into large frames, fabric to paint, jewelry to finish and more, it seems like only a few weeks away. However–now I have a workspace in which to do it!
Please do come see me there during open gallery hours 10:40am-4pm Fridays and Saturdays. Or, book a class with a friend or a group. Individual instruction is available as well–we are dedicated to spreading the creativity around.
2012 was filled with lots of learning curves; the final arc of some and the beginnings of others, plus lots that are ongoing.
I’m blessed with creative family and friends, and together we got a lot accomplished and have all sorts of plans for things to do in 2013, including school, art, writing and publishing. Last year a group of us took a local class and learned bead crochet. Some good friends in Houston gifted me with a kumihimo disc and bobbins when I was there and assured me it was fast and easy, and they were right!
I’d say that kumihimo with beads is at least four times faster than bead crochet, but both have different good points that mean I’ll be doing some of each in the future. I look forward to trying crochet lace using wire and beads.I like the look of my hand-dyed silk ribbons and beads in braids also. They look great with my little faces and hands, especially when combined with a bit of seed bead embroidery, a little beaded fringe…
I’m having a lot of fun trying different variations of fibers, ribbons, chain and cord and using some of the wonderful beads I’ve collected over the years with the idea of making some beautiful necklaces to display my work. You have to have samples if you want to sell components!
Crochet and kumihimo braids both make great beaded ropes for using with large focal beads and pendants—like the ones I make using polymer, ceramics, metal and my friend Mad Margie’s fused glass. The two blue and black cords shown here will go with one of her dichroic glass pendants. The black and cream spiral will probably go with a face pendant…or perhaps an etched metal hand. I have etched metal ends and clasps made from bronze and silver to use with them too. I love how things all come together, eventually.
I’ll be putting finished jewelry with dyed textiles made into wraps, and I’ll take more pics when it is done. I’ve even got plans for professional art photographer Ricardo Acevedo to do a shoot this year–but first, I have a lot of finishing up to do. I get to bring together so many different creative techniques and processes, with lots of color, pattern, and texture. What a great recipe for a happy new year!
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!
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.
Quilters, 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
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
What a hot, busy summer it has been already, and its only halfway through July! We’ve set records here in Colorado for the heat, my computer stopped working and had to be completely rebuilt and we’ve been back and forth across the country several times for family and business. Lots of movement, lots of work, lots of change…including changes to websites! I’ve moved my website hosting and am totally rebuilding this Creative Connections site and my Polyclay Gallery Site. There are lots of updates, re-arrangements, and new pics to show and tell about.
Seems like a LOOOOONG time since the Annual Dyeing Days at the start of the summer fun back at the end of May, but it wasn’t really that long ago. Traditionally the start of a season of color and creativity, our chromatic marathon this year was 14 days of exciting and exhausting work/play that resulted in beautiful clothing, yards of fabrics, lace, ribbons, and more. Read all about it at the Annual Dyeing Days link, and view the Tie Dye Gallery with pics from past years.
The fabric swatches shown at left are of Kona cotton, and making a sample swatch of each color used is a great idea–if only I had actually done each one (there’s at least a dozen I didn’t get, and that includes most of the orange/red/pink swatches; how did that happen?) and I also forgot to label the 45+ plastic sandwich bags of swatches, doll bodies, lace and ribbons as I was adding some of the liquid dye, so I have to guess which color is which now! That’s because I do the little bags at the end of the session, after all the yardage and clothing, to use up the ends of the dyes., and by day 12 or so I’m usually very spattered and tired. Oh well, next time…there’s always something to learn for next time!
Happy New Year to all!
Last year was certainly busy–so chock full of Things To Do that I see I haven’t had time to blog since August.
I continued taking classes at Front Range Community College, and as part of that I learned more about ceramics, metal work and jewelry, WordPress and Drupal and other Open Source Code solutions, and finished the layout of my new book in Adobe InDesign. (The new title from Polymarket Press is “A Collection Of Polymer Clay Masks” and it is available now! Click here to order an autographed copy)
There are some GREAT classes to be had at community colleges, and I’m getting a lot of value out of the ones I take as a student.
Beginning in 2011, I’ll also be teaching 4 classes in polymer clay there through the FRCC Continuing Education program. Click here to see the listings.
I’m also excited to be an instructor at the fourth annual Cabin Fever Clay Festival in Laurel, MD. This year’s line up includes many wonderful instructors, and they are also honoring Judith Skinner for her contribution of the Skinner Blend and her work throughout the years. Having written “Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay“ with her, I know first hand what a very talented and lovely person she is, and I’m very happy to see her recognized in this way. She’ll be teaching a class about ways to use the Skinner Blend, and I’ll be Making Faces! Teaching a class in sculpting faces, that is, and in making molds. We’ll even be shrinking our faces from the molds to make smaller versions–learn how at the CFCF this February 18-23. Click here for the Registration Form.
I’ve switched from the active production of masks, faces, and beads to taking pictures and editing, racing towards my deadline to put together “A Collection Of Polymer Clay Masks” and have it in print by Halloween. It can be done!!–but only if I put in some serious Photoshop hours. So that’s what I’m doing; going through miniature polymer clay masks I’ve made and collected since 1997.
In the process of participating in and hosting “swaps” for these among polymer clay artists around the world, I’ve amassed an amazing grouping of these little beauties–each measured to fit inside a 3 inch square.
After I photograph them, my husband will mount them all in framed pieces for display. We have one such piece with over 50 masks–now we’ll have several, and we’ll be doing a gallery showing along with the book when its all said and done. The book will also include photographs of full sized masks contributed by artists for this publication.
As I was going through my carefully wrapped boxes and bags of masks, and going through my file folders on the computer, I found images I took during a tutorial by Donna Kato and Shane Smith. They had been making mini-masks using scraps of canes, and didn’t have enough leftover bits at this point at our retreat, so they made a cane up special for it, and then Shane made some masks to show us how they were done. We each got a few inches of the cane to play with, and I got their permission to do a tutorial with the photos. I’ve got a “Making Faces and Figures” book planned out and in the works, but its not the one I’m working on now–it’ll be a companion to this one that will show how-to, and I that is NEXT years’ project. For now, here’s a look at the cane that started these masks, and the finished pieces by Shane. Thanks so much to Donna and Shane!
I’m busy busy busy getting ready for an incredibly creative summer season. We’re gearing up for our annual Dyeing Days that will be occurring from Memorial Day through the first week of June, and then I’ll be at the Lyons Outdoor Market Saturday June 5th and the following Saturdays in June! I’m making lots of new merchandise and packing things up using the new brand “Creative Connections” just like here at the blog. I like it much better than using my own personal name, which has never totally satisfied me when I looked at the cards and tags. So, I designed new ones and had them printed up at VistaPrint.com and designed bigger bag header tags and price cards and so on using InDesign and PhotoShop. Then I spent a couple of days making sure I remembered the things I learned in DreamWeaver class last semester and built some new webpages. My PolyClay Gallery site is massive–too big for its britches in some ways–and this gives me a set of pages that I can point people to just for business of all sorts. And so I introduce to you now–Creative Connections!
June 5, 12, 19, 26 2010
Lyons Outdoor Market 446 Main St Lyons, Colorado
Laura Humenik LandS Glory Artisan Jewelry and Sarajane Helm Creative Connections will be at the Lyons Colorado Outdoor Market on the Saturdays in June. Art, music, food and fun in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains! Bring your friends, and come see us there. We’ll have hand dyed clothing and accessories, ceramic, polymer clay, metal clay and glass components and finished jewelry, and more!
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.
That’s a line from an old Cowsill’s song, an early Family Band that doesn’t get as much nostalagia air time as say, the Osmond or Jackson Family does now that everybody is all grown up. “She was the flower girl–well, I don’t know just why, she simply caught my eye….”
And here’s my own flower girl, a life-size ceramic mask glazed with cone-06 low fire glazes. I might have to do some more of these big masks as they are indeed fun, though pretty heavy compared to the miniature ceramic masks I make more often. And speaking of those, I am now arranging my summer schedule, and THIS year I’m taking the summer off from school to finish photos and editing for my new book “A Collection Of Polymer Clay Masks”. It is on-track for release this Fall. That’ll keep me busy, and I’ve also scheduled a trunk show and classes at Nomad Beads in Boulder where I’ll be selling miniature ceramic and polymer faces, beads, and more! Come see all the goodies on display Mother’s Day weekend, May 8-9 at Nomad Beads, 1909 9th in Boulder Colorado, and say hi; I’ll be there creating beaded Spirit Dolls and jewelry.
I’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.
These are some of the miniature faces I made in my ceramics class, raku glazed and fired. I like the fiery nature of taking these out of the kiln while still red hot and dumping them into the trash can with shredded paper, then coming back an hour later to see how they look!
I made a lot of different faces using some of my own silicon molds that I created using my polymer clay originals. Thats something else I really enjoy—the creative connections that different media allow.
These first four faces are all made from the same mold, but look very different, partly because of the varying glazes. The fourth one has no glaze at all on the face, and the bare clay turns black when fired.
Here are two masks that are full sized replications of traditional Noh mask characters, the Maiden and the Fox God. The Maiden’s chin broke during the bisque firing, so I painted her with acrylics.
The Fox is glazed and details were added after firing, like the gold leaf around the eyes using a Krylon pen.
In addition to faces, I also got to try my hand at throwing on the wheel, and managed to create several cups, a teapot, three lidded vessels and two small vases. I had a great time in my ceramics class and look forward to taking ceramics2 next semester!!
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.
Judith 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 email@example.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!