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!

 

 

 

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.

“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!)

london

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

“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!

Designing Woman

In addition to writing for books and magazines, and creating artwork with polymer clay and textiles, I spend a lot of time working with graphic and web design. I love what can be done with a digital camera and Adobe Photoshop..and several hundred fonts! (I have about 950 installed now, having had to delete about as many….it made things slow to load. Imagine!!) I have a special fondness for dingbats.

As a web designer, I enjoy working closely with my clients to create a site that reflects their work and their personal style. Click any of the graphics here to see the site I’ve built with each client–energy workers, artists, massage therapists, musicians and more.

If you are interested in having a website built or improved, please contact me at sarajane@polyclay.com and view my website page for more information.


Lightworkers Alliance Logo
by AG Creative Design, Inc
.
 

From here to there

masks by Melanie West
I just put up a tutorial page about using my digital camera, a portable studio box from Digital Concepts, and Adobe Photoshop. I use one of Melanie West’s miniature masks from the swap last year to illustrate the setup and the process of fixing images for better use.

portable photo studioThis is the setup that I used to do photos throughout the book “Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay” and also for photos on my webpages and in upcoming books.

I’ve been doing a lot of work lately taking photos for my own business endeavors including The Polyclay Gallery, and for other clientele locally. Practice and camera familiarity really do help to improve the skills involved and to get me more usable images. And having good lighting sure counts for a lot!

But truth be told, for me it is the Adobe Photoshop program that lets me really make the pictures look much better. No matter what I’m shooting–beads, dolls, jewelry or step-outs to show the process in a tutorial, it is all made better looking with Photoshop. Cropping, resizing, and image editing are only the tip of the iceburg when it comes to this powerful set of tools.

learn to photograph your beadsThe Adobe Photoshop Elements version contains everything most artist would need for use. Versions like CS2 or CS3 are more powerful by far, but contain much that may not be needed by the individual who just wants to document their work beautifully. Professional graphic artists of all sorts can enjoy a lot of potential in presenting their work if they have good digital images.

I really enjoy my digital camera, whether using it outdoors for the big wide world or indoors for beads, jewelry, masks, and how-to tutorials.

There’s a lot more to come; I’m working on several projects at once. Do take a peek at some of the photos on the links here!

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!

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.

Hot Daze

Miniature Vanity Set

I’m going to play with dolls today, and let my project dreams roll around in my head while I do the day’s tasks early so that I can get to the parts that are more fun. There’s something about the heat on long summer days that really encourages day dreaming, memory drift, vintage perfume labeland imaginative play. Perhaps its because its just too darn oppressively hot when its in the 90’s by midmorning to be comfortable in the physical world. Maybe brains let the thoughts sputter around more freely when warm, like kids playing in sprinklers. I don’t know and its really too warm to worry about it…maybe thats why its so much fun to hole up with a good book or a project in the shade! Especially if you get the heavier work done early–then its perfectly alright to spend a few hours on pursuits a but more whimsical!Not that I’m going to be entirely frivolous–the play is also work, but “funner”, as any kid would know. There are two big little projects to do this summer, and I’m making my way slowly with both. There are hundreds of miniature masks to be photographed for the upcoming “The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks” book, and its a perfect season for doing that–lots of light!

2'x4' miniature quilt store

The other miniature project is another store. Last year saw the production of “Pieces” a miniature fabric store made and stocked with polymer clay. In it, I had the fun of combining my love of textile designs, miniatures and set design, quilts, and polymer clay. I had lots of help, too, as other polymer clay artists helped stock the shelves with miniature “bolts of fabric”–which were all polymer clay. Even the plants are polymer clay. It was originally intended as a display for use in the book “Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay” by Judith Skinner and me. That was the official excuse—but it was also SO MUCH FUN!!! I still enjoy shuffling the hundreds of bolts into different piles, and someday they will all become parts of a wall hanging…but not today!

vintage soap lableToday, I’m thinking about the NEW store, which is in the same scale (1/6, which is also called fashion doll scale and also 1’=2″. click here for a page with more information about miniatures and a scale conversion chart). If Barbie were a quilt maker, she’d shop at “Pieces” for her fabrics. And, if she were shopping for things like cosmetics, perfume luggage, and fashionable accessories, they’d all be in some fabulous storefront.

vintage hair lableminiature version of hair lableSo here I am, dreaming of little perfume displays with framed antique labels for boudoir decorating pleasure, tiny luggage with labels from far away places and more. I’m also being practical about it–the luggage is to be made with polymer clay and formed around cookie cutters and petit-four cutters, and the perfume bottles made with beads and a bit more clay..I’ve been sorting the actual beads and will do more later! (There are kits and a how-to in the making)

The perfume labels for both bottles and art come from the same source as the luggage labels. I am thrilled to have at hand cd’s of vintage art from Stan and Russell at Twisted Papers. They have antique travel ephemera, vintage labels, and textile designs all on cds at very high resolution for artists to print and use. Because I can size them to different scales, they have all SORTS of uses!!

“Vintage Label Collection Vol 1: Perfume Health and Beauty Products” is a personal fave, as is the vintage travel series. I’m showing you just a couple of the fabulous pics that I’ll be using in making displays and products for my new little store–there are 306 images available on this cd alone!!! I have plans for transfers, charms, collages—lots of ideas for a hot summer day. See some of the travel labels and a bit more info about this treasure trove here at a previous blog post.

Twist and Shout

travel label from Twisted PapersI just love old ephemera. Even the word “ephemera” is wonderful–it has a faded paper sound to it when you say it out loud. Old ticket stubs and programs, maps, vintage valentines, designer’s sketches, antique advertising, sheet music… lovely old paper products. I’ve always enjoyed using things like that in collages, and we have boxes of carefully collected magazines that go beyond the usual National Geographics. (though we have some of those too!! One of the interesting things to remember about copyright law is that it pertains to making copies. So I can legally take these magazine photos, or catalog advertisements, or any paper ehemera and use them–without making any copies–in my artwork. If I want to make copies, I use artwork that is in the public domain, that I create myself, or that has permission granted for artists to use. This last catagory includes clip art that is installed in computer programs that come with your computer and all the Dover Pictorial Archive images. They have thousands of books with images in many catagories, and they are also now making them available on cds that come with the book. When purchased, the owner of the book has permission to use the images in their work, though not to just create a copy of the book or cd itself for sale. These images can be used in so many different ways! I have a Japanese Heraldic Crest symbol used on my business cards and printed materials. I’ve used them to make rubberstamps too, through Ready Stamps (for more about that, click here). Between Dover Pictorial Archive images and dingbat font images, I have had dozens of stamp sets made. They are my favorite tools!

travel art from Twisted PapersIn addition to using images to make molds and stamps, transfers can be created using liquid polymer clay and a print out from my deskjet printer onto Epson Glossy Photo Paper. This is particularly fun to do with colorful graphics that can be scaled down in size for miniature and doll use.  My newly found friends Stanley Pekarsky  and Russell White  of Twisted Papers have an absolute treasure-trove for all artists who share my love of ephemera. They have very high quality vintage images available on cds for artists to print and use. They feature collections of travel oriented and advertising art, postcards and valentines, ticket stubs and menus (like the two shown here). AND they have many cds of the fabric designs that belonged to the design firm for which one of them worked. They now have the rights to these lovely textile designs in several colorways, and those with the cds can use them to make cards, hangtags, all sorts of printed or web-based use! I have great plans for the weeks ahead…and I’ll show what I do with them later. I’m going to make miniature luggage and travel posters for my upcoming doll store as well as perfume ads and labels and all SORTS of things!! Thank you Stan and Russell, for collecting and sharing these fabulous images.  

Take a look at their other site, Midnight Rainbow to see even more vintage goodies.

Font Fun

Hawaiian quilt pattern with polymer clayI’m a happy font-fiend right now, because I found a wonderful  (and FREE!) program called The Font Thing at Downloads.com to manage my fonts for me. This is not an insignifigant task–I recently removed close to 800 fonts because they were making my computer a wee bit slow to load on some programs…and yet, I still have 785 fonts left. Almost half of them are dingbats. That’s a “pictorial glyph” for those who arent already familiar with them. Dingbats are used to pretty up the page by printers, and web designers. But what I like to do best with dingbats is to take them into Photoshop and use them to create graphics in black and white which I then send off to Ready Stamps in California to have made into custom unmounted rubber stamps and also molds (the matrix tray) for use with polymer clay. For more information about that, click here.

dingbat characters
With The Font Thing, I can easily view each character in every font, scale it up or down in size to view, and group the fonts into catagories. It can call up all the available information about the font and its designer! I can put all my dingbat fonts into a folder and inactivate them until I need to use them. That means I can go back and get all the ones that I recently deleted, or shop around the various font sites for those that are freeware or shareware. The black and white graphics seen above are from a font called “Schluss-Vignetten” and it was designed by Dieter Steffmann. Those are the letters/dings for e, f and g. The Hawaiian Quilt graphic was created using a dingbat called “Hawaiian Quilts 1,2 and3” overlaid onto a graphic made with polymer clay tiles, using Photoshop again.

From Black &White To Color

This Little Pig bookA lot of my endeavors tend to collect up against each other or tie into each other eventually, and not just in the piles that accumulate all over the studio. I have a love of pattern, a deep and abiding joy in colors, and I just adore a good black outline. And although I am willing to admit that I am addicted to buzz I get from a good strong jolt of color, I also do a lot of work in black and white and find the clarity of composition in a pen drawing to be very compelling. Am I caught betwixt and between the B/W vs. Color issue? No indeed, there’s room in my heart and my studio for both.

Coloring Book pageAs an example of how things tend to mix it up, both in my head and in my eventual finished product, here’s a look at a drawing I did a long time ago. It began with black ink and my trusty Rapidiograph pen, long since traded in for Micron pens that don’t clog!

I made sure to make a master copy of the drawing before I colored it in, because I though other people might enjoy coloring the pictures too–so I have sold the set of 10 drawings as a coloring folio over the years. I still get a kick out of the details, if I do say so myself.

After I finished the pen and ink drawings, I had a lovely week of coloring fun for myself. It was a treat! I prefer Prismacolor markers, the kind with a chisel tip on one end and a point tip on the other. They are very versatile. They can be used to ink in designs on polymer clay as well as on paper, and don’t bleed into the clay.

This Little Piggy calendar Here’s a look at the same page, with the color added.  I used the Print On Demand publishing capabilities at Lulu.com to create a calendar that features my Little Piggy drawings and silk painted borders by Chris Murphy. The calendar is available through my own publishing imprint, Polymarket Press. Lulu makes it possible for the enterprising author/artist to create and publish with no minimum print runs. It is a fabulous online resource for all creative entrepreneurs.

Recently, I took the scans of the drawings that were used to create the calendar and reduced them using Adobe Photoshop. Using photopaper copies printed out here in the studio, I transferred the colorful images to polymer clay. That’s the bitty-book you see at the top of this post. It won in last years designer competition sponsored by AMACO. All the pages are made of FIMO polymer clay with liquid clay transfers. For more info about this process, click here.

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