PODs and Pixels

I have been researching different POD companies this year. Pixels is one of many I’ve tried, and it is one of three that I’ve chosen to keep up. I like many things about Pixels, including the ability to edit all items with a single design on that at once, the ability to put an interface through an ipage right onto my website storefront, the ability to create printable catalog pages…I’m still exploring all the options. The shop that you put together on their site is very attractive, easy to work with, and so is the product design setup. The are the company that does all the printing for Fine Art America, used by many galleries and artists.

One of the few things not in its favor is that It does not play with woocommerce, a popular marketing platform used with websites, particularly wordpress based websites. It interfaces beautifully with Shopify using one of the free apps available with an account–but Shopify comes with a monthly price tag over $25, and that is money I’d rather spend on art supplies. WordPress, Woocommerce and Pixels are free to use. Pixels has a store aspect for me right on their site, and I can import it to my store front. Pixels supplies code for widgets that can be placed to have small or large slideshows of designs available. Shoppers are taken to the Pixels site and can purchase and checkout there. They do not check out using my woocommerce interface, so there could be times that items are found through both platforms, and they would need to be purchased in separate transactions. That’s not so hard!

Here’s a link to the breakdown on ecommerce platforms from the Printful site.

I never could start small with a project, so I put together 24 ink on metal designs and applied them to the products here. Pixels offers Mugs, Weekender Totes, Pouches, Portable Battery Chargers, Fleece Blankets, Spiral Notebooks, Yoga Mats, Round Beach Towels, T-Shirts, Phone Cases, Tote Bags, Shower Curtains, Duvet Covers, Throw Pillows, Greeting Cards, and Prints. With each design on each product, that is already a lot of options. In the spirit of investigation, I am also using two other POD companies called Art To Where and Printful  and these both integrate with woocommerce. For them, I have built a storefront page right here. They feature and additional 16 kinds of clothing and accessories with the printed artwork.  I’m still working on applying the designs to the items, but it is coming right along!!

Read more about the POD companies I am researching and ways that I am selling  here.

I like them all quite a bit, and have several more collections of digitized photos, drawings, and shibori fabrics. Then I look forward to playing with the designs in Adobe Illustrator and coming up with even more.

 

Eye-Yi-Yi!

eyesWe’re almost done with Spring Semester and in between studying for finals and doing my homework, I’m working on projects for upcoming books through PolyMarket Press, my burgeoning publishing empire.

I went back to college to learn the programs needed for publishing, and I’m now one Business Math class away from an Associate of Applied Science degree in Media Graphic Design (Print and Publication). I’ve taken a lot of art classes along the way too, which, though they don’t count towards the degree, have been wonderful learning experiences in ceramics, metal work, and watercolor as well as web design and graphic arts.

I’m signed up to finish this degree during summer semester–along with finishing several new printed books and E-books. Some are mine, and some are with other artists and authors. I’m excited to see the growth of skill and projects and the forming connections that strengthen both the work and the workers.

doll-sketchesI’m also getting back to working with polymer clay now that the weather is turning warm again. I’m documenting the progress of dolls for Making Faces, Molds & Forms.

That includes new forays into ball jointed figures and making set-in eyes as well as painting eyes on clay and on fabric.

Here’s a look at a sketch for ball jointed dolls in several scales and a pair of eyes that are part of the 15 inch doll I’ve started. I’ve got the foil armature covered with a layer of paper mache, all ready to cover with polymer as soon as school is out and we are on break. It was easy to work to the right size with a sketch. Thats not something I usually do, but I wanted to give it a try along with with making the ball joints instead of a single pose sculpt.

The eyes are shown  on the back of a business card, to give you the scale. They are around 1/2 inch in diameter. I’ll be making lots more too, as I’ve got dolls to make and tutorials to write and shoot.

They just HAPPEN to be sizes that go with the projects I’m putting together for Think Inside The Box-which will feature many projects that transform boxes into beautiful miniatures in several scales and styles!

Here’s the armoire that is part of that doll’s suite. She gets an armoire, a bed, a bedside table, a rug and other decorative details, and a wall. 

There will be variations on that in other sizes and styles; but this is a start!

Events & Classes In 2011

polymer clay facesHappy 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.

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!

NEW book!! Making Faces Molds & Forms

Book Cover–Making Faces Molds & Forms, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.

This is the front cover of my newest book–“Making Faces Molds & Forms”

It is a how-to guide to sculpting faces from polymer clay and using 2part RTV silicones to make molds; and thats just a start! Then I show how to use the molds to make many different faces, and use them in doll making, altered art, collage, jewelry, and more.

This book will debut in late October 2008, in time for the International Quilt Festival in Houston Texas.
(Its ALMOST finished!!)

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”.

Seeking Images of Polymer Clay Masks

The Art Of Polymer Clay MasksI am currently seeking high resolution, professional quality digital images of polymer clay masks  for review and possible inclusion in The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks
This new book is scheduled for release in June 2008 through PolyMarket Press.
Images need to at 300dpi resolution. Masks can be miniature or full sized, wearable or wallhanging, but must feature polymer clay as a primary material.
I will be showcasing my accumulated collection of miniature masks from previous Internet Mask Swaps as well as showing larger pieces by myself and by other artists. I have more than 350 already, but more is better. This book will be pictures and some information, with another book taking care of how-to aspects of making masks. This book is meant to spotlight the art itself–so send in pictures of your very best masks.

The deadline for sending images to me on a cd for review is January 15th. Email me for the mailing address at   sjpolyclay@comcast.net  if you are interested in participating. CDs WILL NOT BE RETURNED. All accepted artwork will be credited to the artist by name in the printed book.

Thank you in advance for your potential interest in this project!

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.

Face to Face

Amazing Mold Putty circular
There I was, standing in the aisle at Hobby Lobby looking for the mold making product I needed to locate for my students in the Making Faces And Molds class that I’m presenting today at our local bead store. And when I found it, I saw a familiar face–several of them in fact!

I recently did a photo tutorial/project and some promotional samples for the company that makes Amazing Mold Putty. I have the full tutorial on my website for those that want to see how its done.

I had not yet seen the store promotional piece in its final print form until I saw it in the aisle, and I have to say, they did a wonderful job! I’m very pleased with how good it looks. And, its always great to see your work in print out in public! Take a look for yourself at Hobby Lobby in the aisle with the polymer clays and tools. Take a little look here; I’ve reduced the scans to fit this blog.

Amazing Mold Putty adI’ll be showing all sorts of pictures and faces in the books on miniature masks and faces that will be coming out NEXT year on PolyMarket Press. What was planned as one book grew into two.

One is a photo-book of hundreds of miniature polymer clay masks and also larger scale masks.

The second is be a how-to book. Look for “The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks” and “Making Faces” in 2008.

PolyMarket Press is my small but growing publishing empire. Judith Skinner and I created our debut book last year, “Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay”. We each have plans for more books to come, so you can tell that we enjoyed the experience enough to do it again!

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.

Another Day, Another Dye

ribbons and bamboo beads dyed with ProcionWe made it through the Big Dyeing Event and it all worked out very well. My hands and back are really tired, but the backyard has certainly been well watered with all the rinsing.

The ribbons, lace, scarves, cording, fabric, hats, bamboo beads, wooden pieces and tshirts have all been dyed, rinsed, and washed, and now I’m rolling and tagging and getting things ready for sales.

icon doll kitNext up on the “to do” list is making more polymer clay faces to go with all the great new colors, and putting them together into Spirit Doll kits–I’m going to the Houston International Quilt Show again this year in the Fall, and so this Summer is going to involve a Big Production Push.  Lots of things to get done….Musician Bill Nelson says in song “People who do things, are people who get things done”.

I’ve been busy writing  articles for Belle Armoire and other magazines, and working on books to the point that I’ve been spending less time than I need to on the actual polymer clay work, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to that!

cotton dyed hatsThough I’ll be photographing as I go, because the dyeing process is part of one book, and the polymer clay masks are part of the next one up–“The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks”.

I have to work pretty steadily on that for the next two months in order to make it happen this year. It will be self-published through Lulu.com as is “Adapting Quilt Patterns To polymer Clay” with Judith Skinner.

I’m still working on migrating this site to the one that I maintain myself, but I havent figured out how to get tags to work there as they do here–in the meantime, I’ll make use of both lobes of my brain and both ftp sites and maintain both for a bit! Please do visit “the other side” to see the features available there that aren’t here.

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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