How DO They Do It?

polymer clay miniature mask by Shane SmithI’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.

polymer clay cane made by Donna Kato and Shane SmithAs 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!

masks made with polymer clay by Shane Smith

Skinner Blends and More!

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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!

More Miniature Masks

Rumseymasks09Click the pic to see a larger version.

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

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

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

A stroll down memory lane….

slideshow

With a CanoScan 8800F scanner in the house for the last month, I’ve been scanning slides and family photos, editing with Adobe Photoshop and making slideshow presentations to burn onto CD’s.

The scanner gives me access to all the slides that always lived in the box at my Grandparents’ house, first cupboard on the left in the living room, top shelf. And if we were good, my sister and I could look at them in the viewer.

Looking at those slides now digitized, thinking of the technology I access now and the technolgy of then–our world (my world) has certainly come a long way since the late 1950’s! And somethings are just the same–I still like to draw. Its just the tools that change, not the joy in the creative connections!

newbutton7I’ve done a slideshow for my friend Margie’s family reunion too. (Take a look at her freshly updated glass art webpage here.) Her family brought photos dating back to the 1920’s, and we scanned them right there at the reunion, as well as getting pictures of the event. Later, I put them all on a slideshow cd that she can distribute to the whole family–those that were able to come and those that were not! Its great to be able to better access the past while we still have the memories of those around us available to tell stories about the pictures, and identify the people, times and places.

When I went to school the first time, it was A Very Big Thing to be allowed to learn to use the ELECTRIC typewriter. The mimeograph  and ditto machines did not allow for “undo” or editing….

Now I have computers and digital tools available to me, and I am going back to school to learn how to better use them. This will no doubt continue to change how I am able to do my work in the future, and I’m looking forward to it! I’m also looking forward to using slides and pictures of past work and using those new tools to present things in new ways.  I’m starting with pictures of Madame & Her Shady Ladies dolls in minature sets that were taken by Bobby Grieser in 1992, before I had my digital camera or computer. Now I can use them! You can see more of them at Aunt Acid’s blog, and there’ll be a page and even a calendar later. I’m looking forward using them alot in this coming year of 2009. Hard to think that we’re more than halfway through that first month already, and so much going on! Here’s a view of one of the ladies. She’s about 8 inches tall, and shown with a paper and epoxy resin fan made by my friend Elaine.

spacecadet

chez Madame’s

chez Madame’s, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.

A long while back, I made 12 dolls and miniature sets for a photo shoot. Using paper, polymer clay, fabric and whatever was right for the job, I made several different Shady Lady dolls and their environments. Here’s one of the shots! This one is of the petite and buxom bouncer in the Nightclub room. She’s about 9 inches tall. Part of the set is made using an epoxy resin and paper fan made by Elaine Schaeffer.

This is one of the photos taken by Bobby Grieser in 1992. He does wonderful work, and did all the photography in my first two polymer clay books. Unlike my own digital camera work, Bobby’s pictures for me were all done in 35mm film slides. I have several shoe-boxes filled with over a decade’s worth of images. but have had no way to access them for use on the web. Until Now!!!

This year, Santa brought me a new scanner with a slide scanner function, which has been on my list for a long while!!!! (Thank you Santa for making it happen, you know who you are.)
It even came early so that I get to use it in creating some of MY Christmas presents to give in the next week. I’ll be showing off more pics right here too.

Masks and More

mask and moonlight

I just returned from the Tougaloo College Summer Art Colony in Jackson Mississippi. This year was #12 for this week long celebration of art. Its also the second time that I’ve been there as an instructor. Our class made masks, spirit dolls, icons and boxes, beads and more…all with polymer clay.  Click here to read more about it and follow the links to see what we made!

The mask shown above is a full sized domino style mask. We also made a lot of miniature masks, making the original sculpt and then creating silicone molds using Amazing Mold Putty  by Alumilite. The bacground in the banner is a digital picture of the night sky with full moon as sseen from campus. The picture didnt come out all that well–but parts of it are beautiful, and as instructor Carmen Hathaway (Digital Dreams) tells her students, the original photograph is just the starting point. I would have eagerly taken her class–or any of the other classes given by VERY talented instructors. Seeing what other artists do, and speaking openly with them about making and marketing art is tremendously inspiring and helpful. I had a wonderful time at the Artists Colony, and I encourage everyone to spend some time this summer viewing the work of other artists and making more of your own!

When the Spirit Doll Moves!

flowerdoll.jpgI’ve been having fun playing with face masks, dolls, and beads. All the cotton jersey that I’ve previously dyed has been cut into fat quarters for making into doll bodies and spirit doll kits. I’ve got some premade bodies that were dyed as well, and I’ve put together dozens of kits. Now I’m ready to make more sample versions so people can see what can be done with the kits. Here’s the start of one floral doll. She still needs lots of beads though! It is important to remember that spirit dolls take several sessions to really come together.

Spirit DollIt all takes a long time….but eventually it’ll all be organized together into a how-to book and a lovely display of dolls, kits, and polymer clay faces. This book comes AFTER the new “The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks” in its release date.

March Window at Bead LoungeI’m working on the text and pictures at the same time. It’s making for a very busy winter, when you also factor in my “Day Job” building web pages for other artists, musicians, and local businesses.