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.
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!
It sure is snowy outside, but I’m growing a fresh crop of flowers (metal), several new classes to put on the calendar, and a brand new membership at Tinkermill in Longmont. Also an educational nonprofit, Tinkermill.org is a creative maker space, filled with all sorts of interesting people with skills–and tools–and space to use them. My family joined, and are eagerly awaiting orientation so as to get to work on projects that are too big for the kitchen table, or require tools I’ve not yet acquired!
Something that really iced the cake for me is the classroom space that is available there. I will be offering classes in the upcoming months both in Gahanna, Ohio and in Longmont, Colorado in the upcoming weeks, so sign up for the newsletter if you’d like to be notified when they are on the schedule. Media will include digital, metal, polymer clay, and textiles.
The long sunny days and warm weather makes it easy to get a lot of things to grow. Creative Connections is having a BIG growth-spurt–this year, we have blossomed into a Non Profit Corporation!
Having filed the paperwork in Colorado to become a 501(c)(3) educational non profit corporation and trade marked the name, there is now much more to be done, and I’m gathering the people to help me do it. There are still more forms to be filed, meetings to be held, and money to raise, but now we can work together to make arts more accessible for everyone and develop funded programs. We’re currently seeking a low cost or grant-subsidized location for classes and a gallery gift shop where artists can sell their work.
I’ve given this website a total makeover, and it has gone from representing my own personal art to showcasing a much bigger collective effort. It’s just getting started, and has lots of room to grow.
Sign up for our newsletter and hear the latest on classes, events, and how it is all coming together! Scan the QR code shown here if you want to be fancy, or join through the sidebar signup form.
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.
I’ve made great progress on projects this Spring, and I’m celebrating the Summer Solstice working on more.
I’ve learned a lots recently–from odd count peyote stitch and right angle weave beading to making my first ball jointed doll in polymer clay.
Meet Aurora Rose! I really like how she turned out; not bad for the first try. Of course, I’ve made a few dolls of various sorts before…but I also know that each one gives you experience in new things, and she certainly did.
I rearranged my living room and laundry room to provide more work space and access to all my fabric and my sewing machine. After a good cleaning and oiling, it runs like a champ, and its been doing so since 1960. I just love my heavy old Singer, and wouldn’t trade it for the newer models.
I got patterns for her clothing from Matisse Fashions (Brenda is an incredible seamstress/designer) and found that I remembered how to sew pretty well but will no doubt improve with more practice this summer. Lots to do!
She’s show here in a variation of the pleated chemise and drawers patterns. I didn’t add the waistband, and left it a bit long to be a set of cool cotton pj’s made of fine cotton lawn and embroidered with peach roses and teal green leaves.
Dharma Trading Co. carries cotton lawn and many other wonderful fabrics for use in doll making and clothing too.
See more info and pictures of how Aurora Rose came together here.
We’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.
I’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!
a frozen food box with 2 tea boxes, with a priority mail box added at the base next
two layers of paper mache and dowel rod
ready to line the drawers with paper, add knobs to the doors, and some wire hangers
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!
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!
Not only have I made a start on the pink and purple spirit doll, I’ve also had some great ideas recently about how to combine textiles, metal and clays to do bead enhanced spirit dolls with ceramic and metal bodies. I’m looking forward to getting back to school in the new year to make up examples of what I’ve been seeing in my imagination. A few things finally fell into place with the “how will I do that?” aspects and I look forward to realizing these very soon.
In the meantime, there’s lots to do with making up Spirit Doll Kit Samples and getting the bits and pieces all pulled together for making the new ladies and producing new finished work to get out to stores and galleries.
So much to do–and I do love doing it! Over the semester break I’ve had a chance to rest, see family and friends, read, and to delve into my art supplies to work on old and new projects both.
What a wonderful year of artistic and personal opportunities its been in so many ways…and I’m looking forward to more in 2012!
May we all appreciate and cherish the marvelous parts of our lives, past present and future…with lots more to come!
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’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.
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.
Whew! What a huge undertaking, and what wonderful, amazing small rewards! I mean small as in “miniature”, or specifically “fits inside a three inch square” (more or less). Several years ago I was invited to take part in a Polymer Clay Miniature Mask Swap by Sherry Bailey. I was in one of the several groups, and sent in my masks. Shortly thereafter I got my box of goodies, and kicked myself all around the room for not having been in every group—there were pictures included and I missed out on some real gems. I vowed never to repeat THAT mistake! And also to be in another mask swap ASAP. I ended up taking over the job and expanding the number of participants (my artistic greed knows little about bounderies or sensible work loads in some areas…)
So for the last few years, there’ve ben annual swaps that attract wonderful artists who ALSO want collections of these minimarvels. When announced, interested parties sign up for one, two, or three groups of ten. The SwapMistress (thats me, in this case) keeps track of who signs up, and fills the groups. We do a total of ten groups of ten people. For each group, the participant sends in ten masks, all signed/with a card and bagged. When they are all here, my husband and I alphabetize the incoming boxes for easier finding, and then start filling up Group Bags by lining up the brown paper lunch bags. Starting with 10 bags marked “A” we check the All Powerful List and take out each participant’s set one at a time–If Mary is in group A, we put one of her masks in each bag, and the same with the other 9 participants. At the end, each person in Group A will get a Group A bag mailed back to them, containing one of their own and one of each of the other 9 people’s masks. Sounds fairly simple, right? It kindof is…except then we do it for B, C, D, E, F, G, H I and J groups. This generally takes a full day–there are a thousand little masks. Then, the next day, my dear sweet hubby and I start packing boxes. If Mary was in Group A, D and F, we pull an A, D and F bag and put it aside for her in a grocery bag marked with her name and the groups (cross checking is pretty important!! ) with the mailing lable and postage she sent. This also takes a day or so…and then there’s the packing and sealing of the boxes, and three hours or so at the Post Office.
I, being the SwapMistress and therefore In Charge, get to violate the “three groups” thing and be in ALL ten groups. This is great because I get to keep one from every person in every group–no more missed gems!! Except of course for the people that make it harder to choose by sending ten that are all different for their sets. Then I still only get to keep one, but I DO have the opportunity to unbag and photograph them all, then rebag before putting them into the group bags. So I say it again—its a huge undertaking, but OH-so-worth-the -effort. I end up making and giving away 100 miniature masks, and getting 100 masks to keep. All are individual works of art showing a vast array of techniques. All have miniature size and polymer clay in common, and “masks” as a theme, but all are astoundingly different interpretations of that theme. I will be photographing the collection that I have gathered over this decade, and putting them in a book, but I’ll share a few of them here on this blog, and you can see some masks from previous years here.
The group of ten Warm and Cool Masks shown above was sent in by Karen Cowles. The two masks below made using the alcohol inks on polymer clay were sent in by Nina Owens. The light was fading and I only had time to take a few pics. I took more the next day, so watch for future posts! You can also see more at other participants’ blogs like these by Laurel Steven and Tonja . Click the pics to see them larger.
“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.
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!
I’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.
Holiday Paper Doll Page1, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.
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!
Last week Judith Skinner and I were vendors for our third year at The International Quilt Festival in Houston Texas. The show is the absolute best in the world, and there are more beautiful quilts and amazing wearable art pieces than I could possibly imagine–and I have a VERY good imagination!! We go every year to promote our books, including Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay and The Business Of Professional Art as well as to sell our polymer clay jewelry, beads, faces, and Spirit Doll kits. Next year we’ll be bringing new titles as well–I think its time to ship all the books ahead, though. We take all of our booth setup and displays and all merchandise with us, and things are getting heavier the more titles we add! This year we shipped some of the books, and that worked out very well. The Houston Polymer Clay Guild helped out with Receiving and made us welcome at a lovely evening reception too! It is always great to see our friends there again.
In addition to seeing polymer clay vendors like Jennifer Patterson and Karyn Kozak, we get to explore as much of the show as we can. There are 20 rows of booths, and thats not counting the Quilt Display areas!!
There’s an area in the farthest back block for Embellishments, where you can find us in our PolyMarket Press Booth and many other suppliers of textiles, trims, buttons and beads, and other great stuff.
Like Glitter! Barbara Trombley was there with her Art Institute Glitter. Not only do she and her sparkly assistant Nancy show off the uses of an incredible line of glitters that are compatible with polymer clay use, Barbara’s line of “Elements” make great inclusions in translucent polymer clay and all the supplies in their booth have possibilities when it comes to mixed media art that is so dear to many, including me!
As a certifiable color addict, I warn you to be careful when looking at her color samples. Many, many colors, in very many sizes–like seed beads and paint chips it can be an occasion for gazing a long time.
I also had the opportunity to meet Jenny Doh, editor at Belle Armoire magazine. It was lovely to see in person someone with whom I’ve worked well and happily as a writer of the Business Of Professional Arts column there. I rthoroughly enjoy working with talented, creative people, who are very good at what they do.
It was exciting to see the “Where Women Create” booth and to meet her and the other ladies there. WWC is all about the “inspiring work spaces of extraordinary women” to quote their website. Keep an eye out for this newly debuting magazine!
Click here to see more about this exciting show.
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 email@example.com and view my website page for more information.
Lightworkers Alliance Logo
by AG Creative Design, Inc.
newnecklace2, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.
I’m still busy getting ready for the International Quilt Festival in Houston at the end of October, and I’ve been making lots of new beads, and stringing beads into necklaces too! Here’s one of my favorites with a handbead pendant, and coin shaped beads of fossilized coral as well as other kinds of beads. It features a sterling silver toggle clasp.
You can also click on the gallery pics here to see more new wearable art pieces!
oh, I do love the time of year when summer is over, winter isnt here yet—and the fall weather starts to make inroads into the garden. There are wonderful holidays at this time, including Halloween, when I’ll be in Houston Texas at the International Quilt Festival again with Judith Skinner, taking lots of new beads, jewelry, faces, and other items made from polymer clay, plus spirit doll kits and more.
The Day Of The Dead gets celebrated around here for more than just one day, as do many holidays. This year my polymer-clay-headed spokesmodel Aunt Acid is taking a turn displaying her flowers and skulls decked out in DOTD finery and seated with her dogs in the front window of Nomad Designs, a fabulous bead bazaar in Boulder Colorado where you can find all sorts of exotic things.
I’m making lots of new beads, getting ready for the upcoming shows and sales and beading season. Time for more beads!! Hand beads are always popular, so I’m making them in several styles–blue tattooed, shown here, mehndi (henna) tattoos, and Victorian. I do love dressing the hands up in little sleeves…but these with the blue tattoos are a lot of fun also. These are decorated with dye ink, and are the only style done in this manner—the others make use of millefiore canes and impressions, not stamps. These beads and others are available for purchase through my etsy store.
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!!)
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!
I went to Jackson Mississippi and conducted a week long seminar at Tougaloo College Summer Art Colony where we explored the uses of polymer clay. We had a wonderful time!
The only “downside” to the week were travel oriented, and even that wasnt too unexpected or awful. My luggage is ALWAYS gone through, so I’m careful to put all my blades in metal tool boxes (lunchboxes from American Science and Surplus
) that have a flat magnet on the lid. Meant to hold a business card, I put these magnets on the inside of the lid, and they do a great job of holding all the extremely sharp blades flat to the surface so that nobody gets hurt. The pointed sticks, though, people will just have to watch for themselves when rummaging through my things. And the multiple X-Acto knives, and the cookie cutters…. Ok, so I have potentially dangerous luggage. I find it to be MOST dangerous when I’m hauling both 49 pound check-in bags and my 30 pound carry-on and the ten pound purse by myself across the concourse, trying to make it to the next stop. A pasta machine can leave a pretty good bruise, if you arent carefull! But the BIGGEST danger was to my luggage itself this time. After 5 years of vigorous travel experiences, my favorite toolbox got a little smashed. Its fixable—just a few pieces broke, includint the nose of the face. I was wondering when it WOULD break, actually! We tell students about “The ToyBox Test” in which I rated the strenghths of various brands of clay by making miniature teapots and putting them in my son’s toybox with the tonka trucks, etc. and then checking on them several weeks later. The FIMO and CFC (this became Premo) teapots were OK, the Cernit teapot had a ding in its spout, and the Sculpy teapot was some colorful chunky dust on the bottom of the box. This test can also be done as The Bottom Of The Purse Test for those without a toybox and helpful assistants. Or, The Airport Test! This Premo clay made it through quite a few trips before coming to its smashing conclusion. And since I felt a little bashed myself (can they MAKE those airplane aisles and seats any narrower??) I do understand!
Dyed in the wool comes this weekend…but LAST week we dyed the cottons and silks. While we rested up and things dried, we put together a quick 30 second video with an ambient music soundtrack.
I’m learning how to use a webcam and the digital camera as a video recorder, and playing with the hardware and software is how I learn best.
Music provided by Bryan Helm. If you like it, take a listen to his podcasts at My Life In Sound.
We’ve had rain all the first part of this week, and we needed the moisture. It is beautiful in a sunny way today, and we’re starting into the annual dyeing days! Today is prep day–I’ll be mixing dyes, and getting them into the bottles. I just ran off the sheets of labels for the plastic bottles. This year we have:
#03 Golden Yellow
#05 Soft Orange
#8A Pagoda Red
#13 Fuchsia Red
#14A Hot Pink
#21 Teal Blue
#23 Cerulean Blue
#27 Midnight Blue
#45 Jungle Red
#97 Citrus Yellow
#111 Black Cherry
#312 Strongest Red
#510 Basic Brown
We use Procion MX series coldwater fiber reactive dyes. We’ve found that labeling the bottles after mixing them up makes it easier to tell what’s what, when you have lots of colors. We also have bagged swatches (that’s the picture at top) so that we know how the color is going to come out, mostly.
Another good tip I’ll share with you is to mix your dyes with water and then pour through a coffee filter into the bottle, that way those pesky little red or turquoise spots are not a problem.
This year I’m dyeing lots more pieces of turned wood, because I LOVE how last years batch turned out. No ribbons this year–I did a lot of them last year.
They went into the current crop of Spirit Doll Kits along with the cotton and silk fabrics, and polymer clay faces. I’m selling them on Etsy.comwhich is an on-line site presenting handmade and vintage items. I’ll be adding lots more items in the upcoming weeks as I clean out the studio and help fund upcoming shows and projects.
I’ll also be dyeing some t shirt dresses and shorts for my own summertime wardrobe, and backdrop and curtain fabric that will be used in the Aunt Acid Show. They WERE beige muslin–how drab!! They were great when I did out door shows and needed backdrops that did not compete with the displays. But for this particular show, we can take LOTS of color. I’ve been gluing mosaic set pices, and things are coming along splendidly in a visual sense. Now for another big dose of color, and we’ll be onward into the Summer of More Love…and we happen to love art and music and humor, so I’d say these good times to “Be Happening”.
Speaking of summer time fun, I’ll be teaching a week long seminar on using dyed fabrics and polymer clays to make spirit dolls, icons, and masks this summer at Tougaloo College Summer Art Colony. July in Mississippi is time for some HOT ART!!