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
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My Favorite Time Of Year!

Day of the Dead with Aunt Acidoh, 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.

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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!

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Backstage Life

Aunt Acid on her soapboxFor every scintillating moment of a fabulous show, there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of hours of creative work that go into making it happen. “My Dad has a barn–my Mom has some costumes in the attic…lets put on a show!”. Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland knew how much went into each shining moment, no matter how easy they made it look  in the final cut. Lighting, sets, costumes, hair and makeup, choreography and music, and many more special skill sets and jobs come into play. Things progress from the design phase, where many choices are tried out and refined until the designer has a pretty good idea of what to do to make it all real. Then the production phase takes over, and things have to be flexible in the process of making the designs come to life. Intricate work takes a great deal of time and effort. But oh, my…it really is worth it. At first glance, you’d never know what all goes into making up the event you see on stage.  Things start out as ideas, progress to sketches and more specific designs, and with a great deal of attention to detail on the parts of many people , things get done.

Lately we’ve been working on lots of things that tie up together in creative connections. We’re making mosaic tiled tables, set pieces for our upcoming Internet puppet show extravaganza, “The Aunt Acid Show“, encrusted instruments, even a sequined soap box or two. Costumes and props, stage and set construction are all progressing, and Aunt Acid herself is all pulled together and ready for her fittings and her closeups!

setsketch.jpg

This is the design sketch for the show’s set pieces.
Just wait till you see how THAT turns out!

With a show debut date of July 4th, we’ve got a
tremendous amount to do…
Check in again soon and see how its all coming along!

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AuntieEstablishmentarianism

Aunt Acid's tie dyed banner
I’ve been “phased out” at my day job in town and though it may sound strange to some, I see it as a kind  of liberation and a sharp nudge in the direction of spending more efforts on my own business. In addition to returning to my websites and putting items up for sale again, I’m busily working on projects that have been languishing due to my spending my time elsewhere. Back to books! Back to magazine articles and web content and photographs and more.

Aunt Acid--Ask Questions!Particularly dear to my heart is a long-term project that has been years in the making and will definitely take many more months of effort—but I think she’s worth it! I’m referring to “Aunt Acid” who is the star of her own reality,  an upcoming Internet variety show, and more.  When I got the word that my services were no longer required elsewhere, I came home, got my head together and stuck it in the oven……and felt great about it! Of course it was really Aunt Acid’s head, and she’s made using polymer clay.

Take a look at her blog to find out more on her origins and beginnings. 

In addition to creating the puppets, props, costumes, and stage sets (and stage!) we’re writing, direction, filming, and making the music. We have loads of talent and ideas tons of work to do, and no funding as yet–so we are also creating merchandise that will help support the cause. But Aunt Acid has a soft heart to go with her sharp tongue, and 20% of all profits from any merchandise marketed with the Aunt Acid “brand” will be donated to her favorite charity, “Feed The Children”.

Who is she? Aunt Acid is a tie-dyed tempest with a teapot and a wicked sense of observational humor whose satirically sharp wit goes along with a soft heart and a hard head.  She’s a puppet with purpose and a comic sensibility, and she speaks her mind on every subject. And although she’s not finished, Aunt Acid is the sort that gets going anyway. Her website is started but is also a work in progress. The Aunt Acid Show will be airing later this summer, and I’ll be sure to tell you more as it happens.

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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.

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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!

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Wolf! Wolf!

Wolf Mask by Patricia EdmondsIt is Winter time, windy and cold, and the wolf is at the door….

Well, not precisely at the door. This big bad winter wolf is a picture of a miniature mask made by Patricia Edmonds using polymer clay, measuring less than 3″x3″.  And instead of at the door, it is in the folder with the pictures that have been photoshopped and are ready for inclusion in the new book “The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks”. But before I can get onto the job of laying out all the cool pics onto the pages, I have about another 200 to photograph. So I’ll be busy for quite a while, Red Cap mask by Bernadette Mangiestaying warm in the studio with the help of the lights!

Shown next is a miniature polymer clay mask created for the swap by Bernadette Mangie. This Little Red Cap has no fear of the Wolf; she’s used to them! 

These masks are both from the Internet miniature mask swap 2006. Do remember that you are seeing them at close to actual size!

There were over 90 in that swap alone, and I have a lovely collection now that reaches back to 1997. Before I can host another one of these swaps, I am pledged to catalogue the collection. Then Bryan will mount them all into framed groupings.

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Masks and more masks!

Blue Ice Mask-Linda WeeksThe Christmas and Solstice Holiday decorations are all put away into the closet for another year, and I’ve even straightened up and vacuumed my workspaces. (Seeing the floor is a rare event).

That includes both the polymer clay and sewing room and the computer and photo space. Both are set for some serious production pushes.

I’ve got the new database for this book all set up and the digital photo work station is up and running. (More about that in a later post).

I’m going through all the submitted images of polymer clay masks that have been sent to me so far, and photographing the masks from many years of Internet Miniature Mask Swaps.

In the next few months I’ll be archiving the work of many artists and more than 300 masks. I wont’ know the exact count till its all done! And when all the pictures are taken and all the information documented, I’ll be more than half way to the next book “The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks“. Due out in June of 2008, I’ll be putting up images of some of the little lovelies (and full sized ones too!) that will be featured in the book.

Shown here is “Blue Ice Mask” by Linda Weeks, featuring polymer clay, feathers, and rhinestones. This is just one of the lovely mask images she’s submitted for the book, and its very appropriate for the weather today!

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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!

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