I love the vibrancy of alcohol inks on metal. I like to cut the resulting pieces up to make jewelry components and decorative objects. Before doing that, I photograph and scan each one as a whole image. Then I can digitally manipulate them. I like to use them in many ways, including creating mandalas.
I have an account at Pixels.com, a Print On Demand supplier for artists. I make my designs available on clothing and household decor items, and if others purchase them, I get a royalty. I can also buy my items and sell them elsewhere, but I do like letting Pixels do the fulfillment and shipping!
By using photo editing tools to make masks and layers, I can combine and recombine beautiful bits and pieces in many different ways. I create a triangle, then duplicate it–and keep duplicating.
Art Dolls are particularly fun projects for me because I love costuming and dress up, as long as I get to remain in comfy clothes and shoes–so with dolls I can indulge. Making art dolls can be a way of expressing and working though strong feelings, of pleasurably and creatively spending time by yourself or with like minded friends. Some dolls I make from cloth, paper or clay from my own patterns, but I also enjoy staring with a pre-made cloth body and dressing it up. I like the portability of these small projects. You can do a lot in a few hours or continue to add more and develop their style.
I’ve spent many years dyeing natural fibers with Procion MX Series cold water dyes, and built up a lovely cache of cottons, silks, and rayon. So, I put together kits with fabric, lace, ribbons and 3,5,and 8 inch cotton dolls. Then to some I added goodies like sequins, beads, Angelina fibers, dyed feathers, polymer clay or ceramic faces and vintage silk sari trim ribbon. I had a wonderfully colorful time adding ingredients to each kit, and now it is time to share the fun, so art doll kits are going up for sale in my shop here. I’ll be adding more all month!
Shown here is an art doll made from a 5″ art doll kit. I used scissors, a needle and thread, and some E-6000 to affix the polymer clay face to the body. I put a small heavy box on her as a weight as the glue dried to get a good bond. I used everything in the kit except a dozen beads or so. She looked great, but I wanted more..so I added some size 11 gold glass seed beads and size 15 glass purple beads. Much better! She still needs a bit of glitter, some feathers, some paper flowers…but I will come back to her another day. That’s my favorite way to play with dolls! In the meantime, I get to make up samples from the 3 and 8 inch doll kits next. Stay tuned!
3 and 5 inch dolls
5 inch doll kit
Well this certainly is fun! I took a 3 Inch by 6 inch piece of metal (seen at right) and painted it with alcohol ink and gave it several coats of Rustoleum Varathane, Then did the back of the metal with a design in a simpler but co-orrdinating color design. After that I took pictures, and now I can use the pictures to create POD (Print On Demand) products. Right now you can buy through their website, but I am in the process of putting my own store together with Shopify.
The original art is seen at right. Below in the gallery are the pieces and the POD items
These particular items, a scarf, yoga leggings, a draped kimono, tote bag and zipper carry call are all from Art For Where in Montreal Canada.
They mill their own fabric, print it, cut and sew and drop ship the orders. Then I cut up the metal, ground down the edges, and got the pieces ready to make into jewelry!
We’ve been spending the past few months digging in with creative endeavors here in our new place. We’re producing new art, music, writing, and also preparing for winter. (We’ve already had snow three times!) I’ve been putting major efforts into metal work that has been languishing unfinished or unsorted for a while. I had a pile of etched metal and metal with beautiful patinas as well as decorative ways with inks. Now I have quite a few trays filled with earring parts, pendants, cuff bracelets, and sets. I’m selling components to other jewelry designers and having fun seeing what they do with them.
I’m reaping a bonanza harvest of brass, bronze, nickle silver, copper, tin and aluminum components for making earrings, pendants and charms. I’m selling on Facebook groups and also wholesale to stores. Plus, when the winter days keep me indoors, I’ll have plenty to choose from when making jewelry.
I love the vivid colors and fun effects that are obtainable with alcohol inks on metal. For my first art experiments in my new home state of Wyoming, I got all my inks and my embossing powders out for several days of summertime fun! I’ve wanted to see how the inks and powders held up to cutting and filing for some time, but life in Colorado and then moving kept nudging project days to the side. But here in my new studio spaces (I have several now–indoor, outdoor, and a shed, all with power and lights!!) I’m finding it much easier to get some art time.
My experiments started with cutting up some 30 gauge aluminum and getting it cleaned up and ready for the inks. After having lots of fun with color, all the pieces were carefully heated to help further set the inks permanently, and then sprayed with two coats of polyurethane.
After that, I cut up the pieces, making 2″x4″ rectangle pieces for my embossing experiments, and 4″x4″ squares, and a larger piece that will get played with later and cut up to make decorative parts for boxes, mobiles, and jewelry. Some for now, some for another time! I want to do some that incorporate other elements too, like metal leaf.
In the course of our recent move, I got to see all my art supplies, and now they are out where I can see them all the time, motivating me to actually use them. While accumulating tools and supplies is a lot of fun itself, I’ve pared down to the ones I want to use, and it is very satisfying to use them. I love seeing how the different things go together.
Once I have the prepared metal pieces, I like to cut them up further and make things like jewelry components or inserts for decorative boxes. For jewelry use, I use a large metal shear to cut straight across, disc cutters to make circles, and metal shears to cut more complex shapes. In order to easily duplicate shapes, I made myself some laser cut templates of shapes that I like. I used a Open Source program called Inkscape to create my shapes and then used them with the laser cutter at Tinkermill, the makerspace in Longmont Colorado. Makerspaces are great hubs of creativity, and I hope to see more of them established.
Here are the templates I cut, with all sorts of shapes, flowers, leaves, and more. I use them in metal, paper and textile work a lot. The set on the right is particularly useful for making earring pairs and pendants or pins. Now I have a lot of different pieces and can try a variety of different things. I love the freedom to experiment and play with colors and textures. Sometimes I go too far, but I always learn things that inform more pleasing work later.
I cut out shapes and then smooth the edges with a habilis 00 file, some sanding, and then I can pierce holes with the Euro Tool punch, glue pieces to leather or other backings, or embed the pieces in polymer clay to be cured. (Pieces with embossing powder cannot be heat cured–embossing must be done after the baking step.)
The next step for me is to make some finished jewelry, and I’ll be doing that this week; from where I am sitting now I can see just the right beads to make these all up. Check back soon to see how they look when finished, and please do view the results of my ink and embossing experiments as well as other work.
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!
There were are many challenges to be met in 2016, and the results of some remain to be seen. The challenge that my beady friends and I undertook turned out really wonderfully. Our group has been beading together for a while, and we share our discoveries of new stitches, new suppliers, and the occasional project.
The parameters of this one when it started last year were that we use the two pieces of fabric and the packet of beads we were given. Anything else could be added..and it needed to end up as a piece of wearable art.
Last week we got together and three of us showed what we had made. We’ve still got several members’ work to be unveiled, and I am looking forward to seeing what they did!
The Longmont Bead Group meets on Thursdays…and sometimes on weekends…because we all love beads. Its also more fun to work on time-consuming projects with friends so that the hours fly by and the beads get strung, woven, embroidered, braided, knit and crochet, and more. One member gave another a cloth owl that was totally bare of embellishment, and what was to be a few hours of beading stretched WAY beyond–but looks fabulous.
We help each other learn new techniques and share our sources, sometimes buying in bulk together (sometimes just buying in bulk, period, because one just NEEDS that many!) I recently was guided through the intricacies of spiral and straight herringbone stitch, have learned right angle weave and peyote stitch, and how to knit and crochet with beads. Connecting with friends and learning new things is great for the mind, body and spirit; and it is easy to become isolated if you don’t make that effort. Hang out and be creative with a friend soon!
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.
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!
I’m home from Houston, after another wonderfully colorful and inspirational Quilt Festival. What fabulous things people can make with fabric and fibers of all kinds!
With an eye towards historical, vintage and cutting edge (literally; there are several booths selling scissors and sharp tools and pointy things of all sorts) textiles and fiber arts, there is so much to be seen at the George R Brown Convention Center that you just can not do it all in one day. It is as large as 9 football fields, with over 1000 vendors–and I was one!–plus amazing exhibits of quilts, textiles from around the world, art dolls and more.
I had a wonderful time and came home inspired, as always, with how to change my booth display ( more grids–they work really well for me, pare things down and keep back-stock), what to make for next time (more of the Painted Face Bags and more polymer clay Victorian Hands, more of my dyed fabric in wearable form that goes with more colorful jewelry!
But that’s next year…. now its time to finish up final projects at school and get little rest over the upcoming holidays. Maybe I’ll have time to learn how to learn to use the kumihimo braiding wheel my friends got for me at the show!
Laura Humenik of Lands Glory Artisan Jewelry and I had a booth at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival this year. I saw lots of beautiful quilts while there, and the dolls from the Hoffman challenge too. While sales were slow, it was good to get out and try my new grid display and new ways of presenting things in the booth. It’s also a great way to see what is popular in this area and what I need to make more of before the next upcoming shows. All in all, we were glad for a chance to try and new venue and see how everything looked set up in this configuration! I really do like my new grid displays. This time I have them set up like a folding screen. Here are some pics from the show–click the image to see a larger version.
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!
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’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.
As 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!
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.
That’s a line from an old Cowsill’s song, an early Family Band that doesn’t get as much nostalagia air time as say, the Osmond or Jackson Family does now that everybody is all grown up. “She was the flower girl–well, I don’t know just why, she simply caught my eye….”
And here’s my own flower girl, a life-size ceramic mask glazed with cone-06 low fire glazes. I might have to do some more of these big masks as they are indeed fun, though pretty heavy compared to the miniature ceramic masks I make more often. And speaking of those, I am now arranging my summer schedule, and THIS year I’m taking the summer off from school to finish photos and editing for my new book “A Collection Of Polymer Clay Masks”. It is on-track for release this Fall. That’ll keep me busy, and I’ve also scheduled a trunk show and classes at Nomad Beads in Boulder where I’ll be selling miniature ceramic and polymer faces, beads, and more! Come see all the goodies on display Mother’s Day weekend, May 8-9 at Nomad Beads, 1909 9th in Boulder Colorado, and say hi; I’ll be there creating beaded Spirit Dolls and jewelry.
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.
These are some of the miniature faces I made in my ceramics class, raku glazed and fired. I like the fiery nature of taking these out of the kiln while still red hot and dumping them into the trash can with shredded paper, then coming back an hour later to see how they look!
I made a lot of different faces using some of my own silicon molds that I created using my polymer clay originals. Thats something else I really enjoy—the creative connections that different media allow.
These first four faces are all made from the same mold, but look very different, partly because of the varying glazes. The fourth one has no glaze at all on the face, and the bare clay turns black when fired.
Here are two masks that are full sized replications of traditional Noh mask characters, the Maiden and the Fox God. The Maiden’s chin broke during the bisque firing, so I painted her with acrylics.
The Fox is glazed and details were added after firing, like the gold leaf around the eyes using a Krylon pen.
In addition to faces, I also got to try my hand at throwing on the wheel, and managed to create several cups, a teapot, three lidded vessels and two small vases. I had a great time in my ceramics class and look forward to taking ceramics2 next semester!!
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.
Judith 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
Click 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…
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.
I’ve had a great time at college this semester. My favorite class has been Adobe Illustrator 1 , and I’m looking forward to taking level 2 this fall. Adobe Photoshop has long been a favorite tool and plaything both, but although I had an ancient version of Illustrator, I didnt use it. I’d poked around with it a few times, but it’s not intuitively easy to pick up just by poking the buttons, and the Pen tool is downright scary without a little guidance. But Oh—–!!!! Once you get a bit of familiarity, this program is the Magic Coloring Book that I dreamed about when I was little…the kind that can be any picture you can imagine and drawn much more smoothly than I could manage by hand. The kind you could color in and then change all the colors to different one just by picking them!! “Darker green there…no, blue.” And the 3D modeling makes this program extra sweet. I’m not so great with perspective and mathematical formulae, but the computer is, and it makes creating images a LOT of fun. Of course, there’s so many choices its also difficult, but thats the way it is with any art, and its all part of the fun.
Here are two images I created using Adobe Illustrator. The assignment was to make two calendar pages. You can see the other one over at Aunt Acid’s blog.
Aunty is a wonderfully patient model. She’s shown in these two images in homage to the art nouveau stylings of Alphonse Mucha. I’m looking forward to spending months learning more about this program, now that its not quite so intimidating.
eggladies1, originally uploaded by sarajane helm.
These ladies are made from blown eggs that have been painted with three layers of Liquid Polymer Clay and baked in between each application.
Each one was then given a hand-drawn face using a Micron Pen (this brand is compatable with the clay). Acrylic paints supply facial coloring, and the hair is more liquid polymer clay–it comes in gold, silver, black, and other colors.
The eggs are incredibly light weight, and can still be crushed if not packaged carefully but they are much stronger than untreated eggs.
Its fun to further decorate them with Easter Bonnets or Christmas Finery and use them to decorate a tree or hang from a branch!
Here are some more pages from the PolyClay Gallery about decorating eggs with polymer clay!
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.
Do you remember being a kid (or a college student) and learning in school about how January is named after the two-faced god Janus who looks forward and backward in time? It seems very fitting to me that while working towards the future, I’m also having a wonderful wintertime reunion right now with my own past. (I think Einstein was right, about time!)
With the use of a new scanner that is equipped to convert film negatives and slides, I am going through boxes and boxes of prints and slides and getting reacquainted both with my own childhood and my early work. Seen here is a polymer clay mask representing “Winter”. I’ve got a new web page up on how to make snowflakes, click the link to visit and see more! This mask and the snowflakes shown below by Dawn Naylor were both first seen in the book “Celebrations With Polymer Clay”.
My husband and collaborator Bryan has been doing the same review and reformat thing in an auditory way with his pod-cast series “My Life In Sound” which archives the first quarter century of his musical output. He’s been playing guitar, keyboards, drums and synthesizers in musical loops all the while that I’ve been working on polymer clay projects. And we all use the computer in turns, including the children that we somehow managed to beget and raise at the same time everything else was getting done. They are creative too…just imagine!
I’m finishing up or reformatting projects that were started a long time ago too, working in the warmest room of the house and having fun. I’ve gotten family slide shows put together, and added some new pages to the Polyclay Gallery website. I’m also updating existing pages there at the site and getting ready to start school at my local community college to learn more about the programs and tools that will important in web page design and all my upcoming publishing and Internet projects.
Snowflakes by Dawn Naylor
Like polymer clay, using my other PC requires me to pay attention to what’s been done in the past as well as keep a close eye on the new. New clay formulations, new ways of manipulating the clay, new software and hardware, and ways to improve on using it all are the challenges for the upcoming year. Along with survival and all that too!
Snow Mask digitally altered
And along the way, I’m enjoying the ways I can use one with the other, polymer clay and personal computer, old work and new work. Sometimes I just let myself play with them, rather than having a fixed idea that I try to achieve.
Here’s an image of the same polymer clay mask, when I play a bit with the file in Adobe Photoshop. Using the filters and experimenting gives me a little experience with what the tools can do. I’m looking forward to my classes in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator because being self-taught means that there are many areas of the programs I haven’t had anything to do with…yet. Stay tuned to see what sort of effect it all has when I learn more! Learning is always important–no matter where you are on the time line, no matter what the season.
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.