Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A New Project- As Yet Untitled

The dust has settled after a day of studio cleaning and now I'm starting this new project in earnest- the starting sheet is on the worktable. It's going to combine the new framed composition concept with a Muse. I plan to place one of these rather mysterious characters into an environment to give a narrative and context. I'm inspired by medieval illustrations where internal and external architecture and the natural world occur in and out of synch. In the spirit the medieval inspiration I'll use some of the images I saw during my summer trip to England- primarily a black and white checkerboard and golden stars on a blue background which often adorned vaulted ceilings.

Here's the sketch- there are more details "in my head". Regular visitors to this blog will know that my first sketches are very rough but I manage to make sense of it all once I get up to my elbows in polymer clay....

Monday, January 28, 2008

It Doesn't Get Any Worse Than This- In The Middle of A Polymer Clay Artists' Studio Overhaul

I confess- I'm challenged when it comes to maintaining an organised space. I do have a lady who is a professional organiser who comes in periodically to put me back on the right track but every now and then I do have to take matters into my own hands. I wasn't planning on it this week- I actually have a big polymer clay project in my sketchbook and the first stage of the project is actually on my worktable but yesterday I was going through some cupboards full of materials that had absolutely nothing to do with polymer clay and one thing led to another... I'm being brave to post these pictures of the studio at the mid-point of a cleanup. It sort of looks as if "The Big One" (the long overdue west coast earthquake) has struck.

My studio is in the basement of a 1911 house. There's a 6' ceiling and I have to duck occasionally to avoid overhead pipes. I do have a resident ghost who likes to make thumping sounds every now and then. I had the studio wired but snce the job was done I knocked out a wall and added a room so now I need new outlets. My furniture in here is an ecclectic mix of IKEA cabinetry that is on the verge of collapse and odds and ends from other parts of the house. I always wanted a black and white checkerboard floor but the love affair is over as the vinyl tiles are covered with polymer clay and other unidentified substances... I occasionally scrape the floor clean with a garden hoe. I'd like my studio to reflect the funkiness of the house but to be pleasantly efficient. If I wasn't working towards a wholesale show I'd remove every last item in here, paint the walls, redo the floors and reinvent the entire space. For now I'm banishing EVERYTHING that isn't directly related to polymer clay. It brings up a question... What do you do with old polymer clay artwork that you can't save, sell or recycle?

The most organised space in the studio is my computer desk which has actually improved lately as I connected my laptop to my cable so the computer multitasks as a TV so I have more workspace. This newsjunkie can work and watch CNN at the same time! I also found a rotating oraniser at Staples that holds discs, paper, pens and just about anything that used to be scattered around.
I have some tidying to do today and hopefully the space will evolve as time allows. Over the next while I'll occasionally blog in some of the improvements I come up with. wish me luck!
Tomorrow I'll share my upcoming clay project... there'll be less dust and a lot more fun!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Helianthus & the Island Artisans Association Photoshoot

This morning I went to the Island Artisans Association Annual Photoshoot. It was great to catch up with friends from The Gifts For Myself and Others Show and to see some of the exciting new concepts people have been working on!

I had some of my recent polymer clay pieces photographed by Bob Matheson who was helpful and very pleasant to work with. I am delighted to have a really good shot of Helianthus to share here!

Here are the professional quality shots of the pieces I had done. My plan is to enlarge them to 18x24 for display at the wholesesale show coming up in March .

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In Remembrance of a Ladybug

Yesterday I had a sad start to the day- I accidentally squashed a ladybug. I felt terrible and decided to pay a tribute to the poor bug's life by making a Ladybug vase. This is the first vase with the 3D effect and altho you can't see them too clearly, the ladybugs have wiggly wire antennae.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Island Artisan Association & Some New Pieces

I belong to The Island Artisan Association. http://www.islandartisans.ca/ It's a group of Vancouver Island and Gulf Island Artisans. The Association has a helpful website, monthly meetings, hosts the marvellous Gifts for Myself and Others Christmas Craft show as well as other events. This year I've signed up for the annual Photo Shoot. For $2o I'll have 5 photos taken by Bob Matheson, the photographer who photographed and digitally catalogued the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria! (I'll post more pictures of Helianthus after the shoot)

I've also booked into the Upcoming Island wholesale Craft show. Hoping to meet some new gallery and shop owners as well as fellow Island Artisans.
The combination of the upcoming Sojourn Retreat and the Wholesale Show certainly have me on my toes these days! While Helianthus was in the oven or cooling down I was able to complete these two Wallpieces. Fish #2 is 7x8" and Flowers in A Vase is 8x12".

Saturday, January 19, 2008


She's finished! Here's the first photo- I'll post more tomorrow. She's approximately 27" tall. a wall mount muse. Made with polymer clay, wire, faceted glass beads and sunflower seeds!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Table? Back to the drawing board....and what can be found on the sidewalks of Vancouver...

Well, the table that I liked is wonderful - all sorts of wonderful little storage spots and stuff but the price is over the top- $1200! I think I can find something just as good and have cash left over to buy clay. I plan to look at a few office supply stores and if that doesn't work I'll be going over to Vancouver in February and I'll meander through IKEA for something.

On a happier note-I received a package from my nephew in Vancouver. He is an amazing guy with a passion for art. I love his way of viewing the world- he is incredibly tuned into details. He mailed me this collection of "umbrella bits" ( round pieces of pleated umbrella fabric that I assume fall out of the umbrellas when they are opened for the first time) He says he finds them on the sidewalks in Vancouver. He picks them up washes them and amassed this collection. he has challenged me to use them in a mixed media project!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Beginning the Search for A New Table

Tooday I made good progress on Helianthus. Her body is finished and ready for firing. I've filed my nails all the way down to begin sculpting her head. I think she'll be finished by Friday.
While conditioning reams of clay I had plenty of time to do my "multi-tasker-tabletop-tidy-up". As my sheets of clay are often over 30cm/a foot long they take around 10 seconds to pass through the machine so I hold the clay with one hand and put things away (or in the trash) with the other. The problem is that there isn't anywhere to PUT things that need to be "at hand". I've been putting it off for 2 years but it's time to search for a new worktable!

I've looked around several local stores at drafting tables and office desks but the ones that really caught my eye for flexibility and LOTS of storage options are sewing tables. Here is one I like a lot- I really like the shelves that look perfect for holding bottles. The hole for the machine is "filled in" by a swinging door. I think I'd have glass cut to protect the table top. I think I'll visit the store tomorrow after getting some special beads for Helianthus- wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The First Two Days of the Helianthus Project

I started work on the new Muse yesterday by measuring the inside of my oven to make sure she'll fit! Her body will be 24" long and I'll add her head afterwards. I tried a new technique (for me) on the body by covering the clay with gold foil and spreading blue tones of pinata ink all over it. Then I added texture with some tuille. I test fired the foil with and without a translucent layer because I was concerned that the foil might come off without protection. After firing the translucent-free sample was fine- no shedding and a vivid colour effect. Today the body was fired and now I'm doing the first layer of sunflowers. Here's a detail.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A New Muse- Helianthus

Last week was time very well spent- worked on new themes and figured out ways to incorporate a built-in frame with a composition.

This coming week I'll focus on a large wall-hanging Muse. Her name is Helianthus. Here's the preliminary sketch and the photo that will inspire me colour-wise through the process....there'll be a lot of foil in this one- I want her to generate sunshine!

*this poster is available from www.art.com

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Polymer Clay Artists on the West Coast of Canada

There's something about combining polymer clay with organic materials that really speaks to me. These two British Columbian artists are both featured on their respective guild pages in Yahoo Groups. Both pieces capture a sense of the west coast environment!

Deb Groom is a member of Vancouver Polymer Clay Guild. She has used colour and form beautifully with this pine needle and polymer clay basket.

Lynn is a new member of the Vancouver Island Polymer Clay Artists Guild. She connects her wonderful sculptures with driftwood . This craggy fellow is "Noah" and the rough driftwood compliments his persona- no smooth edges here!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Little Boxes On The Hillside....

This is really too much fun! I finished this lidded vessel with the Village Theme today. It's been a really productive week... without making any "production" pieces!
While making the little houses and placing them on the hillside I could not get Pete Seeger's version of Little Boxes" out of my head! A good tune to maintain my OOAK focus ... Polymer clay- "ticky tacky"? (sometimes sticky and tacky) "They all look just the same?"- OOAK all the way!...I do like the martini line tho!
Little Boxes
Words and music by Malvina Reynolds.
Sung by Pete Seeger

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tackyLittle boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And there's doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.
And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tackyAnd they all look just the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

I'm so glad you and I travel to the beat of a different drum!

TGIF- Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Polymer Clay Houses

Here's the first version of my "Houses" explorations. I am really excited with this!! I live in a neighbourhood with wonderful architecture... Victorian, Arts and Crafts, 20s bungalows and art deco abound! I'll be taking my camera on walks to capture ideas.

Today I'm going to translate the idea into a box.

Other Things Not Involving Clay.

*I discovered that spammers can write comments linking to stupid ads so I'm having to moderate comments- it's sad that one twit can spoil the fun.

*This news junkie is LOVING the goings on with the primaries in the US- great to see such turnouts and enthusiasm and seeing candidates that actually inspire a sense of confidence that there's a brain between their ears... and an election that baffles the pollsters so the reslts aren't announced 10 minutes after the polls close - now THAT'S exciting!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Connecting Clues Through The Creative Process

I have had an idea rattling around in my head ever since I had a certain grid like effect with tree like blobs effect in an abstract pattern I came up with on a polymer clay covered vase I did last month. The concept was reinforced when I serendipitously stumbled upon the wonderful work of Friedensreich Hunderwasser http://www.grinch.ca/HTML/Hundertwasser/Hundertwasser.htm (how funny that the link there has the "grinch reference" after the post a few days ago- serendipity again)....and yesterday I found this wonderful drawing done a few years ago by my son Brendan. I loved it when he brought it home and now it's connecting with other things to give me this direction.
I think that if you look for them, you'll always find little "connecting markers" along the path that can lead to wonderful discoveries so I'm going to stick with this for a while.....I'm seeing a weird stylised map like landscape with little trees and houses- ...... perhaps inhabited with Moxies.....

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Encouragement & Framing Fish

Yesterday was really fun because Cynthia displayed the Poppies and Moxie vessel on Polymer Clay Daily. http://polymerclaydaily.com/ I've been on before but it's always a lovely surprise to click on and see yourself! An enormous compliment that gives encouragement. Thanks Cynthia!

I had incentive to burn as I spent the day working on the second framed piece- A School of Fish!

This one is 9x12". The Fish and Poppies have "frames" that are virtually identical to the background- the next piece will have a different palette... and perhaps even a secondary theme.....

Speaking of themes. I've been playing with my old favourites Moxies, Poppies and Fish but there's something new on the backburner... When I start over-using "........." it's time to get to the worktable.............................this is a mini one- 6"x5"x 1.5 deep."... instead of a frame, I placed flowers and leaves on the surrounding edge.......

Friday, January 4, 2008

A New Concept For me

Here's the new concept that had me so keen to get back to work- little "framed" compositions. This is the first one- it's a little one with a Poppy theme-6x8". I'm getting a 3D effect by having the flowers rise off the bottom layer at different levels. I have a sketch for one with moxies and of course I'll use the Fish theme too.... and how big can they be....? We'll see!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

something old + something old = something new!

Here's the first project of the new year! Iit took a bit longer than I thought because I was a bit rusty after a few weeks away from the worktable. It's a lidded vessel with a close little community of Moxies huddled all around the outside. I added little Moxie feet at the bottom. Including the wire on the lid, it stands 8 1/2" high and 4 inches wide. I have a lot of ideas revolving combining the Muses, Moxies and boxes.

...now to start something new!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Harbinger of Spring

We started the new year with a walk around Oak Bay. By the shore there was a howling gale and heavy surf pounding the breakwater. It was a perfect way to clear out all traces of sad and sorry old 2007.

Heading home I spotted this little huddle of snowdrops. Spring can't be too far off!

Tomorrow is "back to work day"! I am craving normalcy- just knowing which day of the week it is sounds wonderful- I'm happily winding down the holiday spin and packing it back up in boxes before it explodes on the scene once again 10 or so months from now.

Back to polymer clay! I have a shelf groaning with many pounds of fresh polymer clay and I have an idea in my head that combines two old favourites into something new. I hope to have a picture posted tomorrow.

Happy 2008 to ALL!