Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Wind Whisperer

The Wind Whisperer

No more Mr. Nice Guy, or should I say, no more "pretty" stuff. I'm caught up in imagery and story-telling and that's going to be the focus for the foreseeable future. It's like with my paintings - I'm drawn to old (no, not I AM old, I'm DRAWN to old!!!), slightly grungy, stuff with history or herstory or, at the least, a story. The more illusory, the better - more like sagas and runes and eddas - stories with lots of word-of-mouth distortions that may or may not be true, yet spin emotional realities in the unfolding. "Unfolding", "enfolding"... yummy words that keep me awake at night spinning verbal visuals that I find enthralling. So... jumping in with both feet, hairy and grungy, but excited to take the next steps.

The first birth: The Wind Whisperer. She sits quietly on the rocky outcrop, gazing raptly through the fir boughs for glimpses of star-strewn sky, the black velvet of night like a warm caress. Can't let the moment enfold her - there are stirrings by the bridge! The wind teases wisps of hair across her forehead. "I hear her", she whispers, "She's awake!" The soughing rises and branches punctuate the symphony with their brittle talk.
"Hush," the Wind Whisperer cautions, "The time is not right, not yet!"

This piece will walk with you through the moss-coated trees and maybe, just maybe, you'll hear the breath of a soft whisper.

The important thing for me in these pieces is that most of it be of my imagination. Except for the odd glass or stone bead, when that bright bit of glimmer becomes essential, the remaining oddments and fragments and antiquities and relics are made by me from polymer clay, metal, and an assortment of mixed media. The shapes are important, as is their arrangement. I'm still figuring out what's gestating here. I'll say more when more unfolds.

A few close-ups:


Saturday, December 8, 2012


Kuvianartok Nanuk
Meet Kuvianartok, the polar bear. His appearance made a lovely lady happy yesterday and he agreed to go home with her to meet her daughter. He's one of the steampunk elements that I enjoy so much developing. Steampunk evokes a wonderful nostalgia, a hankering back to a time when technology was understandable (one gear causes another gear to turn, like clockwork, right?) and the era romantic. Think Jules Verne's the Nautilus and the time it was set in with elegant, flowing costumes and beautiful art nouveau/art deco architecrture and accoutrements, a far cry from nanobots and microchips and writing computer code on the surface of molecules. I love the contrast between the smooth, flowing lines that you want to stroke and the spikey metal gears and cogs that say, "Ouch!" It was a time of lace and leather, metal and grime, glass and velvet. What an evocative era.
He says he feels like he's flying!

One of the things I love about polymer clay is its ability to mimic virtually anything found in nature. Let's talk a bit about leather. I have had many comments on my simulated leather. Some clay artists will use real leather as a texture tool to imprint the clay surface. For me, what "suggests" leather is wear-and-tear and stitching. So, using just the needle tool, I make the stitch holes, depress a line between the holes to emulate stitches, then use the tip of the needle tool to push and nudge the edges of the leather to simulate dings and wear, and scratch gently and quickly across the surface to emulate creased, crinkled, worn leather. When you then antique with oil paint, all these little edge and surface imperfections add to the impression of aged leather.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Planning Ahead

When designing a specific piece, such as the commissioned necklace for a wedding last summer, consider making more beads than you need. That way, if a couple don't look that great, you can choose the best ones, or you have left-over beads for making matching earrings, or, for designing a totally different piece, as you see here. The two side beads were left over from the original necklace, and the focal spiral lentil bead was made from the left-over scrap.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Studio Tip #4 - Working With Resin

The Sludge Jar
(click on images for larger photos)

No, I have not branched out into alchemy, although I do find some of the ancient premises fascinating. The creative scientist in me is always driven to defy accepted limitations. This, my friends, is my "Indiana Jones" moment, my crystal skull, if you will. Working with mixed media, resin is a regular tool. One problem with resin is that it sticks - sometimes where you don't want it to. We know it does not stick to polyethylene (white kitchen garbage bags) which is why my studio worktable is covered with garbage bags. You can drop left-over resin onto the plastic and, two days later, peel them right off to use elsewhere. But I digress.

When a resinned surface needs to be sanded down to remove bubbles or schmutz, it's almost impossible to sand and buff the surface to achieve that initial, brilliant shine. It's much easier to brush on a new coat of resin which seals all the scratches and marks and gives a brilliant shine again. That's what I had to do with the pendant below, and you can see it looks like new.
In order to brush on the liquid resin, you need to use a brush, and every professional I've spoken to says the brush is toast afterwards - toss it in the garbage. I love to brush resin onto stamped tissue paper, but the idea of using a sponge (soaks up a ton of resin and has to be thrown out afterwards) or a brush that would have to be sacrificed is not acceptable. (I'll talk about the pros of using resin to coat tissue paper over using liquid clay another time). So, time to experiment. I've used several products in my art-life that I have talked about in my workshops, getting a kiss on the cheek from one student's husband because he had been able to recondition all his old acrylic paint-encrusted brushes to supple new softness - but I digress again. I hauled out "The Sludge Jar", the jar I use to clean my paint brushes after antiquing clay with oil paint. It contains:

I dipped the still wet resin-coated paint brush into the sludge jar, schlumped it around a couple of seconds, wiped it off on a paper towel, rubbing gently in between bristles, and voila!


Some pics of resin work in progress for the weekend show.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Mocking Bird or Unintended Consequences

The Mocking Bird or Unintended Consequences

Whooping Cough! It didn't creep up on me - dazed I looked around for a license plate, thinking the driver of the tractor trailor that slammed me into the asphalt should at least be made to pay! Then I looked on the bright side: I'm sick, I can't be expected to do any mundane things, so I can guiltlessly devote myself to the studio and my right brain - in other words, it's sort of a vacation!!! 6 weeks of quarantine later, after repeatedly trying my best to cough up a lung (or maybe at least a bronchiole) I'm faced with the realization that there is no working, nor devising, nor talking, in Whooping Cough.

I'm back, well, at least, my intentions are back. I'm hoping the rest will follow. 

On the bright side, the Village Queen sold virtually immediately, along with a faux jade bracelet, so the boutique wants more of me. That having been said, I was sort of, kind of hoping that the Village Queen wouldn't sell. I really wanted to wear her. Ah well, such is our dilemma. When we make something we're really proud of, we then have to face the prospect of taking a paltry two hundred to part with it (happy face!!!)

Friday is the start of a two-day show (and sale) so virtually all I have been able to accomplish is to finish off the myriad of things I have been experimenting with over the past  year. The Mocking Bird, pictured above, was supposed to be a spinner ring, with Saturn prominently displayed in the middle and it's rings and satellites spinning in orbit. Somehow it ended up as above, a metaphor for great big ideas that I had, turning out to be mocking bird eggs, deposited in my fertile nested brain, nurtured by my innocent musings, only to hatch into an unintended consequence that ate up all of my initial intentions. Life's like that.