Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Haunani Gane

Lindly Haunani is the queen of the rainbow.  Co-author of the marvelous Polymer Clay Color Inspirations book, she truly understands color and its impact on what we see and make.  In addition, she has a wonderful way of getting her grasp of color across to her students.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every class I've taken with Lindly, and the class on her version of mokume gane at CFCF 2014 was no exception.  Once again, her use of color and the way in which she manipulates the clay created a special twist on a classic technique.   If you're not familiar with mokume gane, please google the words.  There is a wealth of information on the Internet about this topic.

Before sharing my results from Lindly's class, I have to back up and tell you about a workshop I gave on mokume gane a few weeks ago.  Participants were introduced to several different methods of mokume gane in polymer, one of which was the "hills and valleys" technique.  I told the students that this particular approach to mokume gane was famous as the one Lindly Haunani uses.  I was right - and wrong.  The basic concept I presented is indeed similar to Lindly's technique.  But she has taken it to a completely different level, as you will see in the samples.  The yellow pieces on the left were the result of the process as I taught it.

The lime and cherry pieces on the right were made using Lindly's approach.  I think there is a world of difference in the end result.

This last shape has not been given a protective coating yet, so it appears more matte than the other examples.  You can really see the hills and valleys in this piece.

Needless to say, I think her version of this technique is superior to any I have seen before.  If you ever get a chance to take this workshop with Lindly, I can't encourage you enough.  It is soooo worthwhile to get these effects!

Monday, February 24, 2014

From Fancy to Festive with Heather Campbell

This is the first year that polymer artist Heather Campbell was a presenter at CFCF, and I'm so glad they invited her.  Heather's techniques and projects pushed me in some new directions, both in terms of concepts and techniques.  Added to that the fact that she has a gentle and encouraging approach to teaching, my time with her was most enjoyable.  Her two workshops were very different in focus, and I'll share them both here.
The first workshop was a full-day affair in which she taught her "integrated transfer" technique.  Though I've done black and white image transfers before, and have my own approach, Heather had some tricks of her own which were good to learn.  For me, though, it was her integration of transfers with a variety of polymer shapes, decoration techniques and other embellishments that was a real eye opener.  I have always made the transfer the focus of a piece, and kept it clean and clear.  Heather integrates the transfer as just one of many elements in her pieces, and the effect is quite unique.  Heather calls these pieces her "Bohemian Nouveau" and I think that is a perfect description.  The piece on the left was my first piece and was the project for the class.

There was just a little time left to try something totally on our own, so I gave this piece a shot.  Unfortunately, the thermometer in the oven fell over on it when it was placed in, so some of the components got smooshed.  Thought I'd share the design anyway.

Now, to the second workshop. A couple of days later, several of us gathered for Heather's "Fiesta Dangles" workshop.  Using simple canes and solid clay colors, we created colorful and festive earrings.    
The designs were clever combinations of various techniques.  Several people experimented with different colors or different design options.  The challenge for me was to think "big".  I've never worn - nor made - earrings this large.  Once again, a workshop pushed me in a new direction.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Coral Reefs with Jana Roberts Benzon

Jana Roberts Benzon is an amazing and creative polymer artist.  Her concepts, techniques, and ideas are always intriguing, and the projects we worked on at CFCF 2014 were no exception.  Much of what Jana does is organic, and always makes me wonder "how did she do that?"  She is a patient teacher, and makes everyone feel good about their efforts.

The all-day pre-conference workshop focused on a bracelet designed to look like a coral reef.  She taught us how to make a wide variety of sea shapes which we combined on a base.  Most participants used a bracelet cuff, though there were a few who used different base forms.  Each of the different sea shapes involved several steps, and we got to play with alcohol inks in a variety of applications.  It was great fun, and I really enjoyed seeing how the various shapes formed and evolved.
Included in this posting are shots of different sides of my bracelet cuff.  This should give you an idea of the variety of sea shapes we made.  My piece is rather jam-packed.  When I play with these shapes in the future, I'll probably make a pendant or pin of some sort, and spread things out a bit.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

CFCF 2014 Pre-Conference & Jeffrey Lloyd Dever

I'm back! Cabin Fever Clay Festival was, once again, a wonderful opportunity to experiment, explore and expand my creative polymer side. Over the course of 8 days, I participated in 11 different workshops.  I'll be sharing some of the techniques and projects we worked on here and, in the future, you will no doubt see some of my own pieces evidencing influence from the outstanding instructors.
Today, I thought I'd show you the pieces I worked on during the 2-day pre-pre-conference.  Jeffrey Lloyd Dever was the instructor. If you haven't seen his work, be sure to google his name and sift through the images.  Amazing.  In class, we focused on simple techniques such as using small forms, layering clay, and multiple-baking, to create botanical elements such as seeds and pods that were light and strong.
These are my first pieces.  They all used a form that was removed after the first baking.  The lily was made with one thick layer of clay.  The pods had multiple layers, added over multiple bakings.  This was the first time I've ever "drilled" into polymer to create holes as part of the design.  The green/yellow pod started with a layer of yellow and a second layer of purple.  Drilling opened the purple layer to view.  Had I made the purple layer thinner, I would have been able to drill through to the yellow so that it showed, too.  On the purple/blue pod, the inner layer was not much of a contrast, so I back-filled the drilled holes.

Then we went to work on closed pods.  This is a bit trickier since the form has to be cut out and the pod re-sealed.

The two flowers in the last photo are just me playing with clay.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Recently, I ran across Enlightened Polymer Clay, a book dealing with lots of "nature inspired" shapes.  There was one piece that had several folds in the clay, and it made me think of the time when bills and other "official" communication would be printed with the message: "Do not mutilate, fold or spindle." However, those may just be perfect things to try to do with polymer!  Needless to say, I had to give folding polymer a try.  This is my first attempt and I rather like the effect. The Ikat cane I used seemed particularly appropriate. I hope to get back to more experimentation soon.

You'll notice this is a very short post.  I'm heading off early Tuesday am for Laurel, MD and Cabin Fever Clay Festival 2014, and still have tons of prep work and packing to do.  As always, I'm looking forward to the experience.  It's such a great opportunity to learn, share, play with clay, and soak up ideas.  Obviously, the blog will be quiet for a while. I'll try to catch up some when I return.