Thursday, May 29, 2014

Painting with Powders

I almost called this post "A Monet Moment," and perhaps the photo to the left gives you a hint why. The results of this very simple process remind me of works by the Impressionists.  Of course, the design you choose for the base has a lot of influence on the over-all result.

I'm sure other polymerists have used powders in the same way. This was just a new twist for me.  First, I needed to find texture sheets that had appropriate overall designs.  I also wanted them to be thin and flexible, so I could impress the design by passing the clay and texture sheet through the pasta machine together. This is, for me, the best way to get a deep impression while avoiding any unwanted movement that often comes when pressing textures freehand. Then I "painted" the sheet.  I used Pearl Ex powders and small pointed paint brushes to dab and paint on the various colors.  I did find I needed to go back over the piece a second time to intensify the colors and blends.

Here are two sets using the same texture sheet with different colors for the flowers.  As you can see, I really like this pattern.

To the left is a different design and color-way.  This design really lent itself to painting "between the lines."

The blue set below is a bit more abstract, almost "deco,"  in design.  I think I like the floral patterns better for this technique.

One last comment.  The powders set during the baking process, but even after baking, a little color could still come off on my hands.  I solved this by sealing each piece with Preserve Your Memories II.  I used a light coating so as not to change the sparkle of the powders.  The end result is a pretty, smear-proof finish that has preserved the original look.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Extruded Mokume Gane ~ Plus!

Back in April, Cynthia Tinapple posted the winners of the Spring Push extrusion contest on Polymer Clay Daily.  The entry by Karen Brueggemann, who won first place, really captured my interest.  I decided to experiment and see what I could come up with.  I had a lot of fun playing around.
 In the process, I discovered, as so often seems the case with mokume gane, that the pieces I was shaving off were as interesting - or more so - than the base I was creating.  Of course, this meant I had to use everything.  The two pendants to the left show both processes.  The left-most pendant is the resultant base after the top layer has been shaved off.  On the right is a piece made from some of  the shavings.  Very different effects, even though the colors are the same.
I thought I'd share the process and some of the end products here in case you'd like to give it a try, too.

The first step is to make a stack of circles of conditioned clay and extrude them into a long, round snake.  I tried using 2 different sizes of circles in the extruder, and preferred the smaller snake.  I really think this aspect is just personal preference.  Then take the snake and, using a hard, flat tile or similar surface, bend, cut, twirl and twist the snake around to make an interesting design.
Make sure there are no gaps in your design. I occasionally used cut pieces of the snake and stood them on end.  These created dots when shaved.  Above right is an example of a snake design.  
The sample below shows the shaved snake design made from the same colors as the example to the right.  When the tops are shaved off, all the various colors from the extrusion process come to light.
The next two sheets - one with yellow background and one with green - show random placement of the shavings from the snake design.  I love how changing the background changes the whole tone.

Here are samples of 2 pendants made from the green and yellow sheets of shavings.  Great effects.

Finally, below are a couple more photos showing shavings on a purple background, the snake design sheet from which the shavings came, and a piece cut from a snake design using a wider circle hole in the extruder.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spring Blooms & Lacey Wave Edging

Spring has seemed to take a long time coming to Connecticut this year. Now that it's finally here, I find myself drawn to the new blooms, and, naturally, just had to make some floral pieces. I really enjoy the delicacy of the flowers and leaves on this small scale.  The first photos show some roses as well as my new morning glories - love the way the morning glories ruffle and curve!  I think the Ikat cane makes a nice background.

When the first pendants came out of the oven, I wondered what they would look like with some sort of background, perhaps a ruffle or lace, framing the pieces.  Some experimenting with folding and bending Skinner blends led to the lacey waves evident in the last three photos.