Sunday, May 13, 2018

Making Fantasy Flowers with Carol Simmons

The colorful flowers on the left are a few of the posies I made at a recent 3-day workshop with Carol Simmons.  I have always wanted to take one of her classes, and I was delighted to find out that she was offering her Fantasy Flower class nearby in Massachusetts.  Carol has a wealth of ideas derived from many years of experience. We learned about her method for developing Skinner blends, and used those blends to create a wide variety of canes.  She demonstrated several ideas for types of cane designs, then we constructed our own.  In order to assemble the canes into flowers, we needed to cut uniform petals.  I don't know about you, but cutting thin, even slices is a challenge, and trying to get 5 or 6 exactly the same is almost impossible when cutting free-hand. Happily, Carol brought with her the cane slicer she designed, and we were able to cut our own petals.  The machine is amazing - multiple canes can be sliced at the same time, and the slices can be thick or incredibly thin, but always uniform.  We all went home with lots of slices from our canes.  Enclosed in plastic page protectors, the slices will keep shape and flexibility for quite a while.  So, as I fiddle and play with the cane slices, I will eventually have enough to make one of the Fantasy Flowers that Carol creates so beautifully.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Solid Bangles in Patchwork Design

Recently, I taught a workshop in which the participants learned to make bracelets without armatures. This requires a few layers of polymer and multiple bakings, but it also is a way to guarantee the resulting bracelet fits the wearer perfectly, and is not going to accidentally come off.  We used extruders to create the various designs on the bracelets.  The result is a sort of rustic and fun patchwork of shapes and designs.  On these two samples, I used a solid color to line the inside.  However, it would be possible to use any decorative sheet the artist desires, creating an internal "surprise".

Monday, April 9, 2018

Foldover Bead Necklace with Extrusions

Here is a fun little necklace I just finished.  The polymer beads are simple circles, with a design on one side, solid color on the other, then gently folded so they don't quite meet.  This allows the colors from both sides to show and keeps open a channel for beading wire.
One experiment I tried for the patterned side was to shave slices off an extruded tube, place the strips side-by-side on a backing sheet, and then compress them in the pasta machine.  I really liked the resulting inconsistent striped look.
 Here is a closeup of one bead.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Extruded "Rounds"

I love extrusions.  I think my favorite part is the fact that while the outside of the extrusion looks so plain as it leaves the extruder, the inside hides wonderful surprises.  I have recently been playing with some thin extruded snakes, using them to create some fun and colorful round beads.  Of course, I couldn't stop at one bead or one color-way, so here are photos of a couple of necklaces I made.  There is also a bracelet also out of extruded snakes, but with a bit more dimension. The orange and purple necklaces have been rolled by hand and smoothed. Separating the beads with spacer beads or pearls helps highlight the dot design.

Notice that the beads in the bracelet have not been smoothed.  Rather they are composed of individual sections of the extruded snake. This adds dimension and depth.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sutton Slice Necklace

Recently, I taught a lesson on the Sutton slice, a process that allows the polymer artist to create bas-relief images much like cameos and wedgewood. Of course, when I teach I usually make a sample as a demonstration so students get to see the steps and the finished product. This simple little black pendant with antique gold leaves is the piece I made.  I used a head pin with a ball end imbedded in the top to create the loop for the chain.  What I discovered after baking was that the ball end prevents the wire from coming out, but it allows the pendant to swivel on the ball.  This would allow me to put a design on each side and make the pendant reversible - even while being worn!  Fun idea.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Bit More Mokume Gane

I have a couple more pieces I made recently while on the mokume gane kick, and wanted to share them here.  This first set is made using a polymer clay stack of alternating colors, pressed with various objects, then sliced thin.  I really liked the sea blue-green color I custom-mixed and the way the design turned out.  I decided to leave the matte finish.  One of the polymer colors I used was the black glitter accents from Premo! and the sparkle and shine from that color contrasts really nicely with the matte of the blue-green and cream colors I mixed.

This second set was made a bit differently.  I rolled out the layers of clay so they were quite thin, then pressed a rubber stamp into the clay.  I only needed to shave off a thin layer of the clay to reveal the design from the stamp impression.  This method only produces one sheet of design, but it allows the user to make an impression that imitates the picture or design on a rubber stamp.  In this case, I wanted a high shine, so I covered the baked pieces with Magic Gloss for that extra depth and shine.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mokume Gane Demo

I really, really like the effects one can achieve with the mokume gane technique.  Actually, there have been several different iterations of mokume gane in polymer, so I should, perhaps, refer to it as the mokume gane "concept." Recently, the Westerly Artist's Gallery held a demonstration of various art techniques, and I demonstrated mokume gane in polymer.

The first photo, to the right, shows the polymer stack from which the sheet slices came, and a pendant and earrings made from those slices.

The three piece pendant on the left  was also created with sheets from this stack.  I really like this new shape form I found, and the tiered look is fun.  I covered these pieces with Magic Gloss which adds another level of depth to the design.

The last photo shows another pair of earrings, and a brass cuff bracelet. This is a very versatile technique, and would look great covering handles or other objects.