Sunday, December 21, 2008

Artistic Collaboration

Many years ago I made a pendant that I liked a lot and strung it into a necklace I wasn't really happy with. Fancy bead stringing isn't my strength! That necklace was for sale at a Christmas sale at my fellow polymer clay artist's home. She bought the necklace for herself and restrung it. She has always been very good at stringing! That was my first collaboration.
I always liked the idea of collaborative art. Until recently this necklace was the only one. Not long ago a jewelry artist (Beadazzled of Oregon), who does really nice assymetrical beaded necklaces, bought a few of my pins to incorporate into her jewelry. She just emailed me photos of the finished necklace. See more of her work for sale at:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bead Style Magazine's e-newsletter featured one of my necklaces.

Bead Style Magazine's November 2008 e-newsletter featured one of my necklaces. That was a very pleasant surprise for me. Check it out using the link listed here.
Here is a photo of that part of the newsletter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Other Artists' Influence on My Work

As mentioned in a previous post, work I have seen in books/magazines influences work I do years later. That is why I love looking at as many jewelry pieces as possible. Those images hide in the nooks and crannies of my brain and pop out years later. Here are some examples of my work and a little about where I saw the artist's work.
Convertible pendant/brooch (left) and Chinese coin pendant (right), were created 11/2008. Definitely influenced by Donna Kato. Her latest book, The Art of Polymer Clay Creative Surface Techniques, is full of examples of her simple and elegant asian designs. I love her sense of design.
I remember seeing photos of brooches by Kaz Yamashita in Nan Roche's book The New Clay and absolutely loving them. They were collages made of sheets of unbaked clay forming beautiful, slightly 3-D, abstract wearable works of art. Until today when I looked at the book again to write my review of it, I didn't realize how much of an influence those pieces of jewelry were. Here are two of my pieces made of unbaked scraps of clay. The necklace at left was made in October 2008. The brooch on the right was made in 2006 or 2007. Yamashita used a lot of foiled clay sheets. I haven't used foil on clay for a long time. I think I need to work with that again.

My Favorite Polymer Clay Books

I have listed the polymer clay books I own in previous posts. Now it is time to talk a little bit about some of my favorites. The New Clay by Nan Roche 1991. If you are new to polymer clay start with this book. As far as I know, it was the first book ever published on polymer clay. Us early clay people called it "The Bible". It really helped me. A friend and I tried reproducing african trade beads (glass venitian millefiori beads) about a year before the book came out - with limited success. This book really helped us improve our techniques. It does spend most of its time on millefiori cane techniques. It also covers surface techniques and mokume gane. It has a lot of examples by Victoria (Tory) Hughes, an early clay pioneer and one of my favorite clay artists. Looking at it again, after a very long time, I am amused to see how much many of the examples influenced my work. Polymer the Chameleon Clay by Victoria Hughes 2002 Tory is one of my favorite polymer clay artists. I first came across her work in The New Clay and also in articles in Ornament magazine for creating jade and amber. This book covers techniques for creating faux jade, amber, turquoise, ivory, lapis lazuli, coral, agate, faience, and silver. It has very nice example of work by lots of polymer clay artists. The Art of Polymer Clay by Donna Kato 1997 Donna Kato is my other favorite polymer clay artist. This book covers a lot of interesting techniques. One that I liked a lot was her way of making kaleidoscope canes. Caution: If you try this technique and follow the number of steps in her photo of the steps, your cane won't be as intricate as her examples. Repeat the steps one more time to get a more detailed pattern. This was the first example I ever saw of incorporating translucent clay into a millefiori cane. It really expanded my repetoire. Another one of the techniques I came to love is her Balinese Filigree - using tiny clay snakes to create an all over pattern. She has nice techniques for imitation natural materials including the use of inclusions in the clay. I have made great use of other techniques in the book including her Nonpareil Marbled Paper( what I called feathering of the clay sheet) and manipulating cured clay. She also covers making vessels and sculptures. It is just a great book full of lots of techniques and elegant examples. The Art of Polymer Clay, Creative Surface Effects by Donna Kato 2007 This is Donna Kato's second book. It is a great book with lots of techniques and gorgeous examples by her and lots of clay artists. It is a good companion to her other book. Techniques covered are mica shift, image transfers, creating texture, paints/inks/powders, special effects with liquid polymer clay and some 3-D effects (armatures, molds, bas-relief, making stencils) 400 Polymer Clay Designs - A Collection of Dynamic and Colorful Contemporary Work - Lark Books 2004 (intro by Irene Semanchuk Dean) This is the book I look at most often. In fact the pages are now falling out. Once you learn techniques for working with the clay this is a great book for inspiration.

Additions to my polymer clay book library

Since posting a list of my polymer clay book library, I have added a few more. Polymer Clay Beads by Grant Diffendaffer (2007) In addition to covering some comon techniques (mica shift, mokume gane, bead shapes) he does some very interesting techniques for bead shapes and texturing that I haven't found elsewhere. Polymer Clay Creative Techniques by Judy Belcher (2006) I like this book for its good clear explanations of a lot of techniques. It also has a lot of nice examples in its gallery sections. Some of the techniques covered are skinner blend, tesselation, encased beads, mokume gane, enameling, Ikat, dye resist, mica shift effects, simulating wood and raku). OOPS! Turns out that I already owned this book. I am going to put it up for sale at Polymer Pizzazz, 27 Great Polymer Clay Jewelry Projects, Kalmbach Books. These book is a compilation of polymer clay articles that appeared in Bead and Button magzine over the years. If you haven't had a subscription for many years this a a good compilation. That magazine doesn't have many polymer clay articles anymore. I bought the book even though I have them all in the magazine just to get them all in one, easy to find, place. Some good techniques are covered - marbeling with liquid clay, surface painting, filigree beads, mica shift using texture sheets, Sarah Shriver's complex asymmetrical canes, Patricia Kimle's leaf impressions, image transfer with Lazertran Silk. lockets and inro boxes, and faux techniques (cinnabar, enamel, stone).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In the Beginning......

I starting my artistic life with a BA in Art decades ago. Originally I was a photographer and printmaker. I started working with polymer clay in 1990. I don't remember how I found out about the clay. I do remember that the first clay I found was Cernit. A friend and I tried to recreate the African millefiori trade beads that we both collected. The beads were a good imitation, until they were baked. They didn't stay hard edged. The contours were soft and the appearance translucent. Eventually I discovered Fimo and got the nice hard edgez, and opaque colors, I was looking for.
I have purchased A LOT of books, videos and magazines to learn how to work with the clay. I will post lists of the books, and videos, in future blogs and I will talk about some of them in the future.
My first book purchase was The New Clay by Nan Roche, 1991. This was the "Bible" for us early polymer clay people. I think it was the first book devoted to working with the clay. My skills really improved once I had this book. Even though I find a lot of the examples simplistic now, it is still a very valuable book. It covers a lot of techniques with easy to follow instructions.
When learning to work with polymer clay, it really helped me to learn with someone else. It also didn't hurt that my fimo buddy has a PHD in astro physics. Two brains are better than one. My brain leans right and Mary's brain leans left. So between the two of us we have a nice big balanced brain. Unfortunately she lives in another state. But we do get together every year for our annual Arts and Crafts week. It is total clay immersion for 10 days. We seem to be in sync each year about the polymer clay, and precious metal clay, techniques we want to work on. There just might be something to that astrology sign thing. We have the same birthday, though different birth years.
I discovered while making my very first millefiori cane that I would rather play with the scraps. As Mary was busy making new canes, I was busy playing with the scraps from my one and only cane. Here is what I made with the slices from that very first cane. I have to laugh every time I look at it. I've come a long way since then! However, one thing that hasn't changed is that I still love asymmetrical abstract composition.

My Library of Polymer Clay Books

In the 18 years that I have been working with polymer clay I have accumulated a lot of books. In future postings I will give you my thoughts on them. In my first posting I talked about my very first book, my polymer clay bible - The New Clay by Nan Roche. Here is the complete list of the books I own, in alphabetical order by author: - The Art of Jewelry - Polymer Clay by Duncan Aimone, Katherine 2006 - Creative Techniques for Polymer Clay Jewelry, 40 Projects by Bananto, Nanetta 2005 - Polymer Clay Creative Traditions by Belcher, Judy 2006 - Making Polymer Clay Beads by Blackburn, Carol 2007 - Creative Clay Jewelry by Dierks, Leslie 1994 - Creating Your Own Antique Jewelry by Dupou, Chris 2000 - Polymer Clay, Exploring New Techniques and Materials by Fago, Celie and Sargeant, Georgia 2002 - Creating with Polymer Clay - Designs, Techniques & Projects by Ford, Steven & Dierks, Leslie 1996 - Polymer Clay, Creating Functional and Decorative Objects by Gikow, Jaqueline 2001 - Fast Polymer Clay by Heaser, Sue 2003 - Polymer Clay Techniques Book by Heaser, Sue 1999 - Celebrations with Polymer Clay - 25 Seasonal Projects by Helm, Sarajan 2003 - Polymer the Chameleon Clay by Hughes, Victoria 2002 - The Art of Polymer Clay, Creative Surface Effects by Kato, Donna 2007 - The Art of Polymer Clay by Kato, Donna 1997 - Polymer Clay Inspirations by Kimle, Patricia 2005 - Polymer Clay, The Art of Clay Modeling by Maguire, Mary 1996, 2003 - Polymer Clay Surface Design Recipes by Marshall, Ellen 2005 - Stamping Effects in Polymer Clay by McCall, Sandra 2006 - Foundations in Polymer Clay by McGuire, Barbara 1999 - Creative Stamping in Polymer Clay by McGuire, Barbara 2002 - Creative Ways with Polymer Clay by McMillan, Dotty 2002 - Images on Clay by McNeill, Suzanne 2000 (Can Do Craft Series Booklet featuring Nan Roche and Barbara McGuire) - Images on Clay II by McNeill, Suzanne 2002 (Can Do Craft Series Booklet featuring Barbara McGuire - Stamping Polymer Clay and Wire by McNeill, Suzanne 2002 - Expressions in Clay by McNeill, Suzanne 2003 (Can Do Craft Series Booklet featuring Barbara McGuire - Romantic Brooches Made of Fimo by Meyer, Marlis (Booklet put out by Fimo's German Manufacturer) No Date - The New Clay by Roche, Nan 1991 - Faux Surfaces in Polymer Clay by Semanchuk Dean, Irene 2003 - The Weekend Crafter, Polymer Clay by Semanchuk Dean, Irene 2000 - 400 Polymer Clay Designs 2004