Monday, December 14, 2009

Magical Polymer Clay Books

Every once in a while a magical polymer clay book rolls off the presses. This year we've been very lucky. Two have been released that have opened up new creative channels for me .

Maggie Maggio and Lindley Haunani, after years of crossing the country teaching color theory, have published "Polymer Clay Color Inspirations: Techniques and Jewelry Projects for Creating Successful Palettes" . I've been fortunate to take a couple of classes with Lindley, one right after her book came out, and I found "Color Inspirations" is almost like having her in the room with you. Each chapter has a process discussion, a project to reinforce the process and a polymer clay artist profile. The chapters are clearly written and contain numerous examples to get you moving. Even someone as color challenged as I am (light greens and browns look the same to me) can take away a wealth of information. In the first class I took with likdley, I had one of those "light-bulb" moments when I intellectually "saw" the difference between light green and light brown, because I'd mixed both colors and could see the differences in them sitting side by side.

In early November, Cynthia Thornton brought out "Enchanted Adornments: Creating Mixed-Media Jewelry with Metal, Clay, Wire, Resin & More ". For those of you not familiar with her given name, Cynthia is the artistic force behind Green Girl Studios. This book is a two for one gift. First, Cynthia weaves a story about a magical trip that an artist takes to mystical , faraway places, designing one piece for an inhabitant of each place. The story is set up as an artist's journal with wonderful sketches. Then, after each chapter's story , there's a project related to the tale. They progress from very easy to challenging. This is a mixed media book, with metal, metal clay, polymer clay, resins, wire and more. There are charms, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, pendants and rings. Cynthia speaks of the importance of journaling when your creative juices are flowing, and gives helpful hints to get you started. The Gallery section here is truly inspiring. There's even a section on symbology.

The only problem with receiving both these books in the same month is one of time- where do I start first?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

observations on working with the new art clay copper clay

I spent yesterday up in Nashua with Carol Babineau playing with the new copper clay from Aida - Art Clay World.

We each started out with a 50 g package of the copper clay. I ended up with everything on the composite picture, plus 2 more lentil halves. The clay itself seemed to hold its mosture content well and has a nice feel.

We fired for about a half hour at just about 1730F, which was as high as Carol's kiln would go, and then after a quick cold water bath out of the kiln, pickled briefly in Sparex. For pieces with heavy firescale that didn't come off with pickling, we used a dremel with the reddish-brown 3m radial bristle disks.

most came out of the kiln with fairly heavy firescale (see the bird),

but some popped right off in the cold water bath (like the half lentil)
leaving a fair reddish color on the high spots. Pieces with moderate firescale seemed to clean up fairly well in pickle. On the other hand, some pieces (like the bird), didn't lose much of their firescale , even after pickling. it even shows at 2 colors- more reddish closest to the copper base, and a dark blue-green above that.

I tried chopping up some dried clay pieces and adding them to my owl,
trying to emulate the feathers above the beak. these came out rounder
and less defined - I wonder if the base owl piece acted like a heat sink
holding the heat on the chunks hotter and longer than it would with
regular Art Clay Silver.

I'd like to get my hands on some more of the clay and try some do some more experimenting - since I tend to use a lot of copper wire in my polymer-wire work, I can see this new clay will add a new dimension to my work , with highly textured copper focal beads