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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Victoria James' Textures

VictoriaJamesArt has some wonderful new textures available for polymer and metal clay artists.

Taken from nature and woodblock prints, these have my imagination overflowing. Her lava rock texture looks like just what I’ll need to create the wonderful ivory texture tool that Cynthia Thornton shows in the “texturing clay “ section of her Enchanted Adornments .

Email Victoria to order any of the texture sheets shown in her “What’s New” or “Real Textures” sections and let your imagination run wild!

Synergy 2 and CFCF2010 are heating up

February may be cold and bleak here in New England, but down in Maryland, it's full of color!

Combine Cabin Fever Clay Festival (CFCF) with the IPCA's Synergy 2 and you have something for every polymer clay enthusiast.

As with 2008, Kathryn Ottman has pulled together a hands-on , pre-Synergy extravaganza in Laurel, MD, with CFCF2010 . Jana Roberts Benzon, Jeff Dever, Lindly Haunani, Maggie Maggio, Barbara McGuire, Nan Roche, and Cindy Silas are teaching full day pre-conference workshops (Jeff’s is a two day event). Then, beginning Sunday, February 21, Tony Aquino, Maureen Carlson, Louise Fisher Cozzi, Dayle Doroshow, Grant Diffendaffer, Laurie Mika, Kathryn Jo Ottman, Lisa Pavelka, Sarah Shriver, and Ronna Sarvas Weltman teach half-day workshops through Wednesday, February 24th. Check out Polyclayfests’ blog for more details on CFCF 2010’s offerings

Then you can slide on over to the Tremont Plaza Suites Hotel in Baltimore for Synergy2 , the ICPA’s biennial gathering. Start with an opening cocktail reception and presentation by Ford & Forlano Wednesday night. Then on Thursday, the development sessions begin- topics range from inspirations from scientific imagery to marketing strategies with stops along the way on design techniques and collaborations. This year there’s more time to meet with fellow artists, as the sessions are all at the Tremont –and more meals are included. Also this year, the ICPA is sponsoring some hands-on pre and post conference classes, with Seth Savarick, Leslie Blackford, Bettina Welker, Dan Cormier, Tracy Holmes and Robert Dancik.

What more could one ask for on a cold winter’s day?

Enchanted Adornments

Some wonderful books have recently come out in the polymer and metal clay world

Most recently, Cynthia Thornton, of Green Girl Studio fame, has written a lovely, whimsical, mixed-media tome that is part story book-journal, part creativity spark, part project manual.
after reading ENCHANTED ADORNMENTS cover to cover twice, I can only wish that I could see inside her own journals, to delve further into how she translates her imagination into such wonderful designs.

Instead, today, I'm going to start building some of the texture cards and reverse texture stamps she shows how to build in the Essentials section.

The Projects section is divided into 20 chapters, each with a unique story and design. Metal Clay, polymer clay, shrink plastic, resin and wire wrap are all represented. The Inspiration Gallery includes works I've not seen before from 14 well known mixed-media artists

Friday, April 3, 2009

Klay Karma is coming!

My friends from the NH and Central MA polymer clay guilds have been hard at work planning Klay Karma 09, our joint biennial Polymer Clay retreat.

Every other year (2005, 2007, 2009) Klay Karma brings together some of the most talented polymer clay artists in New England for 3 days of inspiration and creativity. Klay Karma 09 will be held July 24 - 26, 2009, on the campus of Rivier College in Nashua, NH.

visit the klay_karma Group at for more information.

I had my first "real" introduction to Polymer clay at the first Klay Karma in 2005. Prior to that, I'd just been using PC to make molds and tearaway plates for my metal clay work. Someone at one of Celie Fago's keum boo classes suggested I check out KlayKarma to find out other things for do with PC, and what a great thing it was...I had no idea what I was getting into, but I walked into this big room and there was noise (talking, laughter, motors!), movement (women going from one table to another swapping ATC's) and colors! I sat next to Judy Dunn who patiently showed me the joys of skinner blends and introduced me to just about everyone. There were lots of folks there for CT, too- it turns out the So CT and NH-MA guilds trade off years, so every summer there's a great clay gathering in New England.

Nashua is just over the MA border and is famous for its shopping and vibrant crafts community- many artisans have studios in old brick mill buildings (Carol Babineau, who was recently named a Master Instructor for Art Clay World , has a wonderful studio in the Picker Building along the river) .

I'm looking forward to seeing many clay friends from all over New England in July - and now that the snow has finally melted from my back yard, I can actually believe that summer is just around the corner....

I like to have something new to show at a demo at the retreat and have been playing with mixing traditional oil paints with kato liquid clay and applying a marbling effect. Here's a sample of my first attempt at marbling with oils and kato liquid.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

sliding back

well, it's been a long time since I last wrote here. for many not-very-good reasons I've been away from my craft and writing, but as (hopefully) the remnants of the last snow storm are melting, so is my lethargy.

I got a great infusion of energy and inspiration last week when I attended CFCF09 in Laurel, MD. A polymer clay retreat that brought together some great artists as teachers and students, I signed up for the max in sessions -1 full day pre-conference with Nan Roche and 6 half day sessions (Lynne Schwartzenburg, Jana Roberts Benzon , Sarah Shriver, Kim Korringa, Tony Acquino and Tory Hughes, in no particular order), which was probably a mistake , but thoroughly enjoyable. One problem for me, as many of the other participants, was the banning of motors in the classrooms, so if you roamed the halls at night, you could hear the whine of many pasta machine motors coming from hotel rooms - and the occasional loud thump-thwack sound of a 10# sledge hammer hitting a 1 # polymer clay package. I'm not sure what the other guests thought was going on with all those strange noises.

As I packed up pre-trip, I marvelled at the folks who had attended this last year, travelling by plane and train, before the National Polymer Clay Guild's conference. How they did it with no excess baggage is beyond me-for my 7 classes, I needed a total of 18#'s of preconditioned clay, plus lots of other clay tools and supplies. In addition to my big rolling toolbox which was stuffed to the gills, I had 4 large LL Bean bags loaded to overflowing. I had packaged up in seven 2 gallon zip lock bags the clay and supplies needed for each class. I had 2 pasta machines- my trusty imperia with motor for the hotel room and a new makin's pasta machine (larger roller heads, nonstick) for the classes. add to that a big suitcase (for 7 days of clothes), a smaller overnight bag, and snacks, and the Malibu looked like I was running away from home taking everything but the kitchen sink!

and once there, I bought even more clay, stamps, powders, etc. at the retreat store. I also had 70 miniature masks on mardi gras bead strands for the swap - which I missed so, they came back home with me. 20 small bags of fused glass cabs, minicabs and focal beads were destined for the retreat store -we could put out our own work for sale at the store, and I figured with instructors who would be plying their wares, I needed something that was a bit different- ergo the fused glass. Christi Friesen was also teaching, so I'd added some dichroic icicles that I thought might go over with her students.