Thursday, June 2, 2011

Patinas, of all sorts

One of the projects in the Metal Clay Masters Registry program is a patina study. I've been working on this for some time- researching patina methods through te ages for silver and copper, particularly; then applying what I'd learned to a variety of polymer clay techniques.

Patinas are funny things - bury a piece of shiny silver in your kitty litter box and leave it for a week and you get a lovely multicolored patina (back in the middle ages, they used horse stalls or the floors of cow byres, but not many jewelers have access to those these days). you can't really control how the patina builds on your piece of silver. You could keep digging it out and checking, but the process frequently does past the stage you want it while you're not looking. And then there are the surprises - sometimes felicitous-sometimes disastrous. Most can be recovered from with a bit of heat or friction. But the outcomes are not always what one anticipates.

it's rather like the surprises one finds in personal relationships - discovering that the super cool old friend you haven't seen in 20 years is now competing in scrabble championships when you expect him to be still racing at Le Mans or Limerock - after all, Newman was still racing at 80 - or still leaping tall buildings in a simgle bound.

well, silver and copper both react to a variety of chemicals, sometimes with unexpected consequences. and then there's added spice of mixing the metals, the chemicals and a bit of electricity... that's my latest tangent. After taking a class on electroforming on glass, I'm fiddling with the hardware, paints, acids and silver. The worst that will happen is that I'll waste some chemicals and have to clean some silver. It's a step back for me to that High School chem class where you looked at your partner and asked "how about we try this while the teacher is out of the room, just to see what happens?" Let's just hope we don't get the same result - they won't be evacuating the school this time - I'll be grabbing the cat and making a run for it out of my house.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Klay Karma 2011 is coming! and we've got a special treat- 5 of them, actually!

Klay Karma 2011 is coming July 22-24, 2011

Join clayers from all over the Northeast for the 2011 Klay Karma Retreat!
July 22-24, 2011, on the campus of Rivier College in Nashua, NH

Registration is now open. Join the klay_karma Yahoo group at  for more info and to download registration forms

This event fills up quickly, so don’t delay!

and as a special treat, this year Klay Karma has added optional classes!

Register for Klay Karma (July 22-24 in Nashua, NH) and you have the opportunity to enroll in up to 5 fascinating classes taught by some of the top Polymer instructors in the country- at a low cost of $50 each!

We’ve all drooled over the gorgeous furniture created by Bonnie Bishoff and J M Syron. Bonnie is bringing her MiIllefiori and veneer techniques to you. See a slide show of her works and learn how to create custom veneers using your canes.

Klay Karma regulars know and love Diane Villano, a double winner (2006 and 2009) in the Clay division of Bead Arts AND a winner of the 2009 Bead Dreams Competition-Polymer Clay division. Her demos enliven every retreat she attends. Diane will be sharing her custom button making techniques, starting with a leaf cane, morphing it into limitless dimensional variations and then creating both sew-through and shanked buttons!

Doreen Kassel, a 2010 NICHE winner, is teaching 2 of her most popular classes , bringing her award bringing Uncommon Creatures to Klay Karma as both tiles and ornaments . Learn how create those clever caricatures, and finish them to perfection, bringing out subtle nuances with multiple layers of paint.

Melanie West and bangles! What more is there to say? Melanie, a 2010 NICHE finalist, will be sharing with us how she approaches organic form, including how to make a light but strong bangle armature using brass channel bangles and Ultra Light polymer clay and how to laminate the armature. You’ll be able to bring your own spin to forming, carving and laminating your armatures.

Check out a full description of each of the classes and download the registration form for Klay Karma 2011 and the optional classes at the Files Folder in the klay_karma yahoo group or the Klay Karma facebook page . This is the only time this year that you will be able to take classes with all 4 of these instructors in one weekend. Don’t delay, both the event and the classes are sure to fill quickly.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ruth Baillie and Tonya Davidson have done it again

I'm sitting here, getting ready for an electroforming class with Kate Fowle Meleney tomorrow- have some polymer pieces in the oven and glass in the kiln. Kate will be providing us with one of her glass beads for the class (whoop-dee-doo!), and then she's going to give us feed back  on how best to approach the pieces we bring in for eval. I'm very psyched for this and so glad that BDI put this together. Kate, along with Josh Simpson's presentation in February have really got my glass juices flowing again.

and then up popped an email from Tonya Davidson about Ruth Baillie's latest Master Muse project, a sweet little  hatching chick pin - just in time for spring
Isn't this just the cutest thing ever! and for the greenies out there, lots of recycled materials - the silver, nest and egg are all recycled. Now I know just how to incorporate all those miserable bittersweet  seedlings I've been whacking away at. little birds nests everywhere. I'm thinking I can really gild the lily on this one and add a polymer clay veneer is a springtime design to the egg shell... maybe a pale turquoise base with little viola and yellow rose cane slices...
well, the timer's going off downstairs, so off I go. Tomorrow night I'll post pics of my spiffy electroformed glass bead....and probably place an order with RIo Grande for an electroforming kit. I have a feeling this is going to become addictive.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

why bloggers stop blogging

It's been a long time since I've written here, and this morning, the first of a 3 morning holiday to be spent in bed recovering (hopefully) from the upper respiratory infection that has almost done me in for the past 2 weeks, I spent several hours doing something I haven't had the personal time to do for a while- checking in on the blogs of many of my favorite metal and polymer clay artists. Some, like polymerclaydaily, seem to always be there with something new. But most of the blogs I checked were like mine....laguishing in the doldrums of a life too hectic to take 15 minutes a day to write about their art. some, like me, may have found that real life (and the real job that supports my artistic endeavors - at least for the next 737 days) has intruded too frequently. August  through October are usually relatively hectic for me - closing up a June year end. As a town comptroller for a municipality that puts heavy demands on its management team, the audit and post audit season, with outside auditors and state agencies demanding more and more data more frequently, I rarely have time to "play".

the drive to and from work that was supposed to become better when the Big-Dig was finished, hasn't. An average one way drive for me is an hour and a half. why don't I take the commuter rail, you might well ask? well, the ride into Boston is never less than an hour by rail.; then I have to change trains twice once I board the "T" for what has become in recent months another hour ride. and If I miss the 6 o'clock train out of North Station, then I have a 2 hr wait. If I miss the 8 PM train due to an evening meeting, I'm dead in the water until 10 PM and if I have the misfortune to  miss that one, I end up sleeping on the cot in my office. so rail commuting is a non-starter. Leaving by car after 8 PM should make for a better commute, but then one runs into night construction up until early December, and badly maintained icy roads from December until Marchm while the night construction usually heats up again in April.

So, today I went looking to see what old and new friends had been up to and this is what I found.

Julie Picarello will have a new book out just in time for Bead and Button this spring. THat's good news, because although I learned how to make a lizardsa tail in her class a LACS this spring, I seem to have lost my notes and my mind- hopefully she'll remind me in her new book.

Luanne Udell seems to be immersed in her hospice work and is recycling old magaine articles on craft- a good thing for those of us who didn't get to read them first time around.; She has a timely recycled article on respecting your collectors.

Elise Winters is pitching Terra Nova: Polymer Art at the Crossroads  - a polymer exhibit we had hoped to visit at the IPCG's retreat in July- sadly it won't be opening until after we leave- a side trip from Chicago to Racine would have been fun with a busload of clayers.

Tejae Floyde has some great pics of what she's been doing over the holidays.

Betsy Baker of stonehouse studios talks about the holiday sales and what's new on her etsy page.

Victoria James has some great new texture plates for sale - I particularly like the crumpled foil texture.

Lynn Davis talks about why she works in so many different media – like me she’s easily bored (would that I had time to be bored at the moment).

Les ethiopiques (mon dieu! I’ve had to go to foreign tongue blogs to find someone, anyone, writing since November!) has come up with great tutes in on faux leather and faux ceramics in polymer – but you’d better be able to read French ! Actually, it’s not that hard, because her illustrations are so good, but I love the instruction “ …puis, on scalpe!” – this is in her hidden magic tute. I knew the 5 years of hs, 4 yrs of college and 2 yrs of post grad French were going to come in handy some day- since I left the teaching of French in 1972, and my Quebequois bon ami moved on 15 years ago, I ‘ve had few opportunities to use it. But Helene has pushed me to refocus a bit, just to enjoy her tutorials- she also has a recent very attractive snowflake cane tute.

Fabi, in Madrid, is a bit harder for me since I never really learned to read Spanish – order food from a LA “roach coach” I can do, but read a language I never studied is a bit harder. If I understand what her current lead story is, it’s an amazing nativity scene in clay. You have to see it to understand what I mean by amazing.

Metal clay academy is buzzing about meteor, the new bronze clay

Bev at mango tango is talking not about her jewelry, but a conch disaster in the Keys

Angela Crispin- she of the bilingual blog so you don’t have to read French to enjoy it – talks about the upcoming art clay festival in Prague (who knew?, probably Katie Baum will be packing her bags yet again!)

Vickie Hallmarks shows a great enameled copper & metal clay piece in her bird design – with dyed concrete that I just can’t bring myself to embrace…to industrial by half for me, but quite nice when Vickie fabricates it.

ArtClayStudio contains news of Carol Babineau’s retirement and Gail Moriarty taking over the studio, but still has mostly Carol’s work in the class guide. I know how hard it is up do a major overhaul on web pages, but hopefully Gail will find time to update with her own spin soon- look forward to her wacky sense of humor showing up on the web pages.

Kelly Russell talks about cardiac med problems (not a good thing, take it easy , Girl!)

Nobody new in the Metal Clay Masters registry in months (yeah, if I’d get off my duff, maybe there’s be one more name. I’m 3 pieces short of the required 10 to submit , but inertia – and the audit season- struck with a vengeance). Last week I came across the half finished steel knife blade from my Tim McCreight knife making class at the Bead House in November, which was supposed to polish off one of the required pieces (silly me!).

So, out of the 95 polymer & metal clay sites I have listed as favorites, only 15 have anything new since November! Several no longer exist at their old addresses, and most of the remaining 80 bloggers write about as sporadically as I do. so I don't feel terribly guilty about not sharing with y'all. hopefully some of the other 80 artists have been so busiy in their studios that they haven't had time to write....

I’d promise to do better, but the reality is, given a choice between blogging, creating and sleep, sleep wins hands down, and while writing is easier for me than the creative process, I really do need to start gearing up for retirement (less than 2 years now) and that means 1- cleaning up the homestead in preparation for moving after retirement and 2- getting off my butt creatively , and starting now to build the retirement life I want to enjoy in 737 days (but who's counting?)

Maybe I'll get lucky, inspiration will rattle me to the core and I"ll crank out several wonderful pieces that I'll be happy to share with you all - it's a new year, and time for an attitude adjustment. now if I could only find the robitussin.....