Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Carving Myself a Little Peace

This month's challenge for the PCAGOE lived up to its name again! I had never tried carving, well, that is not entirely true, I had tried, had made a big mess and moved on to better things. So, this time, not backing away from a challenge, I tried again. I knew there were 2 ways to go about this, I could carve on raw clay or cured clay. Having sculpted a bit by making marks on raw clay I tried that first. Getting the work to appear carved, like with a chisel, on raw Premo did not turn out like I thought. The clay is soft and the overall shape gets distorted and I wanted to continue on making bowls and the exercise did not work well. So I baked that so I could compare it to the carvings on baked clay.
I was surprised when the cured clay worked out better than the raw clay. It is laborious using those carving tools to take away a little of the clay at a time without taking away too much as not to mar up the design. Carefully, slowly I carved my design into my baked bowl. It was rather zen to slow down and feel the clay through the tool. In this busy time of year, it was an exercise in taking my time which I gravely needed to remind me to relax a little and enjoy my work.
My design was inspired by Christmas and this song I heard on Facebook. Reba McIntyre is a favorite country singer of mine and she has this video of a new song, "Pray for Peace". It is a simple melody which sings like a prayer that is repeated often. You can listen if you wish, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A29S6cn0nig .
I decided to make a bowl that reflected the spirit of the holidays and drew a bird holding an olive branch with the words PEACE on the bottom. It is made to stand on a table with a plate holder. The back is polymerized gauze fabric with silver stars. I find it resembles carved porcelain. I'm quite pleased with it, not only because I taught myself that I can try new things in the middle of my busiest time but also when I look at it, I hear the message of that song and that is comforting to me. So I thank Reba for writing a song that reached me and I'm sure countless others. We could all use more peace in our lives.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mandalas Are Fun!

This month's challenge on mandalas lived up to its name in spades. I couldn't pinpoint what I wanted to make. Restarted the project up to 3 times. And then I finally just let go and let the clay decide. I should have let that happen from the start but I guess I needed to go through the process.
At first I thought of making canes for the symbols I wanted to use. Making canes isn't my strength and I would have had lots to make. I was going for the 8 chakras of the body as a theme so I then thought of making 8 bowls with each chakra and then group them together somehow. However, I couldn't figure out how to group them in a cohesive manner. I knew I wanted to incorporate fabric as a background or bottom of the bowls but couldn't figure out how to make them all stay together. So, after making a couple of chakras into bowls I changed course.
Using a new found method of surface enhancement, I colored black clay in the colors of the chakras. Then using stamps with Chinese symbols of various good fortunes, I opted for making a good fortune mandala using the chakra symbols as inspiration for which good fortune stamp to use.
The top crown chakra which deals with the overall understanding is given energy. The third eye chackra is given good fortune. The throat chakra which entails communication receives friends. The fourth chakra is given truth. The fifth chakra is offered the gift of "Think". The sixth chakra which encompasses our ability to manage our stress is given passion. The seventh chakra which balances the energies in the body gets wisdom. And the eight chakra receives peace. It is fitting that these good fortunes ended up in this piece. We as Canadians and I'm sure others around the globe could use a bit more good fortune and peace in our lives.
The fabric I used to create the bottom of the bowl looks like leather. I am so pleased with it. And once again, I have plans of what I want to make and those plans are set aside and replaced by others that end up being more fitting for me and the piece. I am always amazed at that process and usually feel much better when I surrender to it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ancient Drinking Bowl

This PCAGOE Challenge is a southwestern-native theme. At first I had no real idea what that meant. I had vague visions of turquoise and pinks but nothing that I could really use in a piece. I did some research with the guiding from my fellow PCAGOE members and stopped on this photo of an antique drinking vessel.
It was a bone that had been dug out to hold water. That started the idea of my own 'drinking bowl'. I chose translucent clay for the placking that happens. Usually you try to eliminate that with various techniques but this time I wanted it to happen. I then carved a stylized eagle and added it to the bottom of the bowl. The natives would use a piece of bone that had a sort of handle on it, something to hold with your hand while you scooped out the water. I incorporated that feature in the initial design and baking. I added a second layer to make it sturdier and rebaked it.

Using crackle and Lumiere paints I painted the eagle and the swirls and letters. I added little flecks of paint on the inside of the bowl as well. The piece turned out quite well. It has an 'ancient' feel to it. I envision it in a museum gift shop, something to remember all the treasures you just saw inside the museum.
As in all challenges I learn something and this one is no different. I learned that the southwest native art is not all about the color turquoise and pink. I got a bit of a history lesson in the tools they made and used to survive. I learned that their Art was symbolic of the world that surrounded them and I added that to this piece as much as I could. If you look inside the eagle's belly, she is carrying 7 eggs of what will be future blessings. Like them I like to add hope to my Art. I know that those future blessings will make me smile when I look at them later.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Made in Canada

I just celebrated my birthday lately and I always try to give myself a challenge for my new year. A lot like a New Year's Resolution but without the gym membership. This year's challenge was inspired by this September's Vogue magazine. It's been a long standing tradition of mine to buy that edition and make myself a pot of tea and peruse the pages of this "bible" of fashion. It used to be that I'd dream of owning clothes like that or to look like the models on the pages. Well, that was then and this is now. Now, I study the pages and try to decipher the trends not in clothing but in the images that portray women and what that says about us and the world we live in. I include my daughter and her little friends and ask them what they think of the pictures and the clothes and what it says to them. I get some pretty funny and honest opinions. The sociologist in me is doing an informal experiment on social norms and views.
I was reading about Fashion Week and seeing the different countries who participate in the makings of the world of fashion. I didn't see a mention about Canada or so very little about Canadian designers and thought that that was a great shame. We have many great designers and I thought of the innovative and industrious spirit of Canadians. We should be in these Vogue pages. Then I realized that most clothes even all the ones in the Vogue are really made in China or Indonesia. Not much is made in Canada anymore. And I wondered if I could buy Canadian-made anymore? So that was it! My challenge for this birth year is to only buy Canadian made clothes for myself. The cost would be higher per item then what I'm used to now but I'm past the phase of buying new clothes every week or even month so it should be fine. Since it was my birthday I'd try to find a piece or two to start me off. Well, that search was mostly fruitful in eliminating most of the stores I usually buy from.
I found one store that sell women's clothes. It's in a nearby mall, http://www.placedorleans.com/stores/pdo-lace ,and has lovely clothes manufactured in Canada for their own stores. I'm sure the fabrics are not Canadian-made but it's made here which is a good start. Then I found another company who makes jeans. http://www.secondclothing.com/
They make these very comfortable jeans in Montreal and I found a store who sold them. They actually make them in my size and for a whole year's jeans budget I bought a pair that I love. The store who sells them went above and beyond in service and that is commendable. http://jeanmachine.com/?gclid=CLPr7ouI6MACFQQQ7AodyG4Aaw
I am pleased with my start to this challenge. Of course, I'll wear what I have now but my money is going only to Canadian-made for at least one year. Is this going to get Canadian designers in the Vogue pages? Maybe not but it will be my small act to get them there.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Little Black Pearl...

This PCAGOE challenge was started with a little black ball of clay. We could turn the rest of the project any way we wanted as long as you could see the little black ball somewhere in the piece. As an added twist we could take inspiration from a piece we saw in one of Sage Bray's The Polymer Arts magazine or her blog.
This piece sprang forth from a blog post showing off the work of Daniela D'uva shown on August 6 2014. I had been thinking of doing a  black pearl and seeing her piece put me in the mood of making something 'sea-like'. So, Black Pearl it is! I wanted to show the insides of a shell and a black pearl as it is when you first open it with the sea foam still there.
The seashell is a mg cane made of pearl green, pearl blue, purple and black. I covered the black pearl with iridescent mica powders and sanded a bit off of the top to show the black through. The sea foam is from a neat trick I learned from a fellow sculptor.
This piece was a lot of fun to make. I have learned so much from making this series of bowls and have pushed my Art in new ways. So, what pushes you to learn new things?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ironcraft is Embellished!

This Ironcraft challenge was about embellishing something and I thought of adding bling to something. Bling is, however, not really my style and I wasn't getting very excited about that. I like to make things that I will use and I love to find new uses for old things. I was looking at some bracelets at a local craft show and it got my ideas flowing to make some. I have made lots of bracelets and they have always been my favorite adornment to wear. And I've been sewing and quilting up a storm so I've got all these bits of fabric everywhere. I was cleaning up some remnants left over from a up-cycling project. I used an old Gap jean shirt to make a journal cover and I noticed the rolled hem of the bottom of the shirt. And inspiration hit me! What if I used that to make bracelets? Would they be sturdy enough?
Well, they are. I think they make the cutest friendship bracelets. I used some buttons from my eternal stash and added some ribbon for the closure. I painted one, braided another, embellished as best I could with the tools I had on hand. They are quite sturdy and the button closure with the ribbon is an easy way to put them on and take them off.
Not to toot my own horn but sometimes I think I am such a clever girl. Using the hems of shirts to make friendship bracelets, inspirational indeed. I gave them to my daughter so she could test drive them. She was all for it. I know I'll make more because I up-cycle old shirts all the time. I'm thinking of using plaid shirts or braiding coordinating colors together. These bracelets take minimal sewing and I've found something to keep my hands busy while I watch TV at night. You know, instead of eating chips!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Something for the Home!

This PCAGOE challenge was about home decor. A very wide range of ideas can apply to this criteria. I decided to show off a bowl I just finished. I had made the shell, the genesis of the bowl some time this winter but it wasn't finished.
I usually know what I want a bowl to look like when I start but this one was an experiment with liquid clay and fabric. I had tried this with various fabric not knowing how they would react to the clay or the heat.
Over the last few months, the bowl progressed to its now finished state. The fabric is a satin polyester, very pale pink with some darker bits here and there. When I saw it in the remnants pile it reminded me of the petals of a peony. It wouldn't be anything I'd like to wear, just not my style but I liked it anyway. Applying liquid clay to fabric is fairly straightforward, it's like paper mache only with clay. It does use up a lot of clay. I added a base to the bottom of the flower. I decided to embroider some dyed hemp cord to look like lines and then I added the bone and glass beads to give the cords some weight. It still didn't look finished. I strategically added inks to look like blotches and lines in the petals. Now I am happy.
It looks like a fragile flower but in reality the fabric with the clay make a very sturdy material. I am having so much fun making a bowl a week. I have to admit that some weeks I produce more than one. They don't all work out but I learn more every time, about my Art and about myself.