Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ironcraft and Paper-Piecing!

This challenge has again lived up to its name. I had decided to try my hand at paper-piecing quilting because I saw someone do it at a demonstration and she made it look so easy. I recently joined a local quilting guild and a lady was showing us how to do it at the last meeting. I have to say that after show and tell, I was in awe of the work presented and I kept having to lift my jaw to close my mouth. I pray that these ladies are generous with their knowledge and will bestow a little bit of it onto me. I need a name tag to wear to my next quilting guild meeting so I decided to use this challenge to make myself one. My tag was to be my name paper-pieced using the nautical fabric and white cotton. I make the design then numbered the pieces so I'd have the right order. I watched some videos and thought I was ready. Well, for those who follow along in my journey, you may remember that I am a self-proclaimed aspiring quilter! Well, I humbly present myself as still aspiring. When it comes to paper-piecing, I just can't wrap my head around how to start the process. The videos and demonstrations make it look so simple. Then I get to my sewing machine and I blank right out. This girl definitely needs more practice and thinking space to get this right. After a few attempts I realized that I could not do it within the time-frame of the challenge. But, the challenge must go on!
I opted for sewing some geometric shapes using a nautical theme fabric and I free-motioned my name on to the center of the name tag. If you look closely I used some purple thread in my name so I have the 'radiant orchid' part of the theme as well. The name tag is not perfectly finished but will do in a pinch and I have set myself a goal of learning paper piecing for a future project. A girl's gotta have goals! I'm proud of sticking to my original challenge of not buying new fabrics for my projects. The name tag is make entirely from left-over and up cycled fabrics. So at my next meeting, people will know my name and if they don't look at the details of my name tag too much I'll feel more like a part of the gang.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Inspired by ArtBead Scene!

Just saw the Degas that is the inspiration for this month's ArtBead Scene Challenge. Just love his work and I have just the piece that fits in the colors I see. The focal round stone is a Chrysocolla and its healing powers are all about expression, empowerment and teaching. Something I can use more of any day of the week. The dragon is a protector and the gold quilted beads are my own polymer beads. I love the feel of this piece when I wear it. Could it be I'm feeling the healing properties of the chrysocolla?
P.S. Did you notice the shadow of the dragon, isn't that cool?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ironcraft is getting all stringy!

Ironcraft's 6th challenge was all about string. At first I thought this will be easy! I thought I could make string art like we used to see everywhere when I was in my teens. Then came time to actually make something and I realized that these endeavours are not called challenges for naught. I naturally go to polymer clay for most of my creations so I did not consider using real string for this project. No, it had to be in polymer! I decided on a tree since that is a favorite theme in my work. Reality soon set in when I considered that polymer clay, even in very tiny strips still has a diameter that does not stack up like string. Polymer clay is not string! Much to my dismay, I had not the brain power to get over that hurdle. That idea had to shelved for another time if I was to make the project on time for the deadline. I moved on!
Surfing the net for inspiration, I saw a glass bowl where the artist had used lengths of colored glass to resemble weaving. My mind automatically went to: "Can I make this in polymer?" I chose colors that would blend well together without completely vanishing one into another and started extruding strings of clay. My first try was a flop. Then I remembered the wonderful chameleon-like property of polymer clay. It can be made to resemble so many substances and finishes. This time though it wasn't the clay itself that resembled weaving but the way it would be laid out that mimicked the texture of weaving that would do the trick. So my second try was successful although because of the size of the strings and the surface I had to cover, the top of the bowl took over 4 hours to finish. When came time to make the bottom of the bowl, my string got a whole lot fatter and that was covered in a much shorter time. All in all I'm quite pleased with my results, this bowl is a great addition to my goal of "A Bowl A Week".
What have I learned from this challenge? I've learned so many things, both on the technical side of working in a 3 dimensional format with polymer clay and on the personal side as well. I've learned to weave with polymer clay and that color play has so many variations. On the personal side, I've learned that my own working habits are a blessing and a curse. They are a blessing because when I choose to work out a challenge, I don't stop until it's done. But that same focus can get in the way of my everyday life and my need to have a life outside my studio. Spring is coming soon and I need to get back outside and my mind keeps me in my studio trying to solve the next challenge, the next whim of design. Never more than now does my motto in life need to be exercised. I must have a balance between play, working and living to be a healthy and happy person. I love to challenge myself and I guess I have just found my next one, getting out of the studio a little more, both physically and in my mind.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Contained Within my Heart!

This month's PCAGOE Challenge is all about containers. The interpretation of this theme is varied. We debated if it should have a lid or not. Opting to allow for artistic license, we left it up to the individual to decide. I do not make lids very often in my bowls because, well, I guess it just never crossed my mind. This time though I decided to add a lid and to make the lid the focus. Now, I had a worthy challenge for sure.
My armature were glass votive. One was dedicated to the bottom and the other to the top, the lid. I love the cinnabar look of antique Chinese bowls and decorations so using my own artistic license (which I keep on me at all times) I created my own version of the rich red stone. I called it the "Chinese Love Bowl" for the 2 red fish swimming together on the top. The bottom part is textured and has a lip to hold the top portion snug in place. I accented the top pieces with silver paste and the inside with silver embossing powder. I think it turned out very well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ironcraft Gets an A!

This challenge called for being inspired by the letter A. Wow! What a concept! I didn't know what to make of that one at first. It could be anything we could relate to the letter A, a technique, an item, whatever. I chose to make an art doll. Her name is Anne inspired by a little girl I know by that name. She is a wonderful child growing into a beautiful young woman. Now, the art dolls I've studied are intricate works of art that transcend the human form to become an interpretation of the artists who make them. I don't profess to create such works but I do aspire to do just that some day. But, you have to start somewhere and Anne is my humble beginnings. I found this neat stamp of a young girl's silhouette and using fabric paint, I stamped the image on this sheer drapery fabric. Experimenting with paints and fusing I dressed her in her favorite colors and clothes. Anne is mostly always a jeans kind of girl! I free-motioned her glasses and some of the clothes. Added hair using some brown wool. The back is the same stamp that I painted to look like the back of her body.
I presented the doll to Anne and asked her what she saw and she immediately saw herself.
As in all challenges, I ask myself what I have learned. I learned a bit more how paint reacts on fabric, how it will bleed on some and not on others. I learned how to clean up the bleeding and the wonders of Gesso. I practiced more free-motion explorations. The experts say that the way to mastery of that technique is practice, well, I'm a little more knowledgeable now. I have also redefined the term art doll, at least for me. I have visions of dozens of such dolls all standing in a row and seen in that context, then yes, they are art dolls. I already have my next subject in mind.  With practice, I will move away from the stamp and draw my own body and head on the fabric. That is also part of my vision of the future. And remembering that I won't buy any fabric for these projects this year, I can get even more creative using the material I have on hand. The doll is very zen like to make, kind of like paper dolls were when I was young. For brief moments, I am just a little girl with my paints and my canvas. I like that!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ironcraft is Calling For Spring!

This fourth challenge of the year called for hearts and flowers. While I love hearts, the call came on the cusp of Valentine's Day and I was on heart overload. I went the way of flowers to help me dream of warmer days to come. Honestly, they can't come soon enough!
While working on my Monthly PCAGOE Challenge, which is Eggs, I managed to fulfill both challenge requirements with one concept. Clever me! Surfing the Internet gave me an inspiration of making an egg look like a tulip. I started imagining all the colors and varieties of tulips I will soon see come out of the ground and was instantly lifted to a sunnier frame of mind. I started making a yellow and red one, then a pink and white one, then one with a blue stripe, then a pure yellow and a pure red. My favorite tulip of all are the "black  tulips". They are not black at all but a purple so deep that is can look black in the right light. For this challenge, I offer all my tulips, a bouquet of color for this still white landscape. For the March PCAGOE Challenge, the black tulip is the star.
What have I learned from this challenge? I learned how to cover an egg with clay and to leave a hole for the air to circulate unless I want a small explosion in my oven. I also learned that even if the flowers are far from sight, they are never far from the heart and they have the power to elicit the most pleasant memories of the warm sun on my back while I work in my garden.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

IronCraft Goes to the Olympics!

As I sit in my kitchen, comfy with my cup of tea, I wonder at people's determination to achieve. Ironcraft gave us a challenge to do something inspired by the Olympics. Supporting our athletes, even if it is only in thought, is so easy because each one of them is an inspiration. I think of all the work, determination and sacrifice it took to get to where they are today and I am astounded with awe and inspiration. Not only the young athletes but their parents as well who sacrificed a few sleep-in mornings I'm sure. I wish them all the best of luck no matter the country they are from.
For my little gesture, I made an Olympic bowl. It will be part of my "Bowl a Week" series for this year. All polymer clay, I made rings of the colors of the Olympics. They are sitting on top of each other, both for the stand and for the inside of the bowl. An Olympic flame is burning bright in the center of the rings. It is my small ode to the many athletes and their support systems.
You might be wondering what lesson I have learned from this challenge. I learned more on the construction of bowls and how polymer clay's basic structures all work together. But mostly I learned that inspiration can come from the smallest and unlikeliest of places, from people you don't know to the person who supports you everyday in your own version of the Olympics, your own life!