Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ironcraft au Natural!

This challenge was a head-scratcher for me. I kept trying to think of what I could do that used all natural, outdoors materials and then I remembered a trip I took with my family years ago. We were driving down to Myrtle Beach. We stopped on the highway at this place with play structures so my son could let off steam. It was in North Carolina I think and you could still hear the cars whizzing by but what was amazing were the trees. There were these huge fir trees, some of the tallest I'd seen. And at the bottom of these trees were the biggest pine cones I'd ever seen in my life. I just had to take some home, not really knowing what I would do with them besides admire them. I had these visions of a Santa's village with the pine cones acting like giant fir trees. Well, that was 12 years ago and I still don't have a Santa's village but they did inspire this challenge.
So, I painted the ends with green and red paint and glued them to a flat rock I had in the flower garden. They looked a little lonely so I went back to the shed where I kept the pine cones and the decorative rocks were sitting on the counter waiting for me. I glued them next the "trees" and made myself a nice little nature scene to sit in my flower garden. They have the words; Truth, Wisdom and Compassion engraved in them. Words I try to live by. The gargoyle got a kick out of the whole thing. He's smiling so he must approve.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ironcraft Gets Its Stars and Stripes!

This Ironcraft challenge was to be inspired by stars and stripes. I had so many ideas for this and so little time to make any of them happen. That seems to be the going song in my life. And then I went to the Vermont Quilt Festival in Essex Junction and my mind filled with even more ideas and projects. What a wonderful day I had. It was my first time in a show this size and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The quilts on display were mind-boggling for a novice like me. I wondered around admiring, gawking and the like and then I'd get tired. So I would go find a place to sit. There was a wonderful room, air-conditioned, that hosted talks from the various vendors. I learned a lot about thread from a nice young man who sell thread as a family business. I learned about Japanese inks and all you could do with them. I couldn't resist them so I bought a bunch. Then I got up again and went to admire even more quilts. Then it was lunch time so I found a table to share with some nice ladies and they shared some funny stories with me. I met up with these same ladies during the rest of the day and felt like I had some new friends admiring along with me.
I pretty well spent the day walking around until I wanted a break then finding a place to sit and meeting some very nice people from both the US and Canada. I bought a few things and met back up on the bus with my guild ladies who had pretty well done the same thing I did. It was a glorious day! How is this related to this challenge? They gave us a tyvek bracelet as proof of payment when we came in. Mine had stars and stripes on it. When I got home I wanted to keep the bracelet and decided to play with it to make me a pretty bracelet as a souvenir of my day in Vermont. I busted my scrap pile and chose some jeans and a pretty blue fabric to make a cloth cuff. I inked the pretty blue fabric and then sewed the tyvek over both the jeans and blue fabric. For the underside I chose a red gingham from my stash and made a cuff that is held together with my bird button. To finish it and add a little more color I sewed an over-hand stitch along the side. I think it picks up the red in the tyvek very well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Mother's Day Inspiration!

The June PCAGOE Challenge saw it's first flame of inspiration at Mother's Day. I take yoga classes with a fantastic teacher who teaches us the yogic observations before we start the physical class. Inspiring herself from the upcoming Mother's Day, she spoke of nurturing, holding and bringing forth into the world. In her musings relating these concepts to our movements during the practice, I heard her say: "Essentially, a mother's womb is like a bowl on legs." Well, that sparked all kinds of crazy ideas in my head about the possibilities of translating that statement into a bowl. It would be perfect for a bowl theme to continue with my Bowl a Week Challenge that began early this year.
The June PCAGOE Challenge is Mixed Media and I was looking forward to that to try my hand at adding various things to clay. The two became a match made in heaven. Frankly, I was agonizing over making legs. I was afraid that the weight of the bowl would crush polymer legs or they would be too clunky or something. Then I thought of using ceramic legs from an old doll. Perfect mix of mediums if I do say so myself. So I made a base that was big enough and thick enough to withstand some handling, something the legs could stand on. Then I made grass so that my doll's legs could stand in a meadow. I added glass stepping stones and a few metal bugs. I fashioned the bowl to look like a pelvis and hips. The bowl had to hold something and following my yoga teacher's idea the pelvis would hold the earth. I had a glass earth globe in my trinkets and commandeered it for the service of this piece. I didn't want the earth globe to be loose in the bowl. Using my secret recipe for making bubbles the globe now is floating on top of a gush of water coming from the pelvic bowl. I added some Flowersoft grass around the edges of the bowl for a more organic feel and Mother's Hips was born.
It's amazing how a few simple words can jump start ideas and actions in others. Have you ever been inspired this way?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ironcraft at the Dollar Store!

This Ironcraft Challenge, the 14th already, was about what you could make from dollar store stuff. I have to say that I love the dollar store. I am always amazed at what you can find and often wonder how those cheap prices are possible. Being an artisan, I know the value of time and how things are made. It is absolutely mind boggling to me that some of these items are made so far away and end up on a shelf near me and that the price is so low. My pocket book is happy and still there is a part of me that wonders if there will be a bigger price to pay later on. I digress.  I decided to use an item I had in my own stash instead. I probably bought it at a dollar store at some point but at least now it has a use.
The little metal cage conjured dreams of a bird sitting in it. It was time to make that one come to life. Using a hollowed out egg, I covered it and sculpted a little bird to sit on its nest inside the cage. I gave my bird vivid colors and he seems pretty happy!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Lesson in Art Deco

This month's PCAGOE Challenge is Art Deco / Art Nouveau. Having no artistic training I had a very vague idea of what that was. I imagined strong lines and flowy hair. I consulted my resident experts in the PCAGOE membership and started an inspiring journey into the past. From what I could gather, Art Deco was born out of the industrialization of manufacturing. The art inspired by this phenomenon resulted in what we now know as Art Deco. Being a sociology major, for me, industrialization brought about the social and political constructs of capitalism, which brought about socialism and communism. I never associated an art movement to a social construct like this and it was a fresh way of looking at it.
The only exposure I'd had to Art Nouveau was the wall paper my mother had used in our bathroom when I was a teenager. Needless to say, I am a babe in the woods when it comes to art history. This challenge was a perfect way for me to get a taste for it.
Honestly, my challenge was to stop researching and focus on making something. And that didn't quite work out because I made one thing, then another version of it, than made another and still last night I started to make another project in the same style knowing full well that I would not have the time to finish on time for the deadline.
The project that I am entering is the re-do of the first project. I always liked the metal bowls that were gradated in size. You sometimes saw them in wood that you could turn and they would close flat or open up. I chose a black and white scheme because I just love that combination and because it does reflect the streamlined style of the the Art Deco. Mine does not open and close. That would be another challenge altogether. I was also struck by the irony of making something by hand to celebrate an era that marveled at what could be achieved by machines.
I used pure black and white clay aiming for the colors not to intermingle. That was an ongoing struggle to the end. I used one set of square cutters and alternated the outside cut with the inside cut so the walls were thick enough to accommodate the weight of the other pieces on top and since they go from small to big, I was worried about the piece collapsing under its own weight. My first attempt was a perfect illustration of that principle hence the re-do. This time I cut and baked the pieces individually and after much sanding, way too much sanding, I glued them together careful to center them onto each other as I went. I really like the finished product. I have imaginings of making bigger ones with all kinds of colors.
The voting for this challenge is from June 1 to 7 and can be done at this address.  http://polymerclayartists.blogspot.ca/

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ironcraft Gets Bowled Over!

This challenge is all about the "B". Either what we made or the technique we used started with the letter B. Well, it took me seconds to go the word "bowls". I don't think anyone is surprised!
This bowl was created on a glass bowl I found at the thrift store. I loved the texture I could get from the bottom of the bowl. It was all sculpted and reminded me of all those sun fish we used to catch when I was young. We didn't keep the sun fish. they didn't have enough meat on them to bother cleaning them. Well, at least that was what my grand-father used to tell us. But they were beautiful!
Using a skinner blend technique of melding the polymer clay colors, I draped the clay over the bowl, pressed it in so the texture would be picked up and baked it. Once cooled I used Lumiere Paints to highlight the scales. I rather like it!
The lessons I always learn from these challenges came from an entirely different source this time. The funny thing is that while I was finishing the piece I noticed that there were some markings on the tail that I hadn't noticed before. They are sculpted into the design and they say, Arcoroc, France. Turns out that the bowl was made in the mid 60's and is now being traded on ebay and the such as an antique. It is amazing what you can find at a thrift store. The Arcoroc Company have been making glassware since 1825. I think it is going to me a great mold for more bowls. Anyone have any suggestions as so the color or designs I can use?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ironcraft Goes to the Art Gallery!

This Ironcraft challenge set some controversial ideas in motion for me. At first, Art inspired seemed so simple. Everything around us is inspired from or by Art. But then I followed the dreaded question. What is Art? Do I consider what I do Art? Do others consider what I do Art? What about my fellow clayers, doodlers, quilters, knitters and I could keep going? Is what they do considered Art? I researched some eras of fine art and tried to emulate them. What I came up with was not what I would call Art. Then it hit me! It's all Art! From the pencil doodle of a child to the way you arrange a smiley face with vegetables on a child's plate. From the oil painting done by a student in college to the lady in her kitchen painting with acrylics to the fine paintings in museums by long gone crazy artists. It's all Art! Not everyone agrees with me but that never stopped me from having my own opinions before.
After this long drawn out inner struggle and epiphany, I looked closer to home for what to show in the challenge. I have just spent a wonderful 4 day weekend with fellow clayers. They are a wonderful bunch that help me energize for the year ahead. We have a tradition each year and that is to use polymer clay to make a self-portrait twinchie (which means a piece that is 2 x 2 inches). During the weekend, we learned to make a face cane. Caning is a process that resembles candy making in that a design or image is constructed from the inside out and assembled into a log. Each slice of the cane gives you the exact same image as all the other slices. It is not one of my favorites but I decided to try it this time and am quite pleased with the results. At the end of the weekend we assemble it in a mosaic and someone wins it and takes it home.
Polymer clay is not always seen as Art. Some see a child's toy while others see a wonderful versatile museum that lets you go where your fancy takes you. I believe in the latter, of course.
My cane is the second row, second from the left. I made the face into the cane and added the hair on top of that. I figured that way if my hair style changes I can still use the cane. The glasses are a small piece of wire embedded into the clay. Aren't I cute?
My lessons for this challenge is the whirlwind you can start by mentioning the word "Art". It is a conversation that is probably as old as time and that will keep going for quite a while. I also realized the Art I witness every day when watching people create their lives, take care of each other and make things that make them and others happy.