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.