Friday, January 29, 2010

Not letting go (when you should)

I can be very lazy.  Especially about housework.
But when I get obsessed with solving a problem, it's amazing how many hours can disappear.
I had a problem with transfers onto my hollow beads that almost sent me to the edge.  My normal finishing techniques were causing the tranferred image to disolve and blur.  Strange to say, it worked perfectly the first time I did it and I thought I was on to something.  I was soon to discover that it was only the old phenomenon of 'beginner's luck'.  When I used to teach beginner's glass-blowing classes, I quickly learned never to say "Oh, don't even bother trying that -it'll never work!"  Because it often DOES work - for beginners only!
Of course, I was in denial, so I was persistent.  After some very frustrating time, this is what emerged:

This is the beginner's luck effortless without-even-trying version:

This is after a lot of experimenting and oaths:

The images are marginally clearer and I was going for a faded distressed kind of look...but of course, now I'm going to fully investigate transfer methods.  Hello, my new Donna Kato book (to me surely, the Queen of transfer expertise)!  To be continued..

And yes, I should have let go of this problem and tried another time.   Never think you can make something until you've made it a lot and know the pitfalls.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Narrowing the field

I have a ton of half-finished projects sitting on my work table and there is nothing new or startling about this (sadly).  When I try something new - which, in the case of polymer clay, is everything  - I usually get to a stage with the object where I must put it aside so that I can see it later with fresh eyes.  This is the stage where my emotional (gut) brain is saying 'this is great, oh I love it' or 'I can't believe this is so appalling, so awful, did I really make this?'  Both are usually inaccurate - hence the 'waiting period'.  I'm curious to know if other makers do this or if they proceed confidently and majestically to the finish!

But with all this stuff lying around I can't help but notice that paint and surface colorants figure hugely in my way of working.  MUST I put paint on everything?  (Also, must purple and green ooze their way into it all - but that's another problem set entirely).  I challenge myself to do something with just polymer and to post it on this blog to (potentially) let some other eyes critique it.  I challenge myself to acomplish this one 2 weeks from now.

I think this pendant is my starting point.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Altered images

I love the look of images transferred onto polymer clay and lord knows, there are a million of them out there in pendant world.  But yes, this is a bandwagon I cannot resist.

I somehow feel compelled to alter the image in some way once I have it on there.  This may have started in the beginning as a reaction to bad transfers, but persists now I have mastered at least one of the techniques for moving images onto polymer.  I guess it feels as though I'm putting my final mark on the image, making it mine, and somehow railing against the techno aspect of transfers. (Printers, computers, special papers etc.)  Maybe I just don't know when to leave it alone...I even do it to my own original images!  But for now it feels right.
I've been experimenting with surface sealants as I'm looking for a particular finish.  I don't like glossy finishes and I love a kind of satiny, waxy finish reminiscent of encaustic painting. ( I did a workshop on encaustic in the distant past ) I'm gradually getting there, of course, it involves more time and building up of thin layers.  And did I mention that the selection of images is tricky?  Yes, but fun.  Just what I need while I figure out problems encountered in other work I want to do.

Friday, January 8, 2010

So moved

Start of a new decade, feels fresh and squeaky clean, doesn't it?

The last decade was an oh so transitional one for me which I'm going to leave quietly behind and try not to dwell on (except privately). It is wonderful to have a direction again.

Since my last 10 years have been full of child raising (they are 10 and 12 now) it is wonderful to be able to show a small thing that moved and touched me at Christmas this year - my gift from my 12 year old daughter. She is very like me in some ways, always fiddling and experimenting with materials - and fearless (oh, for youth before doubts creep in!)! We seem to bounce ideas back and forth, and I absolutely owe some of my more interesting tangents to her. It is a casual process: We sit and play with stuff and make small honest comments to each other. She really seriously considers everything I show her. SO valuable, and it's something I never expected, believing, before I had children, that parenting was more of a one-way street. (I teach YOU, not we learn together...)

She made me 5 napkin rings, each one different so each member of the family could keep their cloth napkin until it was dirty. They are loosely related to crystals, and roughly red and green coloured. (Christmas, you know). Then she made a little cabinet for them to live in, with separate shelves and doors - and this was made out of a toilet paper roll. I was so entranced by this use of the materials at hand. Also interesting, though perhaps not evident from the photos, is the way some of these these are strung to be squares. You can pull them into rounds, but then they spring back to being square. Lovely, and so simple.

She does spend hours in her room figuring such sorts of things out, but fortunately, this tendency is balanced by her love of basketball - such extremes, phew....I never expected child-rearing to be so interesting.

As for me, since polymer is such a new substance for me, anything is fair game! Technique-wise, that it. I don't even know enough about any of it to know if I would like it. Although, perhaps I have a small antipathy to caning - not the work done by others, not at all - but as a technique with which somewhat slapdash me could be comfortable - Yes!

Currently, I'm working on altering, painting and colouring image transfers, some of the alteration in photoshop, and some after the transfers. I'm getting closer to what I want - somewhat the look of an encaustic painting in miniature. More on that on Monday.