Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nastasha revisited and reworked

Have you ever looked back to see what first sparked your interest in the medium you work with now?  Recently, while cleaning out my clogged workroom, I unearthed some of the original products of my first obsession with polymer.  Natasha beads, ( aka inside-out beads) in all their perfect symmetrical cane-i-ness, represented for me at that time all the fabulous design potential of polymer.  And all this yuminess was available without actually having to be good at caning because of the accidental nature of each design.  For me, it was also a natural carryover from the making of millefiore in glass, something with which I was very familiar.

I've since lost my taste creating perfect symmetry (not least because I have no patience..) - primarily because I lack the skill to produce symmetrical canes/designs in polymer that really sing and have depth.  Those amazing canes that make use of skinner blends and colors that are finely tuned to work for maximum effect in miniature....I hold my breath when I see the work of artists in polymer who can really do this well.  But these Natasha beads in my hand?  Pedestrian, to say the least.  How could I breathe some life into something that I seemed to have loved so well?   Go back to what you know.....

In glassblowing, the movement inherent in the forming process naturally adds zest and life to the most overworked designs, especially when you have trained yourself to work 'hot', and always keep the glass as fluid as possible.  It is the land of 'the happy accident', particularly when you are learning.  (And when you are learning, you can't remember how you did it...)  It is these qualities precisely that make glass a magical, energetic and challenging medium.  The glass is a fluid, first and always, and that state adds a quality that is difficult for the hand to duplicate in any other material.

Seizing on this idea of movement, I felt that if the symmetrical planes in the bead could 'flow' to form differently shaped beads ( something other than a squared off brick...)  In doing this, it would be difficult and perhaps not entirely desirable to maintain  perfect symmetry, but the resulting mirror images would be more distortions or memories of each other...sisters, rather than twins!  Fanciful for a little bead, I know...

I contented myself by doing the obvious and making rounded ends to the rectangles - bullets - then bullets with a twist.  Then paint and surface texture entered the picture a little...
I called this set 'Smoke on Cherry Blossom'...

At this point, all of these experiments were made using my scrap pile - always, the perennial challenge of the scrap pile....

Then, the corners of the Natasha 'brick' began to move outwards, and the bead to shorten - they became propellers and pods and mostly maintained their symmetry.  It surprised me how a small change in  the shape entirely changed the character of the final piece.

  I started in earnest at this point to etch and scratch away at the emerging and disappearing lines, the remains of the original perfect mirror images.  I even investigated triangular forms (see diagram) which became pendant shapes (I think).

 Applying paint to the surface of course pulled the etching forward and also removed the very plastic quality of the polymer (of which I am not fond), and emphasized the now (to me, at least) more dynamic quality of the symmetrical lines.  Reading this pompous paragraph back to myself, I have to laugh - as a glass artist I was forever sandblasting my glass pieces because I disliked the 'glassy' quality of glass.  I guess I haven't changed, because I don't like the 'plasticky' quality of plastic, either!

Sorry about this long and rather wordy post about work in progress, it's really a result of thinking about where things come from in my experiments.  I'm not usually so analytical, but it's sometimes interesting (and perhaps a little alarming) to trace an evolution and realize with some regret, and some relief, that I really haven't changed over the years.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bead Soup by horse and buggy

I am still working my way through the Bead Soup Blog party participant's offerings.  ( Hence the reference to slooow travel...)  There are some wonderful things to be seen:
Three participants leap to my mind particularly, Christine Damm of Stories they tellSig Wynne-Evans ( whose prowess and design ability with seed beads wowed me) and Nancy Schindler of  Round Rabbit.  All quite different, all fantastic.  Actually, I could sit here all night long linking to blogs as those are just 3 of many that I enjoyed.  And, I have to say a huge thank you to the people who took the time and trouble to comment on my work, and to begin following my blog.  Hopefully, there will be more fun stuff for you to follow about my work and stuff that interests me about the creative process.  Check back tomorrow, I have a post planned on something completely different ( for me, in polymer, that is!).

 All this blog hopping is distracting me from the horrific realization that I put my iPod through the wash cycle yesterday...aargh!  Am drying it out in silica gel hoping that it will work again..hah!  I was half way through the 3rd book in the Millenium series...I am addicted to audible.com!  Well, perhaps my work will take on a lighter mood if I listen to something a little less grim!  Spent most of the day getting iTunes (another frustrating piece of work if there ever was one) to sync with my Sansa Clip tiny mp3 player.  Finally succeeded, but I miss my old iPod and the new Apple products are very glitzy, busy and important.  Here's hoping that the old one can be resuscitated.  How stupid could I get?  (Actually, please don't answer that....)

Aren't these stupendous?