Don't miss a post! Submit your e-mail address to receive new posts in your mail box!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Frustration of Sticky Paint

Today was such a frustrating art day. I continued working on my rabbit painting and was so annoyed at my inability to get my paint to a consistency that would allow me to paint tiny hair lines. I know I have the brush skills because I do this quite easily in other media such as watercolor and acrylic. But the "oils" have me stumped so far.

My plan was to continue working on Whitey after adding grasses to the background yesterday. Yesterday I also blocked in a coat on Whitey intending to begin the value modeling.

So to get started, I mixed four values of gray from Burnt Umber, French Ultramarine, and White. After frustrations creating little lines yesterday I decided to work with a #3 round brush and try to paint fluff rather than individual hairs. But the paint was too sticky even for that - it just didn't flow off the brush at all. I tried coating the area I was working on with Liquin and painting over that, which worked a little better. But the Liquin seemed to be drying so fast. Then I tried mixing some Turpenoid into the paint to thin it, but that dried quickly also.

My final try was to get out the walnut oil that I bought for using as a medium with oils. (I have been working with alkyds so far.) This worked a little better. And so I think I'm going to switch to oil and walnut oil for my next session. And, following the "fat over lean" rule I think I will have to continue to work that way until I'm done.

I keep remembering the exhibit that Shelley and I saw at the Crocker Museum last year. I'm sorry to say that I don't remember the artist's name, but she painted the most beautiful and remarkable oil portraits of animals. They were large paintings, but the detail was incredible with tiny texture hairs. That's what I'm aiming for and, like I say, I know I have the brush skills to accomplish it if I can just get the paint texture correct.

I have the painting sitting up by the tv and see several things I need to correct. (There's quite a bit of glare on the photo, by the way.)
  1. Of course Whitey is still too much of a white blob and there needs to be quite a bit more shading to push most of him back somewhat.
  2. Spot reads too close to Blackie in value rather than between Blackie and Whitey so I need to light some of his fur.
  3. Spot's face also needs work. The dividing lines between the dark and light fur on the face don't correspond with the dividing lines on the structure of the face which results in confusion. And I think I have the eye too far back on his head.
  4. The tiny spot on his side should either be larger or should be connected to other spots because it is too close in value, shape, and size, to the eye and so is confusing. (A lot of confusion going on in this painting!)
  5. I may need more grasses in the background and I will need grass detail in the foreground before I can call this one finished.
  6. Blackie fades into the background except for his ear and eye and I don't know whether that bothers me or not. I think I wish the background were just a little lighter. I'll revisit that when the painting is closer to being finished and I have more information.
I guess I have quite a ways to go on this one! I was hoping that I would be happy enough to use it as one of my five images for my application to the Society of Animal Artists (due in a few weeks). Three of my "for sure" images are of single animals and I think it would be good to have at least one with more than one animal.

Meanwhile I got a good start last night on the second mustang necklace, working on the bead embroidery on the center piece. More tonight! And hopefully a photo tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First Mustang Necklace - Finally Finished!


Back in July I made several small polymer clay horse heads for necklaces. I was moved by some very sad news stories about mustang round-ups and frustrated by the response Madeline Pickens had been getting from the Department of the Interior about her request to establish a mustang sanctuary. I hoped that I might find a way to donate whatever mustang necklaces I made to an organization or person who could raise some money for the mustang cause by selling the jewelry.



Today I finally finished the first necklace, and here it is. It's a very dark gray/brown, nearly black horse with a small white blaze on his forehead. The large stones are beautiful labradorite cabochons with gorgeous flash and the bead embroidery is glass seed beads. Some of the seed beads are faceted so that they catch the light. The beaded fringe combines seed beads and various shapes of labrodorite beads, and the necklace "cord" is a double strange of seed bead stitched spiral.




The photo doesn't really do the necklace justice, I think because the colors are pretty subtle. But it has a wonderful sparkle and sheen to it and would look both beautiful and sophisticated with something like a gray silk tunic and pants. I'm very proud of this piece and hope I can turn it into funds for mustang rescue. Actually, I've asked my sister to handle that part and I think she'll do a fabulous job.




I can't wait to start on the next mustang necklace tonight. The horse is an apaloosa and the look will be more casual combining the mustang head with lots of turquoise. I just love this stuff! Thank goodness I have good close-up eye sight!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Good News Day

I got exciting news today. Leanin' Tree is licensing this image for their 2011 Christmas line! I have always admired the artwork on Leanin' Tree greeting cards and I love the country orientation. So, it's a real honor to be selected. YEAH!!!!!!!!! I signed the contract today and will be sending it back tomorrow. The contract makes it very clear that it is not an obligation for them to publish my design, but I sincerely hope it will make it that final step.

I created this image a couple of years ago now and last year my agent told me that Leanin' Tree was considering it, but then they decided against it. I have no idea why they decided "no" then or "yes" now - I'm just happy.

At CHA back in January of 2007 I contacted Two Town Studios and they were kind enough to agree to represent me as my licensing agent. The following year they got one of my paintings licensed for a calendar, but that was the only success I had in the licensing field and I stopped submitting images. I guess I'm just not really tuned in to the needs of the commercial market. And that's OK. Two Town was very good to work with but licensing just wasn't for me at that time. So this latest development is an especially happy surprise.


On another note, this past weekend was the first of two weekends for the Placerville Arts Association Studio Tour. Traffic was very light but I made a few sales, so I'd have to say it has been a limited success so far. Three of the remaining paintings from the 20/20 gallery show sold, including my favorite - the mice. It was hard to part with it. But at least I have a good photo. Once again, I am seriously wondering whether I should bother with being in the tour next year, but I suppose when the time comes I'll probably give it another shot.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rabbit Progress and Self Doubts

As I lay in bed last night listening to one of my Alan Jackson albums, my listening pleasure was severely interrupted by negative thoughts about my rabbit painting. I felt that so much of the tedious work I'd been doing with the tiny strokes of hair would just be wasted - covered in the end by numerous glazes. And it was frustrating to not be able to see ahead well enough to know which of it would be important to do and which wouldn't be. I had also been too hasty in glazing over Blackie and Spot - I thought with the wrong colors.

It seemed that my approach was probably all wrong and that I should switch to another method - perhaps one I read about recently in an art magazine.

But then when I looked at the painting this morning, it wasn't as bad as I thought and I was eager to be done with my chores and errands so I could work on it some more. Here's the result. Of course it's still in the early stages, but I am encouraged.

My experiences today emphasized for me once more the importance of drawing. Any time I got discouraged I would look at the rabbits and I liked them and wanted to continue working on them because I thought the drawing was good and, in itself, brought them alive. I can't imagine painting without drawing, and, in fact, drawing is probably my favorite medium although I do like working with my brushes!

A few weeks ago my sister and I went to a pastel show. There was going to be a famous pastelist there to critique the pieces. She commented mostly about composition, but also some about color. I'll never forget that she said she didn't care at all what the subject was! I think I know what she meant - that a good painting must have good composition, value contrast, color balance, etc., regardless of the subject. And I certainly agree with that, but for me the subject is everything. I couldn't paint unless I really cared about the subject. Without that, why bother?

For me, painting is an expression of love - love of the subject.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

As it turns out, the oil paint did work better than the alkyds for the tiny hair lines. Tomorrow will tell whether it dries fast enough to work over it in 24 hours, but I used Liquin (fast drying medium) and the lines are so small that I predict that it will be OK.

My usual pattern is to start off pretty well and be quite encouraged about the prospects for turning out a painting I will like. Then the painting enters the ugly stage and I get discouraged and tempted to give up. We have definitely entered the ugly stage here. But since I can only remember giving up once - when trying watercolor on Aquaboard - it's like that, time allowing, I will be back at it tomorrow and try to nudge the ugly stage "off-stage."

With lightening Whitey and glazing over Spot and Blackie, my challenges with value become even more apparent. How will I make Blacke show against the dark background? How will I avoid Whitey becoming nothing more than a distracting white blob? The ball stands out too much at the moment. And I'm nearing the point where I need to decide exactly what the focal point will be. I'm thinking it will be Spot's face but I don't know if that's a good choice because Spot is the one rabbit who isn't looking at the viewer. So if all the other "signals" - lightest light against darkest dark, composition lines leading towards it, etc. - support Spot's face as the focal point but the viewer's interest does not, will it work? Hmm. Food for pondering.

The next two weekends are the Studio Tour so I've got to spend much of tomorrow and Friday preparing. To tell the truth, I'd rather work on this painting. Hopefully I'll sell well enough at the Studio Tour to feel that it was worth the work and expense.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Good Start at Last

Although I first set brush to surface several days ago, I'd say today was my first real start on my painting of three rabbits.

Last week I prepared the surface. It is masonite which I sprayed with Home Depot style primer then coated with two coats of brush-on gesso. I toned the surface with red iron oxide acrylic, then transfered the drawing with white transfer paper and did a rough underpainting, also in acrylic. (The only part of the underpainting that shows in this photo is the front rabbit.) Then yesterday I got a very tentative start with the alkyds and the rear rabbit ("Blackie," henceforth). I painted his eye then base-coated his fur with a mix of Van Dyke Brown and Ultramarine Blue. For the ear, I used a combination of Red Iron Oxide and Buff Titanium. Then I mixed a little of my brown/blue mixture into some Buff Titanium and used a liner brush to start the hairs.

Then today I was able to work for several hours and made more substantial progress. I finished the light hairs on Blackie then turned my attention to the middle one, "Spot," brushing in tiny hair all over her - the mix of Van Dyke Brown and Ultramarine Blue on the dark patches, and a mix of Butt Titanium and Raw Sienna on the light patches. Finally, I painted the first coat on the ball using light blue (Ultramarine Blue and White) and deep red (Red Iron Oxide, Van Dyke Brown, and White), shading wet-in-wet.
I am intending to blog in a fair amount of detail about this entire painting process while I try to develop a method for painting animals in oil. In general, the edges of the fur will require me to paint from back to front. And I'll probably proceed in this way covering the entire painting in layers. It's tempting to finish the background in it's entirety before proceeding to the rabbits, but I think I need to develop the whole painting together to get the value and colors correct. Perhaps after two full layers I'll be able to complete the background then concentrate on the rabbits - we'll see.
According to this plan, my next step will be to add a foundation of texture to the front rabbit, "Whitey." At that point, I will have the first layer over the entire painting.
My plan for the fur is to establish texture and build up color by putting in a base layer of local color covered with tiny hairs for texture. In some cases, the hairs will be lighter than the base color and in other cases they will be darker. Then I'll add glazes of color, and repeat these two steps until I'm satisfied.
I am actually painting in alkyds rather than oil. I painted in alkyds years ago and really liked them although I was always aware of, and sometimes irritated by their stickiness as they dry. And these paints dry very quickly - one of their great advantages in the right situation. Today I had problems getting the paint texture right for the tiny lines for the hairs. I wanted the paint to flow smoothly and give a thin line with plenty of pigment. But the paint kept getting stickier and sticker - drying, I presume. Tomorrow I'm going to try switching to actual oils for these little hairs. I'm hoping that the paint will dry overnight if I use Liquin. So we'll see!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Merlot the Fox Fairy

Wow, I didn't realize it's been so long since my last post. Excuse the cliche, but time does pass so quickly - and often unnoticed.

I've been doing a little better on working through the tasks on my list and I'm in pretty good shape for the studio tour this weekend. And today I finally set brush to canvas on my oil painting of three rabbits. Somehow the "to-do's" just all seemed either boring or formidable but hopefully now I'm back on track.

Meanwhile, I just couldn't resist doing another fairy. Working on him was a treat I allowed myself as a reward for finishing less appealing tasks.

The other night I was fooling around with a little lump of Cernit clay, practicing making a human head on the theory that I will get better with practice. It turned out OK but I wasn't really satisfied with it. Out of the four I've made so far, I'm really only happy with one. I'm trying for a cute look on an innocent pre-teen age face but instead I'm getting humanoid. Grrrr! It was frustrating, so I decided to go back to animals which I am much more comfortable sculpting.

The result is this fox, cunningly named "Merlot." Aesop's "fox and grapes" tale has always bothered me because I just KNOW that the fox can get the grapes. He can jump! So I often depict a fox with grapes as my rebuttal!

Strangely, I had trouble giving Merlot a cute expression. Instead I think he came out wily and cunning. I tried to change him several times but with no luck. He was simply insisting on my letting him be himself. So here you go, Merlot! Be a happy fox fairy!

By the way, my process was a little different this time as I made the grape leaf base along with the fox instead of wondering after the fact what the base should be - a step forward that should have come a few fairies ago! As always, working with the clay was so intriguing, the mica powders step was miraculous, and the Fantasy Film wings are more fun that a mere human should have!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The NFS Syndrome

The other day at the clay play day I took the opportunity to make beads for a necklace and earrings for the Artists' Studio Tour which is coming up next weekend. I've been kind of ignoring the event, but realized it was time - if not past time - to work on expanding my inventory and the play day seemed like the perfect opportunity. I didn't get as much done as I had planned, but at least I had the makings for a pretty nice necklace/earrings ensemble.

So last night I constructed the jewelry. I used one of my favorite elements - a beaded tassle, this time with turquoise beads at the ends - on the necklace as well as a nice mix of autumn-y stones - peach aventurine, turquoise, and new jade. I also used some small antique copper beads and turquoise and brown color-lined seed beads. (The big round beads in the photo are polymer clay beads.) The basic design is one I often use and really like. In general, the necklace is symmetrical, but in the details it is asymmetrical but balanced.
The beaded tassle took about an hour to make, and the longer I worked on the piece the more attached I became. And the fact that bears are one of my totem animals deepened the bond. Before I added the clasp, I placed it around my neck to check the length. After I added the clasp, I put it on to check it, and that was IT! It's MINE!

And when I noticed that the necklace goes really well with the bear bracelet I made back in August that was REALLY IT! It's MINE, MINE, MINE! NOT FOR SALE! How could I possibly sell MY BABY BEAR!?! And so on.

This happens to me way too often. I'm just not good at selling because I hate parting with my work. I wonder if this is a common ailment for us artists. I suspect that the more of one's self one puts into one's work, the less willing one is to part with it, but I don't know. There may very well be another explanation that's not so flattering to the artist! Fear of the rejection that can come with putting one's work for sale? Insecurity? Now wanting to share? Don't know. But I think I'll ask some of my artist friends as it seems to be an interesting subject.

So it's back to the drawing board for Studio Tour inventory. But today I did take some time to make about 10 pairs of earrings. They are simple ones utilizing antique brass drops and findings and a variety of stones and other beads I had on hand. There's not much work (or creativity) in these pieces, but they're pretty. They will be low-priced items and I hope they'll sell well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Clay Play Day Revival

Diane, co-owner (with her hustband Bob) of the wonderful local bead store, "Basically Beads," used to have a few of us over to her store once a month and we would spend 3 or 4 hours playing with clay, just working on our own projects but enjoying each other's company and picking each other's brains. Sadly, she had to stop several months ago because of scheduling problems, but today she reinstated the monthly fun! Yea! It was just like the good old days except that in the meantime a wonderful bakery has opened across the street and I got a great "to go" lunch there.

Here's a photo of the beads I made. They're nestled on the kiln blanket waiting for me to pop them into the oven. When in doubt of subject matter, make a bear!

I wish there were more time in the day because I'd love to finish the necklace and earrings I have in mind, but it will just have to wait for another day. Sigh. The stones I have wired to the beads include turquoise, carnelina, and new jade, so I suppose I'll use more of those beads in the necklace. I poked a hole in the bear's mouth in case I want to use one of my favorite artifices - a beautiful gem or pearl in the mouth. The symbolism eludes me, but it appeals greatly and I use it often. I have a faceted carnelian drop that might work well for this purpose. At this point I'm undecided whether to use antique brass chain or multiple strands of seed beads for the necklace "cord" so I'll just have to see how the spirit moves me when I'm able to get back to the project.

A little more about the flower fairy I wrote about yesterday. The Cernit clay gives such a nice finish that looks like bisque porcelain. Unfortunately, I ruined that beautiful finish by coating it with a satin finish water-based varnish. The varnish I used was JW which I think is a great product. But it was just the wrong choice for this project. Perhaps I didn't need to varnish the skin at all, but I wanted to protect the little bit of painting I did on the face, fingernails, and toenails. I'll have to try an experiment with matte varnish and see if that works out. (I often skip the "testing out" step when I'm trying something new and sometimes it bites me.) By the way, the satin varnish was fine on the "dress" and "hat."

Monday, September 13, 2010

What a difference a Clay makes!


What a terrible title, but I just couldn't resist. And anyway, it's true! I've used both Kato Polyclay and Fimo Soft and I like each of them for different reasons. But I was having such a problem modeling the fairies that I decided to try Cernit which, I believe, is specially formulated for dolls.

Aside from my problems with modeling a human face, the biggest problem I was having was that I just couldn't keep the Fimo Soft mix I made for the flesh clean. It seemed that no matter what I did - clean work surface, clean tools, clean pasta machine, clean hands - the clay picked up dirt from somewhere. I had no particular reason to think that Cernit would be any different, but I had some sitting around and knew that it was formulated for dolls so I thought I'd give it a try.

The texture is a little different and it's easier to get a smooth surface. Fingerprints just aren't a problem. And the clay stayed clean! Hallelujah! I was very happy with it for the face, head, arms, legs, and body. But I noticed that Cernit and Fimo Soft cure at the same temperature so I decided to stick with Fiml Soft for the clothing. I already had some canes I had made for making little pansies and I used up the rest of the canes on her dress and hat.

I still had problems with the modeling, but I'm getting to feel like I'll overcome those problems with practice. And discovering that the Cernit was so perfect for this type of work makes me eager to get started on another piece. But I used up all my Cernit, so must wait for my order to arrive from http://www.polymerclayexpress/.

By the way, the hair is simply a pompom I made from silk embroidery thread. I had two colors of yellow and decided to use both of them for a more interesting color. After making the pompom I soaked it in water, wrung it out, and dried it in the drier to fluff it up a bit. After gluing it only her head with E6000, I let the glue dry, gave her a haircut, then glued the hat on.

And thanks again to Barbara Trombley of http://www.artglitter.com/ for coming up with such a wonderful product as Fantasy Film! What could be more perfect for wings?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Not Taking Care of Business




I have so many things hanging over my head. Today I finally got a few of them done, but the past few days were not so "productive" in the keeping-the-household-together sense of the word. The clay was calling, and I answered! That first humanoid fairy presented a problem that I couldn't get out of my mind, namely how to sculpt the head and face. I read a very helpful tutorial on http://www.ooakguild.com/ on sculpting lips. The example face in the tutorial was so sweet! I was energized and decided to try it.
Hours later, after starting all over again several times, I finally got something I could live with, but I'm not really happy with it. I was trying for cute and sweet and got vaguely humanoid but wierd. I was especially having trouble with the eyes - it takes great care and perhaps a bit of luck to get the eyeballs oriented correcting, both facing the same direction.

By the way, I was using very nice tiny glass eyes on wire from http://www.glasseyesonline.com/, but they're pretty expensive - over $4 per pair compared to $.85 for the glass animal eyes. There was another tutorial on the ooakguild website on making eyes, and I think I'll give it a try. The tutorial has you build the polymer clay eyeballs on the head of a pin. The pin would be handy for holding the eyeball while working on it, but I don't find a wire necessary for holding the eyeball in the head since the eyelids perform that function very nicely.

Anyway, not completely happy with the head, I began on the body. I should have stopped at that point because I was pretty tired and was rushing a bit. As a result, I was careless modelling the arms and it shows! But I like the pose and the general idea of the piece. The next day I made the base, fox, and wings and finished assembly. I tried really hard to get the fairy standing straight, but her stance came out leaning a bit. My "fix" was to put her on a slightly uneven base than would straighten her out. It mostly worked. From most angles she looks fine, but leans a bit it you look at her the wrong way!

Speaking of eyes, I tried another face and used plain black beads. I got a rather interesting result - something that looks like a cross between a human and a monkey.

On a different subject, one of the cat trees I ordered arrived today and I put it together this afternoon. The cats are having a great time playing in the empty box!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quite a challenge!


No art progress today, but I did a project last week that I didn't write about, so here it is.
After moldeling several animal fairies I decided to try a human - or, in this case, humanoid - one. I had a pair of human doll eyes in my stash of little glass eyes, and it seemed time to use them. Rather than using special doll clay for her, I mixed a light flesh color that was half regular Fimo Soft and have Fimo Soft Translucent White. I probably should have test-cured a small piece to make sure it was what I wanted, but proceeding with that sort of care is not one of my strengths, so I just went for it assuming that all would be well. And it turned out fine. Whew!
Well, the face was SOOOOOO difficult. I kept adding clay then taking clay away. After modeling all around the eyes it just didn't look right and I took the eyes out. (Ouch!) Then a repeat of the whole debacle. Eventually I got a result that I could live with. My assessment was that she was so ugly she was almost cute. The pointed ears hopefully would identify her as an elf so the viewer might not necessarily expect a normally appealing face!
After so much work on the head I decided to cure it before I continuted with the body, so I added a piece of copper wire up through the neck so that I could be sure that the head and body would be firmly attached to each other.
Compared to the head, the body was a relative breeze. I read a tutorial on making hands several weeks ago on http://www.oakguild.com which turned out to be very helpful. I "dressed" her in a leaf (polymer clay leaves, that is) skirt, top, and hat. As always, I brushed on mica powders before curing. After varnishing, I added a seed bead anklet, a Swarovski rhinestone toe ring on the foot that doesn't show in the photo, a rhinestone accent on her hat, and the vintage glass butterfly that she is holding. I forgot to add the antennae before I cured her, so I had to drill tiny holes in her head and glue them in. They're crystals and seed beads threaded on thin head pins.
Her hair is made of feathers. Her wings are skeleton leaves glued onto Fantasy Film (http://www.artglitter.com) then protected with Diamond Glaze. I sprinkled some of artglitter's beautiful glitter colors on the first coat of Diamond Glaze while it was still wet.
I'm pretty happy with her overall, but I wish I could have done a better job on her face - next time. I have some ideas for improving my modeling process, so we'll see how they work out!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Another GMIA (Great Moment in Art)

Barb, Shelley and I got together today to embark on our silk scarf painting adventure. We've never worked in this medium before, but Barb and I wanted to create some scarves for the Studio Tour and Shelley was along for the ride.

Stretching the scarves on the frames I had made was tedious, but went smoothly. Predictably, we all devised different methods for accomplishing the same task.

The resist was a bit more challenging. My lines were wobbly (my steady hand must have overslept), and very narrow. I was using the smallest tip on the applicator and had added dye to the resist, perhaps making it a thinner consistency than usual and perhaps contributing to tiny gaps in the lines which caused some problems later. Shelley used both gold and uncolored resist and didn't seem to be having much trouble. She used the resist sparingly - forming clusters of asterisk shapes that looked like starburts - planning to do a lot with freeform color.

Barb had a little problem though. She was innocently applying the resist with the squeeze bottle applicator when either she squeezed a little too hard or the cap proved to be not quite snug and the blue-dyed resist basically dumped all over her scarf!!!! But she rallied and, pretending it was a design opportunity, dove right in and spread the resist gamely over the length of the scarf. Voila! A waterfall!

By that time it was getting too hot outside and we moved indoors and had lunch, waiting for the resist to dry. Finally it was time for the real fun - the dye painting!

Shelley went for it and quickly covered her scarf with beautiful shades of blue, green, and lavendar. Against those colors the white and gold resist stars shone beautifully. Then she decided to wash some of the color off and the colors softened and blended for a lovely feminine effect. We all agreed spangles would be just the right touch!

Barb also worked quickly and was soon finished! Being in an experimental frame of mind, she decided to try something she had read about on the internet - setting the colors in the microwave. She carefully followed some of the instructions and carefully wrapped the scarf in what seemed like yards of paper towels. Then she popped the scarf-paper towel package into the microwave and set it for 2 minutes. Shelley warned "Be careful! Haven't you burned anything in the microwave???" Fateful words as at that very moment the smell of burning paper wafted through the kitchen. There was a bit of confusion about what to do as the burning smell grew stronger and stronger. Finally Barb snatched the precious bundle from the jaws of the microwave and began running water over the smoldering artwork. The "Great Moment in Art!"


Here's the result! Don't you think the burn holes give it that rustic, aged look? Very cool!

Undaunted, she started - and finished - another scarf, this time without using any resist. Following some other of the intructions she printed from the internet, she soaked the scarf in white vinegar, rang it nearly dry, then spread it out on paper towels and painted the dye directly. The dye didn't spread as much as before. We didn't know whether it was because the vinegar was inhibiting the bleed or whether the paper towels underneath were soaking up the dye - that is, bleeding vertically to the layer below rather than horizontally on the piece. Actually, if she had spread another scarf beneath the first one, she would have finished two at one time!





Meanwhile, I was plodding away, silently and diligently, in my meticulous manner. Here I am looking happy, happy, happy! (I knew I should have put on makeup this morning!) I think I looked happier than I felt because I had very little idea of what I was doing and how to proceed, but on - and on and on - I went till the tortoise finally crossed the finish line.

I will definitely do more scarves, and so will Shelley and Barb. We all had a good time, but were completely wiped out but the end of the day.

Here's what I learned for next time. I like the resist but will use a different applicator tip for somewhat thicker lines. I will also work the background first so that I have a context for my main design elements before I color them in. I will work more carefully and do a better job of resisting hurrying along. And I will be more willing to mix colors on the palette rather than just on the scarf.

The jury's still out on the finished piece as I have to let the dye dry, remove the resist, then set the colors. By the way, we used Jacquard Green label dyes and the colors are gorgeous!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


It's funny how out of the blue my enthusiasm for working in different media waxes and wanes. The other day, after a week or so with no interest in polymer clay, I found myself unable to stay away from it.
Here's the first creation from my latest "polymer clay period" - a tiny frog on a cluster of gingko leaves. The polymer leaves and frog sit on a disk shape of polymer clay to give it stability. I wired each of the green pearls on individually to make them nice and secure.
I've made several pendants in this basic style - a polymer clay centerpiece, dangles hanging from it, and an antiqued brass chain for the necklace part. I love the look of the antiqued brass and there are so many great charms and filigree beads in this same finish. (Check out http://www.brassbouquet.com.) The dangles all hang from a large (I think it's 16mm) antiqued brass ring which, in turn, hangs from a brass wire loop which I embedded in the clay before I baked it. Putting these combinations together is so fun (as is shopping for the charms, beads, and crystals)! Sometimes I add antiqued brass filigree connectors on either side of the central pendant for a little extra interest.
After the frog pendant, I made a Pegasus pendant and then attempted my first humanoid fairy. That fairy face was a real challenge. Pictures to come - hopefully tomorrow.