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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Parakeets are Next


This is the second project I did for my polymer clay animals book proposal.  Most animals seem to be fairly dull colors, and I wanted to have some bright pretty colors in the proposal, so I chose parakeets.

An obvious use for them would have been a pendant, but I thought a bracelet would be nice and might appeal to editors looking for jewelry books as it includes more beading.

The parakeets are small - a little over an inch tall - and I was able to make all three from a single two-toned roll of turquoise and yellow.  The bracelet might have been more interesting with three differently colored birds, but...

I'm a sucker for glass leaf-shaped beads and found some really pretty pale green ones at our local bead store.  The main beads in the bracelet are 8mm glass beads, and there are also size 11 and size 15 seed beads as well as 4mm Czech crystals.  As a result the bracelet is nice and substantial.  With the polymer clay parakeets being lighter than the glass portions, there's no problem with the parakeet focal point sliding underneath the wrist, so the bracelet wears well.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beginning the Book with a Fox

Foxes are hard for me to resist, and I didn't try that hard when I decided on the subject for my first project for my polymer clay animals book proposal.

This will probably be one of the more advanced projects in the book. 

Once I had the fox finished I was a bit puzzled about what to use him for.  I wanted to make a necklace, but the fox was pretty substantial, so the question was: what could I use for the necklace portion whose scale would balance the fox?  Fortunately, I had a nice kumihimo cord that I made from hand-dyed silk back in my kumihino days and it turned out that the colors were perfect.   I also had a piece of dyed druzy quartz (?) whose brown-red color would complement both the fox and the cord nicely.  So it was just a matter of picking out the other beads, and the project was as good as done.  I really love these flat square faceted carnelian beads, and the moss agate drop was a winner too.
Project #1: check!

Coral Reef


I designed and built this piece for Fire Mountain Gem's seed bead competition, so wish me luck.  I wanted something with a lot of texture and think I achieved my goal.  I made the polymer clay fish then beaded the base around it.  The base is a beaded net and the fish has six holes side-to-side to accomodate the beading threads.  This makes the fish an integral part of the bracelet rather than something that's just glued on.

There are basically three beaded structures on the base which make up the "coral."  One is a type of branching.  The second is a tube of peyote rising from a ring of upright beads around a large glass bead or pearl.  The third is peyote worked on a ring of sideways beads around a large glass bead.

An engineering secret in this bracelet is how I designed it so that the fish will stay on the top of your wrist when you wear it.  Polymer clay is lighter than the glass beads.  I placed my heaviest, largest glass beads near the clasp to help weight that side of the bracelet down.  It also helps that the clasp is narrow.

I like the colors and textures - not just the beading textures but the finishes on the different beads - of this bracelet.  It's substantial and fun to wear.

While working on this piece I renewed my appreciation for Czech glass beads.  My local bead store has a "bead bin" - actually a large plastic litter box filled a few inches deep with loose beads.  You can look through the bin and pick out beads individually.  You fill a small plastic bag with your selections and they charge "by the bag."  Looking through that bin is the best therapy I've found anywhere!

Moth and Moon Gourd

I'm teaching a four-hour beginning gourd class in August and here's my sample.  It uses several techniques - painting, applying cabochons, a little beading, and a little construction with the branch handle - so I hope my students will find something to their liking and go on to make more!

I find moths particularly fascinating - more so even than butterflies.  I think it's because they're fat and fuzzy - my favorite shape and texture!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Finished with the Diptych


I'm now finished with these two pieces.  I worked on the foreground branches on the ringtail and made a few changes on the cactus wrens.  I'm pretty happy with the result, but I might still come back later and try to make the ringtail's tail look more rounded.  When I frame it, it will be a triptych with my "Tuscon Scene" necklace in the center mounted on a piece of silk that is the same size as each of these two paintings.  I'll title the finished piece "Lucy and her Birds."

If nothing else, it's unusual!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nearing Completion

After trying to round the birds more, "greening up" the cactus, and painting and fussing with the small branches I'm nearing the end of this painting.  I see a few more things I need to do and I'll make note of them here so I don't forget.  But I won't get to them until I'm at the same stage with the civet and can put the two side-by-side to figure out the final touches.  The final touches that I see now are:

Deeper shadow on the inside of the broken branch (?)
A bit deeper color on the small branches at the upper left (?)
A little darker on the left forward branch (?)
The thorn overlapping the left bird's tail shouldn't be overlapping as it is behind the tail.
I need to add a bit of green somewhere other than on the cactus and also somewhere in the civet part of the painting.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Know Better!

I actually do know better than to rest my hand on my painting without a paper towel underneath it.  But did I do that today?  Nooooo.  And the result is this indelible brown splotch on the cactus.

Which leaves me with a problem.  Since I'm using nearly all transparent colors, if I paint over the splotch with an opaque one it will look different even if I manage to match the color to the greens beneath it.  I tried scraping the paint off with the tip of an X-acto knife, but with no avail.  And I actually may have made the situation worse if I damaged the surface of the paper.

So on the heels of that defeat, I decided to add more detail to the thick branches.  Hence, the darker part on the right side of the upper branch.  I'm not sure whether or not this darker color is justified, but I am now committed.

I really like this primarily transparent technique.  And the acrylic allows for building up the color with essentially unlimited washes.  And I think it's a fit for the style I seem to be developing which is highly decorative and not so realistic.  But it may require more planning than I've been willing to do so far as it's purely light to dark.