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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Body Building

The arms will attach at the end as I want them to be movable.  But I can assemble the rest of the body before I begin the surface embellishment.

So I glued the tail on with two-part epoxy glue, then glued the legs on.  After the glue set I added more paper clay on the leg joints, both to improve the shape and also to strengthen the joint.  I wrapped some aluminum foil around the dowel before I applied the paper clay, both to shorten drying time and save on clay! 

The first leg joint went fine.  But as I began working with the second one, just the pressure of forming the foil snapped the glue joint.  Actually, the glue held.  But there was such a thin layer of paper clay over the plastic bottle that a chip of the clay came off.  So - lesson learned - either glue directly to the plastic bottle (as for the tail) or to a spot where the clay is sufficiently thick (as for the first leg).  I glued the chip (with leg attached) back in place, then proceeded as with the first one.

The next step is to let it dry for a few days then begin the paper phase of the embellishment.  I think the embellishment is the most fun, so I can't wait!

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Wonderful Experience

One of my ACEO customers gave me a wonderful experience.  She had bid on one of my ACEO's which was a black cat fairy standing on a stone wall with lilac bushes in the background and a full moon in the sky.  But she didn't win the piece.  She wrote me about how disappointed she was that she had missed it and wondered if I would do another one.  I explained that I couldn't do one over the same design because I sell my pieces as one-of-a-king originals, but I could do one that was similar.  She replied that she wanted it for her sister who is living with her and sufferring from stage 4 breast cancer and had recently gone through the great loss of having her beloved black cat pass away. 

I was greatly honored to paint this one for her.  One of my strongest inspirations is the great bond between animals and their humans.

Totem Fox - an Art Doll?

After making a few birds from the paper clay I wanted to try something a bit more complex so I began this fox totem piece.  You may recognize the body as an empty lotion bottle.  My "jumping off" inspiration point was an article in a Somerset Studios magazine about making human figures from dish soap battles.

I began by sculpting the head and neck, working around the threaded neck of the plastic bottle.  The problem was that the piece was very top-heavy.  No good.  So I cut off the head - preserving the sculpting as best I could - and filled the bottle about 2/3 full of sand - very good ballast!  Then I replaced the head and smoothed the seam.

I wanted a little niche in the chest as a place to put something special and mystical, so I cut down a matchbox and attached it to the chest area of the bottle with glue.  When the glue cured, I began sculpting the belly around it with paper clay.  The tail is paper clay around a core of aluminum foil wrapped with masking tape.  The paws are paper clay glued to pieces of dowel.  There are holes in the ends of the paws and the dowels and I put a wire in those holes to splice the paws to the dowels and add strength to the glue joint.  My plan is to rigidly attach the tail and legs to the body but to "hinge" the arms to the body so they will be moveable.

My question is - what's next?  And that question illustrates one of the things I so enjoy about these little 3D projects:  I never quite know where I'll be heading when I begin.  It's almost as if the creature  begins to emerge and guides my bringing him/her into full being.

Something New in 3D

When I tried paper clay for the little 3D birds in the mixed media piece that I did at the Art Camp in early April I liked it and wanted to do more with it.

It handles completely differently than polymer clay and yields a different kind of result.  I find it to be a bit elastic so that if I make an indentation mark it tends to slowly move back towards its original shape - sort of like bread dough.  For me, it seems to work very well for a more primitive look.  And of course it only comes in white so it needs to be painted or finished in some other way.  It air dries, so the curing time is rather slow - especially when compared to the cure time for polymer clay.  I find that a project spans several days.

Here are two little birds I made.  Their bodies are the paper clay.  The eyes are glass beads that I pressed into the clay. 

On the left bird, the feet and legs are wire which I glued into holes in the clay body.  The wings and tail are each two layers of mixed media paper glued together with spray adhesive.  Before I assembled the separate pieces - head/body, wings, tail, legs/feet - I embellished the clay and paper parts with decoupage, using various bits of paper, both printed and hand-written.  I used acrylic matte gel medium for the decoupage medium and was pleased to find that the medium did not dissolve graphite like I thought it might.  After the decoupage, I applied a coat of the acrylic matte medium over the all the pieces then added touches of soft body acrylic paint.  To assemble, the wings, tail, and legs are glued in place with E6000 glue.  I attached the buttons at the base of the wings by looping a 26 gauge brass wire through the two holes and tightly twisting the ends together on the back side.  I then poked the wire through a hole in the wing into a hole in the body and secured with E6000 glue.  The last step was a coat of satin finish acrylic varnish over all.

For the right bird, I fashioned the feet from rusted wire.  The legs are tightly rolled rubes of paper secured with glue and a wrapping of embroidery thread.  I glued the tubes into holes in the bottom of the clay body then glued the feet in place in the other ends of the paper tubes using E6000 glue in both instances.  The paper I used for the legs was a nice heavy glossy coated paper from a Haagen Daas ice cream ad in an old Martha Stewart magazine.  I liked the paper so much that I experimented with it a bit for the wings.  To make the wings sturdy I added dimension in the form of making the entire shape a very shallow cone with an inverted cone at the shoulder.  I cut strips into the back ends of the wings and rolled the strips for the feathers.  It's handy that the paper rolls stay nicely in place.  I attached the wings to the body using light acrylic molding paste because it would fill the shape of the upper wings and give them strength.  I left the tail just the small stump that I modeled from the clay - kind of like a shore bird's tail which would go nicely with the shore bird type legs.  For the star on her chest, I went back to the old Martha Stewart magainze looking for a small section of paper whose designs and colors would strike me.  I found a nice piece in the center of a photo of a bouquet of yellow roses and cut the start from that.  I haven't added any paint to this guy yet, but I think it will be minimal.

I am enjoying making these little birds so much!  Using old wire, paper, buttons, and threads makes a nice little exercise of making "something" out of "nothing."  I'm planning on making many more, and calling them my "BURDZ."  I'll probably sell some of the on Ebay or Etsy once I can persuade myself to part with them!

Welsh Fancy

I was looking through a dog magazine and saw a photo of a cute little Corgi lying on the floor in a coy pose.  What I saw, though, was a Corgi fairy flying through the air!  Thus, the inspiration for my latest ACEO.  The moon is one of my favorite images, but I thought it would make sense to adorn this one with a Celtic knot, in keeping with the Corgi's Welsh heritage.

The corgi's face reminds me so much of my late beloved mixed breed dog, Lucy.  She had floppy ears, but when I held them up, she looked exactly like a corgi with the sole difference of having longer legs.  Rest in Peace, little Lucy!

The ACEOs just keep coming

I decided to make a small series of ACEOs depicting bird feeder raiders and began with these two.  It seemed like a good idea but it was a bit challening to come up with a list of animals after the obvious one - squirrel!

After more thought I identified bears, raccoons, and deer as other potential poachers.

High on my bucket list, but possibly never to be satisfied, is my desire to someday live where black and/or brown bears are plentiful.  How exciting it would be to look out the window and see bears in my backyard!
Raccoons are pretty cute too, and they are plentiful around here.  But my big white dog keeps them in hiding most of the time!

Although I liked both these little paintings, neither one received a bid the first time I listed them.

Speaking of which, predicting which ACEOs will sell is a complete mystery to me.  The piece that has sold for the highest price so far went unbid-for through three whole listing periods and up untl the last day of the fourth listing.  Then there was a flurry of bidding at the last minute.  Pieces that I really like go unsold while pieces that I am less sure of receive multiple bids.  Since overall they are selling well I'm just going to continue painting what I like and seeing how it goes.

It's always difficult for me to part with one of my paintings, but it feels good to raise money for animal charities.