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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Needle-Felted Bear

 I wanted to do another needle felted animal and decided on a bear.  Bears have an extra step because I first have to make the claws from polymer clay and then glue them to the toes on the armature.

Then I can begin adding the wool.  I began with the feet and used my finished color because there isn't a lot of wrapping there - probably not enough for a core wool inner layer followed by an outer layer of the finished color.

From there, I added quite a bit of core wool.  I've been primarily using roving, but for this piece, I tried the loose wool fiber that I got a few years ago from and it worked quite well.  It was perfect for this piece because wrapping with the core wool yields a shape which is symmetric around the armature wire, but you can add bits of the looks core wool for uneven shapes.

In this bottom photo I've begun adding the finished color all over.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My Ceramic Fox Family

I originally had mixed feelings about this little sculpture.  But I held out hope that it would be better when glazed.  When I took it out of the kiln I wasn't happy with it.  I thought mom's cloak was too washed out and that her dress was not as light as I wanted it.  But the more I looked at it, the more I liked it.  I guess the expressions worked their magic with me.

Here are the two young girls.  I wasn't able to get their paws touching, but I guess it looks like I've captured the moment when they're reaching for each other's hands.

And here's the family.  They're going to Grandma's house to show her the new baby.  The colors are subdued, and probably (I wouldn't know, really) not from this year's favored palette, but I'm happy with them.  I've taken liberty with this family portrayal because in nature all the siblings would be the same age!

I started to list them for my Etsy shop, but decided to get a few opinions about pricing - one of my really weak points!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Finished Gelato Piece - a Chipmunk

My plan had been to finish the piece by painting a little chipmunk in the center frame.  So I began by drawing a chipmunk on a separate piece of paper so that I could trace and transfer it to the board.  But I got so involved in the drawing that it because a finished piece in itself.  So I decided to just tear the right size piece out of the drawing paper and glue it to the center of the board.  Then I put just the faintest possible washes of the blue and green Gelato colors in the background of the drawing.

A quick spray with workable fixative sealed the piece.  I love this little chipmunk!  I was going to put her on my Etsy site, but I think I'll hold onto her for a while!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Trying Gelatos

I've had a beautiful set of Faber Castell's Gelatos for quite a while now, and I finally got around to trying them.  I had a 6" x 8" piece of 1/4" hardboard covered with crumpled masa paper (a type of rice paper) so I decided to work on that since I have often worked with watercolor on this surface.

Before I started, I watched a few videos on U-Tube about how to use them.  One thing I learned is that they behaved differently on papers that have different absorbencies.  I painted a rectangle of white gesso in the center of the board to see how differently the gelatos would act on the masa paper versus the gesso.  It was very easy to lift the color - and to spread it very thin - on top of the gesso.

The Gelatos are stick pigments that come in a screw-up tube like chapstick.  They are water soluble.

A combination of the rough surface and the large size of the gelatos (about 9/16" in diameter) led me to not try for detail.  I just rubbed on color, vaguely suggesting roses and leaves.  After rubbing the pigment on I wetted it with plain water in a brush and moved it around and blended it a bit.  Then I added more pigment that I didn't blend.  (You can also blend the Gelatos by rubbing them with your finger or a dense sponge that comes with the set.)

The result was very colorful and rich, but just a bit too bright for me.  So I used another product that I've had for a while but hadn't used before.  I sprayed the surface with Perfect Pearls spray mist and used gold and blue patina.  That dulled it down just a bit, and added shimmer.  However, some of the Gelatos are metallic and have a shimmer of their own.

I decided to add a rough little frame in the middle with gold dimensional paste.  This had been a fun experiment so far.  But, now what?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

More Sculpting

One of my Etsy customers special-ordered a bear wall plaque.  She was looking through the items I had sold, saw it, and asked me if I could make her one.  Sure!  You see it lying on the drying rack at the right.

But it's a shame, as well as a waste of electricity, to fire the kiln for just one piece, so I made more.  Last winter's rabbit ornaments with the Swarovski crystals were well received, so I made another one - it's in the middle of the photo.  Then I decided to make other arctic animals in the same design, so I made an arctic fox (on the left) and a polar bear (to the right of the fox).

But that sill wasn't enough!   I proceeded to make a chipmunk in a nice dress.  I liked her so well that I wanted to keep her for myself (the pieces I was sculpting were for my Etsy shop), so I decided to make a second one - one for the shop and one for me.  It's been about five days since I finished them and now that they're thoroughly dry, they're in the kiln for their bisque firing.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Third Totem - a Running Hare

Here's the third and final totem animal of the latest batch - a running hare.  His ears as SO big, and his legs are SO long.  He's carrying a beautiful assortment of semi-precious gemstone beads, tied onto his back with artificial sinew.  The carnelians are beautiful flat faceted square.  The turquoise are small nuggets from the Sleeping Beauty mine.  And the amber is a large perfectly clear bead of a quintessential amber color.

This is another of my favorite glazes - "Sandstorm" by Duncan.  It has a lovely mottle to ti, combining a medium dark brown, a caramel, and a beige.  If I drank coffee, it might remind me of coffee with caramel and a light froth.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Second Totem - a Black Cat

This little totem is also stoneware clay.  The glaze is Mayco "Black Walnut" which is a beautiful rich blend of black and brown.  The stones are kyanite, blue chalcedony, and smoky quartz.

I'm tempted to keep him because he reminds me so much of my dear departed Starbuck - the best cat ever!  But I guess I'll put him in my shop and perhaps he can bring joy to someone else's heart.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The First of a Totem Trio

I just added the final touches to a trio of totem animals that I sculpted a few weeks ago.  I sculpted them from stoneware - a mid-range fire clay.  The thing I really like about this clay is the ring of it when you tap on it.  It's like glass rather than clay, making that beautiful clear pinging sound.  The downside is that I don't have as many colors of glaze for this type of clay as I do for the lower fire earthenware, so my color choices are limited.

This is a mid-range glaze that I like very much, called "Sea Salt"  - a nice warm white with little speckles.  The eyes are "Black Walnut" which is a brownish black mottled with black.  At the edges, it's more brown as you can see around the edges of the eyes.  both glazes are by Mayco.

I finished to totems by tying artificial sinew around the "waists" and adding semi-precious gemstone beads.  It would be nice to choose the beads so that the mystical meanings of the stones complement the mystical meanings of the animals, but I decided to just go with color instead.  So this polar bear has chryophase, Peruvian opal, prehnite, and quartz.

Initially, I wasn't too happy with the sculpting as I thought it was a bit crude.  But now that it's finished, I like it.  He looks rather impish.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Burdz in Niches - Finished!

 It's finished!  And I'm really happy with it.  Actually, more than that - I really like it!  Yea!

I will enter it in "Cloth, Paper, Scissors" magazine's mixed media competition.  It would be so cool to be one of the winners, because then the piece would be published in their magazine.  That could change my life!

Anyway, I really like this way of working - starting with the black and white collage then adding layers and layers of transparent acrylic washes.  The dark and light patterns that emerge are sometimes surprising and seemingly always interesting.

My favorite part is the green right side.

I was a bit worried about all the color in the pennant garlands, but in the end, I think it's fine - largely because the color is concentrated rather than spread out all over the piece so it accentuates the color on the birds.  I mean, the "burdz!"

Friday, July 8, 2016

Color and Flag Garlands

I put the lights in.  They're so easy to use and they add a great touch.

I've also put color on the background and made garlands of little paper flags.  I just have the garlands taped on for now to decide where I want them.  To make the garlands, I punch holes in the top two corners of each flag and then threaded them alternately with small two- or four-hold buttons.

So far, so good.

I really like this way of working - start out with a concept then take it slowly, a step at a time, deciding on the next step at each step along the way.  There's a lot of contemplation involved, but I think it works better than trying to plan the whole thing out from the beginning.  I think it gives more room for ideas.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Continuing with Burdz in Niches

My next step was to add the bottom layer of collage - all black and white (or off white) - mostly for texture, and a little bit for the images.  I tried to concentrate the darker pieces towards the top and tried also to balance the browner, that is, the more aged, pieces across the whole.

I also made some little pennant pieces that I will decorate and then make little banners from to hand from beneath the niches.  For those, I started with a piece of Strathmore mixed media paper and glued some of the same papers I used for this layer of collage on both sides.  I stuck with the lighter pages.  Then I cut the banner pieces from that.  To glue the papers on, I used a Mini Collage Glue Stick from  I really like this glue stick because it doesn't buckle the paper.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Back to Burdz in Niches

I finished the niches by rounding the insides with paper clay.  I had to add the paper clay in layers - three of them - because if you apply the clay too thickly it will crack.  So that took a bit of time as each layer took a full 24 hours to dry.

Meanwhile, I built the top.  It is not attached.  It sits in place and is stabilized by a piece on the underside which fits nicely into the bottom piece.  I want the top to be removable because I'm planning to add tiny lights in the tops of each of the niches so I will need access to the inside in case I need to change a battery.

So now it's time to gesso the piece, then on to the fun stuff - the decoration!