I’ve been having fun doing some abstract sketches trying out different compositional plans and practicing getting interesting marks using digital brushes. I chose red and green because they are complementary colours and I wouldn’t ordinary choose to put them together. The first picture ended up looking like an underwater scene with its blue background, and I couldn’t decide which way was up.
The next drawing started off with a spiral and ended up with more petal-like shapes. I made a short video showing all the layers of drawing that I used to make the my final image.
For the third composition I tried to keep to horizontal and vertical lines since the other two were primarily made up of curves. This time I actually recorded a time-lapse video of the process.
These have been really fun to do, and hopefully they are also interesting to look at. I’ve got a couple of floral pieces that I’ve finally finished but not shared yet so they will probably feature in my next blog. See you then.
Mortality motivation is a thing. Since my mother died earlier this month, I have decided to work on improving my drawing and painting skills. I’ve been inspired by Tim Packer and I’ve been enjoying this series of short videos by Marco Bucci . So far I’ve done some little digital sketches practicing compositional techniques and exploring marks made using a tablet (I’ll share those in another post).
Co-incidentally our roof is being replaced so we’ve had to get stuff out of the attic including my old paintings and drawings from earlier this millennium. Since there’s been several years since I did them, I was able to bin quite a few of them and file them under experience, but a few showed some drawing ability. I have to trust that some of that will come back to me when I get my paints out again.
I have been wondering whether or not to start a new blog to feature my drawing and painting journey, but I’ve always wanted to find ways of incorporating polymer clay into pieces of art so the two techniques may come full circle and meet somewhere in the middle eventually. Having learned more about painting composition there are already some decisions I would now make differently in my polymer clay designs.
Remember I’ve got a mailing list which you can sign up to if you’d like future updates (or unsubscribe from if my tangents go in the wrong direction for you 😉).
Just before Christmas, I started a new job which I’m really enjoying. However, while I’ve been finding my feet with that, things have been quiet on the polymer clay side. I have decided I want to make more videos so I’ve been doing some research into that. While doing so, I found out how to edit the subtitles on existing videos.
Don’t… pull.. the… thread…
(Yup, I pulled the thread.)
This is one of the first video tutorials I did on YouTube, so I decided to go back and improve on the autogenerated subtitles and give it a shiny new thumbnail. They’d automagically done a pretty good job, but hadn’t coped recognizing words like mokume gane. While staying up way too late last night doing that, I realized the video was way to looong, with big chunks of boring in between.
So this morning I researched how to cut bits out of a video. It can be done! I have done it. BUT… then I had to go back and do the subtitles again because some of them had been cut out. 🤦♀️
Therefore, I present to you a video that you may have seen before (here’s my original post with a finished pair of earrings), but now with improved subtitles (I couldn’t do anything about the poor quality footage or the hissing audio. *sigh*). I do want to put my energies into making some fresh videos, but knowing me I’ll feel compelled to upgrade the subtitles on the old videos first.
For a while now I have been distressed that polymer clay is plastic and questioning whether I should be adding more of it to the world. While looking for eco friendly options for polymer clay, I found this article by Wendy Moore where she discusses her own considerations on the responsible use of polymer clay. Even though I don’t rely on my creations as a livelihood (as the women of Samunnat do), I have discovered that making things is vital for my mental health.
I have considered whether there are alternatives that I would find equally satisfying, but I haven’t thought of anything yet. Making lampwork glass beads would require constant burning of fuel while I’m working and I would no longer be directly in contact with the pieces due to the high temperatures. Earth clays would dry out and be wasted due to my erratic availability of time (not to mention requiring a furnace to cure). Even wool felt can be considered to have a negative ecological impact when considering the manufacturing of dyes (I don’t know if natural dyes could get the bright colours I’d want).
There does not seem to be a perfect solution, just relative improvements. Since I already have a stock of polymer clay, it seems better for me to focus on using it without creating waste until there is a more sustainable option. Unbaked clay is no problem (sometimes I don’t have enough) as it can be infinitely reused as a base with decorative veneers on top. However there are techniques e.g. carving that I really like which result in baked polymer clay scraps. (I also collect the scraps produced when drilling beads.)
I have previously used the baked polymer scraps decoratively by rolling them into the surface of unbaked clay to make “frit” beads. I have also used scraps as inclusions in thin sheets of clay that I bake and use for creating mosaic pieces. Since making the mosaics results in more tiny offcuts I decided to test how far I could push the cycle. I used tiny pieces to make stud earrings and then used the offcuts from that to make a new sheet ready to use in future mosaics. Since I need to use fresh polymer clay to use up the offcuts, I hope people will like the studs!
The other place where I have concerns about the waste produced, is the sludge left behind after wet sanding beads. I’m not very keen on sanding so I don’t always do it, but some components just look better when sanded. I have started collecting the dust and working it into raw polymer clay as you might do with mica powders. Because I’m often sanding beads with mixed colours this can result in some neutral shades. I decided to make some of my favourite patchwork beads using these shades of neutral*. I even ended up mixing them with some more colourful pieces because I wasn’t very keen on the colourful mix on it’s own. I don’t sand the beads when I use this technique, so this method closes the loop instead of making more.
With all these techniques, I think it’s important to make something appealing. After all if it doesn’t result in something that someone will treasure it’s going to end up in landfill.
* Of course if I didn’t like the colour of the dust mix, I could also use it in the same way as unbaked scrap clay with a decorative veneer on top.
In April I decided to work on some designs for the Wraptious Competition. I already had some kaleidoscope designs printed as cards but I thought they could benefit from a little more texture and complexity. After working on one of the kaleidoscope images for a while I thought it was interesting but still missing something, so I layered on one of my abstract florals that I had digitally painted years ago.
I really liked the combination so I worked on a few more images. Here are the ones that I have entered into the competition. You can buy these designs on cushions or as art prints until 30th June 2022. You can also vote for free by clicking the green thumbs up on each of the individual product pages, or like and share this facebook post (before midnight 30th May 2022).
So that’s what happens when a kaleidoscope design and a flower painting have a baby! I really enjoyed making these and I’ve already got another one in progress. I hope you like them too. Would you be interested in seeing these as art prints or cards?
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will have come across my wishpots before. I created the first wishpot when my daughter was born and we were planning a family gathering to welcome her. I was inspired by the fairy tales where the fairy godmothers give blessings to the newborn baby. Everyone spoke a wish for her future and I sealed the lid closed. Since then I have made a few different versions as I have been refining the way that the stopper bead is attached.
This current method of stringing allows the wishpot to be worn as a pendant on a necklace, or stand alone as an ornament. Here’s a little video clip to show you.
I now have a few of these listed for sale on my website with more colours on the way. The wishpots come in a recycled paper gift box with a little scroll that reads: “This is a wishpot. The idea is to use it as a focus for your own empowerment and gratitude. It can be worn as a pendant or stand alone as an ornament. To use it: open by pulling the bead lid upwards. Speak your affirmation or imagine your intended circumstance and blow into the open wishpot to add your wish. Close it by pulling the thread on the side (the one that’s shorter when open). When your wish is complete, open the wishpot to release it and say “thank you” as it goes.”
I have a couple of these wishpots myself and I wear one nearly every day. Speaking of things to be grateful for – I have just discovered it’s a Bank Holiday on Monday. What a lovely surprise! I hope you have a great weekend and that your wishes come true.
Here’s another video tutorial. In this one I’m making polymer clay components with embedded wire. I was on the struggle bus with this one and I had to alter my plans because the cane I was using was too old and brittle. I left some of the disasters in the video because my problem solving might be useful to someone else.
Since doing the original stream I have stumbled across some other techniques which work slightly better to recondition old canes, but I’m still testing these. If you have any good tips for working with old canes, please put them in the comments!