Bowl Base Basics

Up until the past several years, my handmade paper bowls were baseless, so to speak. Such as this piece:

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Unless, or course, the bowl form structurally needed a base or ‘feet’, (for instance, having a rounded bottom). Then something would have to be engineered so that it could ‘stand on its own’. This was the fun part! Not only did I enjoy the challenge, but adding more design elements can be downright fun.

So I started making ring pots

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and margarita bowls.

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And sometimes it appeared that I got a bit carried away with my bowl base details! As in this piece titled; ‘Rock and Roll Bowl’. This was one of six pieces where I had designed the bases to reflect what all was happening design-wise above.

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Needless to say, I caught the bowl base bug. To be honest, I think it is now a necessary design element in my work.

Here is an example of the process. Of course, polymer clay is the perfect material for a base. First I decide on the shape and size. This one happens to be round, so I use a large cookie cutter.

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Next, I form the polymer clay over the cookie cutter and add design elements to the surface. I also cut a ‘ring’ of polymer clay that will fit inside the base. These pieces are cured at 285 degrees for 30 minutes.

After curing and cooling, I then sand the two pieces and fit them together as tightly and evenly as possible. Using a thin paint brush, I paint liquid polymer clay where the two pieces touch, all the way around. It is cured at 265 degrees for 10 minutes. After it is cured and cooled, liquid polymer clay is once again applied around the joined area. A gold polymer clay design element is also added over the joined area for structural fortification.

Almost there! The base has its final sanding and a heat-set burnt umber patina is applied.  Final curing is for 15 minutes at 265 degrees. The base is attached to the bottom of the bowl using a thick, white archival glue.

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And here’s the finished piece, titled: ‘Buzz Bowl’.

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A Favorite Supply Source

I love going to New York City.  So much to see, so much to do, and so many places to buy art supplies. Canal Rubber and Canal Plastics on Canal Street (obviously!) fulfill this mixed media artist’s dreams for handmade paper bowl embellishments. Even the second floor at Zabar’s has all kinds of forms for handmade paper casting, as well as interesting shapes for polymer clay projects.

About twenty years ago, I discovered Tinsel Trading Company. At the time, it was located in the garment district. My husband and I have always made it a habit that on the day we depart NYC and return home, we head toward Penn Station early and check out what is happening close by. And that is how we discovered this gem. It specializes in all kinds of ribbons and buttons, appliqués and papers, threads and tassels, vintage and new, etc. and etc.! fullsizeoutput_2a32

A favorite ribbon I purchased a few years back was this beautiful silky, pleated ric-rac. It was large and dramatic and perfect for my big bowls.

Much to my somewhat panicked dismay, I had depleted my stash. But lo and behold, up pops their post in my Facebook newsfeed a couple of weeks ago! It was a photo of MY RIBBON! An end of the year sale was on. I quickly called and asked if they would ship the sale items. Not only would they, but I would get an even much, much better discount if I bought an entire bolt. I did not hesitate. I ordered bolts of chocolate brown, steel grey, and vanilla white.

My order arrived last week. And they surprised me with a little lagniappe to boot! Thank you muchly, Tinsel Trading Company! fullsizeoutput_2a31

New Year, New (Vintage) Palette

A fresh year in my studio means new things to try. New materials to use. And new colors with which to play.

Early last year, I cleaned out my half of our tiny crawl space attic and found a piece of fabric from drapes that my mom had made back in the 1950s. It had sat in the sewing room/spare bedroom for six months before it dawned on me to start researching the colors of the ‘mid-century’. And what a fun thing it was to do!

Not only were the colors just so cool, but the patterns and designs were such fun to discover. George Jetson quickly comes to mind.

Thanks to Pinterest, one can quickly do a visual search nowadays. It took me no time to get several samples of color palettes of the 1950s. Some were for fashion, some for furnishings, and others were paint samples.

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1950s color palette samples.

So after a couple of weeks of color mixing, here are this year’s choices! It is going to be such a fun year!

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Polymer clay palette 2017.

Making Lasting Impressions

Light switch plates are popular ‘bread and butter’ items that are in my repertoire. They are ideal for experimentation and exploration of materials and design techniques that could be possibly used in other ‘more serious’ art work.

It has been quite a while since I have designed and created my own stamps for making impressions into polymer clay. This year, I hope to make at least six stamp plates. I plan to use silicone mold material as well as both baked and unbaked polymer clay in creating what is truly my own design palette.

This first stamp design was to get me in the groove, so it was quick and easy. I used a slab of unbaked gold polymer clay. IMG_8043

I gathered as many tools I could think of to start stamping a design into the clay. Then I just wheeled away and started having fun.IMG_8045

It took no time at all to fill up the entire sheet.IMG_8280

What’s cool about this kind of plate is that one section will have an entirely different effect than another. I would term that as being design economical! This thin copper sheet of polymer clay was pressed into the middle section of the stamp.IMG_8282

After applying it to the base clay on the light switch plate, I finished my overall design and cured it in the oven.IMG_8287

Once cured I applied stain to bring out the stamping details and to add a certain depth to the entire piece. IMG_8321

Ta-da! One design plate down, and five more to go!

 

 

A Simple Project a Week – At Least!!

Pinterest is such a blast. It is not so much addicting for me as it is a great place to store visual bookmarks. I have built a virtual encyclopedia of information and interests. And tutorials. A lot of them simple and easy that could lead to bigger ideas.

This year I would like to choose a tutorial a week and post my attempts and results. And if any should happen to show up in art work I am working on, I’ll post that too!

This week, I chose a very simple origami bookmark to make. I made two in less than fifteen minutes. I think book-loving folks would treasure one or two or a few of these.!

A Day At The Museum

An artistic treasure is located thirty miles from my home. It is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  Every time I visit there, I leave promising to myself to get there more frequently. Although I am a paying member, entrance for the public is free. Yes, free.

My husband and I enjoy attending ‘special’ shows together. Usually we go in the morning and have a nice lunch in the museum cafe. Because of all kinds of schedule conflicts, we were catching a great show very close to the end of its run. We knew there were going to be crowds and lines. So with that in mind, we decided to just chill, go with the flow, and soak in the beauty of the place.

VMFA is impressive, as one exits the parking deck (parking is free if one is a museum member).

Entrance of the museum from the parking deck.

Entrance of the museum from the parking deck.

The grounds around the museum are beautiful and filled with sculptures, recent installations, a stair step waterfall, a pond, and, of course, nature itself. It is a wonderful feast for the eyes if you take advantage of the outdoor dining that the cafe offers.

This is not only a beautiful display effort and nature, the sound of the water is so mesmerizing.

This is not only a beautiful display of art and nature, the sound of the cascading water is so mesmerizing.

'Reclining Figure' by Henri Moore.

‘Reclining Figure’ by Henri Moore.

That stone Victorian house across the street is where museum adult art classes are taught. There are teacher and student shows open to the public. Definitely worth a peak!

That stone Victorian house across the street is where the museum adult art classes are taught. There are teacher and student shows open to the public. Definitely worth a peak!

'Red Reeds' by Dale Chihuly is in the permanent collection. In the winter, when it has snowed, just amazing....

‘Red Reeds’ by Dale Chihuly is in the permanent collection. In the winter, when it has snowed, just amazing….

Richmond, VA will be hosting the 2015  International Cycling Championships.

Richmond, VA will be hosting the 2015 International Cycling Championships. The sign explains what these are all about.

My favorite! I do love bees.

My favorite! I do love bees.

Finally, after all the photo-taking and snacking, it was our time to explore the show. This is what the crowds of museum visitors was all about. I even downloaded the phone app to get the audio tour…so convenient!

Cleverly curated. Even had a room with a vase of flowers and sketching material for museum visitors, who then got to hang their work on an available wall.

Cleverly curated. Even had a room with a vase of live flowers and sketching materials for museum visitors to fulfill their creative juices. They then were encouraged to hang their work on an available wall set aside for their creations.

This was my favorite. I love Van Gogh.

'Vase of Flowers' by Van Gogh

‘Vase of Flowers’ by Vincent Van Gogh

Six Weeks of Crazy!

At the end of April, My husband and I went to the Jazz Festival in New Orleans. He is a native son, and we hadn’t been to the world-renowned event in decades. As an artist, I have ‘done’ the show. And sold out. Of everything. Phenomenal. The art, food, and of course, the music, are still unsurpassed. Go if you haven’t already. But be warned, it’s crowded. Big time.

Upon our return home, I had plans to make room for my new worktable

New studio worktable!

New studio worktable!

in a studio that I left still looking like this

A wreck of a studio!

A wreck of a studio!

because I had been working on two commissions and a show and hadn’t had time to do anything about ‘the stuff’ in my studio.

However, while we were in the Big Easy, we got a call from ‘our tree guy’. We had wanted him to come in late winter (before the spring growth), to take down a number of dead pines, as well as live ones that were dangerously close to our house. We had already experienced one devastating hurricane in 2003 and wanted to take precautions.

Well he was ready for us the second week of May. Fifteen (15!!) trees were removed.

Bucket truck right outside the kitchen!!

Bucket truck right outside the kitchen!!

Bobcat clearing debris in the front yard. Hope I find you once again, red honeysuckle!!

Bobcat clearing debris in the front yard. Hope I find you once again, red honeysuckle!!

We had sort of cleaned up one part of the yard when the painter called and said he was ready to paint our house and studio and other small outbuildings. We had been waiting for him since last October. So we had to clear all kinds of stuff that an artist and her enabling husband acquire over the years. As of today, the painter is almost finished.

Painters all over my house!!

Painters all over my house!!

It will take weeks before everything that was moved is cleaned and back in its place.

But it was all worth it even though I have missed well over a month in the studio. I actually worked on a special order among the mess that is still there. Next week is its turn. And it’s about time ’cause I’ve gotta get some serious work done!

Abigail Adams Pendant: Making Historical Pieces

A few years back, the John Adams television miniseries was being filmed in the area where I live. A metalsmith friend was asked to create jewelry for various scenes. One scene involved John Adams giving his wife, Abigail, a scrimshaw pendant which is housed in the Adams Museum in Massachusetts. Since ivory can no longer be legally used by artists, my friend asked if I could reproduce it using the faux ivory technique in polymer clay. Of course I could! And since there was so much detail in the carving on the pendant, I could instead incorporate xerox transfer and save a boatload of time. The finished piece was placed in a gold plated sterling silver setting with a beautiful gold chain. And as is always the case, the scene in the miniseries wound up on the ‘cutting floor’.

I asked my fellow collaborator if she would mind if I made the pendants to sell. They would not include such an elaborate setting, but rather be more simple. She said to go for it.

To make a long story short, which includes the fact that my sister is a docent at a historical plantation, the museum heard about my pendants. And now for about six or seven years, the John Adams Museum includes the pendants in their shop. And I am tickled pink!!

The top three 'fails' are examples of using old, 'unfresh' copies.

The top three ‘fails’ are examples of using old, ‘unfresh’ copies. The bottom is a successful transfer, but backwards!

Black polymer clay is added to the successfully transferred pieces.

Black polymer clay was added to the successfully transferred pieces. The edges were sanded.

Since buffing is not an option, gloss is applied to give it a sheen.

Since buffing was not an option, gloss was applied to give it a sheen.

Next, a black polymer border was applied. I then formed a sterling silver bail with a s.s. bead, drilled a hole in the pendant, and adhered the bail to it.

Next, a black polymer border was added. I then formed a sterling silver bail with a s.s. bead, drilled a hole in the pendant, and adhered the bail to it.

To complete the historical 'look', I  used a ribbon necklace with sterling silver components.

To complete the historical ‘look’, I used a ribbon necklace with sterling silver components.

By the way, although I have never seen the actual piece on which these are based, I know two amazing facts about it. First, it has a glass cover, even though it is ivory. Second, the reason for the cover is that the leaves in tree are made of human hair. Amazing!

This Year’s Palette

Yes indeed, polymer clay does come in tons of colors and shades. But just like tubes of paint, I believe we should be color-mixing to make our work ‘our own’. Every January, I like to choose all the colors that I would like to use for the next twelve months. Browsing through magazines, photographs, Pinterest, paint cards, and fabric samples is my method of selection and elimination. Once I have narrowed it all down to around forty hues, the physical job of mixing the clay gets started. My goal is usually 5 colors a day. Mixing more than seven and my hands will let me know that they have been overworked. When each color is fully mixed, it is wrapped in wax paper. Now it’s time to have some fun and ‘make art’!

Here is a sample of ‘the method to my madness’.

The darker brown and yellow will be mixed to create a lighter brown. Ratio is 1:1.

The darker brown and yellow will be mixed to create a lighter brown. Ratio is 1:1.

A small food processor saves time and my hands!

A small food processor saves time and my hands!

First roll through the pasta machine.

First roll through the pasta machine.

Freshly finished new color!

Freshly finished new color!

Some examples of some of my polymer clay color palette for 2015IMG_5021_2 IMG_5013IMG_5008