Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

Well, almost! It has for me of sorts. I finally found that round tuit and got busy on making my first ACEO for the PCAGOE February challenge ( voting opens Feb 1st) . I carefully conditioned the clay for the base and cut out, with my ACEO template ( 2 1/2"x 3 1/2") 4 'blanks' with which to work on , leaving a bit of overhang for later trimming from whatever I did to it. I've had the idea in my head since reading Cynthia Tynsdale's post on extrusions. It got me playing around with my extruder again, this time with handy tips for use I picked up while surfing the net and one from watching a Lisa Pavelka video. That is what I used to make my 'prize-winning' entry in last months contest, my 'To everything there is a season', switch plate cover.

After that I began to think about what else I could do with them. I did try out making a stamp, which I haven't employed as yet, but it was fairly easy and I shall revisit that again, this time with a more elaborate design.

So as I said, I think, in my post a few weeks back, I needed to get working on it because Tuscany was heavy on my mind. Well, I did finally work on it, but not until this week. It's not that I'm a procrastinator, ( not me) it's just the more time I have, the more I have to futz and fiddle with it and drive myself crazy, so basically your average perfectionist. So I got down to business on Monday, yeah, this Monday, with the deadline, yesterday.

As I started to say above, I cut out 4 'blanks' to use. This would let me experiment and try out all the different things I wanted to try and pick the best one. I have never made one of these, in polymer clay or other materials so felt the need to tinker a bit. I know others have done these as well as ATC's and also are prolific with all the scrap-booking and altered books materials, so knew I was at a disadvantage. I have some of those things but never got past making some Hanukkah cards or a few photo pages.

Originally my idea was to have these multi-colored ( as in skinner blended) 'sprouts' emerging from a base of woody, mulch-like looking 'something', then that went to ferns emerging in little fiddle heads. In a house I lived in the longest, we had ferns all around. I loved them. I have always had a love for these primitive plants, they just exude peace and tranquility to me for some reason. Maybe because they were here before the beginning of time so to speak. I don't know, whatever it is, I have always had an attraction towards them, but never captured them in any medium I've worked in. So now was the time.

Sunday night while out grocery shopping, as I passed by the floral section on my way to the produce, I noticed some little ferns in pots they were selling. And I picked up this little one called 'Lemon Button Fern'. I loved the rounded leaves and thought it might go well with the others I had at home. So to make a long story short, Monday I experimented with the fronds and some fern stamps I had, and also some new lettering stamps I've just gotten, also on Sunday. Then I painted and sanded with some different colors and metallics.

Neither one of my first two 'blanks' came out well. I had serious ridges from the pasta machine and the fern impressions were too light. Now I 'do' have experience with making many plants impressions so I will have to chalk this up to the clay I used ( studio) which was freshly bought on Sunday for this purpose. But I don't know how fresh in the store it was. But at least it gave me an idea of what to do and what not to do. So come Tuesday, I looked them over and spent a couple hours going over those things, making templates of where to place the ferns, the stamps, etc. I wanted one of the last two to be usable and me to be ok with entering it.
So we finally got to the painting, staining , sanding , repainting, re-staining, and coloring portion, one I really love. Since this was a new 'thing' for me ( the ACEO) I wanted to try all I could on it, might as well get all the bang for my buck (time) as I could, right? I used a mixture of metallics and burnt umber on the beige clay to get my 'woodsy' look. Then I tried out my new oil pencils over the delicate ferns. They work a lot more precise than the pastel chalks I have used previously, and I liked the effect. I had also tried my chalks on the stamps and the previous two showed up after 'staining' but didn't in the second round.

When I was satisfied with the backgrounds, now it was time to make the 'fiddles'! I had already made my skinner blend on Monday and played around with it a bit, rolling out ropes to see how it would look.

I finished them both off differently, one had 5 ferns impressed into the background and had a copper tint and one had three ferns in the back and a golden bronze tint. I had wanted to represent the leaves that are curled up in the little crook, but wasn't' sure how to without going to extremes so I let that be and went for more of an interpretation. The second one however did , by accident, find that touch and I also added a few more emerging fiddles to it. ( See the picture of the one with 5 fiddles).

Then came Wednesday,deadline day, which was not a good day for me here. We had a snow storm, I couldn't sleep the night before until 6am, we lost power 5 times yesterday and my dog had a seizure! All in all I am surprised I got the pictures taken, on my window sill even in the low light, and finally got one posted to the contest flicker stream hours before deadline ( instead of last contest where it was literally a couple of minutes! ).

So, there's my entry, up top. I am happy with it, I chose the one I chose to enter sheerly on the pictures alone, as I tend to like the 5 fiddle one best, but it only looks best in person, not in yesterdays storm light pictures so it has to sit back and let the other one contend. Here are the two together with shots I took today, which is sunny. As you can see though, Tuscany was still heavy on my mind, but I won't apologize for that!

There you have it, more than you probably wanted to know about my first ACEO card. Since I have two of these, they are now a 'series' and I may make a few more ( still more ideas on this subject floating around in my brain) and will post them to the etsy shop. It took me about 17 hours to get this done, but I taught myself new techniques and did a lot of trouble shooting so these new things will come in handy next time I attempt another ACEO or even with my other pieces, so time was well spent.

Just as a sideline, while I was waiting for flicker to upload all the contending photos last night I realized, because I was so tired and had such a day! that I hadn't even checked my etsy shop at all and decided to just go check it to make sure all was well. When I got there, I saw I only had 65 items in my shop.........( huh?)........I was tired but that couldn't be right? There were 70 the day before. And I have only sold one thing this month.........( sad for the bees) ...............I looked and it said total: 15 sales! and I checked and sure enough.......15.....So I started to wonder what had happened! But more about that in my next post, so hang in there, I promise , It won't be far behind!

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