Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fall Edition of Polymer Arts Magazine - Plein Air Polymer

       The Fall edition of Polymer Arts Magazine  published today includes my first contribution to this wonderful magazine dedicated to aspiring and professional PC artists; titled Plein Air Polymer.

       In it you will find the outing at my favorite lake and some texture plates I made while visiting.  I did not however make anything from them for the article but thought I should do something with them so you can see how the impressions from weeds and trees can make striking and interesting textures that can be turned into very intriguing pieces of art, wearable and decorative.

      First one I did was of the bark of a tree I didn't recognize and since the weather wasn't so great that day I had to hurry to make my plates and take photos before the rain came. But it had very striking bark covered with lots of lichens.

      This is what the bark looked like; I took the impression from a different area, one not as densely covered with the lichens.

       There are many, many trees in this world and each one has it's own individual 'skin'. I might just set out in the fall to do a series of texture plates from a variety of trees to play with over the winter months and see what great designs can be made with those. 

    Meanwhile this is what I came up with using the texture plate of this tree. 

      These earrings were done at different intervals using white clay as a base. Successive applications of chalks, paints, inks and waxes helped to bring out the depth of the texture and give them the look of a surreal painting.

   I am gradually changing my philosophy on what constitutes art, my art in particular. I am a perfectionist by personality type and strive to do the best I can at anything I tackle but I've come to realize at this stage in the game that I don't want my art to be work, I want it to be an expression, and extension of who the 'free me' truly is.

     Striving for perfection all the time does not bring about possessive energy and this stress of trying to get something perfect actually strangles the need and ability to create, I know because I've been there, done that, don't want a return visit.

Now what has this got to do with these earrings you ask? Well I am just letting go and not striving for perfection because I don't want my art to look manufactured and I was there to be more human than machine look to it. We are all created perfectly imperfect and we aren't even symmetrical!  in fact people don't look good when they are symetrical (I saw on the net once a photoshop of a mirror image of a person flipped to make the other side of their face, compared to the true image they just looked unreal) and I want to be more 'real', so...

     When trying to decide what to do with this impression I had gotten from the bark plate I decided to free hand cut out the pieces, not using a template, not using a  cutter, just a  thin clay blade. I did make the shapes similar for cohesion, but not the same. One is bigger than the other, one is wider, but then again the impression is different and the colors are different which makes each one unique and interesting, just like people, even twins aren't exactly alike, why should your earrings be?

     So, after cutting these out I baked them, and then had to decide what to do with them next. In keeping with the new philosophy  I laid them onto a sheet of silver clay which I had textured slightly and cut around it. then I molded it to the piece, blending it in as I went. I had the foresight to try something different and made a long narrow tab at the top which I folded over to create a bail.

     Next came the coloring and bringing out the texture without making it look like bark.   I think I succeeded and won't go into details because when I get into that zone I just go with the colors and let my hands play and my mind wander!

     When it came time to make these into earrings I was stymied. I didn't just want to use an ordinary jump ring with all the extraordinary things I'd done so far so I went hunting.

     I'll let you in on a little secret I've come upon, I'm sure others have too but it's new to me. I used to have all my findings in little plastic egg cartons, stacked on top of each other and in a plastic drawer. Every time I wanted to make something I really had to know beforehand what, and when looking for it desperately trying to keep from catching the trays on anything and sending hundreds of findings all over the place!

     Well, I got fed up and I'm glad I did. Sure I could have bought some storage pieces to sort and store them but I still felt it would be hard to see what all I have.

     My solution? A simple little ziplock bag. Most everyone has these either bought or received with a bead order or findings, or you could go to your local dollar store and get 100's for cheap there.

     I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner, as I recall I did something similar in my sewing room years ago. When storing all my notions, templates, etc I would forget what I had, buy it again or never get to try it.  To solve that problem I used the sandwich sized zip close bags, punched a hole in the top under the zipper part and used a pushpin to hang on my wall. Now all my notions were in front of me, catching my eye, whispering me to try them out and I did!

     Well this is similar but because these are mostly tiny items, using the 1"x2" bags suffice. I took some time to carefully gather everything out of dozens of  egg cups and into the bags. I sorted by type, color and metal. I threw these bags into plastic shoe storage boxes, the kind you get for a dollar and have them without their lids, stacked within easy reach on my jewelry assembly table. Now when turning my clay pieces into jewelry I can very quickly got through the box of bags, grab a few out to 'audition' and put them back just as easily, just remember to zip the bag shut before you do! 

So with this new system it allowed me to be adventurous and it also sparked creativity to solve this dilemma.  I'll let you try and figure out what I used, but I must say I really liked this look and plan on using it again.

This post got a lot longer than I planned so I will parse out the other pieces in posts to come, meanwhile if you haven't subscribed to Polymer Arts Magazine you can still do so and get this issue in paper form or the digital version.

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