Monday, August 26, 2013

Art Bead Scene August challenge

     This month’s challenge art piece at Art Bead Scene Blog  is titled 'Tres Personajes', or 'Three people'. It is an oil on canvas work from 1970 by the artist Ruffino Tamayo and is said to be one of his more stellar works. It has been called a 'masterpiece in color, abstraction and texture' and I decided to let all three speak to me as I took my inspiration, albeit a very literal one, from this painting.

     My bead stash is poorly lacking in these colors and if I'd known of this piece before attending my last bead show I would have stocked up, but sadly my palette was more earth bound.
     So, my only resource was my own worktable and I sketched out a few ideas, the shapes, the colors and motion that attracted me, and to think this million dollar painting was actually found in the trash only five years ago!

    These are the things that popped out to me each time I viewed the painting.

  • Two Red Dots
  • Purple curved lines over pale yellow
  • Grey and red stripes in a thin rectangle
  • Golden line which had zipper teeth
  • Circles, squares and other geometric shapes. 
  • Smoky Industrial grays
  • And of course, 'three people'

     After making a variety of beads and auditioning Gray metallic findings, only a few didn't make the cut. 


     My first 'bead' is structured like a pendant but is not the focal point, purposly. In my representation I wanted to evoke the feeling the painting does, that of abstraction and  have my necklace emulate that, not only with the beads but with the construction and placing of those beads.

     The three faces are Purple, Red and a Ying-Yang Red and Purple that stands for the androgynous figure that the painting includes.  These faces are placed on a background of stripes of Purple, pale yellow, black, Red & grey and purple & gray  stripes. The black has 'zipper' teeth highlighted in brass, cast from a real zipper. This I did not want to use as a pendant so my greatest challenge was how to attach this to the necklace in a different way than front and center, focal. I did this by stringing silver-heart clear glass beads and attaching a bail to the pendant and stringing it on top of them; when worn this falls off to the side of the rest of the necklace just a bit and gives it a unique look. I tried to take a photo of this to share, the weather was not my friend for photography today but to give you an idea.....

     I know....... awful picture. but by the time I thought of draping it on my manikin it was very late in the day and I had to use the flash. But this will give you an idea of how the three faces are supposed to look when worn. You can also see my metal bicycle chain woven throughout the left side of the piece.

     I was next taken by those two red dots on the far right figure. I had to incorporate that somehow. I did have a few red coral beads that I have included at the top left side, but I wanted them to be more prominent so I set to work on another bead. This was not originally going to be the focal, but when I strung it up the side of the necklace it didn't look right, then I realized since I had given this bead two holes instead of one that I could string down through it and back up, but it should have a purpose and that is where three of my twisted purple beads came into play. I added a small red coral bead to the center one and highlighted the twists with grays, the other two have ombre grays to blacks going the opposite direction.

       This focal is a rectangle rapped with a variegation of pale yellow, light grey, dark gray and black.   Encircling the black side is a metal zipper, made completely from polymer clay from a mold I took of a jeans zipper. This is what I saw in the middle of the painting with the yellow line with small dashes. The two red dots have hammer studs embedded as does the next bead up the left side.

      This next bead started its life a bit differently. I was going for the square within a square on the one persons head and  added it to this silver cylinder. Not liking what it was doing I ended up giving it a twist and deep lines, circles and embedded metal studs. This kind of captures many of the elements in the painting into one bead.

     There are also red and grey twisted beads for the stripes in the painting as well as textured disc beads that bring out the circles and the reds.   Further up is my first attempt at a hollow pod bead. The under layer is pale yellow with purple strings that encase the pod but don't completely cover the yellow, allowing a peek and reminiscent of the yellow with purple lines on the right figure.

     My last prominent art bead  is a pale yellow and silver striped one wire wrapped with silver plated wire with a few twists. This is for the large yellow area on the right of the painting mixed with grays, it reminds me of a small tornado.

     So there you have it.   All this was strung on black beading wire and because I wanted all the beads to show, once it gets up to the curve of the neck that disappears behind you I attached a antiqued gray chain. And almost all the beads were antiqued with antiquing medium in different shades of grays.

    I had some fun with this one, it was very bold, but very interesting and it gave me a chance to play with reds and purples. Although I can proudly and rightfully wear the insignia of the Purple hat Society I haven't yet chosen to do so, but If I ever do I have the perfect necklace to go with it and a story behind it to boot!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weeds and Grasses

     Weeds and Grasses, something we drive or walk  by everyday and never stop to notice the color, texture, or the intricacy of these humble plants. But these should be revered for what they are, food for hundreds of animals around the world, including us. Have a sandwich today? Most likely if you are GF you had your bread made from a grass, wheat mainly.

      The seeds of many grasses make up a majority of the diet of birds everywhere including the songbirds we like to attract to our backyards.  But these are usually left growing in fields or mown down on occasion along roadways where they grow wild.

      The center stalks on the photo right (which shows my lay out for my texture sheet talked about in the PolymerArts Magazine Plein Air Article) are what I locally know them to be called: Indian grass.
    I remember as a child gathering the slender stalks in the field out back of my grandparents house and twisting them into garlands to wear on my hair or like a necklace. They are very graceful when growing, bending over with the weight of their tiny seeds bowing to the earth in the late summer sunshine.

     I also came across the outer grasses growing in close proximity to the Indian grass and decided to add them to this texture plate for variety.

     As I said in my last post I wanted to show the readers some ways these texture plates I made for the article can be utilized to make interesting pieces.  Here is the texture sheet right after impressing.

While a bit dark I did this in editing to show the deep impression these grasses made. Also notice the few grains that fell off during the process. They can usually be removed easily with your water spray bottle, letting the water droplets help wash them away. For more stubborn bits, using tweezers carefully to remove them will do the trick. I have just baked the clay first and then removed the debris but this doesn't always happen with all vegetation, some will stick and nothing will remove it so get off all you can before baking.  

Now, so what did I do with this texture plate of ordinary weeds and grasses?

     I made one experimental rectangle, keeping with my organic philosophy of not being perfect, baked it and then tried various coloring on it. I decided that it needed friends from the texture plate to join it and a bracelet seemed the obvious choice. I made them different lengths but keeping the width similar, pushed holes for stringing with care to denting the clay and textured the backs of all of them with my secret recycled texture plate.

     Each one was given the same coloring treatment and each on came out different, so not only are the textures different but similar on each tile, but the coloring is as well, very much like in nature!

That center one is my favorite and stands out among the others for it is the tallest and gives a full view of a stalk of the Indian grass.

What do you think, do you like the more natural organic shapes?

Acrylic sheets for making texture plates, swirl beads and assisting in all kinds of Polymer clay sculpting are available in my etsy shop .


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.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Plant Life in Art

Got an unexpected treat yesterday in my email. I just recently reopened my shop on etsy formally known as Organic Odysseys and now BlueStoneDoorStudios on August 1st without any fanfare.

I found this note from Nicky Spaulding Art (who seems to share my love for nature in his paintings) about putting me in his latest Treasury at etsy. It seems my Tendrils of the Rain Forest Pendant fit right in. This is from some experiments I've been doing with my extruder, great happenstance and organic wonderful forms.

Thought I'd share it here in all its organic goodness, please go check it out at etsy as well, just click on the photo.

Monday, August 19, 2013

So, what were you doing?

Thought I'd share some of the projects I worked on while making my way back into the Polymer world. During my time away I would still have ideas in my head that made it to the sketchbook but not to the worktable.

I don't recall what finally brought me there; although it may have been a class I attended online with Maggie Maggio;but I've got a few pictures of some of the things I'd done to help me get back on the horse.

I won't say any of these are notable but they helped in getting me in the clay and getting me excited to work with it again.

So, less words. more pictures.

Strange alien life form

Maggie Maggio's split link class

Revamping some burnt beads

Extruder experiments using gold and copper


Extruder pieces using Bettina Welkers retro pixilated formulation with my own twist


Wire Work - working with my favorite metal, copper


                                                                        Helen Briel folded bead 

Pinched petals with scrap clay

                                                                               Faux Metal works


Hope you enjoyed a few of my experimentations, more to come soon!


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