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HBreil Radiating Rays silkscreenAs mentioned yesterday, silkscreen is great for adding pattern to a piece but you want to be careful that you don’t lean too heavily on the pattern to carry your design. As fun and novel as silkscreening can be for the maker, it is still just a visual texture. Something else has to come into play.

So, of course, I had to check out Helen Breil’s silkscreened pieces because I knew she’d have a fabulous example for us. This gorgeous bracelet gets energy and an interesting texture from the silkscreen but if it weren’t for the color choices of gold against a rich red and the undulating form, the pattern would not be overly interesting. But with texture, color and form combined, we have a very dramatic and energetic piece. Let’s not forget the anchor of that black focal point. Without it, all the movement and energy might be a bit much but the button in the middle gives the eye a place to rest before heading back out to take in beauty of this great combination of elements.

Of course, Helen’s shop is an excellent source of silkscreens as well as instruction on how to use them. You can find both on her website here and her Pinterest board of examples here. Also take a look at her video classes, including her new Magnetic Pendants class, all on her website.

 

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noelia silkscreenI just realized the other day, as I was admiring a slew of silkscreen work by one Noelia Contreras, that I don’t think I’ve ever spent a week admiring this little gem of technique. So as I keep focused on fixing a couple snags that are in the way of getting the Spring issue off to the printer, let’s admire a some nice silkscreens and look at ways it can be used.

Noelia’s set seen here shows a number of applications for silkscreened clay. It works as a background, a foreground, a peek-a-boo ground (yes, I just made that up) and even to create singular objects to raise about the surface. I enjoy these pieces because they all have focal points, some more subtle than others, but it is more than just a swath of pattern. What I assume are brooches on the right side are probably my favorite designs because of the energy of their shape, just off-center focal point, and the couple of layers there that lead to a small spot of negative space. A bit of the cloth those will be set against will be framed in those negative spaces which integrates the brooch and its background. It’s a nice touch.

The silkscreen and patterns are the primary focus in these pieces, which can be a little tricky. Just using lots of pattern can make for weak design if the artist depends on it to be the sole point of interest. As much as we might like a pattern, it needs contrast and context, at the very least, to create strong design. Here there is a mix of pattern that invites the viewer to find relationships between pattern choices and enough contrast in other design choices, including those bold black outlines, to show the pieces were well thought out. You can see alternate views of most of these pieces on Noelia’s Flickrphotostream and in her website gallery.

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   never knead -july-2015c-125   Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog   businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front    The Great Create Sept 15 blog

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sgraffito vaseTo finish up a stretch of blog posts on vessels, I have for you this interesting ceramic vessel done in a style easily translated into polymer. The technique is referred to as sgraffito. The beautiful texture and imagery are created by scratching into a surface that reveals a contrasting surface beneath it.

This vase is the work of Terri Kern whose choice of large bold scratches add to the illustrative and dreamy quality of her imagery. The way she has to work in ceramics makes the process all the more impressive. “Black is painted on in a small section and while it’s still wet, a carving tool is used to carve away the black to reveal the color underneath.  It normally takes as long to apply black as it does to apply all the other colors combined on any given piece.”

This is where polymer would have the advantage. Although I have only done this in small decorative swathes, it is quite easy to lay a very thin layer of clay on top of a thick contrasting color, run it through the pasta machine until the top layer is even thinner and then you can scratch or carve the raw clay. It has got to be faster than the process necessary to scratch wet glaze out on ceramic clay. You can also shape and cure the polymer layers and then scratch or carve the surface afterwards since cured polymer, especially when still warm, is quite easy to carve.

The two approaches yield a different kind of mark with soft edges in raw clay and very sharp and smooth edges in cured clay. Although I have not tried it, I imagine you could apply a very thin layer of raw clay to a cured piece and scratch the raw clay which would create a uniformly shallow mark. It would be fun to try and I have it on my to-do list!

I was thinking you could also go over the scratched areas with paint, the way you apply an antiquing effect. I got the idea while I was analyzing Terri’s work since it looks like some colors would have been laid back in after scratching. That could really add up to some beautifully complex and intriguing color.

You can also use oil paints on raw clay as shown here by Kate of Kalinkapolinka. This is actually the page through which I found Terri’s very intricate work. Want to see more from Terri? Go to her website here.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Scratch out a little something this weekend. Whether you try one of the sgraffito ideas listed here or just scratch at the clay for textural purposes, let you mind go as you doodle-scratch your way to some interesting effects and imagery.

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Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners.

   never knead -july-2015c-125   Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog   businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front    The Great Create Sept 15 blog

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