A Painterly Cane

jayne Dwyer pansies 1 430x318 - A Painterly CaneHere’s one last example for this week of these incredible illustrative image canes we are seeing these days. This one uses the more familiar and common imagery of flowers which so many cane makers are inspired by. However, the way Jayne Dwyer creates her flower here makes it look like a painting, with color variation and details that are not very common in polymer clay flower canes.

Jayne employees outlining, which we saw at work in Claire’s piece on Monday, but here it is quite a bit more dramatic with its black and white outlines. The soft gradation of color plays a contrast to the hard black-and-white delineation around the flower. It makes it really pop. She also created a painterly background for the flower within the cane itself. The streaks of color are varied but create radiating lines that give an energized, dimensional feel to the petals.

And then she has these spots of color that pop up within those gradations. It’s very detailed and interesting to look at closely and imagine all the decisions she made to come up with this image. I don’t suppose the decisions are much different than one would make when painting, but in polymer, each decision takes some serious confidence and dedication to the image since how it will look is not going to be wholly apparent until after reduction.

Take a close-up look for yourself at the image in this cane or go to a bigger image on Facebook. You can also see more of the work Jayne does on her website.

 

A Fascinating Process

julie eakes soul of the rose 430x419 - A Fascinating ProcessI know a lot of you have probably already seen this but it’s too amazing not to comment on. Julie Eakes has been creating her incredible pointillism canes for quite a while, although it has been a couple of years since she created one, but her process and the finished canes never fail to fascinate.

This one, “Soul of the Rose” cane, is the most recent addition to her fabulous cane imagery portfolio. If you go to her Facebook page and go back to April 5 and scroll up to recent posts, you can see her process throughout the weeks that it took her to put this together. She mixed 77 colors for this, extruding each with a square and painstakingly put them together into 56 block canes. The complete cane before reduction was 6.5” x 8” x 2” and weighed 5 pounds. She then reduced it by sections and took a few slices off as she went so she’ll have cane images at different sizes which is what you’re seeing here.

Her cane reduction is probably not quite what you would think either. She uses a few different methods and shares her process of reduction in a video that you can find here. Don’t forget to drop by her Facebook page or Instagram account for the full story of this piece.

When Simple Is Complex

amethyst studio burgundy petal cane 430x360 - When Simple Is Complex

After all that blathering to you on Wednesday, I thought I’d keep it simple today. Let’s just enjoy some relatively minimal but beautiful canes to spark some ideas for your creative time this weekend.

Spain’s Pilar Rodríguez Domínguez creates lovely, dynamic flower petal canes. The soft but dense sets of radiating lines that dominate her designs help to create a sense of complexity with relatively few elements. I chose this one because you can see how much energy is created with the just these brushed-looking lines, three oval marks, and a vibrant burgundy red.  You don’t need a lot of different stuff to create complexity and energy.

She works similarly in almost all her canes although more commonly with highly contrasting colors to create finely controlled finished flower canes. Enjoy a good eyeful of color and pattern in her Etsy shop,  and on her InstagramFacebook, and Flickr accounts.

Also, since you all couldn’t click-through to see the work of Cécile Bos last week, as she went on vacation and shuttered her shop right after I drafted the blog on her work, take this opportunity to click-through to her website now to see her delicately detailed pieces.

How to Make It Your Own

Katie Way Alices cane mapping 430x388 - How to Make It Your Own
I know I just featured Katie Way in February, but this is such a great example of taking a technique and making it your own that I didn’t want to pass by this opportunity. This seemed particularly apropos after an incident came up a week or so ago that I was consulted about involving a student submitting something to a contest that they created either in a class or based on a class. The problem was not in taking something that was learned in a class and creating from that knowledge but using the design choices that the teaching artist used. So, let’s just review what that means. In a way, it’s very simple – you can replicate technique, but you cannot use the design decisions of another artist.

I think part of the issue is that there is some confusion as to what’s is technique and what is design, so let me try to define that.

Technique is how you manipulate the material including how you apply texture, the process of forming/sculpting, the mixing or application of color treatments, the creation of mechanisms or use of materials for constructing the piece, etc. In other words, it’s about the process of creating.

Design is about the specific choices you make about how something is going to look. So, your choices about the type of texture (not how you apply it), the shapes you create (but not how you create them), the colors you choose (but not the source of the color), and the arrangement of your construction (but not the mechanisms used to put pieces together), are all design choices. If the majority of your choices are based on someone else’s examples, then you’re in danger of copying their design. Changing the color or shape is simply not enough, nor is it fair to the artist that inspired you and, equally so, it’s not fair to you and your creative growth to skip the exploration of what a piece could be by not making the design decisions yourself.

In the piece we see here, Katie Way took a class with Alice Stroppel and made a piece that is uniquely her own. You can see the influence of both artists in this work. The big, bold cane work shows Alice’s influence, but the color choices and all those bulls-eye circles are absolutely Katie. I would’ve known this was Katie’s right away, but it would’ve taken me a few moments to realize where her change in technique came from if she hadn’t made note of her influencer. And that’s really how it should be.

You can absolutely copy the work of the teaching artist in class as a way to learn. Most of them do prefer that. But when you go home, don’t make that same basic piece ever again. Have enough confidence and belief in your artistic self to work out your own designs. It is far more fulfilling to create from your own sense of aesthetic and ideas than to simply be successful with someone else’s design.

Okay, getting off my soapbox now. If you’re intrigued by Alice’s cane mapping class, go to her website to check out where she will be teaching next. And if you’ve somehow missed Katie’s work, check out her Etsy shop and her Instagram page.

 

Ripple Away

ripple collage 201x450 - Ripple AwayFor an easy but classic set of techniques that you might want to explore, just pick up your ripple blade. Most all of us have one. They come in those beginner pack of polymer blades so they are easy to acquire if you don’t have one. The effects you can create with them go from controlled pattern to random to sculptural texture.

I just pulled out a few that caught my eye today. The top one was posted by Libby Mills back in 2012. She used stacks and played around with manipulation and how to slice them, following instruction she got from Jody Bishel both at a retreat and through a project in the book Polymer Clay: Exploring New Techniques and New Materials. She really had too much fun as you can see on Libby’s blog post from back then.

I could not find attribution for the center image but I didn’t want to skip over the sculptural aspect of this handy blade. Cutting beads and stacked edges with this blade gives us quick and interesting textures. The ripple tends to lend a fun quality as well as the instant tactile quality so it’s not for all pieces but whimsical and graphic pieces might be something to try this on.

This last one was created by Nevenka Sabo some years back. I don’t have a date as the links are broken but you can see well enough what she did. Create a bulls-eye cane with a Skinner blend laid on a white sheet of clay and roll. Cut sideways and you have some wonderful veneers with an interesting patterned center swatch. Click here to get a more detailed view.

There are tons of tutorials online for using the ripple blade so if these tickle your fancy, do try a Google search or spend some time on the many Pinterest boards featuring techniques with this tool and then head off to the studio table with a new infusion of ideas.

Square Benders

cane benders 348x1024 - Square BendersFirst of all my apologies … this post was supposed to go out Wednesday but it got hung up over here. So here’s a surprise weekend post for you!

Okay … so now that we have gotten through the bulk of the gift-buying days, it is time to treat ourselves and spend some of that Christmas money on our creative needs. Well, that is my thought anyhow. Although I could spend a day wandering around a big box store, I really prefer to buy from the little guys, from the people who really understand why we are so passionate about what we do.

The canes on this box were made using a “Cane Bender.” These are long acrylic rods, as you see in the center image, that you can use to quickly manipulate cane designs. I’m showing the square ones (called Square Benders, actually) but the original ones are round rods of varying diameters. The comments I read about these were mainly about how much time they save in reshaping simpler canes to create these complex kaleidoscope canes and other types of patterned canes. I rarely cane and I’m really intrigued!

These, along with other curious supplies are sold by Teresa Salgado and her partner Spike Malone through their Tiny Pandora Craft Boutique shop.

While you’re peeking in on the goodies over there, I’m going to go do some more poking around for other small shops and unique goodies!

Covering Time

mira pinki krispil clock 430x412 - Covering Time

Well, it’s that season again. While everyone else is shopping, crafters and artisans like yourself are working madly away on the stock that your audience demands to make their gift giving season the best one to date. For some of us, that audience is a retail account but for many more of us, it’s the far more intimidating circle of friends and family that we fret over. What do we do this year for gifts and surprises that we haven’t already done? Asking myself this question, I came up with a couple of ideas and in researching, clocks really hit a note for me. Any clayer of any level and any specialized set of techniques can create a clock that is both personal and expressive and everyone of every age can appreciate a lovingly created handmade clock.

Cane-covered clock faces are an easy project for clayers of any skill level. You can buy old clocks at the thrift store, or inexpensive ones at the big box store, or just a clock kit from a craft or hobby store that you put into your cane-covered clay sheets. Here is a fun and colorful, slightly off from the norm, cane-covered clock face for some initial inspiration. Mira Pinki Krispil is quite fond of cane covered decor but she always takes it one step beyond.

I like this piece because of the slight off-centeredness and the imagery in the center. It is more than decorated. The image in its center is intriguing with energetic lines bouncing back and forth through intertwined imagery. It’s just a great visual piece to start with. The fact that it’s a functional clock is a bonus.

Mira creates her colorful piece in south Israel and sells her work on Etsy. You can also see more of her designs by checking in on her Flickr photostream.

Ronnie Kirsch clutch - In Our Clutches

In Our Clutches

Ronnie Kirsch clutch 430x286 - In Our ClutchesAt the end of this week, I will be heading off to Pittsburgh to see the opening of the Into the Forest project. I am intensely excited about that (go here if you are in the area and want to join for the opening on Friday and the talks on Saturday.) But even more exciting is that, at long last, my beau and I get to go on our honeymoon! So this week and next, I may be a bit quieter than usual but I’ve lined up some eye candy for you that my faithful little helpers will ensure you get while I am off gallivanting about.

Putting together a wardrobe for this trip got me thinking about new accessories. Although I don’t have time to make anything new for this excursion, there are the holidays to get dressed up for. So I was thinking, what kind of new polymer accessory would really wow at the next holiday soiree? Then it hit me … a polymer purse! An unusual handbag is always noted and often gets conversations started where no particular subject has yet made itself known. A polymer handbag is certain to be quite the icebreaker.

So let’s look at polymer purses this week and see if I can’t inspire a few of you to make your own. Of course, at the mention of polymer purses, many of us will raise the image of our favorite Kathleen Dustin purse in our minds but she is not, by far, the only one to create purses. She is one of the few that makes them almost exclusively out of polymer but any other variation–covered, embellished, or accented with polymer–can still be a most wonderful example of our art.

Ronnie Kirsch was making quite the fashion splash with her clay clutches in the early 2010s. Full of color and pattern, they were sold at high-end stores for a very pretty penny. She used a lot of canes but would also apply stripes of colors. This red one here would be visible from across the room. And I think that was the thing about these–they were for women who don’t mind a lot of attention.

Although I could not find news of Ronnie’s recent work, I did find her website with a gallery available if covering a nice metal clutch is sounding like a great holiday project. Just take a look here.

Memories for a Lifetime

 

IMG 0275 350x421 - Memories for a Lifetime

ellen talk S4 430x256 - Memories for a Lifetime

I know I showed you a bit of the sample “Into the Forest” installation last week, but I didn’t get in this mosaic created by Julie Eakes for the exhibition that will be installed in November. I think Julie gets the prize for the most intense and biggest piece to go into the installation. I uploaded a fairly large image of this so if you click on the photo, it should open up in a browser window and you can zoom in to see all the individual canes that make up the idyllic scene.

I wish you could zoom in on the screens you see here in the main assembly room as Ellen Prophater presented her talk on mokume gane. Oh, the secrets and the great tips and tricks she gave away during this talk! This kind of thing was happening all over and made the price of this event well worth it on that basis alone. The friendships and conversations, however, they make it priceless.

If you didn’t get to make Synergy and haven’t been to any major events lately or ever, keep them in mind. Save up your pennies and plan to get that time off from work for the next big event you can possibly work into your schedule. They are each an experience you’ll keep with you all life long.

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