Babyish

They look like polymer clay rosebuds but on closer examination you’ll see that this is a tin covered with babies, a wish box, wanna-be-grandma’s hope chest that I created at Shrine Mont.

What it seems to be filled with these days is my babyish whining about where the time goes. I’m off schedule today. Enjoy this little treat (here’s where I bought the baby face/fairy molds) while I burp and soothe myself into a better humor.

To the Rescue

It’s late and I’m in a mad dash to bring you some mid-week polymer clay inspiration. Who can I count on? Indiana’s Ponsawan Sila!

If you want a bit of Thai culture and family history served with great quick photo tutorials, her site won’t disappoint. I’m loving the ice cream salt beads on this page. She does lovely, unusual things with texture plates and rubber stamps.

Ponsawan saves the day. Read her text and you’ll see the delightful personality that comes through in her art and her web site.

Idle Hands

Here’s a bit of Shrine Mont eye candy. This bracelet was a joint project by Judy Belcher and Leslie Blackford who got distracted in a class and spent their time playing in the back of the room. It’s fascinating what a couple of bored and clever girls can do with some simple canes.

I’ve been looking forward to Wednesday night’s Craft in America, a PBS series. Wednesday’s first program, memory, is about how craft artists both carry on historical traditions and create new, uniquely personal work that reflects where we are today as people.

The second hour of the series looks at community and how craft connects us to one another across social and geographical divides.

The final hour looks at landscape and how artisans use their work to express how they see and relate to the world around them.

Memorial

Tejae Floyde is a Colorado multi-media artist who hangs with the altered art crowd. She uses polymer clay to unite a variety of media and convey small secret messages.

Her heart-within-heart series is particularly inspired. It was fun to watch her polymer and copper series for a 3-tier charm pendant swap evolve.

It’s Memorial Day Monday, a good day for hearts and messages of peace.

Small Monuments

When Seattle’s Charlie Nagel and I met in class 10 years ago, he was a metal sculptor just beginning to explore polymer clay. He delights in creating pieces that feel monumental and architectural but are actually quite small in scale.

His background as a psychiatrist and a musician reveals itself in his provocative and contemplative approach. Take some time to view his new pieces and read his statements about them.

Charlie begins by explaining,"It was Emerson who said, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are of small consequence compared to what lies within us.’ The process of exploring that inner space I think of as a voyage of discovery, and the function of art can be to provide a series of sign-posts to awaken our inner vision."

All this talk of visions and voyages reminds me of my own UFO’s (UnFinished Objects). What a perfect long weekend to complete them.

Billboards

How often do you see polymer clay on a billboard? Thanks to Meredith Ditmar’s work, folks in Portland have that pleasure. Meredith’s characters also appear in books, on cell phones, in commercials and in other unusual venues.

Interest in contemporary character design has grown. It draws on pop culture, graffiti and visual art and its artists have moved beyond the boundaries of the gallery and introduced polymer clay work to a new audience of avid collectors.

Take a look at the works of Fergus Ray-Murray (Oolong) from Scotland and Bulgarian Dinko Tilov, for example.

Loose Ends

It’s Wednesday and time for some tidbit tidying. The Philadelphia polymer clay guild has pictures of new works (like these by Ellen Marshall) and a tube bead extruder tool I hadn’t seen before. You might want to pop in on the new Maine guild site too.

Maggie Maggio interviewed me and her article has been posted on the NPCG web site. I’ll be speaking at Synergy (with the ACC show in Baltimore) about the future of polymer clay. Between now and then I’ll be crystal ball gazing, mulling and conjecturing. If you have thoughts on the subject, write me.

Two more events for your calendar. The next Clay Carnival will be held from November 30 – December 2, 2007, in Las Vegas. The details are on Donna Kato’s site. Or check out the ultimate polymer clay experience, Jeff Dever’s master class in France at Gwen Gibson’s La Cascade.

I won the Debby Brams earrings in the Shrine Mont silent auction and discovered her elegant earwire trick. The earwire is made of a headpin that runs through and over the clay in one easy piece. If you click on the image, you’ll get the larger version and see what I mean. Very simple, totally cool.

Friendships

Virginia’s Susan Tilt kept a sewing machine in her room at Shrine Mont. A multi-talented artist who specializes in liturgical art, Susan spent her spare moments finishing a quilted wall hanging for an Episcopal Church Visual Arts exhibit. The stunning piece was based on a series of gesture drawings from a figure class that she had taken.

Angela Tompkins has been Susan’s Shrine Mont table mate for years. In a touching tribute to her friend’s art, Angela created a small polymer clay painting of Susan’s quilt. Spontaneous acts of kindness and friendship like these that we express in our art are often more powerful than our most studied and carefully considered efforts.

Clarification: There are many ways to transfer images to polymer clay – gin, water, special papers, special sauces. My hat is off to anyone who can spit, sip or slide their images onto the clay. Yesterday’s Laurie Prophater may have a new twist.

While you’re waiting for the details of Laurie’s system, you might take a look at Jeanne Rhea’s, Jill Erickson’s (here’s her how-to), or Donna Kato’s methods. And Donna has added a few new things to her site.

Debriefing

Ohio’s Laurie Prophater has developed a transfer technique that’s more foolproof and inexpensive than any I’ve seen. I watched as she refined it all week long at Shrine Mont.

Read more about it on her blog and be sure to catch her tutorial in the fall issue of Polymer Cafe magazine.

Laurie is thrifty and makes her own perfume from essential oils and vodka. What you learn at a conference can be amazing! It’s back to the office Monday. Come back tomorrow for more Shrine Mont debriefing.

Brams

Deborah Brams from Massachusetts creates lovely, delicate designs and she’s got a new site up! The miniscule gold balls she embeds in her pieces add an elegant touch. (She created these earrings today for the Shrine Mont silent auction.)

In a couple of years Debby will be retiring from teaching visually impaired students and will concentrate on her polymer clay art. Keep your eye on her site as she gears up for a more active art career.

In a clarification of yesterday’s post, Jan Frame’s beads are domed on both sides (see the picture at right) and have a different image on both sides.

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