Tips and Tricks

Swimming Pool Palette


Polymer clay extrusions are so much fun the first few times you do them. Soon, however, the shapes and color combinations that seemed so magical become boring. It takes a keen and curious mind to push the technique into something fun again.

These extrusions from Germany’s Kerstin Rupprecht reignited my interest. Kerstin’s friend, Ulrike, supplied the tip and says that Kerstin fills the clay gun with varying tints of translucent blues interspersed with thin slices of white. Perhaps it’s her swimming pool colors on this hot summer day that make me ready to dive into extrusions again.

One cane wonder

One translucent polymer clay cane is all that was used to make this spacey, retro earring by Marla Frankenberg. Reduced to several sizes and overlaid on a Skinner blend base, the cane gives the bead a spacey, retro look.

Many of Marla’s beads remind me of batik and other luscious fabrics. She’ll be teaching at Bead and Button this weekend. Here are some pictures from an earlier class and she’ll be teaching her marlafiori at Arrowmont in October. We’ve got scouts out taking pictures at Bead and Button and I hope they snag some treats.

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.

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.

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.

Crayons

Perhaps today’s inclusions will suit you better. These polymer clay pieces (from Hollie’s collection) by Lindly Haunani are made from translucent clay. When baked, crayon shavings mixed into the plain clay leave their color and hollow spaces behind. Generally, 1⁄2 tsp. of chopped crayon per ounce of translucent clay is a good ratio.

Lindly published a great tutorial about inclusions long ago (1999) in Bead & Button. It’s very inspiring and luckily she keeps the information on her web site for everyone to enjoy.

Control to Chaos

Former NPCG president,

Carol Simmons has figured out how to bring control to the chaos of polymer clay kaleidoscope canes. These samples were all generated from one base cane.

Just as Judith Skinner saw polymer clay color gradations as a math problem to be solved, Carol has seen kaleidoscope canes as a system to be reassembled and explained. A scientist and researcher, Carol took a methodical approach to the problem and came up with an elegant solution.

Obviously this is more than science, however. It takes artistry and a fine sense of color to come up with these powerful combinations.

Thanks to her for sharing her new discovery. We’ll have to wait to hear how Carol decides to publish or teach her new technique.

And this seasonal polymer clay treat is from Illinois’ Scott Mizevitz, a multiple winner and now a judge in the "Bottles of Hope Challenge." Enjoy his photos and have a lovely Easter weekend.

3D Cartoons

Virginia polymer clay artist Ann Lukas has been described as a three dimensional cartoonist. For fifteen years she has created humorous custom logos, character and spot illustrations for use in publishing and advertising.

You’ll find Ann’s work on the sites of several artist representatives. Look here for a few more of her illustrations. Thanks to Susan Rose for passing the link along.

Be sure to catch Maggie Maggio’s new color scales video tutorial on her Smashing Color site. It’s a terrific way to learn color mixing.

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Bubble Beads

Ponsawan Sila is on the move and she faithfully records her progress on her blog. She includes pictures of her workspace and step-by-step tutorials on this method, a twist on mokume gane.

What this generous artist takes for granted is her color sense and her knack for pattern creation. No muddy colors or uninteresting patterns on her worktable! Take a look at her homemade texture plates. Thanks for letting us look over your shoulder, Ponsawan.