Tips and Tricks

Polymer Cloisonné

Tennessee’s Jai Johnson has developed an interesting twist on cloisonne which she plans to pursue in 2006. She talks about her plans and has the best pictures on her blog.

Jai first created the setting with genuine gold leaf on the edges. Then she built a network of "cloisons" (cells or compartments) by forming 14K gold filled bezel wire into a pattern for the center of the pendant. Each "cell" was then painted using tinted polymer, filled gradually until she obtained the shading and coloring she wanted, with multiple firings between layers.

Web Presence

It would be great if there were more polymer clay artists’ web sites on the net. I can list a number of fine artists who are techno-adverse and shy away from the complexity and expense of maintaining a web presence.

Artspan.com seems to offer a simple, well-designed, inexpensive package. One of the local guild members recently signed up and I stumbled on it through her.

In real life I’m a webmaster so I hesitate to take work away from your local web designer. But if you want a painless and inexpensive way to get in the game, this might be just the ticket.

Seeing Colors

Polymer Clay artists are all about color and color tricks. Here’s a site that’s all about optical illusions and visual phenomena.

For this illusion, follow the movement of the rotating pink dot. You will only see one color, pink. If you stare at the black + in the center, the moving dot turns to green. Now, concentrate on the black + in the center of the picture. After a short period of time, all the pink dots will slowly disappear, and you will only see a green dot rotating.

There really is no green dot, and the pink ones really don’t disappear. We don’t always see what we think we see.

Ombre

In our recent color workshop we learned the word "ombre" which the dictionary describes as "having colors or tones that shade into each other — used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark." Maggie wanted us to keep running our blends through the pasta machine to reach ombre.

It’s related to the word "umbra" from the Latin for shadow…think umbrella. We thought that it had to do with "hombre"….not.

So if you want to sound erudite, talk about your blend’s hombre. It’s a noun and an adjective. I’m still trying to use it properly.

More than one way to Skinner…

What is a "Skinny Skinner" you ask? Lots of polymer artists attribute this variation on the Skinner blend to Dorothy Greynolds (shown here at a 2004 Columbus, Ohio workshop). Instead of the typical triangle blends, narrow rectangular bands of color totalling the width of the pasta rollers are laid side-by-side (look on the table in the picture).

Folding and rolling them through the pasta machine gives you a marvelous blend. In Santa Fe, Lindly and Maggie showed us how to refine and control this blend further. One trick is to keep the very light and very dark bands quite narrow, allowing stronger colors to prevail.

Back from Santa Fe

Light, dark and middle tone Skinny Skinners from Lindly’s palette.

A few polymer friends spent a week in Santa Fe being guinea pigs for color theorists Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio. Be prepared to learn heaps in their upcoming workshops.

We began with collages of our favorite colors and vaulted into color mixing, limiting ourselves to just three colors plus black and white. We then careened through value and contrast and hue and composition. We "skinny skinnered", created color relationships and considered simultaneity. All of this we did in a lovely Santa Fe setting.

It may take me a while to process and pass it on to you in bits and pieces. Check back tomorrow.

Library of Tips

Usually the Carol Duval show aims at the polymer clay beginner and hence the tips are too elementary to be interesting. Sometimes you find something simple and elegant, however. Browse through the list of "how-to’s" in the HGTV library. Their online tips are usually well photographed and documented (click on the tip photos for larger versions).

Donna Kato’s tips are far and away the best. Donna relies on her hands and her design skill rather than gadgets. And Donna’s genius comes from her ability to synthesize a technique, boil it down to its simplest steps. Here are some of my favorites.

Tip 1 | Tip 2 | Tip 3 (you’ll never find a simpler ikat technique).

Donna has a new segment coming up November 4.

Future Me

Since I’m completely grown and my parents are gone, there’s no one to nag me, coax me and support me except myself. Oh yes, I have a husband and children but those are different sorts of relationships.

Sometimes I need someone who understands me on a really basic level, who is in tune with my creative urges and artistic temperament. Who knows better what I need than me?

Hence I was glad to stumble upon this "Future Me" link which allows me to send emails to my future self. "Remember, you said you wanted to have this done by today," is a great way to keep myself on track. Today I can send the email to myself and it will be delivered when I need that prodding in another month.

There are other "to do" lists and reminder programs but none quite as clever (and free) as this. Take a look. (The heart is by Karyn Kozak.)