Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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My First Two Weeks With Flora

As promised, I wanted to share with you my progress in Flora Bowley’s Bloom True online class. This class focuses on painting intuitively. That is, listening to your inner voice for direction, practicing non-attachment, getting rid of expectations, and playing. Lots of playing.

Believe me, it is not as easy as it sounds.

Listening to my inner voice isn’t hard. I’ve been doing that for a while now. Practicing non-attachment, not wondering what the final painting will look like, not letting the inner critic get too loud. Those things are much trickier to put into practice. Even playing with paint on the canvas can be a challenge at times.

Our first couple of weeks have been spent getting to know our canvas, putting lots of layers on it, playing with the paint and textures and shapes. Here is my progress so far.

If you have a cat or dog at home, you know they want to help out in the studio.

"I wonder if Mom will let me help her paint?"

“I wonder if Mom will let me help her paint?”

We experiment with how to apply the first layer of paint. Wet on wet and then blindfolded. (Um, just me. Pippin did not participate. Really. Have you tried to blindfold a cat?)

Three Canvases Ready to Go

Three Canvases Ready to Go

After this approach, we work on adding layers. Warm layers, cool layers. Lots of layers. There is no right or wrong way to add layers of paint. Nor is there any magic number for how many layers to put on the canvas. It’s all about play and listening to your intuition.

First Canvas Progress

Here is the paint progression and transformation of the first canvas. (Click on the first image to start the slideshow.)

Second Canvas Progress

I work on at least two canvases at a time. While one canvas is drying, I can paint on another canvas and stay in the flow. (Click on the first image to start the slideshow.)

At this point, the paintings have gone through the “Wow, that’s cool” stage and the “Ew, that is really ugly” stage. Several times. Toward the end of last week I was getting better about practicing non-attachment and allowing myself to say “Wait until tomorrow” before passing too much judgement onto the piece.

Many times, seeing the painting with fresh eyes in the morning has been all it takes to appreciate the process.

I still have no idea where either painting is taking me or what they will look like in the end. And that’s okay.

I’ll leave you with another cute cat picture. Pippin decided if he couldn’t help paint my canvas, he’d get creative with the drop cloth.

PippinGetsCreativeWithFloorTarp


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24 Tips on Sparking the Creative Muse

I’m sure you’ve been here. You have a deadline to meet. You’re knee-deep in a flurry of activity. Ideas seem to ooze from your brain. Maybe you write them down. Maybe you don’t and later forget them. And then it happens. That big, bad vacuum of black emptiness opens up. No ideas come to mind. You have no clue what to do next in the studio. You stare at the white canvas. No words come to mind and your fingers are frozen on the keyboard.

You have hit the proverbial wall in the creativity department.

My friends and I often talk about how we keep our creative muses active, especially when our muse decides to take an extended vacation. It seems to be a common topic that we re-hash over and over.

This time, instead of just talking about it, I decided to ask my friends and cohorts to send me their tips for sparking the creative muse. What follows is a collection of 24 tips to jump-start the muse.

Dr. Finkelstein (image from the book "Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas" by Frank Thompson)

Dr. Finkelstein (image from the book “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas” by Frank Thompson)

Tips to Spark the Creative Muse

1. Keep a notebook: Jan Warren of Broadbrook Art recommends keeping a notebook handy at all times. Jan keeps her notebook next to her painting area. When she rinses her brushes or changes a paint color, Jan uses the pages of the notebook to remove all the color from the brush. Then, Jan says, “When I am feeling particularly bereft of creativity I open up the notebook and use whatever I have on hand to layer images or color over those paint blotches. This mixed media notebook then serves as color studies, technique trials…some even become final pieces for sale.”

2. Music & nature: Pat Krachune shares “When I need some inspiration, I listen to classical music and that usually gets my juices flowing to create.  I also sit in my courtyard and look at my fountains and watch the birds….nature relaxes and inspires me! ” Pat also finds inspiration watching other artist’s videos on YouTube. Check out Pat’s work on her blog, Art 4 Liberty.

3. Schedule the time: Judy Warner tells us, “I go in my “studio” at the scheduled time and start something, or work on something that needs improvement whether I feel “creative” or not—and that usually seems to get me going.” Check out Judy’s paintings on her Facebook page

4. Take an adventure drive: Photographer Roxanne Marshal takes what she calls an  “adventure drive”.  “I just pick a direction and go.  I usually come across landscapes and water vistas perfect to photograph and sometimes even some other interesting items as well.  This really gets my brain cranking ideas for framed images – possibly even 3D or a mixed media piece.” See Roxanne’s photography on her site, A Picture’s Worth

5. Take a break: Deb Wolf of Deb Wolf Designs recommends taking a break for a change in perspective. “Step away from the painting with your hands behind your back. Taking a break and viewing your work with a fresh pair of eyes can really give you a new and fresh perspective on your work.” Deb also shared “Stress breeds Creativity, at least for me it does.  While our work can be a stress inducer when we hit the proverbial wall, it also acts as a stress release sometimes producing good results on a piece.”

6. Observe: Paula Berry suggests observing everything in your environment. “While hiking, gardening or at the beach, I look really hard at some things.  Texture and shape get my attention, whether it’s a natural item, waves, clouds, greenery.  A plant from the time it emerges from the earth, grows, flowers and seeds intrigue me.”

7. Distraction: On the other hand, ideas often happen while working on another project. Again, Paula Barry shares “Drawing in my mind and problem solving while working on other clay work or while in the garden, walking or even driving in the car, when I least expect it, an idea comes to mind.  I then find myself obsessing about the new idea until I can put in into action.  Of course, at the time I tend to think it was a great solution to a problem or a great new idea.  Sometimes, the idea is good. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out as intended, but the whole process is exciting.” You can see Paula’s ceramic art at Paula Barry Ceramics.

8. Drive, she said: Gina Belio of The Color Blue, also likes to take a drive to spark the creative muse. “Whenever I need inspiration, I drive.  Sometimes I drive to the ocean or the mountains and sometimes I drive to a nearby store like Barnes & Noble.  Partly this works for me because the art of driving frees up my mind from thinking and then it’s recess for my brain (and subsequently my muse!)  The other reason why driving works for me is because I am mostly inspired by color and I can find color in any of these places – nature, books, cards, even in a cup of java! “

9. Go shopping! Seriously. Ritva Ojanen, jewelery designer, tells us that while many girls like to shop for shoes, for Ritva it is beads. “I have the same passion for beads. I shop on-line and go to bead stores and supply shows. I have to see with my own eyes and touch with my hands to make my choices from the seemingly endless array of colors, finishes, textures and shapes. I will buy whatever catches my eye even though I may not have a planned design in mind at that moment. I leaf through magazines, whether it be on art, nature, or fashion and these images will spark ideas for trying new color combinations. When I have a supply of beads handy it’s easy to just play and see what happens. This is the intuitive process I’ve developed and trust that something new will always come of it, just keep working.” This definitely results in beautiful pieces of jewelry. Visit Ritva’s website, Ritvaliisa Ojanen to see her eye candy.

10. Put your butt in the chair: For mixed media artist Sue Landsman, sparking the muse begins by putting your butt in the chair. “If you wait around for the muse to come, not only are you holding yourself hostage, but you’re also not doing your part to meet her half way. If you train yourself to just sit down and work, regardless of how you feel, more often than not you’ll find yourself getting into the groove. And anyway, something is better than nothing.” To see Sue’s imaginative work, visit Landsmania

11. Get back to nature: Art and tea enthusiast Karen Park recommends getting back to nature. According to Karen, “spending time in nature – watching a sunset, walking in the woods, working/puttering around in my garden – always helps me reconnect with my creative soul.  You’ve probably noticed that some of my jewelry pieces are named after a nature experience – “Albuquerque Sky” or “A Winter Walk in the Woods under a Full Moon“, for example.  Those are the moments that truly inspire me.  My creative voice speaks in beads!”

12. Looks to her son: Dannylion tells us her son is her source of inspiration. “My son – who loves to work with his hands. He strings beads and when I see how hard he works for something vs. person who does not have autism or mental retardation doing that same task, it fills me with such emotion that I could do a bit of everything – I could write, I could work with polymer clay (my favorite), I could work with wire, I could make different things[knit or crochet], (cannot sew); but more importantly – I reinvest my time back into my son – reteaching him another creative method or project… He is my best teacher in life.”

13. Make some noise: Monotype & pastel artist Ann Gillespie suggest making some noise to wake up the creative muse. “I DO bang on a drum, shake a shaker, take a walk in the woods, sketch, do meditative collages etc, These things all help put me in a more intuitive mood for art. But sometimes they are also just creative ways to avoid getting in the studio to do the work I really want to! So for me these practices are best combined with my regular studio work. In general getting into the studio first thing in the morning is best, but I have also been trying to get used to working at any time of day. Short periods of time on a regular basis are infinitely better for me than no time at all, but also much better than long days just once in a while.”

14. Change the beat: Needle felt artist Lyn Slade recommends changing the beat to tempt the creative muse. “I’ll shake up the music in the studio, putting on a completely different style of music sometimes gives me a jump start.” Check out Lyn’s needle felt pieces on her website, Lyn Slade.

15. It’s a puzzle: Lyn also owns a bed and breakfast. Recently some B&B guests, who are also artists, suggested pulling out a jigsaw puzzle for sparking the creative muse. They commented that when they get stuck some times they pull out a jig saw puzzle…something about the different parts of your brain used in assembling a puzzle helps them. Oh, to read more about Lyn’s B&B, visit Charlotte’s House B&B

16. Listen: Watercolor artist Brenda Evans offers this advice. “I think the creative muse is always there and we have to learn to listen to it. I think it is a persuasive voice in our heads, not an imperative voice. Often we are too busy, maybe working to a deadline, but the inside voice is always there saying things like, “is that right?”, “stop and think about that”. I think when we are hands on being creative, the voice gets stronger and says things like, “but you could do this”, “look at it from this angle”, “there is something more exciting, you could do”, “stop now and do this”. It’s a wonderful voice, always looking out for your best interests, a bff if ever there was one.”

17. Shake it up: Karen McMillan, a Master Certified Retreat Coach, suggests variety when it comes to motivating the muse. A walk in nature, looking outside at trees and birds, listening to music, or breath and meditation.

18. Make a bargain: Jody Arthur, a Children’s Clothing Designer, suggests making a bargain with yourself. Look at your to-do list then make a bargain. “I’ll give myself permission to do this or that creative thing in return for getting this or that other thing done.”

19. Move it: Shelley West, a User Experience Specialist, suggests getting up and moving. Make a dance play list on Spotify or your music device of choice. When the muse is low, put on the play list and take a dance break. Exercise also works in the same way.

20. Rinse: You know how our minds seem so clear in the morning? Shelley also shares that the morning shower and humming while washing and rinsing her hair sparks new ideas.

21. Daydream: Barbara J Bolls-Guillory, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and jewelry artist, reminds us that it is good to take time to daydream. She tells us that “going within to journey or indulging in daydreaming to open myself up to other ways of seeing/feeling/thinking.”

22. Delight the inner child: In addition to daydreams, Barbara also suggest delighting the inner child by “playing a game, drawing or coloring, or whatever fun activity that delights the kid in me.”

23. Eye-candy: With Internet bursting at the seams, eye-candy inspiration abounds. Pinterest. Flickr. Blogs and websites. Don’t forget the more traditional venues either-local art museums and art galleries-to spark the creative muse. Some museums also offer free drawing days where you can sketch inspiring images in the different galleries.

24. Clean it: One of my trusted approaches to waking the creative muse is to clean the studio. When work tables and the floor get too cluttered, the muse can’t breath. Taking time to clear the clutter opens up that breathing space and soon new ideas flow again.

How about you? How do you spark the creative muse? Please share your suggestions in the comments section below.


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Using Vintaj Patina Inks with the Mokume Gane Technique-Part 2

Welcome Back!

When I last posted we were discussing Part 1 of the Mokume Gane technique using Vintaj Patina inks. You can read that post here.

By the end of Part 1, I had showed you the conditioned clay sheets, painted and stacked the sheets. You learned how to texture the clay stack, called a “billet,” and saw what happened when a release isn’t used with rubber stamps.

After the billet was textured, we let it rest. Letting the stack rest means setting it aside for 30 minutes or so. If you don’t want to wait that long, put the stack in your freezer for several minutes to firm up the clay.

Here is the textured stack of clay.

Fully textured clay stack

Fully textured clay stack

Revealing Layers

After you have textured the stack of clay and let it rest, it is time to reveal the layers underneath. To reveal the layers, you need a sharp cutting blade. Why? Because you’re going to start slicing off the top layer of clay.

Yep, after all that work poking and pushing and tickling that stack of clay, you’re going to remove layers in what might feel like the destruction of hard work. Removing the layers is how you’re going to see just what all that poking and prodding did to each successive layer.

This is an exciting and sometimes nerve wracking process. I love it because of the element of surprise. You really never know what patterns are going to emerge each time you slice off a layer of clay.

Okay, I’ll stop my yammering and show you the patterns that were revealed in my stack of clay.

Word of warning! As I said, you need to use a sharp blade to make it easier to remove the layers. You also want to make sure the billet is secured to your work surface (either a ceramic tile or acrylic work surface) before you start slicing. If the stack of clay isn’t secured to your work surface, it will start sliding around when you make your slices. Not fun.

To take a slice and reveal the layer, hold your blade with both hands. Place the sharp edge of your blade at the top edge of the billet. Bow the blade slightly and start to pull the blade TOWARD you.

Don’t press down too hard or deeply. You’ll end up with a crater in your clay and a thick slice.

Don’t worry if you pull through and only get a small piece of the clay. Put that slice to the side and keep going.

Layer One

This is what appeared after removing most of the top layer of Vintaj Patina onyx ink. I like how the onyx ink pull into the circular holes. The ink is a little crackled as well. Often, for me, when I remove the top layer, I get lots of little bits of clay coming off. Never can seem to get a nice completely intact layer.

Layer one revealed

Layer one revealed

Layer Two

After taking off a bit more, here is layer two poking through the clay. This second layer is the ochre ink.

Layer two revealed

Layer two revealed

I like this subtle color shift as the ochre ink is revealed. But remember that word of warning earlier about applying too much pressure when you slice through the stack? I did just that on layer 2.

MokumeGaneLayer_Crater

Now don’t fret when this happens. The simplest solution is to take small slices off the lumpy side until you even out the surface of the billet. Easy peasy and you’re back in business.

Here are some of those smaller slices that came off the first two layers.

MokumeGaneLayers_BlogPost

These slices are what I’ll use to create my final piece. You can see that as you slice through the layers, you start to reveal the colors of paint. The textures you applied way back in the beginning help compress the stack and drag the colors through it.

Your texture tools createt these very organic patterns in the clay. What’s neat is you often have two very different patterns on each slice. A front side (the top layer you see as you slice through the clay) and a back side (the pattern on the back of the layer.) Now you can choose which side to use in your finished piece. Inevitably, one side is going to be more interesting than the other side.

Final Layer

This is where I stopped slicing through the billet. I loved how the ochre ink circles surrounded the black dots.  I like this pattern and haven’t decided what to do with it yet.

Final layer (for now)

Final layer (for now)

So What Did I Make?

About a year ago, I became quite fascinated with circular shapes. I’ve always liked circles. But this time I started making a variety of circle or disk shaped pieces. Some had patterns, some had faces. I haven’t done much with them, just tossed them into a box for future inspiration.

And that is what I decided to do with the layers of patterned clay that I sliced off my clay stack. I applied the slices to white clay, cut out circles and oblongs, and then formed the clay over domes.

Five Disks

Five Disks

You can see how taking your slices and re-arranging them onto a sheet of clay once again changes the original pattern.

Convex, Concave, and Oblong

Convex, Concave, and Oblong

The oblong piece was created with a shaplet template. The slices were put on textured black clay. The gold is Rhine Gold mica powder.

More circle love

More circle love

VintajInks_Test2_MG_4Disks

And this is as far as I’ve gotten with these pieces. I would like to mount them onto a board. Wood? Cradle board? Something with encaustic? Not sure yet.

Disks on Green

Disks on Green

Well, I did have one idea of incorporating wire, maybe copper, into the design. But that is just a spark of an idea in my head. I haven’t sketched out the full design yet.

So there may be a Part 3 still to come in this adventure.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about one approach to using the Mokume Gane technique. Now it’s your turn to give it a go.

If you do make something with the Mokume Gane, please leave a comment on this post and include a link to your blog post, Flickr page, or website. I’ll post your links in a separate post so we can see what you created with this fun technique.


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Using Vintaj Patina Inks with the Mokume Gane Technique-Part 1

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my first experiment with Vintaj Patina Inks on polymer clay. You can read my initial impressions here.

This time around I wanted to try the inks in a popular polymer clay technique called Mokume Gane (moe-koo-may gah-nay). Mokume Gane is a Japanese metal work technique where thin sheets of metal are stacked (called a “billet”) and fused by heat and pressure. The metal is forged and carved to produce unique patterns.

In polymer clay, we use a similar approach using thin layers of polymer, stacked one upon the other, and then textured with a variety of tools that are pressed into the layers of clay. This is one variation of the mokume gane technique applied to polymer. Other variations include using texture plates to impress the clay and placing small balls of clay under the billet to create a bumpy surface.

So let’s see how all this worked with the Vintaj Patina Inks.

Materials

For this test, I decided to use

  • white Premo
  • onyx and ochre Vintaj Patina ink
  • an umounted rubber stamp
  • assorted texture tools

I also had on hand a cup for water, paintbrushes, gloves, paper towel, and wore an apron.

Inks, stamp, clay, paintbrush. Ready to Start!

Inks, stamp, clay, paintbrush. Ready to Start!

Creating the Billet or Stack of Polymer Clay

I conditioned the white clay using a Atlas pasta machine and rolled it to a #4 on the machine. Then I cut the sheet into 4 equivalent squares.

VintajInks_Test2_MG_4SqsWhite

I painted two of the squares with the onyx ink and two squares with the ochre ink. I used separate paintbrushes for each color. Be sure to rinse your paintbrushes in water as soon as your done with the inks. Then I let the inks dry for 10 minutes. I didn’t pick up any residue when I touched my finger to the ink. The finish is shiny and not tacky.

Painted clay

Painted clay

I mentioned in my first test with the inks that they are rather messy. Here’s proof. The ochre is the worst of this three pack.

Messy bottle

Messy bottle

Once the inky squares were dry, I stacked them. I put one ochre sheet on the bottom then the onyx sheet on top. Alternating the remaining sheets, I ended with the onyx sheet on top of the billet.

Billet

Billet

At this point if your billet gets a little distorted, you can trim the edges to square the stack. You can also use a straight edge to even the sides by gently pressing the clay with the straight edge. A ruler or old plastic card works well.

Now, before you put texture to the clay, it is important to have your stack of clay firmly secured to a surface. I use either a ceramic tile or an acrylic work surface. Securing the stack to a surface reduces distortion and helps when you start to slice off the layers of clay.

Adding Texture to the Billet or Stack of Clay

Putting texture to the clay is one of my favorite parts of this technique. It’s easy to go a little crazy with all the tools. I had one polymer clay teacher tell me she spent a half-hour adding texture to a stack of clay!

I made the first impression in the clay with an unmounted rubber stamp. Here’s a trick for getting a good impression with a rubber stamp: stand on the stamp.

Yes, stand on the stamp. Put a ceramic tile on the floor with your stack of clay on the tile. Then put the stamp on the clay and stand on the whole thing. Give it a good press with your foot. If you practice yoga, you can use this time to practice your best flying ballerina pose.

Standing on the stamp to put texture in the clay.

Standing on the stamp to put texture in the clay.

When I removed the stamp, I realized I had made a mistake. I should have put a release on the stamp. A release is used to prevent the stamp from tearing away the clay or paint. You can use a light spritz of water, a mix of baby powder & corn starch, or a spritz of Amour-all as a release. Apply the release to the surface of the stamp then press the stamp into the clay.

Here is what happened when I pulled the stamp away from the top of the clay stack.

MGStack_PaintPeeledOff_Text

See that white clay peeking through about 1/4 of the way down? That is where the onyx Vintaj Patina ink peeled off and onto the rubber stamp. It’s possible the ink was not completely dry in that particular spot.

Onward….

Then I added more texture with a few favorite texture tools.

Texture tools

Texture tools

Here is the stack of clay with pokey holes, squiggly lines, and other fun stuff pushed into the clay.

Fully textured clay stack

Fully textured clay stack

Word of warning! If you use a cookie cutter or straight edge to texture the clay, don’t press the tool right into the middle of the stack. Odds are when you pull the tool out of the clay, the clay might come right out with it. This can happen with circular tools, like a cookie cutter.

To avoid this, lightly dust the cutter and press it closer to the edge of the clay stack. If the section of cut clay separates from the stack, gently press it back into the stack with your fingers. Let the entire stack of clay rest for a few minutes before adding more texture or before you start to remove the layers of clay.

Removing Layers and Revealing Patterns

Now that you’ve pressed tools into the clay stack and made a groovy pattern on the top of the clay, you’re going to start removing layers of clay to reveal patterns underneath.

But first we’re going to let the billet rest. It’s all warm and soft at this stage from all the pushing and prodding with the texture tools. If you start removing layers now, you’ll smear and smush the clay.

So take a break. Grab something to drink or eat. In the next post I’ll show you the patterns that emerged when I removed a few layers of the impressed clay. I’ll also share what I made with the slices.


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Testing Vintaj Patina Inks on Polymer Clay

Now that the holiday show season has ended and the last of my special orders have been delivered, I am taking a well-deserved break and playing in the studio. On Monday, I stopped by Ink About It in Westford to do a little artsy-crafty shopping for myself. I bought some Copic  markers, a handful of Colorbox chalk ink stamps, and a package of Vintaj Patina inks by Ranger.

I decided to try out the Vintaj Patina inks first. I’d never heard of them before Monday. They were originally created to use on metal. I wondered if they were anything like the alcohol inks I’ve used. Let’s find out.

Vintage Patine Inks

Vintage Patina Inks

FYI

Before you use the Vintaj Patina inks, a few recommendations:

  • Grab a handful of paintbrushes to apply the paint.
  • Have a cup of water handy for rinsing your paintbrushes. The inks dry quickly. If you spill any ink, wipe it up immediately.
  • Paper towel. You need paper towel to either wipe your brushes, wipe up your spills or dab the inks.
  • Gloves. Wear gloves when using the inks. They’re a bit messy. (Really, it’s not just this artist!) You need to shake the bottles to mix the ink. The ink tends to spray into the cap. When you remove the cap, the ink drips from it. Be prepared.
  • Odor. I noticed a spray paint-like odor when I opened the first bottle of ink. It seemed to disappear over time and I didn’t notice it with the other bottles.  If you’re sensitive to odors, use these inks in a well-ventilated area.

Okay, onto the play and testing the Vintaj inks on polymer clay.

Testing

The colors inks I tried out were Ochre, Agate, and Onyx.

Vintaj Patina Inks: Onyx, Ochre, Agate

Vintaj Patina Inks: Onyx, Ochre, Agate

I conditioned some Premo black polymer clay and pushed it into a mold from my collection. I decided to test the inks on two samples of raw (unbaked) clay and two samples of cured (baked) clay.

Clay samples

Clay samples

Can you guess what item I used to make the texture in this mold?

Raw Clay and Ink Test

In this first sample, I applied the agate ink, two layers, and hit each layer with the heat gun in between applications.

Raw clay with agate ink

Raw clay with agate ink

Then I brushed on a small amount of the ochre ink, dabbed the ink with paper towel, and hit with the heat gun. (NOTE: I used the heat gun to slightly dry the inks between applications. I didn’t run the heat gun long enough to cure the clay. I’ll do that after all the inks are applied.)

Raw clay with agate and ochre inks

Raw clay with agate and ochre inks

The last application was the onyx ink over the previous two colors. I dabbed the ink slightly with a paper towel to remove some of the excess. To keep the confusion to a minimum, this first sample will be known as AOO.

Raw clay with 3 layers of ink

Raw clay with 3 layers of ink (AOO)

On the second piece of raw clay, I applied the ochre ink first, then the agate ink, and then the onyx. I dabbed all the ink lightly with a paper towel and then hit it with the heat gun. This second sample will be referred to as OAO.

Raw clay with ochre ink

Raw clay with ochre ink

Raw clay with ochre & agate

Raw clay with ochre & agate

Raw clay with final layer-onyx

Raw clay with final layer-onyx

Both pieces of raw clay were cured (baked) in a clay dedicated convection oven for 10 minutes at 275 degrees. After baking, I let the pieces cool completely. Then I lightly sanded both pieces with 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper.

OAO (ochre, agate, onyx) on leftAOO (agate, ochre, onyx) on right

OAO (ochre, agate, onyx) on left
AOO (agate, ochre, onyx) on right

Sanding removed most of the top layer of paint in the OAO sample on the left. It also left some interesting scratch marks on the surface which I kind of like.

If you couldn’t guess it earlier, now can you tell what item I used to make the mold?

Cured Clay and Ink Test

While I worked on the first set of samples, I cured the other two pieces of clay. Those pieces were in the oven for 15 minutes at 275 degrees and cooled completely before applying the inks.

On the first cured sample, I applied the onyx ink first. I mixed the agate & ochre inks together and applied this combination on top of the wet onyx ink. Then I dabbed the wet ink and hit all layers with the heat gun. I repeated the process with a second layer of the agate/ochre mix.

At this point I was so absorbed with what I was doing that I forgot to take a picture of this sample at this stage! Sorry.

With the final sample I was feeling a little more daring, so I started by spraying the cured piece of clay with rubbing alcohol and then applying the ochre colored ink. The Vintaj ink immediately ran off the alcohol soaked clay. So I wiped off most of the mess with paper towel and dried the piece with the heat gun.

These inks do not react like Ranger’s alcohol inks.

On the next attempt I applied thin layers of the ochre ink. I mixed the onyx and agate inks which resulted in a rather ugly battleship grey color. I put the battleship grey color on top of the ochre ink. Dry this mess, I mean mix, with the heat gun.

Okay, now I’m starting to get bored. The resulting color combination is rather “meh.”

Off Come the Gloves

At this point, the gloves came off. (They’re too big for my hands anyways so I really needed to take them off.)

I don’t like how either of these cured samples is turning out. They’re both look dull. They need some bling. Some spark.

I sand off the top layers of ink on both pieces using 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper and pull out my Lumiere paints. On the first cured sample, I apply a layer of  pearl turquoise paint, wipe it off, and dry with a heat gun.

Cured clay with Vintaj patina inks and Lumiere pearl turquoise paint

Cured clay with Vintaj patina inks and Lumiere pearl turquoise paint

The Lumiere pearl turquoise paint gives the first sample a little more depth.

On the second cured clay sample, I applied Lumiere super copper paint, dried and sanded it. A lot of the paint came off when I wiped the still wet clay. (The clay was wet from the wet/dry sandpaper.) I put on another layer of super copper paint followed by more ochre ink and wiping in between layers.

Cured sample #2, sanded copper

Cured sample #2, sanded copper

Cured sample #2 with copper paint & more ochre ink

Cured sample #2 with copper paint & more ochre ink

You know how a teacher will tell you beware of turning your piece into mud? I’m starting to feel that way with this sample.

Finally, I decide to apply a very light brushing, almost a dry brushing, of Lumiere pearl white paint. I wipe off the excess, dry the sample with a heat gun, and then use 0000 steel wool to sand the piece followed by a very light run under the buffing wheel at low speed.

Cured sample #2 with many layers

Cured sample #2 with many layers

It’s kind of gone from “meh” to “maybe.” Not sure if I “saved” it or not. But this is just an experiment. There was no planned destination.

Impressions

Well, I can say that the Vintaj patina inks are nothing like Ranger’s alcohol inks. The word “ink” is a little misleading. The Vintaj patina is more like a paint. There is a mixing ball in the bottle to mix the pigments. And there is that slight “spray paint” odor.

On the raw polymer, the paints appeared more vibrant after the curing process. On the cured polymer clay, the patinas were not so vibrant. Now this could be due to my color choice in both the clay and in the patina color combinations. I would definitely try this again on other colors of clay to see what happens.

In general, I think the patinas have potential to be used with polymer. They make an interesting alternative to the standard acrylic paints we often use to antique or stain cured polymer clay. I did like the layering affect that happened with the patinas. It reminded me of the results you get using the mokume gane technique.

Now there is something to consider. Using the Vintaj patinas in the mokume gane technique. I sense another test coming on.

If you’re interested in using the Vintaj patina inks on metal, you’ll find numerous videos on the Vintaj website as well as on YouTube. These two posts on Ink Stained Roni’s blog were also helpful (note-these titles are my synopsis titles, not the original post titles): Samples of the line of Vintaj inks (there are some very pretty colors) and Answers to questions about the inks & that messy ink bottle


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Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain

This post is a repeat. Happy Halloween!

halloween07.jpg

Samhain, pronounced “sow-in,” is Irish Gaelic for “the summer’s end” and represents the death of the summer sun god Lugh.  Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic and Wiccan New Year.  It marks the end of the harvest.

Samhain is considered a time to eliminate weaknesses.  It is now customary to write one’s weaknesses on a piece of paper and then to burn the pieces of paper.  It is also a time to plant the seeds of new projects, to allow them to germinate over the winter, and to end old projects.

If you catch a falling leaf on Samhain before it touches the ground, it will bring you good luck and health for the coming winter.

Halloween originates from the ancient Celts celebrations and is based on their “Feast of Samhain.”

To learn more about Samhain and other Celtic festivals, visit here and here.


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Work In Progress: Ornimals and Tiny Totem Bobbles

What are you working on this week?

I’ve had a productive week in the studio making Graduate Owl Ornimals and new Tiny Totem Bobbles. Here are some of these pieces in progress.

Graduate Owl Ornimals

This group of five Graduate Owls is half of the 10 pieces I need to have finished by the end of this month. Another five are on my work table in the first stage of sculpting.

"Neked" Graduate Owls

"Washed" Graduate Owl Ornimals

I’m giving some thought to making a video on my sculpting and finishing process for the Ornimals. Is that something you’d like to see?

Tiny Totem Bobble Birds

The birds are being well-received. They make people smile. I’ve sold one already. And I put together a class on sculpting the birds. That proposal is being reviewed in a couple of places. I’ll let you know when those classes are scheduled.

For now, here are two new versions of the Tiny Totem Bobble Birds.

Tiny Totem Bobble Birds In Progress

I have this fear that the hole I drill in the bottom of the birds will close or shrink during the curing process. So I made these two little curing “mounts” for the pieces. It works pretty well. Except for the fact that the wire supporting the bird on the left came out of the mount and was stuck in the bottom of the bird after it cured in the oven. I was able to remove the wire with a set of pliers and a good yank. No damage done. Not sure why the liquid clay didn’t bond with the wire and raw clay of the mount.

What did you work on this week in your studio?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

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