Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Art I Created This Summer

I’m embarrassed to see that I haven’t posted an update since the beginning of August. The month passed quicker than I expected. And though I thought about posting something here or there, my priorities were focused elsewhere. So, much like that first essay the teachers used to make us write in grade school, here are some pictures of art that I worked on this summer.

Anemia

Anemia is an art doll that I first wrote about in June. Here are a few pictures of the finished piece. I hope to some day share more about the process of Anemia’s creation.

Anemia-Detail

Anemia-Detail

Anemia-Detail 2

Anemia-Detail 2

Anemia

Anemia

Trees Through The Forest

This piece was first introduced to you during the month of July.

More progress was shared in the early part of August

This piece now hangs at the Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, MA in the Bolton Artisans Guild’s display “Themes From Our Town” as part of Bolton’s 275th anniversary celebration. A few pictures of the finished piece is below. (Click on the first photo to start the slide show.)

Inspiration From Nature

As summer moves forward in our garden, I often find interesting mold and fungus sprouting on the mulch. Some of it can be both intriguing and repulsive. For a long time I’ve wanted to make something inspired by these molds and fungi. And this summer, a technique I found in Cynthia Tinapple’s new book, Polymer Clay Global Perspectives, made creating these fungi pods a lot easier.

For lack of a better phrase, as this work in progress as no formal name, this piece is simply inspired by nature.

The Inspiration-Pod Fungus

The Inspiration-Pod Fungus

Creating Hollow Pods

Creating Hollow Pods

A Few Pods with Texture

A Few Pods with Texture

What did you create this summer?


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“Trees Through The Forest”-Part 2, The Progress Continues

Though I had all good intentions of posting more frequent updates on the progress of my new wall art, I just wasn’t feeling it. My goal is to write one post a week that is published on Wednesdays. But, to be honest, when I don’t have anything to say, I stay quiet. To paraphrase that old saying “if you don’t have anything new/interesting/inspiring to say…”

In my absence here, I’ve been busy planning a new teaching gig, writing the content for a free tutorial, and videotaping another tutorial. Writing the free tutorial is a whole new experience. Develop the idea, write out the process, take pictures of the steps, edit the pictures, write the process in Keynote (that is what I’ll use to convert the tute into a PDF), proof read, publish. I’ve set a date of August 15 as my deadline and have been working backwards from there to manage the various steps in the process.

Makes my brain ache some days.

BUT! In between all that I have made progress on “Trees Through The Forest.” You can read about the origins of this piece and see its beginnings here.

Part 2: Progress Continues

After I created the disk shapes and added texture to them, I baked them in the oven for 15 minutes. Then I had to decide what paint colors to use as a patina. This helps make the texture marks pop on the clay. For some unknown reason this felt like an agonizing process. Is this what they mean by “suffering” for your art?  No, I didn’t think so.

After the patina process was completed, I used liquid polymer clay to secure any piece that had multiple disks or other components. I let all the pieces sit for several hours while the liquid clay set up. Then everything went back in the oven for one more baking.

Here are the polymer clay disks placed on a blank canvas. The popsicle sticks mark where the tree trunks will eventually be painted.

3TreesThruForest_Polymer Disks

And some detail shots of the disks. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

Now the fun begins with creating the background for this piece. I decided to use a 10″x8″ canvas.

Preparing and Painting the Canvas

First, I applied two coats of Gesso to smooth the surface of the canvas.

10Ready to Gesso the Canvas

While that dried, I picked out the colors for the background. Here I tested them out in my sketchbook so I know they’ll look nice together.

11Color choices for the canvas

Once the Gesso completely dried, I held my breath and applied the paint colors. I’m working intuitively here but still felt a little nervous.

12The painted canvas

Before even painting the colors onto the canvas, I looked at several surface techniques in the book Surface Treatment Workshop by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Sandra Duran Wilson.

I decided upon the plastic wrap resist technique. With this technique, you place a sheet of plastic wrap over the wet paint. You can stretch the plastic into linear patterns or pat it smooth.

Plastic wrap over canvas

Plastic wrap over canvas

Plastic wrap over canvas-detail

Plastic wrap over canvas-detail

See all those lines and bumps? The trick with this technique is to let the paint dry before removing the plastic wrap. The drier the paint, the crisper the texture.

And now the big reveal…..

Paint texture

Paint texture

And a detail shot of the texture:

16Paint texture detail

I was pleasantly surprised with how nice the texture came out.

I’ll leave you with this piece, “Trees Through the Forest,” almost finished.

Almost finished

Almost finished

The edges of the canvas have been painted. Since I took the above picture I removed the popsicle sticks and painted in tree trunks. I’m not sure if I need to add anything else to the canvas, so I’ll let things sit for a day or so. If the muse tells me the piece is done, I’ll put a hanger on the back and attach the polymer disks to the canvas.

I’m going to install this piece on Monday, August 5 so there isn’t much more time to agonize think about it. I’m meeting my deadline which was most important.


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“Trees Through The Forest”-New Wall Art Work in Progress

This year marks the 275th anniversary of the town I live in. The celebrations and commemorations started a few weeks ago with a parade, historical tours, hikes on conservation land, bike tours, and a pipe organ dedication at the First Parish Church.

As part of the celebration, members of the Bolton Artisans Guild decided to create artwork inspired by the town’s history. I loved the idea but came up with a big blank slate in the idea department. I thought, “What can I create using polymer clay and mixed media that is inspired by our little town?”

(Why the conundrum? The art is being displayed at the Nashoba Valley Winery and the display space is one wall in the shop. An art doll didn’t seem to be a good match and, the way I sometimes work, it would probably take too long to create.)

Then an idea came to me the other night. I could make a piece of wall art and use pre-stretched canvas as my substrate. Using a design concept that I saw in a Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine over a year ago, plus my love of circles and disks, I drew my idea in my sketchbook.

Trees thru the Forest Sketch

Trees thru the Forest Sketch

One quality that Bolton is known for is preservation of land. We have a lot of conservation land with many hiking trails. That is the inspiration for this work in progress.

My intent is to depict trees through the four seasons. In order to get the colors I want, I’ve had to break out my color blending notes from the workshop I took with Lindly Haunani several years ago. It has been a good way to get the creative juices flowing too.

This is where I’m at so far in creating the trees:

TreesThruForest_Day1Progress

The “spring” tree will have three different shades of green in flat and concave circles, plus a small bird. “Summer” is represented with similar colors, two birds and baby birds, “Fall” has a Skinner blend convex circle and tiny concave circles representing apples. (Bolton also has several apple orchards.) “Winter” tree will be interpreted with varying shades of green in a scribble cane.

This piece is more contemporary that my usual work. Another good way to stretch that creative muscle. Of course, since I’m doing something that I don’t do all the time, construction of the piece is moving along a little slower than I envisioned. (Isn’t that always the case?)

How much longer? Well, I spent the better part of two hours trying to recreate a particular color for the scribble cane that will become the “winter” tree.

I have no idea what I’ll do with the canvas. Right now I’m thinking a light wash of paint may be enough. I don’t want the background to clash with the trees.

What are you working on these days?


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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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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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New Art Friday: Birds of a Feather

A quick check-in this Friday with a few more new Ornimals.

Some of my favorites ornies to make, and also some of the most popular, are birds. Living in a house that is surrounded by woods, I have lots of inspiration right outside by window. We have cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, and goldfinches, juncos, and titmouse. We occasionally see grosbeak, towhees, orioles, and cedar waxwing.

And then there are the big birds-sharp shined hawks, red-tail hawks, owls, and vultures and the occasional heron.

Last year, my bird Ornimals featured just the head of the bird. This year I’ve expanded my sculpting so the bird Ornimal has a body and feet. Some come with additional embellishments like hats and ear muffs.

Cardinal Before (2011 version)

Cardinal Ornimal 2011

Cardinal 2012

Cardinal Ornimal 2012
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Chickadee Before (2011 version)

Chickadee 2011

Chickadee with Earmuffs
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Baby Chick

Over the summer, I ordered 2″ glass balls. Another slight error on my part-ordering the wrong size ornament because I still couldn’t find the ones that matched the ornaments I used in 2011. These glass balls sat in the box they were delivered in for a few months.

Then I found inspiration in a few pictures on a great blog, My Modern Met. The post included pictures of baby chicks. They were the perfect size critters for sculpting on these smaller bases.

Baby Chick Ornimal
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

What do you think?

Do you prefer the “full bodied” birds or the “head-only” birds?

Ch-ch-changes

As much as I enjoy sculpting the Ornimals, I find myself yearning to return to some art that I dabbled in last year: encaustics and my polymer focal disks. I took some time in October to dig out the disks I made and laid them out on a work table. It was fun to shuffle them around, lay them out in various patterns, and think about how to assemble them into wall hangings.

Focal Disks

I pulled out several books on encaustic and watched part of a DVD on the medium. Sometimes we all need to take a break from the art we currently make and rejuvenate with a different medium. I hope to work a bit more with the disks and encaustic after I finish my last holiday show in December. Who knows, maybe I’ll combine animal sculpture, encaustic, and wall hangings.

Focal Disk on encaustic paint background

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend.


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New Art Friday: Revisiting An Art Doll

This week I’m sharing with you an art doll I made in 2009 during my first visit to La Cascade in Dufort, France.

This is an art doll that is an example of why you must think through your design and construction process. I had only thought through part of the process back in 2009. It is a challenge to create a piece in a limited amount of time and consider all angles of the process. That’s okay. I’ve learned that it’s completely fine to walk-away with a less than perfect piece.

Back to the Beginning

The workshop in Dufort was with my friend Dayle Doroshow. You can read about it here and here.

By the time I started working on this art doll, we had visited Revel, Soreze, the Farmers Market, the vide grenier, and Albi. I was feeling inspired by all the gargoyles in the area and chose an old office rubber stamp as the base for my doll’s head. (I bought a bag of these stamps at the vide grenier with the intent of using them as art doll “heads.”) I sculpted the head onto the handle of the stamp, wrapped his “neck” around the stem of the handle, embellished and antiqued the head.

Dufort Art Doll head
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

I decided to cover an empty cardboard matchbox with polymer and incorporated it into the body of this art doll. This was something new for me as I had only made hollow-core art doll bodies up to this point. The matchbox is embellished with a piece of napkin, a small sunflower (le tournesol) and a face bead.

Dufort art doll mid-section
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Now in between his head and his torso is a long cane-embellished snake with two little paw-like hands at either end. These became the arms for the art doll. Using a similar technique I created his long legs and feet.

Dufort art doll legs
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

So there I am with four sections, a head, arms, torso, and legs. Somewhere in the process I had decided that I was going to “string” all the parts together, kind of like a marionette. This is where the construction part became interesting.

Dayle’s lovely husband Dan found a drill at La Cascade. We measured (“eyeballed” really) the horizontal part of the stamp (where the rubber portion would have been attached) and Dan drilled two holes into the wood. Then I set about measuring some buna cord. I laid out each piece and strung the head portion to the arms and torso.

Where this got interesting was hoping I measured each piece of buna cord correctly (i.e: evenly) so that the art doll’s top portion would be balanced. It almost worked. He has a very slight unevenness in his right/left balance. But that just adds to his character.

Stringing the legs to the torso was a bit easier as the buna cord is glued into holes at the base of the torso and top of each leg. But again, I had to measure rather accurately so he wouldn’t have one leg hand lower than the other. (What is that old adage, “measure twice, cut once.”)

Back Home

My intent in creating this art doll was to have him hang on the wall. After returning home I added the feathers to his head. Then I attempted to hang him on the wall.

And his head immediately drooped over. His head was too heavy. Wah.

For whatever reason my brain insisted that the only way to mount the piece on the wall was to hang it from a nail placed under the wood stamp. And would you believe this approach stayed stuck in my head for quite some time?

I thought about creating a hook on the back. For some reason my brain got stuck on the idea that to create a hook, I’d have to drill into the back of the stamp handle.

Then finally the other day, as this art doll was resting comfortably on a work table, I picked him up, grabbed some 18g wire, and started wrapping the wire around his neck. I made a loop in the back and secured it.

Finally the Dufort Art Doll of 2009 could be hung on the wall without flopping over. Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier?

Dufort Art Doll 2009
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

As I said, had I taken more time to think about the construction of this piece, it may have turned out a little different. Had I not been so stuck on my earlier construction process, I might have completed the piece sooner. Really, all that was missing was a good way to display him on a wall.

I haven’t made anything similar since 2009, in part because of the challenge I faced in figuring out how to hang the damn thing. Now that I look at this piece, I remember how much I enjoyed creating him, especially the marionette-like aspect.

Maybe, just maybe, another one is in my future.

Have a great weekend!


2 Comments

New Art Friday: Teaching Found Poetry Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)

I’m happy to announce that I am teaching my new class, Found Poetry Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) on Saturday, August 25, 2012, from 10:00am to 3:00pm at Ink About It in Westford.

What are Found Poetry ATCs?

Found Poetry ATCs are the artistic blending of artist trading cards and the random expression of found poetry. When combined, these two art forms result in funny, imaginative, and quirky ATCs.

Found Poetry Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)
Amy Crawley (2012)

In this class, we will

  • create inspired phrases from randomly chosen words
  • create polymer “paper” using liquid polymer clay
  • embed the phrases, add color and images to the polymer “paper”
  • attach the polymer “paper” to a substrate
  • add additional embellishments for a truly inspired ATC, and
  • swap ATCs at the end of class.

The Gentle Class
Found Poetry ATC
Amy Crawley (2012)

In class, you will receive a materials kit that includes polymer clay faces, napkins, ATC cards, paper beads, alcohol pads, a small palette, & white paper.

Your Hardwired Eyes
Found Poetry ATC
Amy Crawley (2012)

In this class, you get to play and experiment with liquid polymer clay, alcohol inks, rubbing alcohol, paintbrushes, colored pencils, water soluble oil pastels, black paint, rubber stamps, and ink pads.

Small Stories For Her
Found Poetry ATC
Amy Crawley (2012)

For an overview of the class, watch the YouTube video below.

I hope you can join me on Saturday, August 25 at Ink About It for my Found Poetry ATC class.

Have a great weekend.


8 Comments

More Heart Art

I was completely surprised and honored to learn that my LUV heart was featured on Polymer Clay Daily this week.

I’ve been working on more hearts and since it’s Valentine’s Day, it seemed like a good time to share more heart art.

BE Heart Front

BE Heart Back

HOPE Heart Front

HOPE Heart Back

LOVE Heart

LOVE Heart Back

All of these hearts are made with polymer and alcohol inks. I’ve been experimenting with different techniques for applying the alcohol inks. Still learning which one I prefer to use. Have also tried mica powders as a base layer but am not sure if I like that approach.

Either way, it is all fun. Isn’t that what play and practice is all about?

The hearts measure 2″ long by 1″ at their widest point. I love the way they fit into the palm of your hand.


3 Comments

Totem Experiments: Variations on a Theme

A couple weeks ago, I introduced you to some new work. You can read about those first pieces here.

Last week I continued playing with the totem idea and created some new variations on this theme.

This first Janus totem is colored with alcohol inks and has a square base.

Janus Totem Back

Sideview

I was a bit disappointed with the next Janus Totem. The colors aren’t great and one of the faces didn’t turn out as I hoped. However, the palette of decorative chalks that I used to color both faces gave me a new idea.

Janus Totem Front

Janus Totem Back (sad) Face

Side view

Since I wasn’t pleased with my second attempt, I decided to try something completely different in the body construction of the third Janus totem.

Instead of tube beads, I made a pillow bead for the body. I colored the entire piece with assorted decorative chalks. And then I used wire to pull all the pieces together.

Drum roll please….

The Bobbling Janus Totem:

Bobble Janus Totem Front Side

Bobble Janus Totem Front Face Detail

Bobble Janus Totem Back Side

Bobble Janus Back Face Detail

The Bobble Janus Totem stands 7.5″ tall (base to wire.)

And since it is hard to capture the movement of this totem in still pictures, watch this short video where the Bobble Janus Totem gives a little demo of his moves.

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