Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

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Class Reminder: Liquid Polymer Clay Bookmarks & Art Tag Class

There are a few seats left in my Liquid Polymer Clay Bookmark and Art Tag class is this Friday, October 1, 10:00am to 2:00pm at Ink About It in Westford.

Here is the class description:

In this class, you will learn how to create bookmarks and art tags with liquid polymer clay. First, you will learn how to use liquid polymer clay as a resist with rubber stamps to create art tags. Then we’ll explore how to make polymer clay paper with multiple thin layers of liquid clay. We’ll stamp, color, and embellish the polymer clay paper to create personally inspired bookmarks. You will leave class with several art tags and bookmarks.

And the materials list:

Most materials provided by instructor. Please bring a Staz-On ink pad (black or brown; gold if you have it), 3-4 favorite rubber stamps, scissors, apron, or smock, and basic tool kit. If you have the following, please bring them to class: 3-4 light color alcohol inks (Pinata or Ranger), 3-4 acrylic paints in squeeze bottles (Lumiere or Ranger), Mod Podge or gel medium (regular/soft), an acrylic brayer.

Cost: $40

Here are samples of the bookmarks and art tags we’ll make in this class:

Bookmarks with polymer clay paper
Art Tags with liquid clay resist
Liquid Polymer Clay Bookmarks and Art Tags

You can register for this class by calling Ink About It or stopping in and signing up in person. Hope to see you there!

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Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud

One of the pieces I entered into the Cloth, Paper Scissors Artisan Search 2011 was Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud. This piece was 3 years and 15 days in the making; from conception to completion.

Insecurity was inspired by a conversation about why, as humans, we engage in certain activities and what shadow effects keep us from engaging in other activities. In particular, my friend Karen and I were talking about things we did as kids, like going to summer camps or other activities away from home.

Later, as I thought more about this conversation, an image for this piece emerged so strongly that I had to stop what I was doing at that moment and sketch out my vision. What I realized is that I did not participate in many activities as a kid due to insecurity. I was afraid to be away from home. I was afraid of failing. I lacked confidence in many areas. And I didn’t always have the encouragement from those around me to try new things.

Sadly those feelings carried over into my adult life in other ways.

Eventually I learned to try new things and not to worry if I wasn’t great at it or if I made a fool of myself. But the emotions that rose to the surface after that conversation still felt raw and very real. I don’t often create art inspired by such emotions. Heck, I don’t often have a vision for a piece appear so strongly and vividly. It had to be captured on paper and brought to life.

Insecurity’s face is slightly distorted, hiding the pain and anguish she feels. Her body is hollow, formed over a tube. On the exterior are long black wings, representing the shroud we wear to hide our insecurities. Below her wings are the faces and words that tie us to our feelings of insecurity.

However, all is not lost, for under the feathers around Insecurity’s neck, is the word Hope. And in the center of her body rests a ruby charm embedded in words of loving kindness.

Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud

Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud

Materials: Polymer clay, gold leaf, ruby charm, rubber stamps, feathers, beads, acrylic paint, wood, molding paste. Dimensions: 16.5″h; 4″x4″ (base)
Amy A. Crawley, 2010

Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud Head

Insecurity Close Up of Head

Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud Midsection

Insecurity Close Up of Midsection

Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud Base

Insecurity Close up of Base

Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud Back View

Insecurity Back View

Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud is one of my favorite pieces. She is very personal to me and represents a true sense of accomplishment. She reminds me to never give up. To take a leap knowing that the net will appear.


Artisan Search 2011-Taking Another Leap

Last week I took another leap of faith. I submitted artwork to the Cloth, Paper, Scissors (CPS) Artisan Search 2011. The CPS Artisan Search 2011 offered artists a choice five categories to enter: Mixed media stitch, Art Journal & Bookmaking, Printmaking & Silk screening, Mixed media jewelry, and Collage & Assemblage.

When I first heard about this competition, I didn’t even consider entering it. I thought “My work doesn’t fit into any of those categories” and “They’re not going to consider a polymer clay artist.” Talk about eliminating myself from the competition before even giving it a chance.

Later, a friend mentioned she was thinking about submitting her artwork. We agreed to enter the competition together (“If you do it, I’ll do it.”) Judy followed through on her plans and submitted her mixed media artwork

I, however, was dealing with wholesale orders and getting things ready for my upcoming polymer clay classes. The idea of entering the competition fell further and further from my mind.

Then my friend Karen explained how to take even better pictures, so I could get the whole piece in focus. That greatly influenced my decision to enter this competition. With this explanation, I practiced taking some pictures and finally felt confident that I could submit pictures of three pieces and feel good about the image quality.

The three pieces I submitted are below. We were able to submit one full shot and up to two close-up shots. I entered these pieces in the collage and assemblage category.

Entry 1: The Belle of Bell Tavern

The Belle of Bell Tavern

Belle of Bell Tavern: Head shot

Belle of Bell Tavern: Base

Materials: Polymer clay, wool roving, paper, wire, antique wall shelf (inverted), found objects, ribbon, acrylic paint, soft pastels.

Dimensions: 16.5″h; 8″w x 4″ (base)

Entry 2: Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud

Insecurity Wears a Black Shroud

Insecurity: Head shot

Insecurity: Base

Materials: Polymer clay, gold leaf, ruby charm, rubber stamps, feathers, beads, acrylic paint, wood, molding paste

Dimensions: 16.5″h; 4″x4″ (base)

Entry 3: The Green Man

The Green Man

The Green Man & Sprites

Green Man: Mid-front

Materials: Polymer clay, polymer clay tiles, glass mosaic tiles, beads, antique button, antique cross, sticks, rubber stamps, acrylic paint, mica powders

Dimensions: 13.25″t x 3″w x 3.5″d

The submission deadline for the Artisan Search 2011 was Monday, 9/13/10. Five semi-finalists in each of the five categories will be announced on Monday, 9/27/10. A grand prize winner will be chosen from the 25 finalists.

Best of luck to all of us!


Confronting a Wall

As the month of August came to a close, I found myself feeling overwhelmed by all that lay ahead of me this fall. This sense of overwhelm squashed my desire to write on this blog, hence my couple of weeks of absence.

In late August and into September, the Vuelta a Espana traverses the roads and mountains of Spain. This is the final 3 week race in the professional cycling calendar. While all three grand tours (the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta) are grueling events, the Vuelta has to be the hardest. In this race the cyclists will climb mountain roads with gradients of 9%, 11%, and 13%. In some stages, roads have a 22% gradient climb.

You might be able to walk slightly faster on roads that steep than someone on a bike.

Or maybe not.

Hitting a Wall

It was this feeling of overwhelm that hit me a couple weeks ago that reminded me of the riders in the Vuelta. In cycling, it is common to refer to huge, steep mountain climbs as walls.

I realized that I had hit my own wall.

The realization of “hitting the wall” came with both relief and anxiety. It explained why I was feeling this way (the relief.) It also made me confront all the stuff bouncing around in my head (the anxiety.)

Armed with this realization, I decided there was only one thing to do if I hoped to get a grip on the situation. And that was to do a Brain Dump.

The Brain Dump

When I think of doing a Brain Dump, I’m reminded of a scene in Tim Burton’s “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” In this scene, Dr. Finkelstein, the Evil Scientist, throws open his head to scratch his brain and ponder his next move.

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

Ah, how nice it would be to lift open our skulls, scratch our brains, pick out all those anxious thoughts, and pop everything back together.

Unfortunately, we don’t yet have that ability.

So the next best thing for me to do was to write a list of all the things coming up for the month of September.

Brain Dump

September Brain Dump

Once I wrote it all down, I felt much better. I actually thought “hmm, it isn’t as bad as my sometimes over-active imagination leads me to believe.”

At the top of the list is working in the studio 20-24 hours a week. My intent is to have that time dedicated specifically to making art, though there will be situations where some of those hours will be spent on the business side, such as entering art challenges, photography, e-newsletters, websites, etc. And of course there are other appointments and activities that influence how a week will play out.

Next was listing all those to-dos for the month based on my goals and what I’d already written on my calendar. In trying to get a jump on the upcoming holiday season, I’ve decided to spend 1-2 days on production based artwork. I figure it is better to get this task out of the way first, then I can spend the rest of the time on sculpting heads, making new Spirit Messengers, and learning digital art techniques.

For several items, I have to list out the smaller steps that will help me get to the overall goal. Listing the small steps is something I can easily forget to do. And that makes for more anxiety. It is so easy to say “I have to get X done” and be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of ‘X’ until you list the small steps.

Other items on this Brain Dump are weekly tasks that have become too easy to overlook these last few months as I’ve focused on new areas for my business. Example: updating the books in Quickbooks once a week now will save me time and trouble later on.

I’m also specifying on my daily priority and to-do list how much time I’ll allot for specific tasks, such as replying to or sending emails, working on my website, and writing on this blog.

I admit that this left brain approach is not always easy to implement when you spend more time living with a right brain focus. Perhaps I could be more creative in how I create my list or my daily priority & to-do list (though sometimes I use different color pens!) More important was to just get it all down on paper.