About a week ago I wrote a post about an evolving idea where I shared how I went from one conceptual idea that failed, to another idea which really sent the creative muse into overdrive.
With a new vision in mind, I proceeded to take one of the new polymer clay focal disks I created and combined it with a beeswax design applied to an artist board.
Here is the artist board with colored beeswax before attaching the polymer clay focal disk:
"Within 1" artist board
I applied several layers of beeswax to the board, incised the circles and lines, and then colored the surface with alcohol inks.
Then I added a polymer clay focal disk:
I’m really happy with the way this first piece turned out.
Abstract art is a completely new area for me to explore. It isn’t something I’m typically drawn to. But like I said, I really like this new combination of polymer clay and beeswax and I really like making these focal disks. Trying something completely new and different also falls in line with choosing the word BIG as my word of the year.
Now that I have emerged myself in this new body of work, ideas for new pieces in the series frequently bubble to the surface quicker than I can write them down. And each new idea is often an evolving process. I sketch out the idea, I try to create it, and it morphs into something slightly different. Or the original idea is a complete failure upon creation. You know that feeling “Um, that isn’t what I wanted to make” or “That isn’t what I pictured in my head” or “This is a piece of crap.”
Such is what happened with a recent idea.
Taking a break from sculpting Spirit Messengers, I’ve been focused on making wall pieces. I had an idea to make some pieces with abstract forms on the surface. Since I was already working with alcohol inks, pearl ex powders, gold leaf and polymer clay, I decided to use these items on my first attempt.
I pulled out several molds with abstract forms and conditioned both white and translucent polymer clays. I pressed the clay into the molds, popped them out, and worked on their surface designs.
And you know how some things look really cool in that raw stage? The colors are appealing. The shape intrigues.
And then you pop those pieces into the oven, sand them when they’re cooled, and buff them on the buffing wheel.
And they come out like this:
Yuck. I’m not feeling the love here folks. I mean, several of the shapes are cool. But the colors aren’t doing it for me. I also wasn’t pleased with the Kato Liquid clay that I applied as a final layer over each piece. Maybe Kato Liquid clay works better on flat surfaces. It certainly wasn’t staying on many of these raised surfaces…as I found out when sanding and the gold leaf started to flake off.
Again, could be a neat effect, if that is what you’re going for. But I wasn’t going for that.
Doing my best Pooh bear imitation, I place my paw, I mean my hand to my head and start muttering “Think, think, think.” Idea one failed. The concept remains a good one (abstract shapes) but the execution…not so hot.
So I pulled out one of my art books* for inspiration and guidance.
There they were, disks and caps, textures and abstract forms. This excited me. This spoke to me. This would be the answer to what I saw in my head.
Getting to work with a few simple tools (always a plus), I made various sized disks and caps, textured them, combined them, and gave them an acrylic wash.
Viola! The new abstract forms that will be incorporated into future wall pieces:
Creating these pieces reminds me of the tiny underwater studies I put together last year. You can see those here. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m really excited about these forms. I know I’ve found something here because I’m already working on a slightly different version from the ones in the picture. Now the muse is off and running again.
*Thanks to Rona Sarvas Weltman’s book Ancient Modern for providing the inspiration.
The beeswax/encaustic medium has really caught my interest. Last week I spent some time experimenting with beeswax, alcohol inks, gold leaf, and pearl ex powders. I don’t normally dive into a new medium without understanding it a little more. In other words, I’m not always one to experiment with a medium I know very little about. Diving right in seems to fit living my word of the year: BIG.
All of these experiments were done in my mixed media sketch book. I’ve since learned that paper is not the best substrate for beeswax beyond the experimentation stage.
Everything but the kitchen sink....
Experiment #1 has everything in it: beeswax, gold leaf, alcohol inks, pearl ex powders and swirls created by impressing the wax with an unmounted stamp.
Feels like autumn....
Experiment #2 includes beeswax, alcohol inks, gold leaf and a texture sheet impressed into the wax. At this point I continue to have problems with the texturing. The wax is peeling off the paper and sticking to the texture sheet (or unmounted stamp as in experiment #1.) In experiment #2 I also tried incising or cutting into the wax with a needle tool. I like the way it directs the alcohol inks.
Did Monet start out this way?
In experiment #3, I decided to keep it simple and applied three colors of pearl ex powder to the wax surface. I like the way the wax moved and blended the powders. The overall effect is very soft and dreamy.
In experiment #4 I started by stamping with black ink onto the sketchbook paper. Then I applied a layer of beeswax, followed by pearl ex powders and another layer of beeswax. Using a fine tip exacto knife, I “wrote” in the beeswax and back filled the marks with alcohol ink.
The kitchen sink over wood
In this final experiment, I lightly sanded a small piece of wood and applied beeswax, gold leaf, alcohol inks, pearl ex powders, and texture. The wood is definitely a better substrate for the beeswax. I still had a minor problem with the texture plate pulling some wax off the surface. I think this may happen because the wax was still too warm or the layers were not fused well enough. Given that I’m using some very basic tools that don’t have exact temperature controls on them, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.