Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Snapshots and Memories: An Adventure in Artist Trading Cards

After I return from France, I am embarking on a new art project: Snapshots and Memories from Langeudoc – Rousillon. This art project will focus on the creation of artist trading cards (ATCs) using encaustic medium and polymer clay. The theme for this art project is capturing the essence of the Langeudoc – Rousillon region in France.

ATCs are the size of trading cards and can be created from just about any medium, including felt, polymer clay, paper, fiber, or some combination of mixed mediums. You can read about the history of ATCs here.

This past week I delved into this project by creating two prototype ATCs. This was my time to practice my approach to creating the ATCs, practicing with the encaustic medium, and generating ideas of what types of images I’ll be looking for in France.

Below are pictures of the prototypes.

Le Tournesol "Sunflower" ATC

Le Tournesol ATC Detail

Le Tournesol was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: Napkin, encaustic medium, polymer clay, oil paint, alcohol inks, mica powder, metal stamp letters.

Le Chat Noir ATC

Le Chat Noir ATC Detail

Le Chat Noir was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: French dictionary page, found images, encaustic medium, polymer clay, alcohol inks, oil paint, metallic rub-on, texture plate.

The ATCs will be mounted on wood in single, double, and triple layout.

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Mini-Tutorial: Polymer Clay Drawer and Cabinet Knobs

When I shipped my final Wholesale order in 2010, I walked into my studio and removed all the remaining unfinished drawer and cabinet knobs. I had covered a few of them several years ago and then stopped. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to cover the remaining knobs. However, doing it now gives me the opportunity to share with you my process in this mini-tutorial. Covering drawer and cabinet knobs is a great way to use your extra millefiori cane clay sheets.

 

Millefiori Cane Sheets & Drawer Knobs

Materials

  • Wooden drawer/cabinet knobs
  • White glue
  • Polymer clay: millefiori cane clay sheet

Tools

  • Pasta machine for conditioning clay
  • Cutting blade
  • Work surface
  • 2″ round cookie cutter
  • Small acrylic roller or bamboo skewer
  • Clay dedicated toaster oven or convection oven

Directions

Because we are using wood drawer knobs, you need to prep them for the polymer clay. First, put the knobs in the oven for 15 minutes at 275 degrees to remove any moisture. When cool, cover the knobs with white glue.

Assorted Wooden Drawer Knobs

Choose a millefiori cane clay sheet. If necessary, pass the clay sheet through your pasta machine a few times to warm it up. Don’t fold the sheet or you’ll lose your design! Cut out a circle of clay from the sheet with the round cookie cutter.

Place the circle of clay on top of the drawer knob, smooth with your acrylic roller or bamboo skewer, and fit to the top of the drawer knob.


Top of Drawer Knob: Covered

Cut a 3″ long by 1/2″ wide strip of clay from your millefiori cane clay sheet.

Wrap the strip around the stem of the drawer knob, match the ends of the strip, and cut to fit the stem. Use the small acrylic roller or bamboo skewer to smooth the clay and blend with the top portion of the drawer knob. Use your cutting blade to remove any excess clay that extends beyond the base of the stem.


The drawer knob is covered and ready for the oven.

Cure the covered drawer knob in your clay dedicated toaster or convection oven for 20 minutes at 275 degrees (or as recommended by the clay manufacturer.) When the drawer knob has cooled, you can sand the drawer knob with wet/dry sandpaper and buff on a buffing wheel, if desired.

Below is a sample of the many other designs that can be created for drawer and cabinet knobs.

Assorted Polymer Clay Drawer and Cabinet Knobs

A few pictures of the drawer knobs on the cabinets and drawers in my studio.

Face & Turquoise Drawer Knobs

Cane Design & Extruded Clay Drawer Knobs

Assorted Cane Designs Drawer Knobs

I hope you enjoyed this mini-tutorial. If you cover some of your drawer knobs with polymer clay, please post them and send me a link to your blog, website or Flickr page.


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An Archeological Dig Through Scrap Clay

I’ve amassed quite a bit of scrap clay these past few months.  A fair amount I’ve generated on my own.  Some I got from Judy Dunn (and it is so colorful!)  The rest was gifted to me at Klay Karma (ok, I offered to take it off of Sherry’s hands but it was like receiving a gift.)

The other day I was emptying a scrap clay container so I could line it with freezer paper.  As I dumped out the container I had to smile at all the bits that I recognized from past projects.

The ball of Fimo that still requires Mix Quick to become malleable.  I remember the exact thing I made with that clay.  My first woven pins made with a burgundy color and white Fimo.  I think the pins were heart shaped.  I loved the pins.  However, I developed a serious dislike for Fimo after that adventure.

The experiment with alcohol inks and paint on clay and the bowls that were generated from it.  I still have the bowls.  That particular design didn’t go over very well.  Oh well, they make nice candy dishes and ring holders in my studio.

The stars and stripes cane bits.  Where did that come from?  Oh yes, a friend who commissioned me to make a stars and stripes pin for her.  She loved her pin.  Ironically anything else I made using this cane didn’t sell.

A chrysantemum cane end; more clay painted with Lumiere paints; stained glass cane bits, faux jade, faux bone, and a chunk of a purple and white bullseye cane (or is that a poorly formed Skinner blend plug?)  More mokume gane bits, a checkerboard cane piece, a slice off a shamrock cane (one of the first canes I attempted; with Sculpey no less), and bits of a jelly roll cane.  And the rest is just bits and pieces.

My scrap clay collects bit upon bit until the bucket fills.  Some people sort their scraps by color.  Others roll their scraps into partially blended lumps.  And then there are those who claim to not have any scrap clay.  Somehow they don’t have any leftovers.

I’m surprised so many of these clay bits jogged my memory.  Funny how you can trace your past creations by the scrap bits in a bucket.  Curious how these bits will be combined to make a lovely muddy color that will eventually be used as a clay core for something else.  Clay that is always transforming, always finding a purpose.

What past creations can you find in your scrap clay bucket?


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Material Inspiration

I do not make canes with polymer clay.  It just isn’t something that I fancy for myself.  I have made some basic canes (stripes, checkerboard, bullseyes) but rarely anything complex.  So I’m not sure what prompted me to make canes this weekend.  Perhaps it was my desire to take a break from making wine bottle stoppers.  Perhaps it was the two logs of scrap clay that have been resting on my work table waiting for rejuvination.  Whatever it was, here is what I did and the results:

I started with scraps of leftover clay that I rolled into a log and twisted till it swirled.  Then I put the log into a clay extruder with a square die and extruded it. Twisted clay 

  Extrusion

The extruded clay was cut into 16 pieces of equal length and restacked into a 4 x 4 square.  This square was then wrapped with two layers of contrasting clay, cut on a diagonal into four equal pieces and reassembled.  Then I wrapped the cane again with a single layer of white clay.

4×4   Wrapped stack   Cut and reassemble

(NOTE: If you do not have an extruder, you could roll your scraps into a log, 1″ in diameter, and square it up.  Or use a solid color log of clay.) 

I decided to add a little more color to my cane.  I cut the cane vertically and inserted a sheet of red pearl clay.  Then I made two horizontal cuts and inserted two more sheets of red pearl clay, compressed the cane and started reducing it.

Vertical color   Horizontal cuts

I reduced the cane, cut it into four equal pieces, inserted a thin log of red pearl clay at the center point where all four cane pieces met, compressed and reduced it again.  Then the cane was cut in half one more time and I mirrored the images for the finished cane.

Reduce center color   Reduce assemble   The finished cane.

And here is this cane sliced and rolled into a sheet.

Plaid sheet

It definitely has a plaid/tartan feel to it though I’m not sure what Clan would claim it as their own.

Making this cane was fun and it will make some great cloth for art doll clothing.  I mentioned that I made two canes.  The second cane is not yet finished.  I’ll post that one later.

To see some wonderful canes made by wonderful polymer artists, visit:

Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg (Riverpoet Designs)

Sarah Shriver

Barbara Sperling

Jana Roberts Benzon

Karen Lewis (Klew)