Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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New Art Friday: Raining Cats and Dogs…Ornimals and an Art Show

I’m happy to share with you today my newest Ornimal ornaments-two new cats and two new dogs.

Before Features are Painted

I use sculptor’s grade polymer clay to create my Ornimal ornaments. Each piece is sculpted one at a time over a glass base. After the clay has been cured (hardened) in a clay dedicated oven, I apply a thin wash of brown acrylic paint over the piece to accent the texture.

I call this the piggy-ghost phase because many of these pieces look like piggies in this first phase. The ghosty part is because the eyes haven’t been painted. The Ornimals really don’t come to life until the all features are added.

Here is what this new group looked like after the wash of paint and before the features were added.

Cat and Dog Ornimals
Acrylic wash
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

And here is how they look after the features are painted on the clay.

New Cat Ornimals

Tuxedo Cat with Mohawk
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Orange Tiger Cat with Striped Hat
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

New Dog Ornimals

Golden Lab with Cap
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Chihuahua with Top Hat
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

And here is the whole brood. Who says cats and dogs can’t live together?

New Cat and Dog Ornimals
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

These new Ornimals are 2 3/8″ in diameter (60mm) and approximately 3″ tall.

Art Show This Month

These new Ornimals will be joining me at my first holiday show of the season. You’re all invited to come to the Merrimack Valley Artisans 23rd Annual Art Show & Sale on October 20-21, in Chelmsford, MA. Admission is $3.00. You’ll also have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win select pieces of artwork donated by the artists, including this special Ornimal:

When Pigs Fly…
Amy Crawley (2012)

Merrimack Valley Artisans
23rd Annual Art Show & Sale
October 20-21, 2012

Thanks for stopping by.

Have a great weekend!


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New Art Friday: Two Piggys and A Chicken Walk Into A Bar

Sorry, were you expecting some crude joke about pigs and chickens? My apologies if I disappointed you.

Today I am sharing with you three new Ornimals that are variations on the Down on the Farm series.

When Pigs Fly…

When Pigs Fly… is a specially crafted Piggy Ornimal for the Merrimack Valley Artisans (MVA) Holiday show this October. This piece will be raffled at the show as part of MVA’s scholarship fundraiser. I am designing a display stand for this piece as well.

When Pigs Fly…
Amy Crawley (2012)

When Pigs Fly… measures 2 3/8″ (60mm) in diameter. She features angel wings lightly dusted with white glitter.

Piggys in Berets

This piece was inspired by the Tour de France which was playing in the background in the studio. It started out with the Piggy wearing a fashionable black beret. But when I started to paint on the features I wasn’t happy with how the beret looked on his head. So I added a red feather and red bead. It seemed to give him a certain “je ne sais quoi.”

Piggy with Beret
Amy Crawley (2012)

Chicken with Black Feathers

Chickens come in all sizes and plumage. This particular chicken was inspired by the Delaware breed which have black and white feathers.

Delaware Chicken Ornimal
Amy Crawley (2012)

September is Chicken Month!

In honor of Chicken Month I will be running a special sale on my Chicken Ornimals in September. If you love chickens, raise chickens, or know someone who does and you’d like to get the details about this special, sign up for my Free monthly art newsletter Studio Happenings. The sale is only available to my newsletter subscribers. (A portion of all Ornimal sales is donated to BayPath Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter.)


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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!


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New Art Friday: Down on the Farm

I’m happy to share with you Down on the Farm, my newest line of Ornimals: Sculpted Animal Ornaments.

This line of ornies is inspired by the memory of visiting farms as a kid. Growing up in the city, a school field trip to a farm was an eye-opening experience. For many of us it was our first exposure to “wild” animals. The cows were huge, the pigs stinky, the chickens would scatter, and the sheep were sweet.

Down on the Farm
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

The animals in Down on the Farm stand approximately 3.25″ tall.

Down on the Farm-Sheep
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Down on the Farm-Piggy with a mohawk
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Down on the Farm-Piggy (back)
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Down on the Farm-Chicken
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Down on the Farm-Cow
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Yes, the cow has udders.

Down on the Farm-Cow (back)
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

The Down on the Farm ornies are free-standing for year round display. Or, you could display them year round on an ornament hanger.

Down on the Farm-Piggy
Ornament Hanger
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of my Ornimals is donated each year to BayPath Humane Society in Hopkinton, MA

Have a great weekend, from Down on the Farm.

Down on the Farm Ornimals
Amy A. Crawley (2012)


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New Art Friday: Boxer Dog Ornament

Last month I started selling my Ornimals-Sculpted Animal Ornaments at Country Dogs Pet Retail right here in Bolton. A pet retail shop seems to be a good place for me to sell the Ornimals. I mean, what better place to find animal lovers than at a pet shop? The ideal customer for Country Dogs dovetails with my ideal customer.

Of course a pet shop that caters to dog owners means I need to sculpt more dog-centric pieces. That is a good challenge for me because dog breeds are harder for me to sculpt. Unlike cats, which have a more common facial anatomy across breeds, dogs all vary, just like humans. Even within breeds you’ll find subtle differences. But which breed would I start with?

The Boxer Dog

I decided to sculpt a Boxer because one of the shop’s owners has a Boxer and is involved with Boxer rescues. My sister also owned a Boxer, a female, who was a very sweet pooch.

Boxers were developed in Germany in the 19th century. Their lineage goes back to two German Mastiff type dogs and later the cross breeding of a Mastiff and a Bulldog. Boxers are a working breed. They are intelligent, high-spirited, playful & curious. Boxers bond with families, are loyal and affectionate.

The Boxer Ornimal Ornament

Boxer Dog Ornimal Ornament
(Amy A. Crawely, 2012)

The Boxer Dog Ornimal is approximately 2 5/8″ diameter (60mm). He is hand-sculpted with Super Sculpey, cured, then hand painted with oil paints. Retail price $30.00. Available at Country Dogs Pet Retail.

Thanks for stopping by & have a great weekend.


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New Art Friday: Tiny Totem Bobble Birds & a Sneak Peek

Do you remember that I shared some process pictures of my Tiny Totem Bobble Birds several weeks ago? Did you think that the birds “flew the coop” because I didn’t share the finished pieces?

Well, the birdies are still here in the studio. But I lost my focus on the blog as I delved into other areas, like delivering work to a new consignment store, preparing for a studio show, and starting a year-long coaching program. I’m sure you’ve had times like this. The fork in the road takes you in one direction and eventually you circle back to that place where you started.

Anyways, several weeks ago I shared the birdies progress pictures. You can see their “beginnings” in this post here and in this second post here.

Today I’m happy to finally share the finished Tiny Totem Bobble Birds:

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart (Formerly known as “Wings”)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
(Amy A. Crawley, 2012)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
Front View

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
(Close View)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
(Side View)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
(Amy A. Crawley, 2012)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
(Close up)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
(Side View)

And a Sneak-Peek

This week I started work on a new line of Ornimals, The Farm Animals. There are four Ornimals in this new line, a cow, a piggie, a sheep, and a chicken. Sculpting them has been a bit of a challenge. A couple required do-overs. And I’m sure they’ll continue to evolve from this first iteration. For now I’ll share this group shot of the ornies with the first layer in the process- an acrylic wash.

Farm Animal Ornimals, Phase 1
(Amy A. Crawley, 2012)

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!


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Solopreneur Wednesday: An Introduction-How Did I Get Here?

The 5th anniversary of this blog is fast approaching. And there are a number of new subscribers to this blog. So it seemed like a good time to slow down, take a step back and introduce myself to my new readers and re-introduce myself to those who have been following my journey since this blog started.

Who Am I?

If you look over to that column on the right, you can see my picture. That’s me, Amy —->

Nice to meet you.

What do you do for a living & how did you end up doing it?

I’m in my third iteration career-wise. I am a polymer clay mixed media artist. Before working with polymer, I tried paper arts, wood stuff, painting, fabric. None of those really stuck. In 1998, I learned about polymer clay, bought a crafty book and some clay at Michaels and gave it a go. My first piece was a pair of earrings, a bunny & a carrot. I still have those earrings too.

First polymer earrings (scanned image).

But as I said, I’m in my third career. Amy 3.0? Before discovering polymer clay I had always played around with artsy-crafty stuff. I took art classes all through high school but never gave it a thought to make art a career. Let me rephrase that. I had no intention of pursuing art as a career.

Instead I got a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a minor in Communications from Michigan State University. Then I got my Masters in Speech-Pathology. I worked in the healthcare field for almost nine years. Got laid-off. Went back to school. Got my certificate in Technical Writing. Got laid-off again and began to think about what else I wanted to do with my life.

At that time, in 2002, I thought about the things I might want to do if I wasn’t going to work in cubicle-land. The three things I liked most were gardening, cooking, and making art.

Gardening & landscaping are very physical careers. So I scratched that from the list.

Culinary school required many early hours as you work through the coursework. I’m not a real early-morning person. And I realized I mainly like cooking for family & friends. Scratch culinary school from the list.

That left art.

What are you influences or sources of inspiration?

My art is inspired by nature, animals, the spirit of ancient cultures, and my travels around the world. I’m drawn to texture, movement, color, and faces.

I’ve created work that draws from the Celtic, Egyptian, African, and Asian cultures. Symbolism plays a big part in my art when I create my Spirit Messengers.

Anam Cara (Trio)

More recently I’ve focused the subject of my art on animals, such as my Ornimals: Sculpted Animal Ornaments.

Cat Ornimals 2012 Group Shot (Amy Crawley)

Those who have influenced my art include Laura Balombini, Dayle Doroshow, Gustav Klimt, Joseph Cornell, Alexander McQueen, El Anatsui, Dale Chihuly, Tim Burton, and Cirque du Soleil.

How did your art become a business?

It didn’t become a business by blatant choice. After being laid-off, and thinking I’d like to work more with my art, I started playing around with polymer clay even more. I was at a local hardware store looking at cabinets and wearing a piece of jewelry I made. I was talking to a woman who worked in this department and she asked if I made the jewelry I was wearing. When I told her “yes,” she asked if I sold my jewelry. One thing led to another and my business began. That woman became my first customer.

When I say it wasn’t by blatant choice, I mean that I had thought, someday, it might be fun to sell my art. But it wasn’t my intention when I started making jewelry. I didn’t say “I’m making this to sell it.” Apparently the Universe had other plans for me. Maybe the best way to put it is that my art became a business through the back door. Add a little ego into the process and there you go. I really had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into.

Next: My intent with Solopreneur Wednesday posts is to share what I’ve learned about running a small art business. If you have questions about working as an artist and/or running a small business, please leave your question(s) in the comment section below. We’ll be enjoying the 4th of July holiday next Wednesday so our next post will be in two weeks on Wednesday, July 11.


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Moonman Sculpture Inspired by Recent Super Moon

I’ve always enjoyed looking at the nighttime sky. As I get older, I find myself more fascinated with the twinkling stars and constellations. I do wonder “what is out there?”

The Super moon that we had a few weeks back was thrilling. Though it didn’t seem quite as large in my own backyard, some of the pictures posted online were fascinating. Looking at those pictures, an image popped into my head for a new sculpture. I drew the idea in my sketch book and began work on this new piece. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and am happy to share pictures of Moonman with you today.

First up is Moonman before he went into the oven. Looking rather fleshy isn’t he? Usually the sculpts are kind of ugly looking at this stage. He looks rather proud of himself.

Moonman Nekked

An acrylic wash is applied after the sculpt is removed from the oven and cooled. Then the fun begins when I add oil paint for dimension and character.

Moonman’s smiling face (Amy Crawley, 2012)

Moonman’s starry slippers (Amy Crawley, 2012)

Moonman in his starry jammies (Amy Crawley, 2012)

Moonman (Amy Crawley, 2012)

Moonman is approximately 4″ tall. He is made from polymer clay with a glass & wood armature. I think his smiling face might work its way into a new line of ornaments.

Thanks for stopping by.


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Graduate Owl Ornimal Ornaments: Now Available + How to Sculpt Owl Feet

My Graduate Owl Ornimal Ornaments are now available for purchase. Five of the Graduate Owls are nesting at Five Crows in Natick & waiting for their new forever homes. The remainder are available from me directly. The Graduate Owls are $28.00 (+ MA sales tax if you’re a resident.) If you’re out of state, I ship via USPS Priority mail. Shipping costs will be added to your order. The Graduate Owls come with a story card and are placed in a clear gift box .

Graduate Owl Ornimals

Doesn’t it look like they’re going to break out in a round of hooting?

If you’re interested in buying a Graduate Owl Ornimal for your 2012 graduate, leave a comment on this post. Let me know if you’d like a custom color tassel to match your graduate’s class colors. Tassels are included for free. I’m already working on a second batch of Graduate Owls as I only have one left in stock. (Yep, four have already been claimed for some special 2012 graduates.)

How To Sculpt Owl Feet

In the midst of producing the Graduate Owls, I decided to make a series of videos on how they were created. The first one in the series shows how I sculpt their feet. Enjoy!


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How To Put Together A Polymer Clay Toolkit

I teach several beginner level classes in polymer clay. During those classes I’m often asked what type of tools to buy that can be used with polymer clay. That question inspired my newest YouTube video: Putting Together a Basic Polymer Clay Toolkit.

Be sure to stay through till the end for a little blooper.

If you liked this video, be sure to click the LIKE button on my YouTube page.

I have a few more videos waiting to be edited, including a short video on pasta machines for polymer clay, sculpting, and painting.  Subscribe to my YouTube page and you’ll receive automatic updates as soon as I add new videos.

Thanks for stopping by.