Whales on Broad Street

Artist Shay Church enlisted the help of students from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia to complete his life-sized whale sculptures.   Whale-shaped wooden forms were covered with wet clay for an installation that coincided with the opening of the 44th Annual  Conference  on the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. I’m not one of those people who think I’ve seen everything.  Still, I was surprised to find whales on South Broad Street in Philadelphia on a  March  afternoon.

Building Whales on Broad Street Street with Shay Church

Press here to see a short film of the construction of another one of Church’s whale installations. To see more of Shay Church’s work, press here.

Bargello Exercise (and Bracelet!)

Here is my take on the Bargello Bead exercise  from Polymer Clay Color Inspirations.     I started the exercise  by picking three three colors from my collage.  Then  I  located them on  a  color scale I’d made to give me some idea of how to mix them.

I made a new batch of my primaries first.  I found I had problems  mixing my magenta,  even though I’ve mixed it countless times!   I had to put in more medium red to get the right color this time.   I think it’s because  I had used my old Premo fuchsia in the batches I’m mixed before,  but the brand spanking new package I used this time came from a different  dye lot.  But I got the color I wanted  by altering the mix a little bit at a time.

Then I   mixed the  orange, green and purple from the collage.  I found I needed more blue to make the purple  in the collage.  I added it bit by bit until my purple resembled the color from the magazine clipping.  The picture below shows the finished purple with a bit of the color I had originally mixed on top of it.


Here are the finished colors.

The object of the exercise is to mix  increasing amounts of mud into your three colors so you can see how it makes the colors shift.  I am leaving out  parts of the exercise, but all the information is in the book.

I got a surprising (to me) result.  Look at the picture below.  The purple in the stripes on the right shows hardly any gradation.  This was a “smack myself on the forehead” moment for me, as I remembered that darker colors shift less that lighter ones.  I added some white to the purple and  made the sheet on the left.  You can see the purple color shift in that one.  Much more interesting.

The next part of the exercise is to slice strips and lay them on a sheet of mud to make patterns.  Here are some examples.

Then I started to make the beads.  You don’t see any here because   my attempts at bargello  beads are now vying for a place in the permanent collection of the Museum of Ugly.  In a moment of inspiration,  however, I grabbed a bracelet blank I bought from Melanie West and made a bargello bracelet instead.

OK, what did I learn?   I got a practical example of the way colors shift and how darker colors shift less.  I also feel a bit empowered because I was able to replicate the colors from the collage and correct color problems.  For me, that is a giant leap forward.

Spring Flowers in Philadelphia

The Plum Blossoms and Cherry Blossoms don’t last too long, but the Hydrangeas and Pansies will bloom all summer.  Here are some pictures from a recent walk around  Philadelphia.

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Trying Color Scale Triangles

Here are  pictures of some more of my latest forays into Polymer Clay Color Explorations.


The advantage of making color scale triangles is that you get to see a bigger sampling  of the colors you can mix with your primaries — the eggplants and the browns, for example.  I know I don’t usually mix these colors except by accident.    After I finished a couple of triangles, I was struck by how appealing some of these colors can be and how in the color mixing I had been doing, I had been limiting myself to “safe” predictable colors (like white and a touch a green makes mint).  The color scale triangles let me see the  nuances that emerged with each color combination.

This exercise is more than academic.  Since it requires you to document your color mixtures,  you come away with a concrete idea of how you got every color in the triangle. The practical application is that when you want to mix a particular color- say something you saw in a magazine, and the exact color is not in your triangle, you have a good idea of what colors you need to start with, and what  to add to the mixture, to get the shade you want.  Amazing!

These two triangles are similar, but the one on the left uses slightly different blue and magenta primaries than the one on the right.

This is a “color wheel” that I mixed with my primaries going from my yellow to my blue,  my blue to my magenta, and my magenta to my yellow.  The colors in the middle of all of the scales are made of 1/2 of the base color and 1/2 white.

My primaries are: Yellow-1/2 zinc and 1/2 cadmium with a pea of white, Magenta-3/4 fuchsia and 1/4 medium red with a pinch of white and Blue: 7/8 ultramarine and 1/8 cobalt with a pinch of white.

Watch Maggie Maggio’s excellent video on mixing color scale triangles for a thorough explanation of the exercise.

Happy Spring!!

I hope you get what you want in your Easter basket this year.  Plumpton asked me to remind you that it’s OK to play with whatever’s in there.  Get down with your bad self; it’s SPRING!!!!!