Mosaic Leaf Brooch Exercise

We’re still on Chapter Eight of Polymer Clay Color Explorations. looking at contrast and proportion.  The Mosaic Leaf Brooch Exercise is something I would have never tried on my own and the results I got surprised me.  I didn’t like what I thought I would like and background colors that looked blah to me perked up when I incorporated them into the brooch.

I started out making a Skinner Blend with my palette colors, cut out strips, laid them down on a sheet of mud  and  indented the strips to mimic tiles.   After baking, I grouted or back filled the pieces with randomly chosen colors of clay and added clay bezels.

For the “grout”, I chose ecru,  “sunlight” left over from the Log Cabin Pin project, black,  and light blue.  For the “bezel” colors, I chose orange, red, light green, and a darker turquoise green.

Look at the effect the background color has on the “tiles.”

The brooches on the left (see below) have essentially the same color tiles as the brooches on the right.  But they look different simply because the background colors are different.  There’s lots of information in chapter eight explaining this phenomenon and giving examples and illustrations.

The second brooch from the left reminds me of Halloween candy.  What was I thinking?  I’m not sure I like it but when I chose the colors, I was sure I’d love it!  The brooch on the far left reminds me of a fall harvest and I think it’s much more interesting.  The brooch on the far right  makes me think of a summer ear of corn (which I can’t have right now because I just had dental surgery and my mouth is packed with dressing and stitches!)    It’s amazing how altering the background  and bezel color can change feel of the piece.  Not only has this exercise showed me  how colors affect those around them; it has also  given me examples of how  one can use color to communicate.

On another note-

I mistakenly went from Chapter Seven to  Chapter Nine, a few weeks ago.  My next post on my journey through Polymer Clay Color Explorations will be on the second half of Chapter Nine which explores the effect that texture has on color.  I really enjoyed that exercise, so stay tuned.

A Trip Back to Chapter Eight: Contrast Tables

OK, I goofed.  I skipped my posts about the exercise and project in  Chapter Eight of Polymer Clay Color Explorations.  Well, this has been a rough week.  What can I say?

Chapter Eight covers  “Exploring Color Composition: Placement and Proportion.”  It is worth your time to try the proportional and contrast table exercises in this chapter.  Now that I am working on the  collage box in the last chapter in the book, the exercise makes more sense than ever.

First, I mixed eight colors from my collage.

Collage with the colors I mixed on top

Then I sheeted the colors and laid them on a sheet of mud.  The size of the color samples is determined by the proportion of that color in the collage. I eyeballed it.  So, why is the placement of the colors important?   The appearance of a color is affected by the colors around it.  We all know this to some extent, but it helps to mix the colors and study them.  At least it helped me.

You  see how each color contrasts with another by laying out  strips of all the colors across the proportionally-sized color samples.  Take a look  at the picture below with  the balls of color on the left and the baked proportion and contrast tables on the right.    The contrast table allows  you to see how each color works with every other color at a glance.  It’s much harder to do this with the balls of color.   I can see how making the tables would be useful  to audition colors for a project.

I will probably be making more of these contrast tables so I have more control over what my final project looks like, rather than my usual Hail Mary method of color placement.   Of course, a little luck never hurts, either.

My next post on my journey through  Polymer Clay Color Explorations will cover the project from Chapter Eight that puts the principles of the above exercise to work.


Pattern Samples and Bracelet

I’m up to to Chapter Nine in Polymer Clay Color Explorations,  “Exploring Pattern and Texture in Your Colors.”  The first  exercise entails  making 3 x 3 inch polymer clay pattern swatches  based on your collage and using them as veneers in a bracelet.

I made  lots of color washed sheets and ended up not using most of them.  I did use the one you see  above which  is also embellished with  simple canes like the ones you see below.

There aren’t many patterns in my collage except for the hobnail style pottery and the pattern on the seahorses.  I didn’t have much to imitate,   so I spent a lot of time auditioning checkerboard patterns, cut out shapes and randomly applied pattens.  I stuck with the  random patterns and shapes.  When I tried to get too precise, my work ended up looking sloppy.

Simple canes on solid backgrounds

Since I used random patterns, my bracelet is different on each side.  I would not normally make this style bracelet, but I found it an excellent design to use for learning how to combine different patterns and color combinations into a cohesive piece using my color collage as a starting  point.  It was fun to make the swatches and try different combinations.

Color is Relative

Leaves and Berries Collar

I am up to chapter seven in Polymer Clay Color Inspirations, “Playing Games with Color.” Maybe this chapter is really about the games color plays with us.  There is a quote in the book, “all color is relative,”   meaning that color’s appearance changes depending on what other colors surround it.  Remember the Color Me Beautiful craze?  Same reasoning.

The first exercise was to choose three colors from my palette, roll them into thin and think sheets and stack them.   When you slice and arrange them, you see how the colors affect one another.  Reducing the squares gives another perspective (pun?) on the games colors play.  The more contrast, the more you can reduce your canes successfully.

For the next exercise you make squares like the ones above from five colors in your palette.  I chose pink,  cherry, turquoise, orange and a minty green.  Then you recombine the squares to make leaf canes, and  make coordinating bullseye canes for spacer beads.

The necklace you see  in the pictures here is the one I made with the five colors of clay and the bullseye canes.  (The leaf canes are wrapped with neutral colors  as per the instructions.)  The stems in the necklaces are an addition I decided to make after seeing a  picture of a Pier Voulkos necklace included the chapter.

To be honest, I liked my squares better than my necklace.  But then I decided to use the  squares left over from the first (three color) exercise,  to be more judicious when I picked the color to wrap the leaf canes, and to make solid color round spacer beads in the same colors in the canes.  The picture of this necklace is at the top of this post.

I learned something about my color sensibilities:  I like my work better when I use less colors.  I think a  few main colors and some well chosen accents work better for me for now.

Want to read more about color?  Go to the  Color Collective Blog.

Orchestrating Color 2

The Log Cabin Pin exercise helps you to explore combining the colors once you have mixed them.  You start out with a 5 part Skinner Blend  of your palette colors, cut it into strips, intersperse the strips with light and dark color clay, blend, cut the resulting blends into  strips and make the Log Cabin pin.  Then you play with all the clay you have left (or at least I did.)

The colors I chose for the Skinner Blend above and colors blended below


The Skinner Blend cut into strips above and the solid color sheets below

The sheets before (above) and after (below) blending

Blended sheet samples baked

The Log Cabin pin and my variation

Experiments successful and not so successful.  I like the three middle pieces.  The colors in the circle and the rectangle just look like plain clay to me.  The dark pattern on the square in the lower left corner is too thick and the colors in it recede.  It may as well be one color.

The color combinations in the top two are nice,  although I don’t think the dark  squiggles in the left one add anything.  I like the color combination and contrast on the piece on the right, but the bulls eyes in the middle don’t work.  Too busy or not busy enough? The piece on the bottom is my least favorite; I think it’s boring.

I like all these designs but I think the most successful piece for this exercise is the one on the left (although I think the solid yellow streak is out of place).

So, what did I learn?  Next time, I will put lighter colors on the darker base sheets.  My dark blends were really too dark for me to use all of them.  Not enough contrast.  Most of them went into the scrap pile.   The blends that were more successful seem a little “Easter Eggy” to me.  I learned a lot about what doesn’t work, but most important, I learned why.

On to the next exercise.  I’ll post the results when I complete it.