Boris Discovers the Workshop

I have to admit that I was very sad when I wrote last week’s post.    But Boris is is coming out of his shell and worming his way into my heart.  There is nothing like a kitten to beat the blues.

Plumpton used to hang out in my workshop and Boris seems interested in doing the same. It will be nice to have company s long as Boris behaves himself.  But what are the chances of that?


He was fascinated with the pieces of baked polymer that I am playing around with for a wall piece I am making for a fund raiser for the Fleisher Art  Memorial.  Just the thing for a kitten to bat around.

Playing with the colors, shapes and textures inspired me to try a new earring design.

So it looks like Boris might be inspiring me! That’s good. I could use some inspiration right about now.

Dear Fleisher 2012

Dear Fleisher, 4×6 Inches of Art is a biennial fundraising exhibition showcasing the work of hundreds of artists from Philadelphia and beyond. Artists submit original postcard size works in a wide range of media and styles, each of which is exhibited anonymously and sold on a first-come, first-served basis for $50.

Some  well-known artists have contributed work  So have some not so well-known artists like me.  Since polymer clay is not well represented in the exhibition, I try to use polymer in my contribution.  This year I made an earring holder you can hang on the wall using screen printing  over a stripe pattern.  I included a pair of matching earrings made from the same screen printed polymer clay, mixed metals and seed beads.

I like this style earring because it spins around when it’s worn.

When I cut out the earrings,  the scraps looked just as interesting so I used them too along with gold-toned screw eyes to suspend the earrings.

New Work from Arlene Groch

Earlier this summer I got to spend some time in Arlene Groch’s spanking new studio which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s what she’s been up to.

Arlene really took to screen printing on polymer clay, but she didn’t restrict her work to pieces with an Asian flavor.  She tried screen printing on practically everything except her Grandchildren, often with stunning results.

And no one ever accused Arlene of being afraid of color.  Her pieces are big, bold and colorful.

Recently, Arlene has gotten into caning.    Well, I suppose a workshop with Bonnie Bishoff and Melanie West   and hanging around fellow PAPCG member and caner extraordinaire  Emily Squires Levine is bound to rub off.   It will be interesting to see where Arlene goes from here.

This just in!

Catch Arlene at the Wheaton Fine Arts Festival

The Fabric Workshop: A Philadelphia Treasure


I recently had the opportunity to see an exhibit at the new home of the Fabric Workshop and Museum .  It’s a roomy, comfortable space that takes up several buildings on Arch Street in Philadelphia.   You no longer have to climb flights of stairs to get to the exhibits and it’s conveniently located on across the street from the Philadelphia Convention Center.

The current exhibit, New American Voices II showcases the work of  four invitational artists-in-residence: Bill Smith, Jiha Moon, Robert Pruitt and Jim Drain.    New American Voices II was definitely not the visual version of a string quartet; it was the work of four soloists, each of whom chose different media and themes to express a unique point of view.   The FMW  tries to showcase artists from across the United States with varied backgrounds and perspectives and encourages them to work with materials they might not have used before.  From what I saw the FMW accomplished its mission and it looks like the artists enjoyed the process.  The exhibition had so much to offer that I can only hit the highlights  in this post.  To get the full flavor, you must see it for yourself.


South Korean-born Jiha Moon’s mixed media wall pieces combine collage, sewing, painting, and screen printing with an Asian color aesthetic.   She makes  plentiful  use of Asian and American popular culture symbols and much of her work reminds me of traditional Asian embroidery, not because of any needlework she might usem, but because the designs are expansive and flowing.  Much of her work consists of fanciful pieces that incorporate images from folklore and advertising , but she showed her serious side in a work that appeared to explore the tensions between North and South Korea.     The piece below, which is a little different from the others, features pin cushions, ribbons and beads.


Jiha Moon

Jim Drain’s huge (and I mean XXXXXL) colorful  machine-knitted dolmen sleeve sweaters remind me of  the big suit David Byrne wears in Stop Making Sense, and fantastic Noh costumes.  I suppose they could be worn, but they were displayed on stands that let the viewer examine every nuance of the designs.  A two-dimensional picture cannot convey the surprises that jump out as you circle the sweaters.  The colors shift and there are lots of subtle details and embellishments.   At first, the color choices appear to be mostly random but on further examination, you realize that every skein and thread works with everything else in the sweater.  Nothing is there that doesn’t belong.


Jim Drain

What fascinated me most about Robert Pruitt’s work was his use of period cameras to photograph members of a fictional African-American family to depict ancestors from years past like you’d see in a family album.  Now that’s attention to detail and real dedication.  For me the most powerful photograph was one of a young woman wearing a grass skirt and what appears to be a European colonial officer’s dress uniform jacket.  The golden shoulder cord is replaced by rope that appeared to be a noose.   Pruitt also uses  traditional African symbols and imagery pulled from contemporary urban America.   I found his work  disturbing and compelling.

Robert Pruitt

Bill Smith’s mechanical sculptures meld engineering and art in a way that any fan of Jules Verne or Nicola Tesla would admire, but his inclusion of organic objects like Emu eggs and feathers along with organic looking plastic forms that resemble jellyfish or brain synapses takes his work out of the realm of Steampunk into another world that seems really strange (or is it strangely real?)  Along with Emu eggs, he takes water, magnets,  quirky copper wire, electronics and computers to fashion  several interactive contraptions that manage to look organic, old-fashioned and futuristic all at once.    When walked up to one sculpture,  the Emu egg started to spin, the wires started to sway and the room  filled with a low humming sound.  Then projectors started flashing images onto the white walls of the gallery.  Amazing.   Here’s a video of a similar device he designed and built.

New American Voices II runs until the Spring.  Admission is only $3.00 but you can  donate more if you like.    Treat yourself to this exhibit and the ones planned for the future.  We are so lucky to have a venue like the FMW in Philadelphia.  Let’s support it.

For more pictures of the artists’ work, press here, here, here, and here.

My Pivot Beads

Here are my pivot beads from the exercise in Polymer Clay Color Inspirations. The top pictures show the pivot color variations mixed according to the directions in the book. You apply thin sheets of the colors over thin sheets of the stripes. One of the purposes of the exercise is to show what effect stripes of black, white and gray have on the  layers of color applied over them. Even though I took a Watercolor Technique class with Maggie Maggio some time ago, what I learned there is starting to make more sense.  On to color collages!

To see some of my interpretations of the Watercolor Technique, press here, here, or here.

This just in!   I was thrilled to see that  Seth Savarick  has an article in the latest issue of  Art Jewelry Magazine on how to make his distinctive, lightweight bangle.  I have taken two classes with Seth and he has taught me so much about craftsmanship-an area where I can aways improve.  He also inspired me to learn how to burn my own screens for printing on polymer clay.  I wrote two articles explaining the process that appear in the Fall 2007 and Winter 2007-2008 issues of  Polymer Cafe.  You can order the back issues to  find out how to do it with a Speedball kit and some inexpensive equipment.   And if you have the chance to take a class with Seth, don’t pass it up!

More Metal Etching Experiments

Last week   I said that I would post some pictures of my etching experiments.  Here they are.  DSCF0267

 This is a piece of brass etched with the  Edinburgh etch  solution.  I copied the image onto a transparency and ironed it on to the metal before etching.






 This is copper etched with ferric chloride.  I drew the design with a Sharpie marker.





 These are pieces of a brass charger plate I cut up.  I stamped the image on the left with a rubber stamp and Stayz on Ink 




 This is a black and white image I reproduced onto a sheet of label backing with a laser printer  then ironed on to copper.  I used Edinburgh etch  solution.




 Here, I inked a rubber stamp with a black Sharpie pen and etched the copper with ferric chloride.





 I made this resist pattern with a silk screen and thick acrylic paint.  It worked well, but I  found it difficult to get a paint that would not bead up on the metal.  

Try making findings, components and texture sheets for polymer clay.                  DSCF0217DSCF0261DSCF0287


Earrings Earrings Earrings!

Here are some polymer clay earrings I’ve made over the years.  The techniques include screen printing, stamping, geometric caning, mica shift and the use of inclusions and washi paper. The lantern earrings with the copper dangles are hollow, light and comfortable to wear.

I’ve started to make my own ear wires and I recommend that you try it.  You’ll save money and will be able to fashion a custom wire that compliments your design.

McFarland Designs offers an excellent tutorial on how to make round ear wires. To learn how to make fish hook ear wires, check out this video from My Daily Bead on YouTube.

Ancient Patinas

     Here are some new  twists on  polymer clay surface techniques I have been working on.   You can see some earlier incarnations in the Keepsake Memory Book I demonstrated on HGTV, and my work in Ellen Marshall’s Polymer Clay Surface Design Recipes. More to come.

Arlene Groch: Polyaddict

 Let Arlene Groch’s story be a warning to all of you. “My totally out of control addiction to polymer clay had such an innocent birth in September, 2004”, she recalled. “I bought some clay and a couple of books to share an activity with my 8 year old grandson. He was mildly interested; I was hooked. Within a month I had decided to give up my 30 year career as a trial attorney so I could devote most of my time to playing with clay and attending workshops and classes. I set myself a one year goal of learning enough to be able to begin to develop my own style.”  To see more of Arlene’s one of a kind Mezuzah cases and jewelry, go to her site,PolyGemDesigns.

Polydelphia this Weekend

I can’t wait. There’s still room for walk in registrants. Check out the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s Website. In the meantime, here is my entry for the 3 1/2 in square tile challenge.