It’s always fun to post from your cell phone, but a handy option to have. I am under the radar this week but thought I would share some pictures from last week’s Flea Market at the Kimmel Center.
Art, History, Travel, Philadelphia and the World Through the Lens of Creativity.
I was looking through old clothes in my basement when I found this painted wooden box. It belonged to my grandmother Emma Montgomery who was born in 1886. Someone got the box as a Christmas gift that year. My Great Grandmother?
My mother kept the box for years and stored rose petals from my Grandmother’s funeral inside.
Which got me to thinking. Why do we spend so much effort creating art in a world that is impermanent ? To be remembered? To pass the time? To escape from our demons? All/none of the above?
[T]he only way to work on perfection is in the form of an objective work that is fully under your control and is perfectible in some real ways. Either you eat up yourself and others around you, trying for perfection, or you objectify that imperfection in a work, on which you then unleash your creative powers. In this sense, some kind of objective creativity is the only answer man has to the problem of life. In this way, he satisfies nature, which asks that he live and act objectively as a vital animal plunging into the world; but he also satisfies his own distinctive human nature because he plunges in on his own symbolic terms and not as a reflex of the world as given to mere physical sense experience. He takes in the world, makes a total problem out of it, and then gives a fashioned, human answer to that problem. This, as Goethe saw in Faust, is the highest that man can achieve.”
Ernest Becker, “The Denial of Death, page 185
I decided to make a cat figurine for a co worker after I saw a picture of her cat on her desk. I had never made a cat before, so I worked on two figures planning to give her the better one. I painted the raw clay with acrylic paint to resemble her cat and baked phone wire into the tail for stability. The whiskers are phone wire too. Plumpton consented to model for me. I was amazed to realize that cats have butts and slightly protruding chests. Here’s a slide show of some of the the process and the finished product. I kept the other pussy cat and he sleeps on a shelf in my living room.
People live in rowhouses in South Philadelphia and they decorate their front windows and doors when someone has a baby, someone gets married, someone graduates, someone gets paroled or the Flyers win the Stanley Cup. In other words, people here don’t need much of an excuse to decorate. You can keep your fancy suburbs with your large expanse of lawns, triple car garages and gabled roofs. We’re just fine with our flat roofs, front stoops and double parking. The constraints just make for more creativity, as you can see from the pictures I took on one frozen night. Heathen’s Greetings.
I make lamp worked beads; sometimes with scrap glass and I fuse glass, too. I was pondering whether to toss the little odd scraps. ugly beads and fused pieces that didn’t come out quite right. Then I decided to try something new. I started playing with the materials and ended up making Christmas ornaments using the copper foiling method. Here’s what I came up with. I will give them away as gifts. They might make nice sun catchers when the tree is taken down.
Santa’s Workshop-South Philadelphia Branch
Here are some more very simple ideas for for Christmas ornaments. The one on the left is a hollow paper mache ball covered with black, copper and pearl clay and metal leaf. I covered the ball in black clay, ran the pearl copper and black clay through the pasta machine with metal leaf, and then tore the metal-leafed clay and arranged it on the black clay. The tassel is made of scraps of eyelash and novelty yarn threaded though a base metal bead and the top of the ornament is finished with a base metal and glass bead.
The second ornament is made from the leaf cane I first learned from Leigh Ross. I applied the leaves from the bottom up, in an overlapping pattern over a hollow paper mache form and inserted a beaded tassel (bought at an after Christmas sale) through the end of the ornament and up through the top where I finished it off with beads. I applied small red balls of clay to the ornament to make it resemble holly.
You could cover cheap glass ornaments with clay, and glue or embed a wire on the bottom to hold your tassel. These would be great projects for kids, especially the first one becaus0e you can use any color clay and yarn, and left your imagination run wild.
It took a long time for this necklace to come together. My friend Jeanne gave me the amber after her husband died. I got the coral, turquoise and Balinese beads at an outside art show in Portland, Oregon. I bought the red disc beads-actually made in Africa from old phonograph records-at a bead show.
The beads spoke to me one day and I put together the necklace below. I couldn’t find the right clasp to save my life, so, with some basic wire skills I learned in a glass from my Beading Yoda Jeri Schatz, I made a clasp. And then I made more clasps. And then I wrote an article on how to make clasps which is in the latest edition of Step By Step Wire Jewelry.
I initially tried polymer clay because of its amenability to caning techniques. I had always loved African Trading Beads and wanted to try my hand at millefore. No matter what I do with polymer clay, I always find myself coming back to caning.
You don’t need intricate canes to have a pleasing design. The simple caned necklaces below were inspired by a design I saw in South Africa. I learned the spiral and jelly roll cane techniques from Donna Kato’s demos and classes.
A couple of years ago, I spent a few days at Arlene Groch’s house claying nonstop alongside Arlene, Ellen Marshall and Melanie West. During the course of the claying frenzy, I made some bracelets with long beads usinga variety of techniques.
In October, Barbara McGuire taught a master class in Philadelphia and was the guest artist at the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s monthly meeting. She saw my bracelets and remarked that I had used oneof the stamps she designed. Then I remembered admiring one of Arlene’s stamps and using it to texture some of the beads. Arlene bought the stamp on Barbara’s web site.
Barbara McGuire is the author of two of my all time favorite polymer clay books,Foundations in Polymer Clay Design and Wire in Design. So I was looking forward to her demo at the meeting. I was not disappointed. And the members who took her face canes class gave it rave reviews. The Guest Artist Program is one of the best perks of PAPCG membership.
If you want to see pictures from the meeting, go to the guild’s Flickr site. If you’re in Philadelphia this weekend, try to catch the PMA Craft show where Melanie West is participating as an emerging artist.
Dorothy’s favorite method of working with polymer clay is to model it until she feels a form emerge, much the way nature works. It’s no surprise then, that she was always drawn to objects altered by nature’s processes: twigs, leaves, beach glass and stone. She didn’t stumble on polymer clay until a few years ago when she used Sculpey to make a head for a figure she was fashioning from driftwood. Polymer clay intrigued her so much that she joined the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild to learn more. One meeting and she was hooked. Sound familiar?
I always admired Dorothy’s work, but I think she found her polymer clay voice after she took a Guild-sponsored class with Jeff Dever. You be the judge. Enjoy the slide show.