My Head Is Exploding

My head is exploding this week.  I have been working with bronze metal clay and making bigger pieces and hollow forms. unfiredBronzeClayBead I am going to have to rethink my firing methods and schedules.  The folks on the Metal Clay Now Facebook group have given me lots of great advice.  Stay tuned on this one.

I went to Baltimore last week to play with  friends and to go to a sale at Maja, one of the most incredible bead stores I have ever encountered.  I treated myself to an incredible sterling bead decorated with dragonflies.  (When I manage to take a decent photo, I will post it. ) The next day, we went to the stores in the Village of Cross Keys and I saw the most incredible fiber jewelry in The Store LTD,  the very same store that Betty Cooke owns and from which she sells her marvelous modernist jewelry.

I was so inspired that when I came home, I got out the fabric stash and began dyeing and cutting silk that I’ve recycled from thrift shop finds I bought on a former fabric frenzy.

Then I got out the drop spindle  and started to make knittable fiber (could I even call it yarn?) from  strips of fabric sewn together.

Fabric of spun yarn

My aim is to ply this fiber with ribbon or cord and make something from it.  Stay tuned on this one too.

Fleisher Young Artists Exhibition

I have always loved children’s art. This years’ Young Artists Exhibition at Fleisher Art Memorial is a must see for any Children’s art aficionado.

K-1st grade Mixed Media

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Work by Winner Ella King Torrey Young Artist Prize Charlotte Rohland

 

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4th and 5th Grade painting and drawing
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Photography
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Masks and Collage

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        The Young Artists Exhibition runs through August 2, 2019.  To learn more about the exhibition, press here.  To learn more about about Ella King Torrey press here.

Making a Box

Continue reading “Making a Box”

Beyond The Words: Robin Hiteshew’s Portraits of Irish Writers

 

It was 1989 and my friend Robin Hiteshew asked if I wanted to attend a poetry reading by Seamus Heaney at Swarthmore College.  I was familiar enough Heaney’s work to jump at the chance.  Later I got to meet him, but was too shy to do anything but mumble and shake his hand.

 

 

Thirty years later, at the opening of his show, “Portraits of Irish Writers” Robin compared  a photo portrait of Heaney he took during that visit to Swarthmore with one he took almost a decade later in Cambridge where Heaney was teaching at Harvard.  In the first photo,  a slightly disheveled Heaney struck a casual pose under a tree on the Swarthmore campus.  In the second picture, Heaney was wearing a tailored jacket  “Look,” said Robin pointing to the first picture, “his trousers are rolled.  That’s before he won the Nobel prize and the game got more serious.”

Robin Hiteshew has been photographing Irish writers (and musicians) for more than forty years and it has been a labor of love.  His portraits are personal and revealing in a way that is truly beyond the words.   And he has a story to go with each one.

Robin’s new show, “Beyond the Words: Portraits of Irish Writers” will run until June 26 at the McNichol Gallery which is located in the Thomas A. Bruder, Jr. Life Center at  Neumann University. Admission is free.  For directions, press here.

 

In My Workshop Right Now (as of Yesterday)

Colored porcelain jewelry elements waiting to be bisque fired.

 

Experimenting with different textures.

 

 

Colored porcelain pinch pots.

 

The cracks can stay

 

I work on fabric or canvas

The polymer side of the table

 

Making fish (taught by Amy Sutryn at May meeting of Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild)

 

One lazy Bluefish

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

 

I was  going to write a post a few months ago about a wonderful visit I made in July 2019 to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. But one thing led to another as it usually does. The Penn Museum post went into the drafts folder and I went on to other things. I recently returned from Southern Spain(Seville and Granada)where I was overloaded with Spanish Baroque interiors. They are beautiful, but after awhile, you feel like you’ve eaten too much birthday cake. (At least I did).

 

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Catedral de Granada, Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación de Granada

“Where do you get your inspiration?” is a question I sometimes hear. And while I will not be making a Spanish Baroque wedding cake any time soon, I find inspiration pretty much everywhere.  Which brings me back to the Penn Museum.  There is certainly enough to inspire anyone who spends an afternoon (or better, the whole day) there.

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Koi Pond

The Mesopotamian jewelry collection is outstanding.  Here are some pictures, but it’s better to see the collection in person.  Royal Tombs of UrUr Headdress

The Near Eastern pottery collection is also very interesting.  These pots are from Iran.

I was so taken with the pot shaped like an Erlenmeyer flask  that I decided to make my own version using the tar paper technique,   Here’s where memory and inspiration clash: I remembered the shape upside down.

3d6efd914115433b5fe2ff5655a7a570There’s a picture of the finished version in this post.  The pot was auctioned off at Clayathon  and went home with a (I hope) happy person.

But I think I love the Mexico and Central American collection best because it contains some striking Mayan artifacts as well as jewelry and pottery.

I love that turtle (I think) vessel and could see myself trying a colorful terra cotta version.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Marionette Museum Lisbon

The Marionette Museum in Lisbon wasn’t mentioned in any of the guide books or web sites consulted before the trip.  But my friend Rachel, who had recently returned from Portugal, raved about it.  That and I have a penchant for traveling with Le Mutt who is the creation of puppeteer Francesca Hoerlein.  How could I resist?

The Lisbon Marionette Museum houses more than marionettes.  Its collection contains hand puppets, shadow puppets, masks, props and, of course marionettes from all over the world.

Greek

Puppets have been around for thousands of years.  There was a puppet theater in Greece in the 5th Century BCE.  And puppets might even be older than that.

We all remember puppet shows from our childhood.  But puppets are more than dolls used to entertain children.  Puppets tell stories, sometimes subversive stories, that live actors would not be allowed to perform.

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And puppets are are made from every material imaginable.  The Museum houses creations made of cloth, wood, class, metal and clay.  I am sure there are 3D printed puppets out there.

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Be sure to visit the Marionette Museum if you are in Lisbon.  It’s not a big museum-you can see the entire collection in a couple of hours-and you will be glad you did.  Here are some more pictures.

Vintage Items at Clayathon Auction

We had a few vintage items this year. Not everyone at Clayathon was familiar with the work of Mike Buessler who specialized in landscape canes. The pin you see below is a cane and it is the exact reverse image on the other side. People have made landscape canes since the time Mike retired his tissue blade, but he was the first and the best.

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Mike Buessler landscape cane pin
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Carolyn Potter mosaic inlay pendant

I am not sure if Carolyn Potter is still working in clay. Her work was certainly beautiful as this mosaic pendant attests.

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Lindly Haunani Inclusion Swap Pendant

Lindly is still working in polymer, teaching, writing, and she taught a very popular class at Clayathon. I warned her that one of her pieces from the 1990’s swaps was going to be in the auction.

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Barbara McGuire Face Canes from Angel and Barrette swaps

Barbara McGuire is still very active in polymer as an artist, teacher and writer. It’s hard to retire when you have so many great ideas.

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Pier Voulkos Earrings and Pendant

Pier Voulkos retired from polymer more than 20 years ago. She set standards of artistic excellence for everyone.

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Pier Voulkos pin
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Grove and Grove Earrings

Michael and Ruth Ann Grove were artists who became involved with polymer in the early days who no linger work in the medium. The earrings above are a good example of their work.

If you want to learn more about the early days of polymer, go to the
Polymer Art Archive.

No Work and All Clay

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Clayathon logo by Robin  Milne

Clayathon starts in a few days and it won’t be too soon for me.  The hotel where we hold it was sold last year  and ensuing renovations meant we had to move Clayathon from February to April.  Nicer weather but too long a wait!  Fortunately, Clayathon will return to its February time slot next year and make that dreary month seem a little less miserable.

Here are some pictures from last years’ Clayathon.

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Experience the Golden Age of Swaps at Clayathon

We are having a bit of polymer history this year at Clayathon.  I have donated the items I received years ago in polymer clay swaps for Sherman Oberson to curate.  Some items will be auctioned off.   But everybody will be able to see the collection of polymer pens, beads, canes, jewelry and more made in the late 1990’s.   Most of the work is primitive by today’s standards and most of mine is downright ugly, but the learning curve was higher in those days than is now. Many swappers included notes and cards with their stuff sharing what they did and how they did it. None of this would have happened without the Internet.

 

Polymer Clay didn’t  come into its own  as an art medium until the advent of the Internet.  Before then,  polymer artists found one another pretty much by serendipity.  A few of these artists founded the National Polymer Clay Guild.  The National Guild started holding conferences.   But as the Internet came into its own, more and more people started surfing, found one another, and connected.

The most popular polymer site in those days was Polymer Clay Central.  This was back in the mid to late 1990’s before Leigh and Stephen Ross took over the site from Arlene Thayer.   (I  was not able to find a screen shot on The Wayback Machine because it only started tracking the site in 2000.)

People flocked to Polymer Clay Central for information, news, and to participate in swaps.  It worked like this: Someone would volunteer to host a swap, decide on a theme and would post a call for participants in Polymer Clay Central.   People would sign up and make items according to the theme-one for every participant-and mail them to the host or Swap Meister along with a small amount of money to cover postage.  The Swap Meister would sort through everything and send each participant a box filled with everyone’s creations.

Leigh Ross recalled the excitement of receiving a swap box: “Swaps were sometimes the only way that we could actually see, in person, someone’s work besides our own! I remember the excitement of opening the “swap box” when it arrived in the mail, and the joy of seeing others who were as crazy about polymer clay as I was!”

Here are some of my favorite things from the swaps.  There will be more at Clayathon.

 

You can see many more swap pictures on Polymer Clay Central here and here.