Clayathon 2017

Another Clayathon has come and gone.  There was a record attendance of 80+ this year from all over the US and a delightful contingent of clayers from Canada.  Clay retreats really are a wonderful place to make friends and to rekindle old friendships.

Lindly Haunani, this year’s guest artist, shared her color expertise with six hours of presentations stretched over three days.  In  between Lindly’s demos, the attendees shared their knowledge of techniques ranging from Kumihimo, wire working and wet felting as well as basic to advanced polymer demos.  

There is a lot I am not mentioning but I am still recovering from the experience. When I got home, I went straight to bed and got up 14 hours later.

Here are some pictures.

 

 

Sculpting a Cat Figurine

Boris was not the inspiration for this figurine although I have been taking a figure drawing class and drawing Boris for practice. No, he does not pose for me. What cat would? But he is good for ten nanosecond poses and gesture drawing.  Sculpting a cat figurine sounded like a a fun idea.  I have sculpted two cats before, but  both were in polymer.  Now that I have access to a pottery studio, I decided to try my hand at making a terra cotta cat which is a horse of a totally different hue.

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Here are the preliminary stages of the figurine.   You have to be careful not to leave any air bubbles in the clay.  Small ones will probably dry closed but big ones can explode in the kiln.  And unless all the clay is thoroughly dry inside and out, there is a danger of explosion in the kiln.

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Here is where I started adding character.  You will note that the cat looks well fed.  In fact, I had to make his tummy hollow to insure that the clay would dry and that the figurine would not weigh a ton.  I made an air hole  underneath the figurine, wrapped it in plastic, and when the clay was hard enough, I put the puss on two sticks so air would reach the hole and dry inside.  I put the figurine aside and forgot about it for a few weeks as it dried out slowly-the best way to prevent cracking.  I did some painting with underglaze before putting the cat in the kiln.  When he came out in one piece, the hard part was over,

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I glazed the cat with matte clear glaze for the final firing.  the white, orange, blue and other colors you see are the underglaze.

And here is the finished cat!  His I.D tag, which is hard to see, says “Tiny.”

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The resident art critic seems to approve.

Trinkets and Some Bowls to Hold Them

It’s not like I don’t already have enough beads, but having access to a pottery studio, glazes and a bead tree has made new beads magically appear in my workshop.  The items you see below are pendants and a couple of bead comes.

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Here are some beads in their greenware state and decorated state  after bisque firing and prior to glaze firing.

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And if bead making was not enough, I been making  little trinket bowls to hold rings and other small treasures.

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I am having fun with different glazes and textures, and finishes.

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And I have also been having fun making components for the Into the Forest  collaborative polymer clay project.

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Into the Forest in Philadelphia

Last year, polymer artists Emily Squires Levine and Laura Tabakman  spent some late summer days in the  Colorado mountains and were so inspired by their walks through groves of aspen trees  that they decided to collaborate on an installation.

The result  is “Into The Forest” which opened for public viewing in Philadelphia on September 12.  Located  in the South Tower Art Gallery of the Park Towne Apartments in Philadelphia, the installation  is part of the “Constructing Organics” show which features work by three other Philadelphia artists.  InLiquid and AIMCO  co-sponsored the show.

I attended the opening and was excited to see polymer art recognized as fine art. Laura, who lives in Pittsburgh, was not able to attend the opening but Emily did an excellent job of  explaining how she and Laura were influenced by their hikes through the aspen forests and how they translated that experience into an intriguing installation.

Here are some pictures

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Painting by Jeffrey Keith

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Emily talks about “Into The Forest”

 

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Installation at twilight

 

The Philadelphia venue is only the beginning for “Into the Forest.”

I first learned at  the EuroSynergy conference this summer that  Emily and Laura, who have been joined by award winning polymer artist Julie Eakes plan to expand “Into The Forest”  into an  international collaborative project.  Laura  announced the project at the end of her Synergy presentation on “Getting Your Work Ready to Show.” She’d  already wowed the audience with her stories  about how she scouted exhibition  opportunities for her incredible polymer and mixed media installations.  After she revealed the plans for the international collaboration she invited everyone to volunteer via a Facebook group set up for the purpose.   I volunteered right there on my iPad and many people in the audience did the same.

You can volunteer too. Just go to the Facebook group page, here.   You can follow the project on Instagram (@intotheforest17).   Read more about the project on the Polymer Arts Blog.

Several  polymer events to support the program are in the works.  Emily will lead one at the September meeting of the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild.  For information on this meeting, go to the PAPCG blog.

 

 

 

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.

Big, Bold Jewelry Designs at Synergy

I am finally home after nearly three weeks in Europe.  Past of the reason for the trip was to attend the EuroSynergy Conference in Bordeaux.   I rekindled many friendships, made some new friends, attended fabulous programs and mostly tried to keep my head from exploding with all the artistic influences, new products, wonderful people and the inspiring and informative program the conference offered.

One of the highlights for me, however, was meeting Jude Parker and seeing her big, bold, colorful jewelry.  Jude,  who  was attending Synergy with her mother Ann Parker is from Sanderstead, England just south of London where Ann has a business selling craft supplies called Monkey Ann. Visit the web site here.

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Jude’s work is large, colorful and light because  it is composed of hollow forms. It is big and bold and she carries  off the look  beautifully.    Here she is modeling some of her creations.

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This neck piece has a fabric-like feeling to it , but it is all cane work and  deceptively light because it is hollow.  I love the limited palate.  Jude made the findings because she will never find ready-made clasps for the scale of jewelry she creates.

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You can see Jude wearing the neck piece in the above picture.  Below are some close ups of her jewelry.

 I will write more about Synergy in the weeks to come.  Tomorrow I am head to Connecticut  for Clay ConneCTion 2016

Retreat to Morrisburg

Tray with tiles attendees made. Auctioned and proceeds donated to http://plancanada.ca/because-i-am-a-girl

My friend Patty and I, ever the intrepid travelers,  decided to take the recommendation of our friend Sherman and drive  to the little town of Morrisburg, Ontario and join a group of polymer artists who meet once a year at the McIntosh Inn for a retreat.

We crossed the border into Canada,  pulled up to the Canadian border inspection station, and handed our passports to the border screening agent in the booth.

“Polymer clay retreat? What’s that?” the  agent wanted to know after Patty told him the purpose of our trip.  

“It’s not like a religious retreat,” Patty explained, “it’s  a bunch of artists who get together and work on their polymer clay projects.”

“Polymer clay?” the agent wasn’t buying it.

I leaned over so the agent could hear me.  “It’s like what men do when they get together with their model trains.”

“Oh!” the agent, replied, “you’re gonna throw clay at one another?”  

I had never heard of that, so I laughed as if I got the joke.  The agent handed our passports back and waved us on our way.

We had a great time, renewed old acquaintances and made new friends.  We drank Tim Horton coffee, ate Butter Tarts, wrestled with the metric system and warned our Canadian colleagues that after the U.S. election in November, we might be back to stay.  

Here are some pictures

To see more pictures, go to my Flickr site, here.

 

 

The Apron

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This fabric called out to me one day and told me I needed an apron.  A lined, pleated, top stitched apron.  In patch work.  No matter that I had never made one before.  It didn’t  matter that I didn’t have a pattern because I was not sure how to follow one anyway.  I had the pattern in my head.

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Do you think I cut these pockets wrong?

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Do you this think I made the pockets too small?

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Grab a plate to mark a curve in bigger pockets.  Now I inherited my Mother-in Law’s sewing tools including her French curve ruler.  But I never knew what you used it for until I saw it in a sewing video in YouTube, after I finished the apron!

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Small pockets look good on the big pockets.  Wait a minute, is this turning into a cargo apron?

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Box pleats seemed easy enough

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Magnetic jewelry clasps make a handy needle picker upper

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Bottom is done

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Sewing on the waist band and sash to the apron bib which my husband suggested I add.   I top stitched around the  bib and the skirt at the suggestion of Marie Elcin who is a fiber artist that I was taking a design class with at the Fleisher Art Memorial.

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Rip out and resew three times

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And Voila!

Next Stop NextFab

NextFab

Last December, the intrepid Ellen Marshall and I toured the NextFab Studio located at 2025 Washington Street in Philadelphia.   Our  purported mission was to learn about 3D printing, which we did.  But the tour, led by NextFab head of Institutional Relations Alex Kaplan, got to see all the facilities and equipment available to people who join the Studio and take the requisite safety and beginning classes.  

What I did not know was that in addition to providing facilities for members, giving classes and sponsoring community outreach programs, NextFab  is a for-profit organization that provides technical consulting, custom fabrication and prototyping services to businesses and individuals.  For more information, press here.

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Bukito 3D printer

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3D printed items

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City Hall Model

3D printed City Hall

 

3d print labMore 3D printed items including the face in the corner

3d printerGiant 3D printer used for industrial applications

 

giant2DprinterWide format 2D digital printer

2d printSolar system picture printed in wide format

LaserPrinterLaser Printer

NextFab also offers woodworking and metal fabrication facilities, and an electronics lab.

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Alex Kaplan in the woodshop

Alex Kaplan in the Wood Shop holding a cutting board from a beginner’s wood shop safety class that members have to take before they are allowed to work independently. My friend Patty has  joined NextFab  and  reports that  these beginning safety workshops are also project oriented  which is great because not only do you learn about safety in the shop and how to use tools properly, you also come away with a nifty item you made yourself. 

To learn more about NextFab, go to their blog or website, take one of their classes offered to the public or take a tour of their facilities.

Clayathon 2016

Another Clayathon has come and gone. Laura Tabakman  shared her techniques and explained her design process and sources of inspiration.  I didn’t make many items this year but got to try my hand at making hollow triangle beads and other hollow geometric forms. We made a trip to the Shore Diner and the family-owned Athenian Garden where the service is slow but the food makes it more than worth it.  I brought a bottle of Tullamore Dew to share and it went rather quickly because so many people got to enjoy it. My brother and sister-in-law came to hang out on Sunday.  I made new friends, saw old friends amd enjoyed a drink before the fire on the Stocktom Seaview lobby.

Here are some pictures.

 

It was great to see Lisa Clarke who hasn’t been able to make the last few Clayathons. Read her blog post here.