Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I had a bit of a polymer clay adventure last weekend and I thought I should share it with you.
I have been working with polymer clay for twenty years now. I started out using Fimo which was stiff and needed tons of "conditioning". Polymer clay is not ready to use straight from the package, you have to squish the clay in your hand until it is soft and pliable. I got the strongest hand muscles from doing that! The stiffness of the Fimo clay made it good for making "canes". Canes are logs of clay with a picture running through them the whole length. When you cut a slice off the end of the log, there is an image or pattern in it and the next slice will have the same pattern. Using stiff clay limits distortion when a clay cane is "reduced" which means that you start with a larger shorter log and roll it out or stretch it until it is longer and thinner but the image stays intact inside.
I don't use Fimo anymore, I use Premo which is not as firm, but a good quality clay just the same. There is less conditioning required and some of it can be done by running the clay through a pasta machine dedicated to that purpose.
Here is an image of a square cane I made to use on an egg:
And here is the egg I made by placing the slices over an eggshell:
I belong to a guild of polymer clay artists that also sell on Etsy, the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy or PCAGOE. Every month we participate in a creative challenge with a theme. I try to enter every month as I find the challenges cause me to stretch outside my normal ways of creating and the items I make for the challenges are often my most interesting work.
Some past items created for challenges:
The challenge theme for March is Animals. I decided to make a cane using my handsome cat, Chester, as a model. I took a picture that showed his face well and simplified the image on photoshop. I got it down to 5 colors (reminiscent of a paint-by-numbers picture, which I collect) and chose my palette:
Well, it's been a while since I have made a pictorial cane, mostly I have been making geometric canes for my eggs and they are not very big, maybe an inch and a quarter across, four or five inches long. When I started this cat cane, I started too big and kept going! It took me two whole days and a lot of clay to tame the monster cane and the results are quite interesting. This was a difficult process! I swore and threatened to toss the cane in the canal, but my husband (known as D to my faithful readers) kept encouraging me to finish. His interest and reassurance gave me the energy I needed to see the project through regardless of the outcome.
And though the outcome is not what I expected, I am quite pleased with the results. I am a firm believer that in art, you can start with a plan, but what makes it art is what happens along the way that you do not expect. And that if the result is exactly what you intended, well that is fine, but if it is not, then that is where things get exciting.
Click here to view a slide show of the process of making the monster cane.
Here are the earrings I made to enter in the PCAGOE challenge:
at 8:19 AM