100 Day Project (Days 55 to 74)

This is the third phase of my 100 Day Project on instagram. The project was was a bit more interesting after Day 59 as it contained a few different transitions.  My goal was to push outside my comfort zone and try to come up with some new ideas. So some zinging from one idea to another did occur.

From #55 to #57, ovals were the focus, not much of a change from circles, but were fun to put together. Keeping the shape and the use of the grid simple allowed me to focus on the liquid clay veneers. Color combinations, patterns and accent colors. Fun and easy, but not a stretch.

The next two pieces, #58 and #59, played with using half-ovals. Clearly I was playing it safe. Again, these are fun and easy to play with and would make cute pendants.

But on #60 I decided to try something new. Here I create designs using liquid clay on the pieces after construction. While #60 pieces together veneers in coordinating colors, the liquid clay marks and patterns ties the design together.  It was a small shift in thinking and I really liked this concept which needs further exploration.

Days #61 and #62 were created in an effort to send some hugs and kisses out into the world (and experiment with other shapes). I applied marks after construction using liquid clay for both of these pieces. These were fun to make and I feel they were fairly successful and whimsical.

Then I was thinking I hadn’t tried translucent clays during this 100 day project. I rarely work with them (not sure why), so I started by working on a veneer.  Day 63 was a simple attempt to see how this veneer worked and I wanted the grid to show through the translucent clay.  I gave the design a bit more thought on #64 and I added a little box to hold a heart on a chain.  The color (cobalt blue) that I used for the back unfortunately made the translucent clay veneers a bit muddy, but the overall design I thought was creative.

Then I had another idea that focused on centering shapes within each grid opening. Day 65 used little yellow half spheres where I accented each with a black rim of liquid clay. Day 66 used a different shape, more like a leaf and raised them up to provide more texture. 

Okay and then I hit one of the big transitions for this period. Instead of using the grid in simple square or rectangular shapes, I started to bend it in a radial shape. The next four days  (#67 to #70) utilized this radial shape in full or half.  The first try at this, #67, buried the radial grid within the clay, but I bent up prongs so that there is a three-dimension. My second attempt utilized the radial grid with petals covering each spoke.  For day 69, the radial grid spokes were trimmed shorter and used for small accent beads. The last one in this series used only half circle. I brightened up the colors and patterns and used the spokes for small petal shaped beads.

The next idea was to manipulate the grid mesh to include dangles (#71 to #74).  I started with a simple single dangle. Some day I will accept that less is often more! Then I went to three dangles. I went back to a surface technique I played with a few months ago and added a steel chain. I am particularly fond of this one. For Day 73 I went whimsical again and added six dangly hearts by turning the grid 45 degrees for an angle. Then I went all out for dangles, hanging them in each of the grid spaces for a little movement.

At this point I made a dramatic shift in the way I was applying color to the mesh grid. Up until now I was using liquid clay to paint the grid. While the liquid clay could provide a great color on the grid, it was clearly not a long-term solution. It would readily peal off with a little scratching. So I did some experiments. I tried a few options before I came upon the option of powder coating the grid mesh.  Now that was a rabbit hole that deserves a completely separate post!!

So hold on for the last 26 days!  I will be pushing harder than ever to ‘think outside the box’ and exercise my creative muscles. The primary goal will be to try new things, not necessarily make pretty things. 

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100 Day Project (Days 27 to 54)

Looking back, this period of the 100 Day Project seemed to flow a bit better from one idea to another.  I got into a groove. I enjoyed playing with each new idea and felt like I was generally successful with the results.

For pendants #27 to #35 I kept the oval shape and pieced together liquid clay veneers. I exposed the grid between the veneers and in windows. But primarily used it as an armature and bail. I do like the pinch bail on #27 and the way the grid extends on the side (rather than centered) on #34. I added some additional elements onto prongs from the grid either above (#34), on the top (#32 and #33) or to the side of the main design (#35).

Piece #36 was a transition from the oval shape to interlocking rectangles, fairly simple. But then I thought why limit myself to circles OR rectangles!  A light went off and I started having some fun combining shapes and sometimes had shapes fitting in and around others #37 to #41. I also liked the small elements added to the surfaces of selected pieces.  These are particularly whimsical and fun. They might be some of my favorites.

From #42 to #45 I focused on the liquid clay veneers.  I layered different colors, scale of patterns, mixed stencils and mark making to create veneers. While I kept the shapes simple on these four, I probably should have used a solid blend to have a quiet space.  I struggled a bit with these four.

This is my circle phase (#46 to #54), big circles, small circles, stacked, clustered and tilted. I do love a circle! Using a single, solid complimentary color with a group of veneers ties them all together and gives the eye a place to rest.  There is so much you can do with just circles. I could have made many more combinations but decided I needed to move on.

I hope you enjoyed this part of the 100 Day Project as much as I did.  This officially gets us to a little more than the half-way point.  I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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100 Day Project (Days 1 to 26)

A couple of months ago I saw artists talking about the 100 day project starting on April 7th. It is a fairly simple process. You set a challenge for yourself, something you are going to do each of the 100 days and you post your results on instagram each day. The challenge could be anything . . . art related or not! So I thought . . . .  self – you don’t have anything to do right now . . . . .  and you are playing in the studio already . . . . . .  why not give it a go! It could be my project in quarantine!

I had been playing with liquid clays (its been a thing of mine lately) and a 5-foot roll of galvanized hardware cloth. What?!?!?  I wanted to really push myself using the liquid clays in a more painterly way. And the mesh grid was one of those things that I looked at and wondered ‘what can I do with this?’ What was I thinking?

Once I committed to the project I started a 3-ring notebook to document my ideas. I then created large foam core boards with post-it notes counting down the 100 days. This way I could visualize the journey . . . .  where I was . . . .  where I was going.  I began making various veneers using liquid polymer clay (this alone will get a blog post!).   I kept trying to remember to document the process both in the notebook and with photos.

Most days I would sip my morning coffee and a glimmer of an idea would hit. I would grab my little 3x3inch stack of notepaper and quickly jot it down, typically with a little sketch and a few key words. Most mornings I would have 2 or 3 papers covered front and back with an idea and then variations on that idea. That then would be the focus for the day.

But there were fits and starts throughout the project. One day I would spend making veneers.  Another day I would clean a little. There was one point that a major sorting and clean-up occurred. I had art supplies everywhere! Any way when I was in the ‘zone’ I would have 2 or 3 pieces going at a time. Typically trying variations of an idea.

These are my first 26 pieces. It is clear that I played with an idea for a few pieces before moving on.  The first three pieces I really liked. The piecing together veneers using color and pattern contrasts worked as well as how the mesh grid was used as both an armature and bail.  

The next six pieces are not my favorites although I like a little part of each one. I was trying some additional elements (rivets, disc, wire) and playing with more abstract veneers.

The next three make me think of planets. I was using the liquid clays for patina and cutting out circles for windows.  I like the grid showing through the circle on #10.

The next four come from an idea I had a week or so before I started the project. I wanted to use the mesh grid so that it didn’t look like what it was, so I cut and bent it up for a surface decoration covering it in liquid clay to add some color. I also wanted to try some bolder liquid clay veneers.

The next five I was keeping the construction simple using the grid as an armature but leaving pieces of it extending beyond the polymer. And then I decided a ‘ladder’ was necessary as a decorative industrial looking element. After the first ‘ladder’ I decided I could use one of the legs to have a spinning disc. Liquid clays were used for patina where I played with the texture of the patina.  I also filled some recesses on #17 and #18 with liquid clay for a pop of color.

The last five in this grouping used a limited color palette (black, white and red).  I played with the orientation of the grid in #22 and #25 which might also provide connection point for a chain. While #24 is fairly simple, I do like the overprinting of the circle in the three colors that ties the color blocks together.

Well I will keep posting about this adventure and share what I have learned. If you want to watch this happen in real time check me out on instagram (lynnyuhr). At the time of publishing this blog post, I was a little over the halfway point!

Posted in 100 Day Project, creativity, Liquid Polymer Clay, polymer clay jewelry | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

A First Time Polymer Student

In one of my classes, ‘Silk Screening on Polymer Clay’ I had a friend, Gwen, sign up that had never played with polymer clay. This was a technique class, not a beginner class, but I thought . . .  let’s give this a shot. She had seen polymer work from me and other guild members and was at least curious. So I provided the basic work station and she brought her enthusiasm. 

I know Gwen from our local jewelry arts guild (SFJAG.org). I remember when she first joined the group many years ago and she has since become a very talented beader through and through.

But her enthusiasm to try something new was contagious and she jumped right in, listening to both me and her table-mates for tips and guidance. She seemed to like working with polymer clay but kept saying . . . . ‘I don’t know what I am going to do with these pieces”. 

Well I met up with Gwen a few months later and she was wearing a beautiful necklace. She smiled at me and pointed to the focal piece. It was one of her silk screened polymer clay pieces!  It had been beautifully bezeled and worked into a lovely necklace.  I could not have been more pleased.  She adeptly combined her skills and proudly wore her jewelry.

I am not sure why I felt so proud of her work? I only introduced her to a new medium and she applied her skills and did it well. Maybe I was so excited that she actually used what she created with polymer in a beautifully finished pieces. I hope she takes another class or explores other possibilities with polymer clay.

So when you take a workshop do you ever leave pieces unfinished? Do you have a box of components, pieces and parts that remain orphaned. Or do you work diligently to finish up your projects?  

With all this time we might have on our hands these days, what are you working on? I started the ‘100 day project’ on instagram and will give you an update soon! Stay well my friends and keep busy!

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‘First’ Adventure of 2020

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was proclaiming this the year of Lynn. Little did I know that Covid-19 would usurp my declaration!! I did however get a few of my little adventures completed. My first adventure was taking a pottery class with hubby. Seems so long ago!!

In review I was pleasantly surprised at a number of things:

  • It was nice to have a scheduled time together.
  • I was pleased that hubby seemed to enjoy the class as much as I did.
  • As an instructor, it is always refreshing to take a class and learn new approaches to providing information.
  • Once I ‘relaxed’ into the class a bit, I got so much more out of it.
  • Layering and mark making is a common thread in all art forms.
Happy hubby!

This was a simple slab building class and our objective was to build pots. We experimented with surface techniques using textures, ‘fingerpainting’ with mason stains, and decals created with underglazes. 

This was my favorite pot and the last one I created. Can you tell I loosened up a bit?!? Irregular top edge, lots of mark making and a lip on the bottom rather than seamless.

We did create two unique forms that were not pots. One was a coiled project that was super cool!  We created a hollow sphere. And for the first time doing this I was shocked that ours came out looking like spheres!!

The second interesting project was using very thin strips wrapped about a conical form. It was VERY organic in its construction. I winced at the cracks and broken edges as it dried and went through the bisque firing. But the final outcome was completely satisfying and looks great with an air plant hanging in the trees!!

Biggest lesson I learned in this little adventure was to try something new every once in a while.

And while we are all tucked away and outside obligations have been minimized (or eliminated), I thought I would try something new from home! I have jumped in the #the100dayproject2020.  I have ideas that are overflowing.  So lots of experimenting is going on, we will see how far I get. Check out my instagram for the posts. I will periodically do summaries here on the blog. Stay safe and I will talk to you soon.

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Squirrel Update – as March 2020 Ends

I hope everyone is getting some fresh air and breathing deeply. We will get through this! I keep telling myself this.

But as schedules have been turned upside down, I thought I would share a quick little update.

Tarpon Springs workshop rescheduled later this year on October 18th  . Luckily this is a ‘local’ venue that I can get to easily for a reschedule. Something for me to look forward to for sure!

Whole Bead Show classes – cancelled.  I can not imagine the impact on artists, vendors and event organizers. Not to mention the trickle down to hotels, airlines, car rental companies and restaurants!

Fandango Polymer Clay Retreat – will likely be cancelled, update from Eva on April 15th. I am hoping she just moves everything out until next year. It may take me that long to do my swaps (can you say procrastinator?)

Bead and Button Show – the staff is working on moving this event from the beginning of June to August 22 – 29. This is a big one. It was their 20 year anniversary. I was teaching for a week and had a couple of sold out classes. The monumental effort of everyone involved to move this out a couple of months should be applauded.

Right now it seems like anything scheduled beyond August is not in jeopardy. So fingers crossed!!

Until then, I am in the studio finding things I didn’t know I had (ok, things I forgot I bought), trying loads of free classes on-line (primarily art journaling), searching for login information for classes I already bought and haven’t finished (ok, or started). So I am at least keeping busy. I hope you are doing the same.  Virtual hugs from the studio!!

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I love finding textures in unexpected places. I use them in so many ways, art journaling, print making, and yes, of course, polymer clay!

When working with polymer clay you often need a simple, subtle, overall texture to provide a background. Or you might be looking for something unique for a particular project.  So where do I get these textures . . . . let me share some of my great finds!!

Utility drawer liners are typically a rubber or plastic material that has an overall texture that is sold in rolls at big box stores and even grocery stores. I not only use this material for textures, but for holding my ceramic tile or glass work surface in place and I put a piece under my pasta machine before clamping to the table to give it more grip.

Utility drawer liners often have a great texture.

And in the same kitchen area of the store, don’t forget placemats!

Placemat range from simple woven patterns to more unique organic textures!

Embossed papers from the craft stores can be used for providing textures. I tend to look for ones that are a heavier stock (thicker paper) and an overall small pattern.

Textures can be found on embossed papers from the scrapbooking section of your local craft store.

Fabrics can be used for textures and can range from delicate organza and lace to linens and canvas. This category might also include open weave stiff ribbons.

Fabrics can provide expected textures and some very interesting textures.

I love getting the bags off produce from the grocery store. There are a number of different patterns to be found and that can be changed by how you stretch them out!

Recycle your produce bags for some great textures.

A visit to the hardware store (or your own garage) can be a treasure trove! Drywall tapes, plastic or metal screen, non-skid treads and sponges are all great textures.

Hardware store finds can be some much fun for making textures.

I am always looking at packaging materials when boxes come into the house.  Every once in a while you find a treasure there. I found a hard plastic sheet keeping things from rubbing together. One of these has little spikes uniformly across one side and makes an interesting texture. And there is always plenty of foam packing materials.

Packing materials can often be used for texture.

I have even found the bottoms of take-out food trays often provide unique textures. They usually have texture so sauces or built up steam from hot food can drain from the food and not cause it to be soggy. The next time you buy a McDonald’s big breakfast take a look at the bottom of the tray! Oh, by the way . . .  you’re welcome!!

The bottoms of plastic food trays for texture? Sure, why not!

Many of these materials can be cut into a rectangle and used right away.  Those that are flexible can even go through your pasta machine with a sheet of clay.  However, some of them may need a little help, such as, some flimsy fabrics or the bags off of produce. Adding a frame of tape (masking, painters or duct tape all work) gives these flimsy materials a bit of structure.

Making samples of my textures is also helpful. Take the guess work out of what you might be getting when using a specific texture. Use up some of that scrap clay for samples and don’t forget to add a patina to highlight the texture.

Samples of some of my found textures.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love commercially available textures. I have a huge stash.  Some I hoard, some I share. But these ‘found object’ textures do provide a level of satisfaction knowing that you are recycling and you can often find a unique texture to incorporate into your work. I hope I have given you some ideas. Enjoy the hunt!!

Posted in creativity, learning, polymer clay, polymer clay textures, polymer clay tools | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Playing With Liquid Clay

Am I obsessed with liquid clay? Well, that seems like such a strong word. Perhaps, fascinated by it’s possibilities would be a better description. Either way, I continue to venture out of my comfort zone and play, thinking about the ‘what ifs’.  And I am not the only one!!  Syndee Holt and Amy Koranek, who both represent Sculpey, are pushing creative boundaries of liquid clay. They have a pile of ideas and projects that include dimensional silk screening and attaching liquid clay designs to fabric to name just two.  Then on facebook Anke Humpert recently threw out an open question to find out how others are working with liquid clays, what problems are they having, what questions do they have about liquid clay (see post here).

So what’s all the buzz about??  I can only give you my perspective, so take it with a grain of salt.  I initially blogged about playing with liquid clays last July (We All Do It). That seems such a long time ago!!  And I continue to play. I have not even begun to use up all my ideas.

Mark Making, I love mark making. I frequently use it in my work (polymer clay, art journaling, ceramics, etc.). It is like developing your own language. Changing the line weight or how they are layered or whether you are working on raw or baked clay will all say something a little differently!

Layering color blocks and line work using liquid clays

Painting with liquid clays is interesting. Because of its viscosity (it is thick) and it doesn’t really flow. Therefore, it is different. I have played with different brushes (soft vs stiff, round vs flat, etc.) and I found that they all give you different effects. I have also played with other tools (not paint brushes) for applying the liquid clay. Again, very different results, but all very painterly.

Smears are not necessarily a technical term, but fun to do all the same.  In this example, I make a base layer of polymer clay and smear both liquid and solid clays on top to create variation of light and darks with some implied movement.  I loved the way they work together, very galaxy-like.

Galaxy pieces developed by smearing both liquid and solid clays.

Veneers are by far my favorite way to use liquid clays. This is where I sheet a number of clay colors then start making marks, painting, stenciling, etc. The key here is to do one layer then walk away. Let the plasticizer in the liquid clay absorb into the base sheet of clay. The base sheet of clay remains pliable while the top layer of liquid clay dries to the touch.  How long does this take? Well that depends upon the thickness of liquid clay applied and the condition of the base clay (is it fresh and very soft or older and stiffer). There might be other factors but those are the two most important, I think. Below are some of my Rex Ray-inspired experiments.

Veneers being developed using colored liquid clays

Then there is the finish on the liquid clays. The colors cure in a matte finish, but you could always add a layer of clear liquid clay to get a glossy finish.

Scraffito experiments – colored liquid clays on black base with clear liquid finishing layer

There are two big advantages of the liquid clays, at least in the way I am using them (so far). One is that you can build layers nicely.  Don’t rush your work, take your time. Do your layers need a baking in between or just some time to set (or ‘dry’) enough to do the next step? The second advantage is the painterly way in which you can use them, and I don’t just mean applying them with a paint brush! There are some unique characteristics that you can build into your work by the method in which you apply them.

Nothing is right or wrong here, it all depends upon what your objectives are and the looks you are trying to get! I hope I have nudged you to give them a try and see what happens. Stay loose, embrace the wabi wabi effects and have fun! Or join me at Bead and Button for a workshop where we will experiment together.

Posted in creativity, inspiration, Liquid Polymer Clay | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Hello 2020

I just finished my first creative project of the year and I am pretty happy with how it turned out! My youngest grandson, Patrick, had seen some custom sneakers and asked for a pair of white canvas sneakers and markers as his present . . . . but only if I participated! So I thought ‘that’s cool, I love doodling’. 

So I pulled together supplies. Various markers, colors, tip widths, stains for fabric and paint pens. 

Just the beginning of the marker collection!

I also thought there would be a ‘lets look for inspiration and ideas’ part of the project. So I searched my bookshelves and found all sorts of materials. Please note, the coloring book of swear words was not shared with my grandson, although it is a favorite of mine!

Coloring books for inspiration

Well Patrick had a design very well established in his mind from the start . . .  color blocking in sections. I asked if he wanted any patterns or symbols. But he very confidently said no. He knocked his project out and was wearing them in no time. 

I on the other hand was in my zone of overthinking . . . . everything!  First I sketched in pencil.

Then I outlined with black marker. 

Then I colored in. This could have gone on for quite some time. Darkening the layers. Shading the layers. Adding little tone on tone stripes and circles.  But at some point I had to call this done!

This was a nice creative stretch to begin the year and I can’t wait to wear them!! Are they perfect?? Not by a long shot. But that wasn’t the objective. I had the opportunity to do a project with my grandson (that he actually initiated!).  I had fun. And I used the skills I had (and some I didn’t, haha) on a completely new project. It felt good. This year I am hoping to do a bit more creative stretching. I just started a beginner ceramics class with my hubby!! I hope you can add some creative stretches to your year.  It will feel so good, I promise!

Posted in creativity, grafitti, inspiration, Painted sneaker | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

They Like Me!!

I am thrilled to announce that I have a very nice line up of classes for Bead and Button 2020. They picked seven of my classes.  They include 4 new classes and three classes that I taught last year but were very popular! And even more exciting is that a photo of one of my classes is on the cover of their catalog!!!

I made the cover!!

It will be their 20th anniversary this year.  And while the event has had highs and lows, it is still the biggest showroom floor and class offering available. It is a fun experience with like-minded people who are anxious to let their creativity shine. Bottom line, it is fun!

I will be teaching Sunday, May 31st through Friday, June 5th.  If you didn’t get a catalog in the mail, on-line browsing is available at www.beadandbuttonshow.com. Registration opens January 7th, 2020!

New classes include:

Meditative Magic – one day class project oriented class, focus on color blends, piecing together veneers, an introduction to liquid clay and decorative work with liquid clays as well as constructing a pendant.

Meditative Magic

Getting Wabi Sabi with Liquid Clay – one day technique-oriented class, focus on liquid polymer clays and what you can do with them. This class is all about experimenting from scrafitto to stenciling!

Getting Wabi Sabi with Liquid Polymer Clay

Totally Tubular – 1/2 day project oriented class that provides a quick introduction to silk screening onto polymer clay using acrylic paints and creating a tube bead to hang on organic silk ribbons

Totally Tubular

Little Beasties – one day project oriented class, focused on combining color blends and decorative elements to construct a whimsical pin with a little movement and a whole lot of character.

Little Beasties

Repeat classes (oldies but goodies) include:

Gone Fishin’ – one day project oriented class, focus is basic cane work and how versatile some of the simple canes are, applying cane work or veneers to decorate a basic fish skeleton, and stringing to allow movement when wearing it.

Gone Fishin’

Mod Mondrian Lariat – one day project oriented class, focus is making a Mondrian inspired cane, creating veneers and constructing a focal bead and accessory beads in a lariat format.

Mod Modrian Lariats

Picasso-inspired Portraits in Polymer Clay – one day project oriented class, focus is color blends, layering design elements and playing with shapes, line work and black/white accents to create an abstracted face while constructing a pendant or pin.

Picasso-Inspired Portraits in Polymer Clay

I will be updating my workshop info with my 2020 schedule soon. It is a full and exciting year ahead!!

Posted in Bead and Button Show, polymer clay, teaching | Tagged , , | 13 Comments