The Grid Used for My 100 Day Challenge

I have no explanation. I had a roll of this material. I made a couple of things with it. Then I had the idea (brilliant or not) to see what I could do with this stuff. Remember that I really had two elements I used for the 100 Day Challenge – the liquid clay veneers and the mesh grid. This post is just addressing how I used the mesh grid in this challenge.

So what is it?? I kept referring to it as industrial mesh grid, clear as mud, right?? The label wasn’t much better.  But a little research revealed that this is a ‘steel galvanized hardware cloth’, clearer?  The base metal is steel. It is galvanized to reduce corrosion. That means it is coated in zinc. I used two different sizes, one was a 19 gauge wire in a ½-inch square grid and the other was a 24 gauge wire in a ¼-inch square grid. I ended up using the larger grid for most of my work because it was more substantial. 

This product is a fairly soft metal and can be bent and formed easily.  I needed a good pair of wire cutters, a set of jewelry pliers and a set of files.  Once pieces were cut and ready for use, I made sure all the edges were filed down. They could be remarkably sharp.

I came up with two different questions that helped me approach using the grid. 1 – How can I use this material structurally and 2 – how can I change the look of this material.

Structural Use of Grid

Structurally I was able to use this material in more ways than I expected.  And many times I was combining the uses in the final piece. I have tried to keep track and categorize these uses in the following groups:

Armatures was an easy idea for this material and started off as flat then three-dimensional. The purpose was to provide a form to work over and strength to the clay.

Bails were typically created by extending the grid beyond the clay and providing a point where jump rings or chain could be connected (Days 1, 22 and 31). And yes, I was also using the grid as an armature. In one example, I did use a separate piece of the grid and created a pinch bail (Day 27). I also used the extended grid to create loops for jump rings (Day 63).

Decoration on the surface of the pendants using pieces of the grid in different ways. Initially I bent and colored a piece of the grid and baked it into place (Day 16). It was covered with liquid clay so it should adhere nicely. Then I create a little ladder (Day 19). On Day 37 I used a one unit piece of grid that had pongs for legs. I wrapped it in a thin wire and then covered it with liquid clay for a decorative element.

Prongs and spokes were single pieces of the wire that were used to hold beads above, to the side or around the perimeter of the pendant. This evolved during the challenge as I went from thinking in two dimensions to three dimensions. For Day 32 a single prong in the middle of the grid came up through the base of the pendant to hold an additional clay element floating over the surface. Day 70 I was working radially with the grid and added prongs. The later on Day 93 I was thinking in more three dimensions and added prongs. I did like how the prongs could add such a nice element.

Cages to hold elements were used twice, once for a little heart that was on a chain and could be slid out of the cage. Then again a cage was used to hold balls that could move around as the pendant moved. These were completely separate grid pieces that were added to the surface of the polymer pendant.

Prong settings for capturing and holding polymer elements was next. Again I began by thinking flat two dimensionally, then flat radially and finally radially in three dimensions! At this point I feel like I finally found rhythm in the challenge.

Loops for dangles was an obvious thing to do, not sure why it took me so long to figure out. It was just a spoke or prong that I created a loop on. I love the movement that they added to the pendants.

Loops for connections, rather that just dangles, was one of the ideas I only used once. But I was really pleased with the way they worked in the bracelet with links on one side and a clasp on the other.

So I am pretty excited about the various ways I was able to use the grid structurally. It took me some time to get into a creative zone but once there . . . . . . I had some fun! Was everything a hit, no. Are there better or easier ways to do things? Absolutely. But the inexpensive grid allowed me to experiment, try things, and play with abandon.

Changing the Look

Changing the look of the mesh grid was primarily changing the color of it, so it didn’t look like an unfinished metal. I started by painting it with liquid clay. Since exploring liquid clays was one of my main efforts in this 100 Day Project that seemed like a good fit.  However, about half way into the project I realized this approach was not a viable one for the long term. The liquid clay layer would easily scratch off.  Duh!! In a few cases, this was not an issue if the grid was protected by the clay. For example, Days 55, 66, and 72 should wear fairly well. The only area of wear would be the bails or loops where jump rings connect. But Day 83 leaves most of the grid exposed. In addition, that was the fidget pendant, that was meant to be played with because of all the movement, so I would expect more wear and tear.

So what else could I use to color the grid.  I tried embossing powders. I had a stash, so why not. Yup, they scratched off easily also. They also looked worse, clumpy and uneven.  I then tried the various patinas I had available.  These were fairly unsuccessful. While I could get a black surface on the grid, it was powdery and would wipe off. This might have been due to the zinc coating on the grid not ‘playing’ nice with the patinas I had available. I tried enamel spray paint (for outdoor furniture). Better look and smooth finish, readily available product, but would also scratch off, not quite as easily, but still.  I decided this was an acceptable coating only if the grid was being protected by the clay.

But then I put on my thinking cap and stumbled upon the idea of powder coating.  Powder coating uses finely ground particles of pigment and resin that is sprayed onto electrically charge metal then baked at about 400 degrees F to create a protective finish.  So I watched a few videos.  And yes, I bought a kit from Harbor Freight.  It was about $100 for the powder coating gun and two colors of powders (black and white).  And I was off to experiment.  

All of my experiments were done using traditional powder coating methods (there are some variations). And because of my background in enameling, it was somewhat familiar. The fact that I had most of the supporting tools allowed me to give it a try at a lower cost point (yes, I have an air compressor and a toaster oven, or two).  Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!!

Beware! I have only dipped my toes into the powder coating pool.  More playing is necessary and I will share those results when I get them. But my initial reaction is that powder coating is a rabbit hole of possibilities!!   And the range of colors for powder coating is like going into a bead, paper or fabric store. You know, the pitter-pattering of your heart as you look at all the colors. You have the need to own them all.  You have been warned. I formally relinquish all responsibility. Have fun!!

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100 Day Project – (Days 87 to 100)

Okay, this is the final few pieces for the 100 Day Challenge.  As I mentioned before, these pieces are some of my least favorite and most favorite!! But all of them are interesting and I learned something with each one.

The next five pieces (#87 to #91) I was thinking very three-dimensional. I would sit with pieces of the grid, just twisting and bending it.  And while these five are some of my least favorite pieces that I executed, I think they all are interesting and have untapped potential. 

Day 87, I revisited prongs but in a different way. I clipped them shorter and attached buna cord to each side to make a cradle to hold a cone of liquid clay veneer. The veneer was very abstractly ‘painted’ and I didn’t like it. So I thinned and stretched it out. I love what that process did to both the colors and shapes on the veneer. And the little balls on beading wire were added (it needed something). They spring to life movement when you where it.

Day 88 I was thinking radially with the grid but left it three-dimensional, not flat. This gave me a center that stuck out so I could play with it more.

So this is what happened when I sit with a dowel and some grid (#89). I worked out a series of half circles (or humps) to hold tube beads.  This could have been made to hold one, two or three tubes, but I went for five. I held the tubes in place with waxed linen thread, but I could have continued bending the grid to make the other half of the humps!! It is all about choices you make at the moment!

Well here they are, my stinkers in the group (#90).  I grouped these two together not only because they were made in a similar manner but because I didn’t think they warranted a stand along discussion.  Okay, the first one (black, white and gold) bent a strip of the grid in a wave, fanning out one way then the opposite way. The veneer was black base on one side and white base on the other, giving a ying-yang kinda feel. I still like the idea, but it needs a much better execution. The second piece was and twisted long section of grid one section wide, but with prongs down the side and reminded me of a DNA chain.  Again, execution of design was missing here, not my best work.  I still like the idea of the twisted grid, just not sure what to do with it.

Then I had a smallish piece of grid in my hand and was wrapping it around a dowel and thought about more three-dimensional flowers.  I really like the flowers themselves, just not the flat grid base I put them on.  But it allowed me to explore. I let the grid be exposed and used the clay for a grungy look, like something growing on the grid.

From here to the finish, something clicked into place. I LOVE the last few pieces! Just sayin’.

Days 92 to 94 all used hollow form polymer pieces that were wrapped with a single width of grid. The first ‘drum’ was decorated with liquid clay marks (different on each side) and patina’ed around the edges. The strip of the grid was held in place with a small piece of orangey-red leather I sewed with black, waxed linen thread. The orange leather added a nice pop of color.   

Day 93 was a similar design with the hollow form but smaller in diameter. I left prongs on one side of the grid strip where I attached small balls of orangey-red to give the piece more dimension. I also used the orangy-red color in the marks made and the thread used to hold the grid in place. 

The last one in this series (#94) is still a hollow polymer form but I wanted to try a more angular design. Again, different mark making on each side and a strip of grid wrapped around.  As I was deciding how to hang this one from a chain I realized that when placed vertically it was very coffin-like in its shape, oops!  Perspective is everything. 

When playing with the grid, I almost by accident wrapped it around my wrist. It all of a sudden seemed obvious to try a cuff (or two) (#95 to 97).  The first cuff (Day 95) I placed the veneer under the grid leaving it exposed. I did add a strip of clay on each end so that getting the cuff on and off was comfortable.  It is actually very wearable.   

The next cuff, #96, I played with the veneer lying on top of the grid, but cut in a wavy pattern to expose some of the grid. I marks circles and dots on the veneer to reinforce the wavy watery-theme and I thought it came together quite well.

Then I thought I could take the cuff idea a bit further, a bracelet with a clasp. So two pieces of the grid were formed with loops on each end so that links and a clasp could be attached. This is another one where I was patting myself on the back for being clever. The veneer was result of another bold mark making session which I cut out in a swooping pattern (Matisse-inspired). 

I wanted to use up my shibori-inspired veneers that were a lovely dark navy color and I had a square link leftover that I used for the 3D chain, but this piece had prongs left on one side. So the prongs became loops for dangles (#98). The large tear-drops gradually change to black at the bottom due to liquid clay and are heavy enough to give this piece some presence. 

I then moved back to liquid clay veneers on translucent clay (#99).  I made very thin veneers so that after baking I could cut it up with scissors into angular oval shapes and punch holes in them to be hung off of the grid. Again, I was playing with a strip of grid, one grid unit wide. It needed a handle, so more grid was cut and attached. 

For my last piece, #100, I re-visited the idea of shibori-inspired veneers but used translucent clay. I kept it thin to make half-circle pieces that fit onto a piece of the grid that I curved over a dowel. I love the way the translucent clay pieces fan out.

Ta-Da!!! There you have it. I am still amazed that I stuck with it. I also realize that I could not have even considered doing this if the pandemic hadn’t shut everything down.  I was overbooked this year, every single month, but particularly over these last three. So the 100 Day Challenge showed up at the right place and the right time, for me!  It was a great opportunity to stretch my creative muscles and it felt good!!

So what is next for me? Well I am still playing with liquid clay veneers. I am using the mesh grid in some swaps I need for a virtual retreat I am attending next month.  I am writing a tutorial for one of the pieces from the challenge for Polymer Week magazine. And I want to spend a little time reviewing the challenge and see what ideas might be worth exploring further.  So lots to do for me! Hope you are keeping busy too.

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100 Day Challenge – (Days 75 to 86)

So if you have been following along, I promised that I would be pushing harder than ever to ‘think outside the box’ and exercise my creative muscles for the last 26 days of the challenge. One of the primary goals was to try new things, not necessarily just make pretty things.  To do this, I let the wire mesh grid ‘speak’ to me and lead the way. In this post, I have added a bit more text to show what I was thinking and why something worked or didn’t (IMHO).

So lets get started with prongs (#75 to #77). Day 75 I left four wires extends from the grid to hold an irregular faceted polymer gem. If I can hold one thing, how about two things? So Day 76 was designed by cutting the grid and bending up prongs at critical places to hold the polymer elements. Liquid clays were used to decorate the surface of each polymer pieces.

Then I went back to the radial grid design and rather than embedding the grid into the clay I used the spokes like prongs to hold the polymer clay element in place. Both #77 and 78 used the same design, but because #77 was rushed and not executed to my liking I did a second (#78). Both of these use a hollow domed circular polymer piece created by piecing together coordinating liquid clay veneers. Very light weight. I like these enough they will be revisited.

But wait, there is more . . .  what about bending the grid in a partial circle and creating prongs in both the front and back to cradle a hollow translucent lentil bead decorated with liquid clays. Yeah, I thought I was pretty clever on this one!!

Then I was thinking about movement and how that might be incorporated (#80 to #83).  The movement started with adding a cage of sorts to the surface of a pendant (#80) and allowing the balls to move within the cage.  The background of this piece was decorated with liquid clays and left the grid exposed.  Well if I am going to expose the grid, what could I hang off of it that would move? So on #81, I pinched long ovals around each of the horizontal grid wires. They moved, flipped and jiggled about nicely. And yes, I thought about making each side different so that you could flip the pendant and get two looks in one piece,  . . . .  too tedious for now. 

Movement always makes me think of kids toys, so #82 was born. Polymer blocks stamped with letters (using liquid clay of course) were worked onto the wires down one side so they spin and spell LOL, JOY, etc. The clay adjacent to the blocks was then decorated with whimsical child-like mark making.  Then I was thinking about all the different types of movement and came up with a fidget pendant (#83).  Elegant, no. But totally fun and everything either spins, swings, flips, pulls, or springs. It was also a very interesting design challenge to fit all that action into a small area and make sure that the movement of one didn’t interfere with another.

I shifted again, this time the focus was on chains using the grid simply as armature (#84 to #86).  These were largely unsuccessful, but interesting. I needed to work out the proportions of the thickness of each link to the size of the hole they need to fit into and allow for movement. I knew that, but got wrapped up in using the grid and wasn’t paying attention.  So #84 ended up being linked by jump rings, as was #85. I did finally use the grid in a three-dimension link in #86 for a very chunky necklace.  I did like the exploration of my shibori-inspired veneers (#85 and #86) and that will be revisited at a later time.

Well I hope that you are still enjoying this crazy ride and learning along with me. The last batch of work contains some of my least favorites and most favorites. Stay tuned!!!

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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!

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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 ( 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