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 , , , | 4 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

I’m Back!!!

I’m back from my month long adventure and full of inspiration, ideas, to-do’s and general end-of-year panic!! But it’s all good. And I have so much to share with you that I have that buzzing going again!! Let me start with the trip we just completed (I tried to be brief but there was just so much to share!).

The trip to Greece was  . . . . well it was amazing. I was so happy that I opted for a discovery tour of Greece through Gate1 Travel. They have trips that work with small groups. We were 20 people, a fairly diverse group, but with a common interest in the history of Greece. The tour guide was infectious with his love of Greece. He was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and knew how to engage people.  The country itself was beautiful. We drove over 1,200 miles (well our bus driver Plato did, I sat back and relaxed). We went over or through mountains, along coastlines, over bridges and took ferries.  I felt we really saw and experienced Greece.

The history of Greece is long and complicated being influenced by many different peoples.  I had to do a special map for my journal in order to get a better understanding of where we are today before I started down the historic path. I put a little brad at each location we were stopping for a night or two. I had so much fun making this. And yes, my kids think I am a bit whack-o, that’s okay. 

Map in travel journal documenting the country, our route and places we visited.

The museums we went to were so well done! They were all built at the archeological excavated sites. So you learned about the site and saw the artifacts before walking through the excavations. I will mention only a few here.

The museum in Vergina showcased the tomb of Philip II, and was actually built over the actual tomb. Philip II (359 to 336 B.C.) was the King of Macedonia and father of Alexander the Great.  You could actually walk down to the entrance to his tomb in the museum. The artifacts found in his tomb were unbelievable riches and included his gold crown that was a delicate wreathe of leaves and acorns and a golden box with detailed designs. 

You walked down a dozen or so steps to stand in front of the actual entrance to Philip II tomb.

Delphi was spectacular! The oracle of Delphi was one small area housed with the Temple of Apollo originally built in 7th century B.C. There are only a few remaining columns along with the foundation left. An illustration in the museum shows what the site originally looked like. It was a massive complex of buildings, a theater and stadium. It was actually used as a treasury. The patterns of adornment (see carved limestone) and the craftsman ship (see carved ivory foot from statue) were stunning!

This is the Temple of Apollo where the oracle of Delphi was housed and gave out words of wisdom.

The museum in Mycenae featured some of the oldest artifacts we saw. The site dated back to 1500-1250 B.C.  The entrances were grand in scale at both the acropolis (the carved lions are missing their heads) and the beehive tomb referred to as the Treasury of Atreus out side the walls of the acropolis using massive stones. How did they do that back then??? The gold jewelry found at one of the grave sites was jaw dropping. It was as contemporary as any jewelry today. Yup, my mind was blown!!

And lets not forget ‘The Acropolis’. I did learn that the word acropolis simply means a fortified area of a city often built on a hill. There are ancient Acropoli (is that the plural?) all around the country. But the biggie is in Athens and is what everyone associates with Greece. The current remains at the site include a cluster of buildings built in the 5th century B.C. to honor Athena. The site and its adjacent museum did not disappoint!

We did visit a vineyard that had been established in 1850’s that was beautiful and sampled some of their wines. We had lunch at an olive grove where they bottle and sell olive oil, olive oil soaps and loads of other things.  It was a charming location that is often used for weddings and events. The lunch was superb. Okay, to be fair, the food throughout Greece was superb. I did find a little souvenir for myself, a porcelain pendant made to look like micro-mosaics. I don’t know the artist or even if these are mass-produced. I did see them one other place on the trip. Regardless, I will cherish mine. I love it!

And of course I have my journal full of wonderful memories and crazy, silly things that occurred on the trip. My journal is always my favorite souvenir of the trip.  It brings back waves of emotions as I flip through it. Below I have shared a few of the pages.

I sure hope you have enjoyed the journey with me . . . well a little bit. I did find it funny that the first question everyone asked us was “which islands did you visit”? Yes, Greece has numerous picturesque islands but there is so much more to Greece than its islands. If you every get a chance to visit, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough!!

To me honest, the trip did not end in Greece. We had a two-day stop over in Roman and then jumped on the Celebrity Edge for a transatlantic cruise back home to Fort Lauderdale! It was grand!!

Posted in Greece, travel, travel journal | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

A Polymer Puzzle

If you have attended an art retreat you have probably heard of ‘swaps’ of some kind . . . . . buttons, beads, ATC’s, bowls, etc. You get the idea. But have you every participated in a group project . . .  like a puzzle? 

At a recent polymer clay retreat there was a group project that I found to be very interesting. One of the attendees finds an image, reduces it to a black and white line drawing. It is then enlarged and cut into 20 or 25 squares that are randomly numbered. Each participant gets a square, about 3×3-inches, without knowing what the final image looks like. If there are black lines on your square, you should make them dark. If there is white you should make that light colors. And some squares are, in fact, all white . . .  just blank pieces of paper. No other rules apply.

This is the square piece I was given to work on (bottom left). Clearly part of a face and this is my finished tile (below right), a little reptilian looking or even Avatar-ish.

The interpretations of the rules and individual styles that surfaced were fascinating!!  Here they are, all 25! The variety of technique is amazing.

So at the end of the retreat everyone turns in her square tile piece. They are all dumped on a table and we, as a group, try and put the puzzle pieces together. Once the puzzle is together, everyone that participated gets her name in a drawing to take home the completed puzzle. Here is what it looked like! Isn’t she lovely!!

Yup, you guessed it. I WON!!!!  I was thrilled. And I will lovingly frame it for my studio wall. I was able to take home a piece of everyone that played the puzzle game!

Posted in playing, polymer clay, retreat | Tagged , , | 5 Comments