Say Yes and See What Happens!

Okay for the past few months I have been saying ‘yes’. Yes, I will submit to the competition ‘To Boldly Go’. Yes, I will have a gallery space. Yes, I will do a challenge for the conference. Yes, I will try and be less of a wallflower . . . . a lurker . . . and try to stand tall on my own.

Well here’s what happened at the recent Synergy 4 conference!!

I submitted three pieces to the competition “To Boldly Go’ and won the Member’s Choice Award for Emerging Artist in wearable art jewelry with the piece I called Ancient Journey. I couldn’t believe it!!

I put my gallery space together and while during set-up I was questioning my sanity being in the room with all the big names in polymer. But I recovered my spine with encouraging words from a few of my fellow attendees (thanks Beth, DeeDee and Katy!). The gallery was great. Everyone had the same amount of space whether you were a rockstar or a newbie! The diversity in the polymer clay work was mind-blowing . . . jewelry, of course, but sculptures, paintings, and home décor. And the diversity in styles showed an even greater range of creativeness.

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I took the challenge seriously and put my ‘nose to the grindstone’. I was overwhelmed by the positive reception of my new pieces and the journey I took to get there. This was one of the most unique opportunities offered at the conference. To get guidance, constructive critique and support from a mentor was invaluable! Most of the work in the above photo was a result of my efforts on the challenge. Special thank you to Christine Dumont (again)!!

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The Synergy 4 conference was a huge success as far as I am concerned!  The people were open and generous, providing a great community. I left with my head full of ideas, new techniques, tips and inspiration. I took three hands-on classes that included Melanie West, Christine Dumont and Jana Roberts Benzon. All three are rockstars but all so very different! And then there were three days of sessions covering creativity, our common ground, design hierarchy, new approaches to teaching, improving your photography, combining metal and polymer to name a few!

One of the most inspiring talks was by Maggie Maggio on the ABC’s of Color. She has clearly found her passion and is thinking big . . . . I mean really BIG! Rewriting the way color is taught to kids in schools. But it was her passion that radiated from her. You couldn’t help but be moved!!

Then on the last night of the conference there was a banquet. Everyone was in a playful mood, photo bombing when they could!!

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The auction that was held was so much fun with our auctioneer, Christie Friesen. And the items up for auction are a great example of the diversity at the conference.

Thank you to everyone who helped put this conference together!! It was a great experience and you deserve high praise for all your volunteered hours and efforts.

So saying yes paid off for me many times over.  If you ever have an opportunity to say yes, go ahead . . . . .  you never know what might happen!!

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Keeping It Simple

Yeah, I know, it’s a great concept but I rarely apply it.

It has been a last minute rush . . . . ok, a last week rush to get ready for the Synergy 4 conference. Supplies for three workshops, check . . . . . my new body of work priced, inventoried, photographed and packed, check . . . . my favorite jewelry selected to wear, check . . . . clothes that coordinate with the jewelry for a week, check . . . . a new journal for note taking, check!!

A few things to notice, I have made this event about as complicated for myself as possible! Yes, this was self-inflicted. But I am so excited about going it doesn’t really matter.  You also noticed that jewelry was selected before clothes. And if you need to buy accessories like shoes or belts to match, you go and do it!!

One of the products of this last week rush was an understated necklace of simple black polymer tubes that I extruded (see I can keep things simple . . . . well sometimes). The tubes were strung together using a simple pearl knotting technique. This created a single long strand that can be worn in various ways. Nothing complicated here, not a statement piece, but nice just the same. On a plain white shirt it looks great!

I added a simple pop of color on each tube by sliding on various colors of o-rings. Yup, o-rings!! I bet you didn’t know that they came in so many different colors and sizes!! And I don’t even have ALL the colors. My supplier is Yvonne at My Elements. If you like color and quirky, she has supplies for you!

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And as busy as I was, I needed (or wanted) to make myself a new journal for the conference. It is my tradition to create these file folder journals with various papers to take notes in. I have 14 or so already on the shelf from past events, so why break with tradition! The process of binding it and decorating the pages is almost meditative for me and focuses my attention on the event. Weird, right?!?!

I love the rooster on the front cover!! Not sure why, he just spoke to me. Maybe I plan to strut my stuff at the show, haha! So a little paint, a few found papers, a few collaged sayings, a bunch of washi tape, and I am ready to go.  And when I saw the black and white ballpoint pens, I had to buy them.

Well I am off to Philadelphia in the morning. It should be a great week ahead. I hope to come home all jazzed. You know the feeling . . . . after you have been on a trip . . . . have had some time to soak in the surroundings . . . . . and your head starts spinning with inspiration and ideas.

Can’t wait to share!!

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To Boldly Go!

I mentioned in a previous post (pressing the button) that I submitted three pieces of my polymer clay work for the IPCA Awards.  At that time, I couldn’t show you photos of the pieces, as per the rules  .  .  .  .  .  .  but the voting is over and I can finally share.

The theme this year was ‘To Boldly Go!’ in honor of the 50th year of Star Trek and your pieces needed to be from your current work (no more than 12 months old). I have been spending a huge amount of time in the studio and have a fair bit of work to show for it over the last year.

The first submission was one of my succulents I created in my collaboration with Banyan Bay Studios. It doesn’t fit the theme very well but I thought the combination of wood and polymer clay was interesting. Apparently, the combination of wood and polymer was not unique and was seen in a few other submissions. They were all beautiful!!

The second submission is part of a challenge I signed up for at the Synergy 4 conference coming up in August. This was one of the pieces created along the journey inspired by Kandinsky.  I added a hand-forged silver chain to complete the look.

The third submission was also created as part of the challenge mentioned above but I seemed to take a tangent at more mid-century modern look.

I have to say the other submissions were amazing. I am soooooo very glad you don’t see anyone else’s submission before you submit.  I am not sure I would have participated if I had.  But I am glad I did ‘push that button’ . . . . . and was honored to be in the company of so many great artists!

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Tangents

Tangents – a completely different line of thought or action. Yup, tangents. When you least expect them, when you can’t afford the time for them, knowing you can’t control them . . . . . they happen anyway.

But I might argue that sometimes, just sometimes . . . .  they need to be embraced . . . . even nurtured.

Meet Spike

He came to me one day in a doodle. And then out of my hands . . . . into the oven. I am not sure what he will eventually be . . . pendant or brooch.

Then there was Lizzie.

Iggy came next.

Ralph evolved and I love the texture.

Hazel is a sweet little thing. Beautiful, plump, dotted. Definitely a brooch here.

Spike and his friends evolved. Slowly. Without much thought. Just for the fun of it.

Even the names evolved. Not sure why I thought they needed names. Not sure what I am going to do with them . . . . if anything.

Sometimes it is good to just play! Hope you find some time to play!

 

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An Artistic Challenge

I mentioned last October in a post “Putting Yourself Out There” that I was participating in a conference called Synergy 4. The International Polymer Clay Association (theipca.org) holds a conference every few years that is focused on the advancement of polymer clay arts and artists. It is truly amazing. A professional conference format with general sessions and breakout sessions and talks ranging from art as a business, new techniques, where to draw inspiration   . . . . you get the idea.

Okay, so they didn’t accept my idea for a session topic “The Evolution of an Idea”, it was a long shot.  However, one type of breakout session at the conference is called a Challenge. If you sign up for this session, you are required to develop a challenge for yourself (with the guidance of the session chair) and then present it at the conference. It could be about almost anything related to polymer clay . . . . like developing a new technique, . . . . . working on a new body of work, . . . . . . trying an experiment, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Well, of course, in my year of pushing myself ‘out there’ I signed up! I was able to use my ‘evolution of an idea’ and challenged myself to create a new body of work based upon inspiration from Kandinsky, specifically his ‘Bauhaus period’, early 1920’s to about 1930-ish. I love the graphic geometric shapes, the layering and use of color. They are joyful and fun. Makes my heart go pitter-patter!

But drawing inspiration from someone or something versus mimicking them are two different things. And I wandered around for several months trying different approaches. Getting frustrated. Starting again.  Then went completely off-course with other projects . . . can you say ‘tangent’?  But what is squirrel, I mean girl, to do??

Below are some of my creations on my meandering path.  While none of them are fabulous, I did learned something from each one.

But a quick glance at my calendar, about mid-June brought me to my senses and I realized I was quickly running out of time . . . . I revisited my challenge and tried a different approach.  I stepped away from the ‘mark making’ and focused on color . . . . lots of color!

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The session chair, Christine Dumont (www.allovercreation.net) has been wonderful. She is an accomplished artist and creative teacher (see previous post on “making improvements”). She reviewed my past work, we skyped, she reviewed work in progress, we skyped again . . . . she took her job seriously . . . so I damn well better take my job seriously!!

Her guidance was perfect, a nudge here . . . a verbal kick in the pants there . . . . a balance of pointing out my strengths and weaknesses in a very constructive way.  This type of coaching/mentoring is invaluable.  I feel like I received the deal of a lifetime . . . . . for FREE!  Thanks Christine!!

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I am very happy with my direction and new body of work. I continue to experiment and make adjustments . . . some work . . . . some don’t. But the journey has been great! More confidence. Improved technical skills. And new work to share. I couldn’t be happier!! And I love the flying squirrel logo for the back of my work.

So if you ever have an opportunity to participate in a challenge . . . . do not hesitate! What you will get out of the effort is much, much more than what you put in it.

 

 

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Catching Up

The last couple of months have been spent jumping from one project/trip to another. This level of over planning and over commitment is kind of how I operate. With the pressure on . . . . driving me forward.

At the moment however there is a calm. Not for long and I need to make the most of this time before the next wave of chaos hits . . . . and it is coming. But I need to face the path of destruction I have left along the way. The ‘I will put that away later’ has now become I can’t see the floor or the table in my studio any more!! Can anyone relate to this??

I thought I had purged when I did the big move in to my new studio space . . . . but clearly not enough. And no, I am not showing a photo of my hot mess . . . it is way too embarrassing!

But as I try to focus, I continue to be distracted . . . . and having fun doing it!

One of the distractions is my travel journal. I am now officially under 4 months until my Southeast Asia trip and I am just buzzing with excitement! The journal is coming along and I continue adding to it, bit by bit. The outer cover is decorated and I love it! The fabric for the cover was a scrap from a painters cloth and the cut edges were unravelling, a lot. So I took some sari/silk ribbon scrap and ironed it out and sewed it around the outer cover.  A simply feather was then sketched out and painted in. Then I found a box of fabric scraps that had fusing already attached. One fabric had these dots with a spiral design, so they were cut out and ironed on.

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I created four separate signatures, a small one for the overall description of the trip, then one for each country we are visiting. They were sewn using a simple pamphlet stitch. I used purple elastic cording to attach the signatures. Technically, I can slip a signature out to carry with me for sketching, if I don’t want to carry the entire journal. But I love the feel and weight of the journal as a whole. It seems to be just the right size. And don’t you love the eyelet detail on the spine for the elastic cord. Yes, the color of the eyelet matches the dominant color used in each signature . . . . . and yes, those little details make me happy!!

I have started adding to the journal pages, getting them prepped for the trip. An overview map has been sketched that will show where we are going with detailed maps added later. I have used the Asian stamps a dear friend lent me. I have used stencils. I have a box of phrases in my collage stash from magazines and such, and have been adding them where appropriate. I have even started drafting titles for key locations.

I have a long way to go prepping pages. Some more stamping, maybe some more collage, definitely more painted backgrounds. I don’t go overboard and cover the entire page. I like some white space.

I can’t wait to show before and after photos of this journal when I return from my travels. I also have to come up with my journaling supplies that will be traveling with me. Trying to not go too crazy . . . . keeping it light and portable!

I find working on my journal so much fun. It allows me to channel my excitement into prepping for the BIG trip. But it doesn’t have to be a BIG trip, I do travel journals for little ones as well and enjoy it as much!!  Alright, who is ready to make a travel journal and go on a trip??

Oops, didn’t I start this post saying I needed to clean? Okay, 5 minutes of cleaning for every 55 minutes of play time. Sounds about right!

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A Surprise Package!

 

You know we all love a new tool . . . . well I received a sweet little package from a dear friend from Scotland, Melanie Muir, a polymer clay artist, teacher and creative coach extraordinaire (www.melaniemuir.com)!! She visited last February and I had a chance to see her new line of jewelry before she headed for her next show. Very graphic. Very modern. Very beautiful.

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She also shared that the new line of jewelry resulted in a new line of texture stamps and shape templates. Woo-hoo!!   Who doesn’t love a new tool!

A few of the things that make her stamps nice for polymer clay work is that they are clear so you can see the underlying clay and make sure the contact is good, they are deeply carved stamps (great for mokume gane) and the size is manageable for jewelry size pieces. A twist to her new line of texture stamps is that the designs include both innies and outies for the same stamp shape!

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In addition, she has developed a few new shape templates along with a new line of cutters! And yes, I have already placed my order for the cutters!!

I have been playing with the stamps and templates a little. I used them to make some samples for my mica shift class I recently taught at Fandango.

So thank you Melanie for your generous gift and making a gal do a happy dance! It has been so hard to keep this secret but I promised I wouldn’t spill the beans until they were up on her website, go check them out!!

I know a tool doesn’t make an artist . . . . . but a new tool can make an artist happy!!

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