Generally, when I make a book from polymer clay, I use translucent clay or Super Sculpy. Once the journal is done, it’s painted with acrylic paint and over the life of the journal the paint wears away on the high spots revealing the clay underneath. On most journals, the result is a nice worn look, it almost creates a patina. Lately though, I’ve been experimenting with using colored clay to create sculptural journals and here’s a couple of shots at my first attempt The Octopus Journal it was created using Red Pearl clay over a base of Pearl clay. As I worked with the clay and the layer of Red Pearl became thinner and thinner, the sculpture began to take on a luminescent quality. Comments are welcome.
I was searching for a texture plate the other day and while I was rifling around in one of the drawers that I keep molds in, I stumbled across one of those silicone ice molds. Someone gave it to me at a birthday party as a gift, I think was the sentiment was something like “Ha! you’re getting older now, here’s a mold to make ice dentures”. I threw it in a pile with all the other silly cliche presents and apparently it got tossed in with all the other molds.
I pulled the mold out of the drawer and decided to make something out of it. I molded up a few sets of heath using some Pearl Premo and Super Sculpey. They sat around uncured for a few days while I though about exactly what to make out of them and for some reason, what emerged was The Book of Tasty Peas.
Here’s a shot of the from cover.
It will be time to put the holiday decorations soon and I don’t want to kill myself climbing over a ton of junk while I do it so I thought tidying up the garage might be a good idea. I found a piece of red oak about 3″ X 24″ while I was cleaning up, seemed like a good excuse to bind a new book. The book show below is approximately 3″ X 10″ and contains 8 signatures of 200gm Fabriano Artistico. The wood was finished with several coats of milk paint in different colors and then distressed using a sander. The signatures are sewn to the leather spine with 4-ply Irish Linen using a long stitch. As I was getting ready to bind it all up, I thought it was a little blah so I added a band of polymer clay faces across the front cover. Here are the photos…
If you’ve read this blog, you know I work in a variety of mediums; wood, metal, paper and polymer clay to name a few. Recently, I’ve been fooling around with the Mokume-gane technique again. It’s a great technique and you can achieve amazing results with it but one area in which it falls short, at least for me is in creating large flat sheets like book covers. At any rate, I was tinkering with it when a friend stopped by to drop off some holiday cookies and I had the block and some shavings out on my work surface. If you haven’t tried this before, basically you layer up a block of different colors, deform the layers to provide interesting patterns and then shave thin slices off the surface of the block. This particular friend is a little OCD and is particularly fond of orderly stacks of things and when they saw the thin shavings I’d taken off the block and other partial blocks of clay scattered around asked, “what happens to all the scraps?”
Most people who work with polymer clay have scrap bins and every bit eventually gets used. Sometimes similar colors just get mixed together for a project or it may all just get mixed into some muddy grey or brown chunk of clay that ends up as a base or unseen part of a project. This time, I just decided to use the scraps on the spot and see if I could preserve the variance in the colors I had used in the mokume-gane block. I think an email from one of the big box craft stores triggered this; frankly I didn’t read the thing but I swear it had something about Valentine’s Day in the subject. A few minutes later, I had shaped the scraps into a pile of hearts. In the photo below, you can see a few of them, the three on the left are raw clay and the three on the right are already baked. The only difference you may notice is that the colors are a little deeper in the ones that have been baked.
Once baked, I wet sanded then starting at 400 grit and ending at 1200 grit. Your average craft store or Home Depot type sandpaper isn’t meant to be used for wet sanding so pay a visit to your local auto paint store, they’ll have the stuff in stock ranging from 400 grit to 2000 grit. Once the wet sanding was complete, I took the outside to my buffing wheel and buffed them out to a high gloss. Here are a couple of shots of the finished ones. I should probably mention at this point that Sculpey may not work for this; you can do the mokume-gane technique using Sculpey, but it won’t buff to a high glass like Premo or Fimo will.
I’m pretty happy with the way the colors play together and the big surprise was they way the plain old Super Sculpey worked out. That’s pretty much it. The only thing left to do is drill into the top of each heart and add a sterling eye pin so it can be strung as a necklace or earring. Cheers.
I’m heading to the annual PLAY Retreat tomorrow. Tracy and Teesha Moore are always gracious hosts and since I know that Teesha likes little boxes, I decided to make her a gift before heading out. The small turquoise box pictured below was made from polymer clay. The lid is walnut burl and the interior of the box is lined with basswood that was faced with walnut veneer.
I’ve made polymer clay boxes in the past but normally they meant to be a container for a book. Normally, I make my boxes in one of two ways. I either bake all the parts and then assemble them with a second baking or bake the box on a mold that I’ve fabricated from wood or book board. The size of the box depends on the book I’ve made how how I want it to be presented, I also tend to keep these pieces small because of the sense of intimacy they create.
While I was at PLAY last week one of the options available was making rock boxes. For the most part a rock box involves little more that wrapping a rock in polymer clay and baking it. The technique isn’t significantly different then the one I use for making my boxes except for a couple of tricks for getting the box off the rock once it’s baked. I started the box pictured below while I was at PLAY, I’d been tinkering with making a journal cover using Mokume Gane and still had a large piece of it left over. To create the effect on the surface of the box I covered a base sheet of clay with slices of the Mokume Gane and then ran it all through the pasta machine several until the distortions resembled banded agate.
The dimensions of this box are about 4 1/2″ X 3 1/4″ and it’s about 3 3/4 high. The interior of the box is simply finished with a good quality black gesso. The exterior is was wet sanded with 600, 800 and 1200 grit sand paper and then buffed on my bench grinder.
Unlike Artfest which is several days of formal workshops and classes hosted by Teesha and Tracy Moore, PLAY is a “come as you are and do your own thing, but if you’re interested we’re going to teach a class or do a demo over there” affair. This year, it looks like Tracy is going to teach his Relic Journal class during PLAY. The Relic Journal is made using polymer clay, resin, leather and found objects. I’ve been working with polymer clay for years and teach a similar class but I still like Tracy’s. Tracy limits the size of journals in this class to 5 1/2″ X 5 1/2″ and when I asked him why a few years ago he said it was because of durability and weight considerations. I’ve made bigger structures out of polymer but agree with him on the weight issue, on durability i might argue if it cracks or breaks, I’m okay with that.
I know that I’ll make a Relic Journal while I’m at PLAY but I decided to make one to take with me, maybe it will be my primary journal for the next few months. I think one of the reasons I like Tracy Moore’s work is because like be he’s drawn to what I would consider dystopic forms. Most of the journals I’ve seen come out of this class in the past have at least one skull and almost all are painted in browns and blue-green hues to give the feeling of antiquity. On my leather journal I used some faux bone for the closure, when I make faux bone I generally make a large block of it and use it in several projects over the course of time. I decided to use the bone and built up the cover using a layer of the bone on top of the basic structure, I liked the way it looked but I wanted something to provide contrast with the bone. After think through a variety of options Jade seemed like a good fit. Here are some photos of the completed journal, The Book of Jade Faces.
Here’s a more detailed image of the faces, when I made them using molds I laid a paper thin layer of the bone in the mold before pressing the jade into it.
I like the work of Portland based artist Theo Ellsworth. Theo lives in a world of creatures, monsters and people who can morph into their worst fears and intentions. I wish his work was more accessible in my area but more often then not, I have to be content with just reading his blog at Art Capacity. I’ve watched him draw and the intensity and focus he puts into his work amazes me.
Last month he wrote about some wood cutouts he made as a Christmas presents for friends and family. I was drawn to one in particular which I believe he drew for his sister. Here’s a shot of it from his blog:
Much like Adam Savage, I’ll freely admit that I’m not a sculptor but I wanted to try and bring his creature into the 3D world anyway. I knew I was going to see Theo at PLAY and wanted to bring him something as a gift. The picture I had to work from wasn’t the greatest and I’m fairly sure the colors I used are more vibrant then Theo’s drawing, but I think did an adequate job.