Saturday, August 13, 2011

Venn Zen

So I am going to the Lockport Market again tomorrow, after about a month's hiatus. I have been busy, and life got in there somewhere, and well, life is life.

I have been doing lots of experiments with different projects, with a modicum of success, but have found that the clientele at the market are looking for little things and are not after bigger ticket items.  So this led me down the road to this very complex Venn Diagram.  Taking all the things into consideration, some people liked cutesy, some people liked vintage, some people liked bold brassy colors, some people liked "frugal", some people liked simple.  So taking all those things into the Venn intersection of how things 'interweave', I came up with the common 'denominator' if you will. 

These Venn circles are not drawings, but the solution to the above set of considerations.  I was able to locate some very (shall we say thrifty) necklace wires, which close by screwing the end bits together.  I had paid $8 a piece for similar items a few years back in Arizona, and although the closure is a bit different, and the colors slightly different, they were a 'bargoon' just waiting to be gathered into my basket.  So I bought a few recently and made some bicone beads that I placed on them.  I mainly did them in shades of blue as that is the color of the wires, but methinks I will head over to the store and get some more. 

The one 'snag' that wasn't a consideration of the above intersections of the circles was the size of the bore in the bead.  It had to be big enough to house the screw bit, and yet I didn't want it to be so large that it would become overpowering in the smallish type lentil shapes I was making.   The first few were (Goldilocks here...) way too small. So I decided I'd try baking the lentils on the wire.  Just before I put them in the oven, I placed small black polymer dealy-bob 'bead caps' on the holes to make the holes appear a bit smaller.  The bead caps resemble o-rings but really are just little disc beads.  I cut a 'radial' cut to the centre of the disc, placed it around the wire and covering the majority of the bore of the bead, then secured it back into its circular shape.   Doing this also prevents the bead from coming off the wire when the necklace is removed.  

All these considerations take 'pre-planning', something which I rarely do well.  I mainly work 'intuitively' and luckily for me, that works most of the time.  The pre-planning and consideration phase is something I will have to become accustomed to, because, I guess, in the long rum, I do mean run, it is a time saving method.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Going Mobile with Polymer Clay part two

I guess the 'wind' was blowing when this picture got snapped.  It is one of the natural life mobiles complete with pearl in the shell that was done at the camp workshop in the middle of July. 

Unfortunately, I am not into all the Harry Potter insignias, crests and other related markings but Sydney certainly is.  She did all these crests for her mobile and  she can justifiably be very proud of it.  She worked incredibly hard for someone who was at camp and althought the project was probably a little too time consuming, she did a great job of capturing the essence of the coats of arms.

The hamburger (now that's something I can relate to) in this mobile is replete with all the trimmings.  Madison even had me chopping up little bits of 'pickles' for the relish. The whole thing was delish, even though inedible.  Of course there are the healthy parts like apples, pears, tomatoes and all the other nutrients that we can identify with as well.  She also included a wire 'sculpture' of her initial as an additional component to her mobile. 

I feel badly that I can't put in a picture of everyone's work.  All the kids worked so earnestly and co-operated by helping to get finished.  I also wish that everyone has an opportunity to work with kids like this and help to fulfill art needs. These kids had so much potential.  Bravo!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to Work

I realize it is nearly a month since posting here..and as a follow-up to the last post (sounds slightly military) I did get a few slices off that clown fish cane.  Most of them went to work as examples of how (not) to do caning while I did a camp workshop slightly more than a week ago. 

Earlier in July, I was at an art camp about 20 miles from here and worked with a delightful group of 9 to 14 year olds.  They were probably one of the most dedicated group of clayers that I have ever had the privilege to work with. will just wanna have fun.  Well, we did have some fun but mostly they were a very task oriented group and extremely receptive to soaking up techniques in polymer clay. 

The workshops ran one week in length on a daily basis for a time of two hours.  After spending a bit of time the first day introducing polymer clay and its nuances, we set to making items.  We did some rudimentary caning and color blending, and of course, one of the favorite activities was rolling the pasta machine.  By the end of the week, I was no longer having to respond to "How many times do I roll it on this setting?" as the kids became extremely familiar with the machines.  No doubt some of them will have them on their wish lists for birthday or even Christmas gifts. 

There were fifteen kids in the class, and I had seven pasta machines for them to share.  It worked pretty well, with one kid cranking, and the other passing the clay through.  Of course, they did the rock, paper, scissors thing to see who would roll first, and I thought of renaming the procedure "Let's Rock and Roll", but I think that's been said before somewhere.

The title of the activity was "Going Mobile with Polymer Clay" and their big project was to make either a linear mobile, a stabile (no one chose either of these two) or a regular three or more strand mobile.  I don't know if there are correct 'mobile' terms to use for the suspendables, so I had to make up words.  Pretty soon 'thingies' and 'gizmos' became part of the week's vocabulary for kids who weren't familiar with such high-tech terms.  Speaking of high tech, my "smart white board" was a long piece of off-white newsprint which I taped to a window and just moved up as new techniques were introduced. 

After making a couple of projects (beads and light switch covers), we set out in earnest to make the focal elementss/structures for their mobiles.  I gave them free rein and let them choose which ever theme appealed to them.  Warning to potential instructors in this type of project:  Be prepared to make anything!  I did have a couple of days to access their abilities in the preliminary projects, and croyez-moi!  I would not have allowed such freedom if the group had not been so task-oriented or willing to work so diligently.  Our time was very 'committed'.  We had essentially two two-hour sessions to make as many focal elements as needed to convey the theme.  These ranged from spelling out a name to various sports activities, equestrian memorabilia ,undersea critters, to favorite seasons, foods, "modern art" and to the extremely challenging Harry Potter Shields/Coats of Arms that one gal chose to do.  (The words keep echoing...Sydney needs mores scrap clay...)

The final day was reserved for finishing and assembling the mobiles. As the days progressed,  I would bake all the pieces in my home oven and took them to the class.  On Friday,  we put a simple coat of acrylic finish on each of the elements, and then they had the most daunting task of all ahead...stringing the mobiles and getting them to balance.  We used 20 pound test fishing line as the suspending agents.  From somewhere in the depths of my basement, I had  located some extremely useful bamboo 'sticks' which (Thank YOU someone) were pre-drilled at three strategic locations. This took away all the problems of making the mobiles balance.  Every single one balanced perfectly.  I was amazed;  when I make these things myself, that is when the air is the bluest.  For the kids at camp, it was a piece of cake.  They simply laid the sticks on the floor, got their fishing line, interspersing beads, focal elements and went to work.  No twisting and getting pieces tangled up...And when we went to make the final "suspending" cord, all we did was put a long piece of line through the two end holes of the bamboo, skipping the middle one, and made a triangular 'hanger' and it all worked.  We also used fishing 'sinkers' beneath each of the focal elements to suspend them in what would seem like mid air.  I did have pictures taken and will post a few of them when I can 'find' them on hubby's camera. 

It has been sort of anti-climatic since that week of high-energy activity.  As a follow-up to the camp 'routine', I've made the elements for a couple of my own mobiles.  One is a garden theme and I am going to assemble that one today.  Hopefully it will work as uneventfully as the ones at camp did!