October learning

I’ve been working with polymer clay for just over a year now. Mostly it’s been Just In Time Learning – working with a different focus, trying to find a way to achieve my result or express my thought in polymer clay, picking up just enough to get by in the moment. The recent weaving project (30-Sept-2022) drew on skills in weaving learnt years ago. I’m not claiming great skill as a weaver. It’s more working from an existing base, having a skills vocabulary in place, familiarity with materials plus a pre-existing stash, already knowing some of my preferences and what I have enjoyed doing. I wanted to have that feeling of competence, of building on foundations, of growing and extending, when working with polymer clay.

October has been a start. Just a start. It’s reminded me of just how much experimentation and repetition is needed to build knowledge in hands and mind. Lots of photos and very brief notes. Some failures, some successes, most suggesting further investigations.

Initial samples following Debbie Crothers crackle art beads tutorial.

Going further with Debbie Crothers, adding in her Curing Kato liquid tutorial. Love the crackle, but significant damage in curing process. Need to learn to hold and support the pieces.

Not exciting in themselves, but the first results I felt were usable.

A different crackle, using gold coloured leaf. Even distribution is boring. Beautiful smooth blend (Lynn Yuhr technique) visually lost.

Another crackle, using a bit of old cane cut thick plus a very thin lightly cured sheet. Thinking of maelstrom, and there’s a hint of that movement.

Swirling with yarn? Overcooked the liquid Kato – and the threads.

A rummage through the scrap drawer. Graphic line variations.

More scraps, more crackle attempts, more swirling using some improvised bits of wire.

More using Debbie Crothers’ crackle and liquid Kato coating techniques.

This little dish is another crackle with the old cane and thin lightly cured sheet, plus the liquid clay coating. Lots I like about this.

A little bit from Debbie Crothers (the bead forming, the clear coating), a little from Lynn Yuhr (her online clay + metal class), a little from me (my interpretation of a storm at sea – reading Moby Dick). These are a little heavy, but fun to wear.

This remains a work in progress. I wanted to combine polymer clay with wire basketry, but the twining I began with (not shown here) needs to be cut out and rethought. It wasn’t stable enough to hold the beads near the rim as I envisaged. I was pleased with my base form, which holds the wires stable very neatly.

The veneer was in the stash, and used a tutorial purchased from Hélène Jeanclaude.

Yes, more of Debbie Crothers’s crackle. The condensed but smooth colour transition is from Lynn Yuhr. The metal forging I first learned in a class with Keith Lo Bue. The round beads came from my mum. I love the feeling of richness these multiple connections give.

The pod forms are from Debbie Crothers – there’s a great series experimenting with the form on her youtube. The crackle effect is from Debbie’s purchased tutorial. The more general swirl pods use clay from one of the scrap experiments shown above. I coated them with some gloss paint which is peeling off in spots – but only on the swirl pods. Does the rougher surface of the crackle pods give better grip? Humidity was very high when I was painting the general swirl pods. Perhaps I didn’t leave enough drying time between coats.

The spacing beads and clasp were from an op shop broken necklace, and have been sitting quietly in the stash – I suspect pre-marriage, so for over 40 years. Finally the right project came along.

I love wearing this bangle. It’s an eye-catching statement. And I love the little sculptures it forms when I take it off at the end of the day.

These little forms are based on yet another Debbie Crothers tutorial – mini clay pots. I just love her style.

Playing around. It looks like a circus act.

More play. At the end of the day, cruising around the internet, I often find some clay in my hands, just fiddling. These are small, and both are attempts at using text in clay – little worms and strips of black, carefully arranged on a glass tile, the formed clay rolled over. Text as pattern. Semi-hidden meaning. Lots of possibilities.

Yet more play. Interesting that the unsupported curl at the end survived curing in the oven.

Taking the “knotted snake” a step further. These earrings use clay scraps from last year’s Grief project, and the patterning is based on mum’s clothing. It feels right that she should be part of these party-ready earrings.

Just fun. Input from Debbie Crothers, Keith Lo Bue, stash. Feels powerful to be able to whip up my own charms. Wire wrapping leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Another experiment with the snake form. It makes a chunky but happy bangle.

There are so many great youtube videos using translucent polymer clay. I’m interested in the layering possibilities, and the idea that a single cane can be used at multiple scales. These first attempts are plain awful. Not translucent enough. Very obvious air pockets.

Also No.

Slowly improving. Thin slices of cane, put in a fold of baking paper, through the pasta machine at thinnest setting. I could burnish it direct from the baking paper onto the base clay, which greatly reduced air pockets.

Areas of interest, but … this idea has been parked for now.

I’ve joined a beginner’s print-making class. I want to slow down, really focus and pay attention. I’d like to move between different disciplines of making, pushing pattern and motifs further. This is my linocut print from week 1, the image based on one of the crackle bracelet photos above.

More learning opportunities!

Week 2 was drypoint. I selected a photo of a roof-top fishpond – a hidden corner of calm in the centre of Sydney.

My line version. How could I take this into polymer clay?

Sona Grigoryan has a fabulous video “Texture Feast”. Above you can see my foamy texture plate, made following her directions.

Earrings using the texture were ready in time to wear to the class. They’re meant to suggest fish leading from the pond, dripping water and weed.

So many flaws, but so much fun! One of my prints from the class.

Some more samples using the texture plate. The one on the left is actually flat. The turquoise clay is a very thin layer. The relief areas were sliced back to show the silver coloured clay underneath. I really want to explore this further, but first…

I used the foamy plate to make a texture sheet in polymer clay. A video from Patricia Roberts-Thompson was my guide.

I’ve also done a series of tests using clay rolled to different thicknesses. I’m using Kato clay, with the addition of some Kato softener.

I’d like to build a library of my own textures, so will start November looking at some of the possibilities.

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