Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lines, Shapes and Repetition

Peter and I just returned from a road trip to Utah.  We drove to Coral Pink Sand Dunes that were once (170 million years ago) covered with ocean.  We climbed a steep wet sandy hill of beautiful coral colored sand and stood at the top looking across miles of coral colored sand dunes, high ridges swooping into flat beaches. 
We carefully walked among the Welsh’s Milkweed plants taking pictures of the lovely thick-skinned leaves and the globe-shaped blooms.  The thick skins protect the plant from heat, wind and sand damage as the deep roots tap into water under the sand and send horizontal runners making new plants.  These plants are only found in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona and are on the federally threatened plant list.
This is where I began to pay attention to the repetitions of shapes and lines throughout the road trip. I always try to be aware of design elements around me and I enjoyed focusing on this idea.
I think I could have spent hours studying this interesting plant.  Instead I took pictures that I can refer to often.  When I really looked at the globes and all their parts I realized how repeating a shape while varying the color slightly makes the larger shape that much more interesting.   
Looking at the leaves, I saw that the variety of sizes of the same leaf shape give a pleasing rhythm to the composition.  That’s something to remember as I design my jewelry!
These plants require strong structure that is also flexible in the weather.  There are no ‘extra’ parts or pieces stuck on.  The purple coatings on the globes open to show the white to yellow to plum centers giving contrast as they protect.  There is a reason each shape is part of the structure and that is also good to remember in jewelry design.
As we continued to several national parks and monuments I tried to keep my focus on lines, shapes and repetitions in nature.  In my next few Tuesday posts, I’ll share my observations with you. Looking at these photos will keep me supplied with inspiration in my jewelry designs for quite a while and I hope you enjoy seeing the world through my eyes.








Friday, July 26, 2013

The Kitchen Sponge Holder Story

Why would I spend time making a kitchen sponge holder when I could have bought a pottery one at the craft faire?  In fact, Peter wanted to know why I needed one at all.
It was just one of those things…..I saw it at a craft booth and thought “What a great idea!  I bet I could make one of those out of polymer clay!”   So the project began.
First I measured the sponge and was explaining to Peter how it worked.  It was actually like a napkin holder – 2 sides with finger slots and a bottom.  That is when Peter started asking questions like “how would the sponge dry with no bottom holes?” “How would the water drain with no feet to hold the sponge higher than the counter?”  And that is when I decided to really put my design to the test with “Good Product Design Requirements”
1.       Function - Does it work?
2.       Repairability – Can it be repaired?
3.       Reliability – Will it work every time?
4.       Durability – Will it stay together?
5.       Producibility – Can I reproduce it?
6.       Simplicity – KSS
7.       Compact – Is it as small as I can make it?
8.       Aesthetics – Is it beautiful?
I decided to use screen wire for the bottom so the air gets in and the sponge dries and Peter will like that!
I made two sides of polymer clay and cured them.  Then I measured the screen wire and place it correctly while attaching another strip of clay over it and cured it again.  If I had really thought about that process, I could have done that at one time.  I think that is why we make prototypes! 
 I made two small strips of cured clay, drilled holes in them and fastened them with wire to the bottom screen wire. This is supposed to keep the sponge high enough to dry.  Then I bent the sides up and drilled holes in the sides and connected them with a wire. 
It WORKS!  The sponge fits and stands upright.  The water drains and the sponge dries. (1)  It can be repaired but why would I want to? (2) I have to test it longer to know if it works every time (3) and to see if it is really durable. (4) I can reproduce it but do I want to? (5) and Yes! I would refine a few techniques! It is pretty simple (6) and compact (7).  It looks nice at the sink. (8)
The pottery holder at the craft faire would have been a waste of money since it did not follow the requirements but it was really pretty! 
Peter is standing on the sidelines shaking his head and still wondering why I need this.  I’m wondering a little also and know the test will be if we really use it.   I often laugh at myself and that is really a good thing.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Polymer Clay Conversation

One of the polymer clay groups on FaceBook is 'Polymer Clay Collective'.  This is a group of artists working in polymer clay who share ideas and support each other.  I'm so glad to be a part.  A new feature of this group is the 'Polymer Clay Collective Conversations' where a different member answers a set  of questions.  I get to be first - the trailblazer!
I hope you enjoy learning a little more about me and in two weeks I get to learn more about someone else.
• Tell us a bit about where you live.
I live in Prescott AZ right next to the national forest.  When I look out my studio windows, I often see large black ravens swooping between the pine trees.  Binoculars are always available for close viewing of our smaller forest birds.  You’ve probably read about the forest fires we have had in our area this summer.  The monsoon rains we are having are so welcome.

• What do you do when you're not polymer claying?
As of 2010, I became a retired interior designer.  This is the first time I can remember that I get to choose how to spend my time.  Photography, birding, reading, computering, and working in metal clay are all activities I do when I’m not polymer claying.  I love learning and combining new techniques in my jewelry making.  Sometimes I just sit and enjoy nature.  I also have a couple of Bearded Dragons that keep me company!

• What did you want to be when you were little and do you think you ever will be?
When I was little I made doll clothes.  I don’t think I ever named my dolls but created wonderful wardrobes for them.  Many years later I did sew for some people but did not find that to be my love.  I also went through a period when I wanted to be an Astro-physicist and the world is a better place because I found interior design!

• Tell us something about yourself that we don't know.
After my husband of 33 years died of a GBM brain tumor, it took me 3 years to get comfortable and believe that I could manage life on my own.  That’s when I met Peter on Match.com and we have now been together 4 years.  He introduced me to many new things – lizards, photography, and so much more!

• Tell us your polymer clay story: What made you first try polymer clay and how long has PC been part of your life?
I started going to Art Unraveled in Phoenix many years ago and one of the classes I took was polymer clay taught by Lisa Pavelka.  I really knew nothing about polymer clay before that.  My interest grew and one day a client asked me to find an unusual large mirror to place above her fireplace.  That was my first large polymer clay project.  Two employees and I made loose pleats of copper polymer clay about 5” wide to use as a frame. I cured it in pieces that fit in my toaster oven, assembled them and finished the edging around the mirror with copper braid and beads.  It turned out beautifully and the client has moved it with her to 3 different homes. I was certified in Art Clay in 2003 and started making jewelry and of course added polymer clay to my skill set.
 

• What's your favorite PC technique?
I really like to make canes and experiment with translucent clay.
• What are your art/design inspirations?
Nature and architecture inspire me especially the details of everyday things, how parts of things interconnect, sunlight through bird feathers, colors and the world in general.
 • Show us something you’ve made with polymer clay.


• Additional question for the next artist conversation:
How did a life changing event affect your work in polymer clay?

Friday, July 5, 2013

FOCUS

Saturday August 24, I’ll be giving a 3 hour workshop on making polymer clay buttons at The Sedona Knit Wits (928-282-3389) just in case you want to call and make a reservation!).   I’m planning on showing how to condition the clay and using three different techniques for buttons as well as finishing.  The class should be lots of fun!
In preparation, my supply list is made, the tools we will be using are collected or the coupons from Jo-ann’s and Michel’s are being collected and the knit shop is advertising.

Using 2013 colors, I selected two color schemes with 3 colors each.  Each student will have a choice of 3-2oz squares in cool colors or 3-2oz squares in warm colors. 

Next I wanted to find out how many buttons I could make out of 6 oz of clay.  I chose the cool colors of clay, my tools nicely arranged and my class goals typed beside me.  I was ready. 
You all can probably guess what happened.  I got side tracked right away.  I made one button and thought “Oh what if I did this to it?” and “That would make a wonderful scarf pin!  I can’t make buttons from that!” and so it went. 
After all that creativity was out of my system and I had a talk with myself about ‘focus’, I started again.  And this time I made 21 buttons in different techniques.  I still have the finishing and the holes to drill.  
I know I can stay focused and explain how easy it is to get side-traced when I teach the class!  I may even make a sign with the word FOCUS!  Come join me!
And if any one has any suggestions to improve or add to the workshop, please leave a comment!  I welcome them.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lines, Shapes and Repetition

Peter and I just returned from a road trip to Utah.  We drove to Coral Pink Sand Dunes that were once (170 million years ago) covered with ocean.  We climbed a steep wet sandy hill of beautiful coral colored sand and stood at the top looking across miles of coral colored sand dunes, high ridges swooping into flat beaches. 
We carefully walked among the Welsh’s Milkweed plants taking pictures of the lovely thick-skinned leaves and the globe-shaped blooms.  The thick skins protect the plant from heat, wind and sand damage as the deep roots tap into water under the sand and send horizontal runners making new plants.  These plants are only found in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona and are on the federally threatened plant list.
This is where I began to pay attention to the repetitions of shapes and lines throughout the road trip. I always try to be aware of design elements around me and I enjoyed focusing on this idea.
I think I could have spent hours studying this interesting plant.  Instead I took pictures that I can refer to often.  When I really looked at the globes and all their parts I realized how repeating a shape while varying the color slightly makes the larger shape that much more interesting.   
Looking at the leaves, I saw that the variety of sizes of the same leaf shape give a pleasing rhythm to the composition.  That’s something to remember as I design my jewelry!
These plants require strong structure that is also flexible in the weather.  There are no ‘extra’ parts or pieces stuck on.  The purple coatings on the globes open to show the white to yellow to plum centers giving contrast as they protect.  There is a reason each shape is part of the structure and that is also good to remember in jewelry design.
As we continued to several national parks and monuments I tried to keep my focus on lines, shapes and repetitions in nature.  In my next few Tuesday posts, I’ll share my observations with you. Looking at these photos will keep me supplied with inspiration in my jewelry designs for quite a while and I hope you enjoy seeing the world through my eyes.








Friday, July 26, 2013

The Kitchen Sponge Holder Story

Why would I spend time making a kitchen sponge holder when I could have bought a pottery one at the craft faire?  In fact, Peter wanted to know why I needed one at all.
It was just one of those things…..I saw it at a craft booth and thought “What a great idea!  I bet I could make one of those out of polymer clay!”   So the project began.
First I measured the sponge and was explaining to Peter how it worked.  It was actually like a napkin holder – 2 sides with finger slots and a bottom.  That is when Peter started asking questions like “how would the sponge dry with no bottom holes?” “How would the water drain with no feet to hold the sponge higher than the counter?”  And that is when I decided to really put my design to the test with “Good Product Design Requirements”
1.       Function - Does it work?
2.       Repairability – Can it be repaired?
3.       Reliability – Will it work every time?
4.       Durability – Will it stay together?
5.       Producibility – Can I reproduce it?
6.       Simplicity – KSS
7.       Compact – Is it as small as I can make it?
8.       Aesthetics – Is it beautiful?
I decided to use screen wire for the bottom so the air gets in and the sponge dries and Peter will like that!
I made two sides of polymer clay and cured them.  Then I measured the screen wire and place it correctly while attaching another strip of clay over it and cured it again.  If I had really thought about that process, I could have done that at one time.  I think that is why we make prototypes! 
 I made two small strips of cured clay, drilled holes in them and fastened them with wire to the bottom screen wire. This is supposed to keep the sponge high enough to dry.  Then I bent the sides up and drilled holes in the sides and connected them with a wire. 
It WORKS!  The sponge fits and stands upright.  The water drains and the sponge dries. (1)  It can be repaired but why would I want to? (2) I have to test it longer to know if it works every time (3) and to see if it is really durable. (4) I can reproduce it but do I want to? (5) and Yes! I would refine a few techniques! It is pretty simple (6) and compact (7).  It looks nice at the sink. (8)
The pottery holder at the craft faire would have been a waste of money since it did not follow the requirements but it was really pretty! 
Peter is standing on the sidelines shaking his head and still wondering why I need this.  I’m wondering a little also and know the test will be if we really use it.   I often laugh at myself and that is really a good thing.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Polymer Clay Conversation

One of the polymer clay groups on FaceBook is 'Polymer Clay Collective'.  This is a group of artists working in polymer clay who share ideas and support each other.  I'm so glad to be a part.  A new feature of this group is the 'Polymer Clay Collective Conversations' where a different member answers a set  of questions.  I get to be first - the trailblazer!
I hope you enjoy learning a little more about me and in two weeks I get to learn more about someone else.
• Tell us a bit about where you live.
I live in Prescott AZ right next to the national forest.  When I look out my studio windows, I often see large black ravens swooping between the pine trees.  Binoculars are always available for close viewing of our smaller forest birds.  You’ve probably read about the forest fires we have had in our area this summer.  The monsoon rains we are having are so welcome.

• What do you do when you're not polymer claying?
As of 2010, I became a retired interior designer.  This is the first time I can remember that I get to choose how to spend my time.  Photography, birding, reading, computering, and working in metal clay are all activities I do when I’m not polymer claying.  I love learning and combining new techniques in my jewelry making.  Sometimes I just sit and enjoy nature.  I also have a couple of Bearded Dragons that keep me company!

• What did you want to be when you were little and do you think you ever will be?
When I was little I made doll clothes.  I don’t think I ever named my dolls but created wonderful wardrobes for them.  Many years later I did sew for some people but did not find that to be my love.  I also went through a period when I wanted to be an Astro-physicist and the world is a better place because I found interior design!

• Tell us something about yourself that we don't know.
After my husband of 33 years died of a GBM brain tumor, it took me 3 years to get comfortable and believe that I could manage life on my own.  That’s when I met Peter on Match.com and we have now been together 4 years.  He introduced me to many new things – lizards, photography, and so much more!

• Tell us your polymer clay story: What made you first try polymer clay and how long has PC been part of your life?
I started going to Art Unraveled in Phoenix many years ago and one of the classes I took was polymer clay taught by Lisa Pavelka.  I really knew nothing about polymer clay before that.  My interest grew and one day a client asked me to find an unusual large mirror to place above her fireplace.  That was my first large polymer clay project.  Two employees and I made loose pleats of copper polymer clay about 5” wide to use as a frame. I cured it in pieces that fit in my toaster oven, assembled them and finished the edging around the mirror with copper braid and beads.  It turned out beautifully and the client has moved it with her to 3 different homes. I was certified in Art Clay in 2003 and started making jewelry and of course added polymer clay to my skill set.
 

• What's your favorite PC technique?
I really like to make canes and experiment with translucent clay.
• What are your art/design inspirations?
Nature and architecture inspire me especially the details of everyday things, how parts of things interconnect, sunlight through bird feathers, colors and the world in general.
 • Show us something you’ve made with polymer clay.


• Additional question for the next artist conversation:
How did a life changing event affect your work in polymer clay?

Friday, July 5, 2013

FOCUS

Saturday August 24, I’ll be giving a 3 hour workshop on making polymer clay buttons at The Sedona Knit Wits (928-282-3389) just in case you want to call and make a reservation!).   I’m planning on showing how to condition the clay and using three different techniques for buttons as well as finishing.  The class should be lots of fun!
In preparation, my supply list is made, the tools we will be using are collected or the coupons from Jo-ann’s and Michel’s are being collected and the knit shop is advertising.

Using 2013 colors, I selected two color schemes with 3 colors each.  Each student will have a choice of 3-2oz squares in cool colors or 3-2oz squares in warm colors. 

Next I wanted to find out how many buttons I could make out of 6 oz of clay.  I chose the cool colors of clay, my tools nicely arranged and my class goals typed beside me.  I was ready. 
You all can probably guess what happened.  I got side tracked right away.  I made one button and thought “Oh what if I did this to it?” and “That would make a wonderful scarf pin!  I can’t make buttons from that!” and so it went. 
After all that creativity was out of my system and I had a talk with myself about ‘focus’, I started again.  And this time I made 21 buttons in different techniques.  I still have the finishing and the holes to drill.  
I know I can stay focused and explain how easy it is to get side-traced when I teach the class!  I may even make a sign with the word FOCUS!  Come join me!
And if any one has any suggestions to improve or add to the workshop, please leave a comment!  I welcome them.