Eight years ago we went to Ecuador and, of course, I took hundreds of pictures. A few of those pictures were taken in a place where there was a Reptile House and lots of flora. In a small area of the garden was a plot of the most interesting white succulent plants. They reminded me of the green agave in Arizona but the ones in Ecuador were white. It felt like I was seeing a black and white photograph.
|White Plants of Ecuador - real color!|
A few months ago, the Prescott Art Market decided to have a quarterly art competition and anyone that had their work in the market could enter. A 20 x 20 canvas with black edges done in colors of the season was the requirement. I did not participate in the autumn competition but decided for the winter competition that I wanted to do something with polymer clay using the white plants of Ecuador as inspiration.
What I had in mind was a 3 dimensional painting made of polymer and everything about it would be an experiment . I thought perhaps you might like to follow the process I took. It's a longer than usual post but it might be helpful to some of you polymer clayers!
|Making the paper supports|
I decided to use card stock (paper) for the supporting structure of each leaf knowing that polymer would sag in the curing process unless there was a support. I cut leaves keeping in mind the size of the canvas and folded them and sometimes twisted the paper. Then I conditioned lots of white Premo clay and added some light blue green to some of the white. I was experimenting with the color since an all white plant needs some color for the shadows or it will look flat. Each polymer leaf was cut to the shape of the paper. The edges of each leaf needed to the thinned and made uneven (like the real plants) and my fingers were a great tool for this. Each polymer leaf laying on the paper leaf was placed in the convection oven and cured. Sometimes the color changed from white to tan due to a hot spot in the oven. That turned out to be a good thing as it added depth to the finished product.
|Polymer leaf on the paper leaf|
After the leaves were cured they were arranged on a 20 x 20 unpainted canvas to make sure the finished design would fit! An important part of planning!
|painted background in progress|
At this point I painted the background of the canvas in grays, black, and white with strokes of the paint moving in the direction I wanted the leaves the go. The edges of the canvas were painted black.
I made a center for the plant that looks like a polymer cone with leaves starting to unfurl with a flat back.
|Adhering the leaves|
The cured polymer leaves were added to the cone and crumpled paper and crumpled foil supported the leaves. Uncured polymer was added to the cone at the base of the leaves so the polymer would cure in the oven and cement the leaves to the cone. Once the entire piece was assembled I put the cookie sheet with the creation in my kitchen oven with foil over it to even the temperature, put the thermometer where I could see it and watched the piece cure.
|Ready for the oven!|
When I took it out of the oven I was so tempted to take all the paper out and look at it but I knew it had to cool and harden. The next morning out came the supporting paper! I held it up and it all stayed together! I just stood and looked at it!
It was at this point that I realized that the thought process for the assembly of plant to canvas was sorely lacking. How to attach the plant to the canvas? Next time I think I would use hardware cloth that was fastened to the canvas by wire. (Another experiment!) This time I took wire and fastened it around the cone and through the canvas using crimp beads to hold the wire together. I also used superglue to attach the cone to the canvas. I'm hoping both the wire and the glue work for the long term in combination!
After putting the wire on the back (which should have been done before I attached the plant to the canvas) and hung the 'painting' that I realized I would need to put some color on the leaves for more depth. Polymer paint with medium on a sponge worked really well.
|And this is the finished project!|