I have loved handmade ceramics since before I even discovered polymer clay back in 2006! But, believe it or not, to my knowledge I have never made an earthen clay sculpture (unless it was as a kid). I am sure I will as it intrigues me to say the least. Ceramicist who hand sculpt their creations frequently rely on texture as a main design element as seen here in these four cute birds by an award winning artist, Davis Vachon (on facebook as "Sue Davis Vachon Gallery"). They are beautiful and yet have just a touch of color added to them. Sometimes I think it's a good idea to try to make a polymer clay piece where the texture stands alone. I can tell that the placement of Sue's texture designs were carefully planned out as they all seem to flow with the shape of the bird's body and wings. She uses simple shapes as well, which brings out the beauty of the texture.
Here is another great example of all texture with no color added. This jewelry is by Japanese artist Kimiko Suzuki and is made of porcelain. It is so delicate and the texture brings each piece to life. It is ery calming and surreal.
And finally some great bracelets. Again colorless, but with a beautiful raised texture and plenty of interest. These were created by Kathrine Wheeler at kathrinewheelerblogspot.com What I notice about these that I truly like, is the artistic, slight unevenness they have. I have to "try" to allow the artistic side of imperfection and not a machine-made look come out, when it comes to sculpting.
I decided for my Design Team fans that read this blog, I'd give you a sneak peek of what I'll be up to in October. Each month (for 13 years now...wow), I've been doing TV demos as the "Craft Expert" on the AM Northwest Morning Show in Portland, OR. The studio is KATU "kay two" on channel 2 the ABC affiliate. On Thurs., October 17th I will be LIVE using Premo! Sculpey polymer clay for my "Shoes Makeover" 6 minute demonstration. The two sample pairs above are actually from my closet. The pair on the left were a light rust color fabric and on the right were muted rose color (same as the insole) leather upper shoes. You can re-do more than one pair of your shoes or even buy some old/new-to-you shoes at a consignment shop! If you purchase shoes for this purpose, look for shoes with an added feature such as the gathered fabric on the chartreuse shoes, or the flap on the red ones above. This way if you attach shoe clips, which can irritate your feet after a while, they won't be right against your skin. A little note here, the clay tucked in the red shoe is Premo! Sculpey Pomegranate (my favorite red hue), which matched the paint perfectly without any color mixing. I just love it when that happens!
These shoes of mine are suede. It is amazing how paint can change even the feel of the shoes. The tiny polka dot pattern on the Green Pearl clay is made with a Sculpey Design Block and then the dots are filled in with paint. FOr my demo I'll be painting shoes with a fresh color and creating polymer clay interchangeable accents for them. This technique is a great way too add accents or a second color to your shoes to coordinate with your clothes. So, the same pair of shoes can have many different looks.
If you happen to live in the Northwest, in Northern Oregon or Southern Washington, you can watch the show LIVE at 9-10AM. IF not, don't worry, the demo videos of that day are placed on the studio website and I put them on my website and include complete instructions with photo step outs...all for FREE.
There are a variety of paints you can use that work well on leather, man-made leather, man-made material, suede, fabric and canvas shoes. I can't tell you the brand quite yet but I promise it will be seen and mentioned on the show. Even some paint markers work well, how easy is that? The clay techniques to use on your accents are limitless. Since this is not a craft show and the viewers are not necessarily into art or crafts, I concentrate on beginner techniques, but you can go wild with your own favorite claywork for the accents.
I will demonstrate a few different ways to temporarily attach the accents to the shoes on the show/video. I will blog after the October show and give you the link to the video on my website, but for now, please enjoy my past polymer clay videos from the show online at: www.shirleyrufener.com Just click on "AM Norhtwest Vidoeos "on the home page. And if you enjoy all art mediums and crafts you will find other demos to watch as well!
I rediscovered a jewelry technique today that I hadn't seen for a few years, Plique a Jour Enamel. It was developed in the Byzantine Empire in 6th century AD. Plique A Jour, French for "letting in daylight" or "glimpse of day" is a vitreous (glass) enameling technique where the enamel is applied in cells, similar to cloisonné, but with no backing in the final product, so light can shine through the transparent or translucent enamel. It is in effect a miniature version of stained glass and is considered very challenging technically.
Many clay artists including but not limited to Eugena Topina (left photo), Judy Belcher and Deborah Anderson have done beautiful work replicating cloisonné in polymer clay. It is amazing to me how close the work being done is to the real thing (photo right is real cloisonné). The Plique a Jour technique however will take some ingenuity for sure...but I am always up to a challenge, especially when it involves translucents which I adore.
I hope this inspires you to think outside the box and try a new faux technique of your own. Polymer clay is one of the most versatile mediums around...so the sky's the limit!
I'd like to talk a bit about "Surface Techniques" which I like to experiment with in my claywork. I truly believe they are endless and there are many mediums yet to be tried on polymer clay!
One of my favorite surface looks for polymer clay is simply the use of paints and pastes. The best example I personally enjoy, is the soft look of Doreen Kassell's work. Shown here are a group of her "Maestros" before they have been painted.
And here is an example of the magic she creates using paints. They really make her work come to life!
No matter if Doreen uses bright vibrant colors or light pastels, her wokr always has a softnes and calm feeling to it.
Helen Breil's free Video Tutorial on "Folded Beads Part 1" with a beautiful surface technique shown in Part 2 and 3 (ONE VIDEO) teach you how to create "Patterned Surface Effects" using guilders paste and Viva Inka Gold.
PASTEL CHALKS ON TLS
And last, but "surely" not least is my personal favorite surface technique...soft pastel chalks. I've been experimenting with these little chalk sticks since 2004. One of my first technique discoveries was the use of the chalks on baked liquid clay. I did a TV demo soon after on the AM Northwest Morning Show in April of 2004 called "Gel Art", teaching how to make 2 dimensional accents for scrapbook pages and later journals and cards. Then in 2007 I began selling a tutorial series called "Embellishments" mostly for papercrafts. It consisted of 7 tutorials, one of which was of course called "Gel Art". This photo shows two differnt looks of my technique. I actually still sell this tutorial (Gel Art #105 Craft E-Tutes) on my website and revising as an instant download in my www.DigitalSpumoniArt.Etsy.com shop. Recently there has been a resurgence of this technique by Kathrin Neumaier, although her peices are done in beach glass colors ans hollow beads with have a differnt look, which proves that experimenting can lead to such variety!
There are so many types of surface treatments I could go on and on, so I will confine today's blog to just the three above. Try using mediums you may have in your craft stash already. If you are not sure if it is compatible with polymer clay, do an online search and I am pretty confident someone has information on your idea!
My title today is what I should have been thinking when I was too quick to toss a cuff bracelet into my 'donate to a thrift store' box. If you know me at all, you know that I try not to waste anything. I'm a believer in reusing, recycling or even better..."upcycling"!
Up close there is some interesting fracturing and the colors aren't too terrible, but from a few feet away from the wearer of this cuff it looks too blah. I ran across it this week sorting through my box of thrift store donations and thought maybe I can save the Polyform cuff inside, to make another bracelet! After I tried bending and twisting the clay (which did absolutely nothing to the cuff), I followed these steps:
1. Place your clay covered cuff on a sturdy work surface or you can hold it in your hand, which ever feels the most comfortable. Always carve AWAY FROM YOU. I first carved away the top edge of the baked clay, with a craft knife-that is made just like a kitchen paring knife (but save for clay use only after using any kitchen tool). I was surprised at how easy it came off when I worked on about 1/2" at a time. I repeated this step for the opposite curved edge.
2. I then procedded to carve away the clay form each end of the cuff.
3. Once I finished, the clay separated easily from the metal cuff, even though I had used Translucent Liquid Sculpey to secure it to the metal. As you may know, clay needs to be re-glued to metal, unless the metal is "encased" as it was on my cuff. If metal is showing, you can bake it together with the clay, pull it apart and then reglue your baked clay to metal.
4. And viola! My shiny Polyform cuff, ready to be decorated with something much more interesting and possibly