Obsession in art is certainly not a new thing, Picasso had his blue period, Georgia O’Keeffe couldn’t walk past a garden without breaking out her paintbrush and anyone who’s seen a group of Renoir paintings knows he had a thing for redheads. All of these obsessions led to an amazing body of work.
The incredible thing about polymer clay is how versatile it is and how we can make it become the visions in our head. Sometimes though we go from technique to technique never really focusing enough on one to master it. I’m guilty of it too, you go on Pinterest and see so many cool ideas and want to try them all now, It’s easy to get sidetracked. That’s where obsession can become your friend. Obsessing on one subject, style, technique or even color palette is a good way to improve your work. I’m a potter as well and something one of my first pottery teachers told me really stuck with me. He said “you have to make five hundred ugly pieces before you can make two good pieces in a row on purpose”. I took it to mean that we tend to give up too easily and move on too fast without putting in the work.
How Obsession With Polymer Clay Can Help the Creative Process
If you look at some of the best known artists in Polymer clay in a lot of them you’ll find someone who has made polymer clay the main focus of their art. Someone who has put in countless hours of work to achieve the level they are at. Someone who has experimented endlessly with the clay to make things they were obsessed with come to life. In most of them if you looked over their body of work you’ll often see the progression of how one thing led to another.
Sometimes your obsessions can lead you down a winding path. One of my earliest obsessions in sculpting is dragons, I still sculpt them today. Sculpting dragons led to me sculpting animals, then I started focusing on sculpting animal faces. From there I started sculpting animals with a cartoony look, that focus on expressions led to sculpting caricatures of people and that lead to creating my own characters. For a while I was even obsessed with sculpting the man in the moon. That led to some of my favorite pieces I have made up to date.
My latest obsession started out the way a lot of things in my life do, at a flea market. I was at one of my favorite flea markets and came upon a dealer who’s table was filled with statues like the ones pictured below. We’ve all seen them before in some maiden aunts fussy home or in Grandma’s china cabinet but seeing a large group of them together spoke to me somehow. You might have noticed from my other posts that I like kitschy things.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_34279" align="aligncenter" width="733"] They weren’t expensive and they were calling out to me to buy them and remake them into something new. Anyone who’s been to a flea market with me before knows I find that call too hard to resist. So buy them I did and they sat there wrapped in a box for weeks while I obsessed over what to make them into. One day I decided that the time had come to do something. So to give my creativity a jumpstart, the first thing I did was cut their heads off using the dremel. This made them easier for me to rethink and led to a pile of ceramic heads. This got my mind thinking what to do with the heads. It led to the picture below. Pretty snazzy, right? To clarify the body is Premo and the head is the original ceramic piece. Octopi are already very in thanks to steampunk but who doesn’t love a fancy French octopus in a tri cornered hat?[/caption] [caption id="attachment_34280" align="aligncenter" width="578"] Now I had to decide what to do with the bodies, a sentence that has a completely different meaning in the world of polymer clay thankfully. Two of the figures were not like the others, they were little kids so I decided to try turning them into monsters. Here is the result, to clarify, I covered the legs and arms in Premo and made a head and tail using Premo and the body is the original figure. I like them but for the others I had a different idea.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_34288" align="aligncenter" width="565"] I decided the fancy figures should be animals, which has led to those pictured below. The figures themselves are pretty formal so I liked the idea of an alternate world of animal nobility. The first pair I made are the pug and poodle musicians. I’m still trying to decide whether to add a coat of liquid to the polymer sections to make it better match the glazed porcelain. You’ll even notice my dog Mr. Peabody who’s a mini schnauzer makes an appearance as one piece. With each piece I make I’m learning new things and liking them more and more. Luckily I bought a ton of tacky figures to work on and there is an endless supply out there when I run out.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_34289" align="aligncenter" width="621"] One last good thing about Obsession, obsessing on these and working out the kinks in making them has led to two things. I’m liking them so much that I’ve decided to work it up as a two day class that I’ll pitch to guilds and art centers. I’ll also have lots of not so tiny examples that it will force me to get off my butt and reopen my Etsy store. Now back to my eighties playlist and trying to figure out what animal the next figurine should become.[/caption]