Works In Progress

See the stages of my sculpture where stuff is misshapen and strange.

Overcoming the Winter Blues and Creative Block.

Saturday January 11, 2014 1:24 PM

I am stuck. Stuck, stuck, stickedy stuck. Back in November I sculpted my heart out creating my initial and winter collections of my Will O’ Wisp light up necklaces. Just now I don’t want to make another one. I have been editing and laying out photos for my tutorial book and the thought of sitting in front of this computer clickety-clacking away makes me want to poke out my own eyes. And yet here I sit typing a blog entry probably procrastinating. It will be my fourth trip upstairs to stare uselessly at my art supplies for today alone, and I cant count the trips to the bookshelves leafing through volume after volume of picture book trying to think of something to do. I really feel like I am pacing in a cage!

I seem to be cornered into taking my own advice. I give it to clients all the time. “Don’t just sit there ruminating and pining away deciding what to do, take the Nike approach and ‘Just Do It'”. So here we go! Just for kicks and giggles, I dug down to the depths of that craft junk drawer we all have. You know the one. That bottom one where you chuck bits from projects that you weren’t sure what to do with, but that also weren’t trash. My hand came out with a very interesting coating of various colors of glitter, brown velvet flocking, and green faux moss, but I chose these three bits of wayward stuff. Just as soon as I wash my hands I’ll figure out what to do with the stuff.

From the depths of the art junk drawer.....

From the depths of the art junk drawer…..

So we have this collection of stuff. Maybe you have similar stuff and can use this as a sort of mini-tutorial. I am going to grab a bite and some clays and see what I can come up with.

Saturday January 11, 2014 3:01 PM

I decided I wanted to do a take on those beautiful framed pieces of miniature art my painter friends create. You know the ones with a filigree frame, a tiny 2 in by 3 inch painting with a glass cab glued over it. I’m no painter, but why not adapt the idea to a sculptural piece.

With some polymer clay and epoxy clay we have a start!

With some polymer clay and epoxy clay we have a start!

So it got complex already. I can never stick with simple….BORING! I have a polymer clay backing on there which I hope looks a bit like a daytime sky. Then I have used a 2 part epoxy clay to create a sort of shelf along the bottom of the metal frame piece. I used a needle tool and a ball stylus to create a woody texture, though really I thing it will be most entirely covered with polymer anyway.

Epoxy takes some time to set up so I need 2 hours rest before I can get back to work. I am going to go watch My Neighbor Totoro because it is raining and I haven’t seen it since 1991.

January 11, 2014 8:50 PM

Got down to the fun part! Creating a branch frame, sculpting mushrooms and tiny stumps. It goes in the oven now and will be painted and turned into a necklace in them morning. I think it is turning out well considering all the time I spent staring at craft materials this week!

WIndy branches and mini-mushrooms were a good way to spend the day!

WIndy branches and mini-mushrooms were a good way to spend the day!

Sunday January 12, 2014 1:38 PM.

After tinting areas with Pearl-ex, curing, the piece and letting it cool, I am ready to paint. Painting is simple. I use a dark black brown, and apply a wash. Basically mix 3 parts water to 1 part paint. Brush over a small area. The watery paint seeps into all the low spots in that detail you sculpted. with a bit of paper towel gently brush across the high spots leaving the paint only in the cracks and crannies. Let it dry and it really pops out the detail.

After baking the little scene, a bit of paint and glitter really makes it pop!

After baking the little scene, a bit of paint and glitter really makes it pop!

I used some bright green to dab on some more moss highlights along the epoxy. I painted over that in a nice brown. Then I added some white dots to make my little shrooms look like the Fly Agaric. The best part though is the glitter! I used a clear water based glaze, brushed that where I wanted glitter and sprinkled some glitter. Just a bit, didn’t want to end up with a woodsy disco ball.

Here it is all done. It had the desired effect. I have 4 more of those big metal filigree things, I can build on the 3-D mini scene idea and see where else it goes….

Tiny snail shells, mushrooms, and winding branches.  Boredom beaters every time!

Tiny snail shells, mushrooms, and winding branches. Boredom beaters every time!


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Moving onward.

I have not updated this in a long while as I find myself in a very literal betwixt and between state. I am mostly done moving from good ol’ Hellertown to Perkasie, PA. At this moment I feel very liminal. Not entirely moved out of the old ( one small trip should do it), yet not quite at home in my new place. Oh my new home is beautiful, bright, creekside, quiet. But I don’t know the trees here, the water keeps me up with it’s whispers at night, and the space itself feels very much alien.

Betwixt and between! And a very faerie way to be. I am so consumed with making the space my own and getting to know the land around me, my muse has been quiet. I wonder if he is sulking; obstinately remaining in the tree line in my old place. Just before I began my tiny exodus I had begun to sculpt him. He has no hands or feet yet. He is right now on his way to Perkasie. I told myself once I was settled, I would finish him. Perhaps in order to feel settled, I need to finish him. By completing his 3-D portrait, he will be fully present in my studio. Here to whisper, “come away, run wild with me. Dance half mad in the moonlight and see wonderful visions.”

This move has brought with it the realization that betwixt and between is probably my normal state. It is at the surface now, but that restlessness is akways bubbling away in me. I have ever been wandering in my own twilight. Never really at home anywhere. I have in the past spent great energy trying to find a place, career or people who I fit with. I never do. Too artsy and “crunchy granola” when I was a scientist. Often too analytical among my artist friends. Too urban to be comfortable growing up in the boondocks of Idaho and now too country to feel at home in a city. The list is endless. But a coworker and friend suggested a book to me. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it she comes to realize her natural state is a Sanskrit word: antevasin.

Antevasin means “one who lives on the border.”. The antevasin was not quite a part of the community, but not transcendant either. They lived at the fringes of town near but not in the wilderness. I have moved to such a place. On one side, the edge of town. On the other side the wild banks of a creek ( by itself a borderland and I write this at twilight yet another liminal state).

Is it any accident then that my art is mostly about Faerie? Those glorious spirits midway between the material and immaterial.

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Head Tutorial Part 2

Here is the first part of 4 or 5 for sculpting the head. I hope to have some videos of things like blending appliques (added bits of clay), eye insertion, smoothing, etc with the new year, just as soon as I switch to an internet service that won’t choke on a video file! Truly the best way to learn is by observing and doing. But these photo tutorials can give you a basis for the general steps involved. Then perhaps we can sculpt together via video or better yet live!

If you have any questions feel free to post or e-mail I answer every e-mail generally within the same week 🙂

Head Tutorial Part 2 CLICK HERE

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Spring Dragon

This is half of the current piece I am working on. As I develop the piece it is the brink of winter here in PA. I have always had an uneasy relationship with winter. I viewed it as something to endure, never something to be cherished. While occasionally fresh snow or a glimmering ice storm brought my loving gaze to it, most of the time I felt sad and lacking. And don’t even get me started on having to drive in it.

Somewhere back in my mind winter must have been working to change me. With the first bite of the approaching cold the idea for this piece surfaced. Winter is preservation. She might be cold and she can be terrible, but she keeps what is most precious safe. The dark time of the year is just like our own dark times; necessary for new growth. Tiny seeds slumber beneath a blanket of snow, held suspended in frost. They are kept safe until it is time to send up green shoots. How much subconscious work do we do in dark corners of our mind? How often are we going through trials in our lives, certain parts of us are frozen as we focus on muddling through. When we emerge from the darkness all the seeds of our potential are kept safe and have new fertile ground to grow in.

I will very shortly begin work on the Winter Queen, I have only just finished the Spring Dragon. He is just falling into his winter sleep. The Winter Queen’s arrival brings the first dusting of snow. He is dusted by it, his cold blood slowing, slowing until eventually it will be suspended. Under a blanket if snow he will dream his slow dreams and awaken to bid the Winter Queen farewell and thank her for her protection. He has a dreamy happy look knowing The Queen will manage things while he slumbers.

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The Descent of Winter

I have begun a new piece yesterday. The idea started in September on a day I stepped outside to feel the first bite of winter chill on my skin. I wasn’t ready for this! An image popped into my head of an icy, snowy white figure descending from the sky, her chill approach heralded by cold winds and the first dusting of snow. I always see winter’s approach in terms of it descending upon us from somewhere else. While to me spring ascends from the ground as seed bursting into green life.

So here is the first part of the piece, partially complete. Thus lumpy, bumpy manzanita wood is so full of interesting shapes and crannies to stick moss, faux greenery, and such. I hope to show a sense of fall color getting that first veil of snow. In that big cranny will slumber the Dragon of Spring, while Lady Winter descends and rules for the dark season.

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