Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Polymer Clay Classes are Back!

  Polymer clay has become a powerhouse of opportunities for people to express themselves.  It can behave as clay, fabric, paint, and more.  The scope of possibilities can be seen on any bookstore shelf that has more than 5 books on the shelf dedicated to it.  It is accessible to the home hobbyist and super-star artists whose work is found in museums.  Just like any art technique, it is best to start at the bottom and work your way up if you are starting from scratch.  Building a foundation of steps will afford you an arsenal of skills that you can have at your disposal when you decide to create something new.

  The year 1995 was the start of a 20+ year love affair with polymer clay. It became my sole expression of choice.  The clay satisfied any mood I felt or wanted to create in a piece of jewelry, set of unique buttons or small art pieces.  I created my company Ovenfried Beads, and my "claim to fame" was the Stacker Bead.  The volume of Stacker Beads that I made allowed a full and long-lasting line of jewelry that found popularity locally and around the world.  Mokume Gane, surface textures and stamps, and other experimental techniques that have no name are my favorite techniques.  Combining polymer clay pieces with bead embroidery, like here and here, is an extremely fun way to make your clay work pop. The multi-media possibilities are endless.  Just check out the book 400 Polymer Clay Designs and let your mind be blown~!

  Now I am again offering my popular private polymer clay classes for adolescents and adults in the Greater Cincinnati Tri-State area.  My classes are a LOT of fun, but I take them very seriously and want to offer the best instruction. 

Beads made from cane slices from class.

Basic Cane Building   -   Students will learn how to layer different colors of clay to create a cane or loaf, that when sliced, will reveal the same pattern per slice.  (Think of sushi.)  Four layering techniques will be taught, then if time allows, students will be able to experiment.  Use of pasta machine and long blade and piercing tool.  

Go crazy with color or monochromatic for a more subdued effect.


Mokume Gane   -   Mokume Gane is my favorite technique, achieved by layering several contrasting colors of clay into a brick, distorting with piercing tools, and slicing to reveal elegant wood-grain-like organic patterns.  Each slice is different.  Use of pasta machine, long blade, variety of piercing tools.


Extruder Cane Fun  -   Clay extruders provide a way to create small detailed canes.  When the right color combinations are used, eye-popping designs result.  This class will focus on the grid design you see here.  Use of clay extruder and sharp blade.


Commercial and hand-made stamps used in these leaves.

Texture with Pearl Surface   -   Choose commercial stamps, hand-carved stamps and textures from unexpected places.  Add some pearl powder to give a jewel-toned sheen and accentuate the surface shapes.  Use of pasta machine, long blade, stamps and texture tools, a variety of shaped cutters, pearl powder and polyurethane coating.


Stacker Beads   -   Stacker Beads look tough to make, but the technique is simple.  With practice you can make your own Stacker Beads and WOW your friends!  You will create both beads feature above.  All you need is your hands and a long blade. 

   Fine print: 
There is no supply list to purchase, as the class fee covers the clay and use of my large selection of tools acquired over the years.  If a student has clay and tools they previously purchased, it is fine to incorporate them into the class, but the class fee remains the same.  You can come to my beautiful home on the West side of Cincinnati or I can come to you.  If I come to you, I will have some space and electric plug requirements, and I only teach in non-smoking environments.  Very young children and rowdy pets are distractions that will slow the process and diminish your experience, so plan accordingly.  Good dexterity is necessary in both hands.  Students keep all of their creations...including beads, buttons, pendants...whatever the student makes. Basic jewelry construction is not covered, but can be a separate class if desired.  I prefer to keep class sizes 1-4.  Cost:  $65 per 4 hour session or $75 per 5 hour session,  per student, ages 10 and up.  The class categories above cannot be combined in one class, but multiple sessions can be scheduled if one desires to learn more than one technique. 

To see more of my current work and stay tuned to what is happening, follow my AmyEclectic page on Facebook or AmyEclectic on Etsy.  Interested in scheduling a class?  Contact me here

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Birth of My First Art Quilt

Over the years I have created a lot of quilty fiber art things.  Not traditional blocks, except maybe a log cabin with random fabric strips, but mostly made up.  Never really anything pictorial. Until now.  You can click on any of the photos to see them in a larger format.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking home from the bus stop and was intrigued by the cracks in several segments of the sidewalk.  This sidewalk is just a couple of doors from my house.


About 4 days later I sketched it out on a white piece of paper.  I liked the vertical orientation of the shape, and I shaded around it so I could decide what area would be a strong focal and what would be the "outside" of that shape.


Then I drew it much larger on a paper grocery bag.  It's a good strong paper to use and is a great size.  No gridding was used...it was all "eyeballed". This is a closeup of the larger piece.  I assigned letters to the segments in the top half, and numbers in the segments of the bottom half.  If I were to sneeze or the breeze blows in the studio too hard, I'd know at least which half the cut pieces would belong to.


Then it was time to trace it onto tracing paper.  Michael's had a sale on it, so I was pretty lucky.  Here is part of the piece in it's segments cut to size and roughly arranged in it's intended shape.  I worked on the complex inner part before I traced and cut the outer part.  The area you see below was going to be in the brown family to symbolize the strength of earth and rock.


 Then came the fusing.  I used the cut tracing paper pieces to cut out the pieces of fabric for each piece, allowing about 1/4" allowance around each piece so when I attached it to the fusible paper, I could cut them precisely.  Then I placed the pieces on the sticky side of the fusible paper (right side up) and ironed.



Now it is time to cut.  I used a brown marker to make the edge of the actual piece easier to see.


(Keep those scraps!!)

Next I placed the cut pieces (with the paper still on the back) on the original template to make sure they were cut well enough to fuse onto a backing fabric.  Looks good!


Now it is time to work on the background.  Here are the pieces of tracing paper laid out, ready to match up to fabric.  I chose blue hues to represent air and sky.  I didn't take pics of all the steps of making the background.

Here are the pieces of fabric fused in place.  I took a break from taking photos because I wanted to make sure the placement was good before I fused the pieces with a steaming hot iron.  Once it's down, it's down.


Next step....bring it all together.  I added some fabric "pebbles" I created a couple of years ago for situations just like this.  When you need some kind of additional design element but you don't want to have to create a whole new stack of stuff to work with.  The oval of pebbles visually holds it together very well and I think it helps balance it and keep the eye within the piece.  I used brown hued pebbles on the blue fabric, and blue hued pebbles on the brown.  Nice earthy contrast.  I also added bands of blue to the top and brown  to the bottom to contain the image and cover up the wonky pieces.  I think the brown base really looks like a stable ground now.

Now time to free-motion stitch!  There is no batting sandwich here yet.  Just the fused pieces to solid black background.  I went around the shapes several times to "blur" the hard lines.  The circle of pebbles is surrounded in a nice light grass green color to pull out the greens in the pebbles.  You'll need to click on these photos to see the stitching.

                            

Here is the back before I stitched around the blue segments.  I wish I had taken a final back picture before making the quilt sandwich.  It's a little blurry but you get the drift.


After I made the quilt sandwich, I sewed a single line around the outer edge of the brown center shape.  This was enough to hold the layers together.  This will not go on a bed, so I'm not worried about batting slippage. This next picture is after I sewed the binding onto the front and wrapped it around the edge to the back.  The Wonder Clips are great because you don't get poked.


Hand-stitching the binding on the back is one of my favorite parts besides designing the piece.  I didn't photograph that part.  I just wanted to get it done so I could take this last picture of the finished piece.  It measures 16-1/8"x23-1/2".  Wanted to get this step-by-step on the blog so you can see how I made this.  I don't have a title yet but I do know that I am going to tackle some other broken sidewalk pictures and create a series.  Hope you enjoyed my photo journal of this process!


If you like what you see here you can get other craft updates on my Facebook artist page.  Lots of creative fun happening in the studio! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thinning the Bead Herd

   Parts of my bead stash are being listed on Etsy really cheap.  I seem to be honing my creative laser on some mediums that won't require these, so I'm offering them up to other beaders/embellishers at a fraction of retail.  As always, there is no extra charge to ship these and I accept Paypal, Etsy Direct Checkout and Etsy Gift Cards.  These beads are all just 10c each and are sold in large lots.  They are all pressed Czech glass.  I will be adding more but for now I'm taking a break today to create and make art so I can process what the hell happened yesterday.

   Each photo is linked directly to the matching listing.

570 beads in this lot

456 beads in this lot

62 beads in this lot

228 beads in this lot

494 beads in this lot

62 beads in this lot

 240 beads in this lot

270 beads in this lot

228 beads in this lot

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Suds Inspiration

   On Saturday my husband and I went for a hike out at Kamama Prairie in Adams County, Ohio.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so we extended our little day trip with a visit to Old Firehouse Brewery in Williamsburg.  We have been there several times, but I hadn't had their Nutty Pyro Maple Brown Ale before.  The head on the beer made some of the most beautiful patterns with the tiny suds.  I don't think I would replicate this in fabric, but certainly it could be done with French knots or maybe even punch needle.  Perhaps bead embroidery?
This reminds me of a microscopic cross section of organic tissue, whether plant or animal.

Do you see the sheep?

Here she is!

Nice composition.  Tasted good, too!



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Concrete Quilt Inspiration

   Lately I have become quite hooked on taking the bus downtown.  It saves me money on gas and parking and I get to notice so many things that driving neglects to reveal.  It is not unusual for me to snap photos of broken pavement, but yesterday I was especially smitten by the wonderful compositions of the cracks in the sidewalk within a quarter mile of my house.  The cracked sidewalks with clusters of grass and debris invite lots of embellishments. Deep inside of my artist self is a series of art quilts that may or may not consist of these kinds of designs, but I think I'm getting there.




  

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Trip to the City

   Today I took a trip downtown on the Metro to meet my great friend so we could drop off a certain something to a certain office for a certain event coming up in November (it's a secret, for now).  Before we met I waltzed into the Public Library just to see what's going on.  Visited the gift shop, which has a ton of great used books for sale for cheap.  Some are library discards while some are donated.  All are in pretty great shape.  I purchased two massively successful inspirational books (easy to read on a bus or in public), a paper-piecing book and two movies.  Thank Baby Jesus I didn't ditch my VCR before the last one rolled off the assembly line...you can get movies CHEAP.  Anyway, I then went to the 3rd floor where the art department is and piled on more books, so my messenger bag was overstuffed and quite heavy. 

(If you need a creative pick-me-up, I highly recommend the book in red, Fiberarts Design Book 7.)

   There is an exhibit on the ground floor about the history of Cincinnati's public transportation.  Lots of historical photos and ephemera in Lucite boxes on pedestals.  The article below was under glass in a HUGE bound book of some kind that contained mainly vintage ads.  I did not look to see what the year was but there was also an article about when the last 100 streetcars were being sold off.  You can probably find that info out on the inter-web. 

Lastly, here are two photos I took on my walk to the bus stop.  After a couple of days of rain, the lichen are very happy.  The mushrooms have been there for a few days so they are in varying stages of their life cycle.  I can see both of these being inspiration for fiber art pieces.  The moss would be great needle-punched.  The mushrooms would be great as applique' with lots of embroidered grass.  Why don't I just make simple stuff?




Thursday, October 20, 2016

Time to get busy on art!

   Sooo, lots of changes happening this year..this is usually the kind of thing that prompts me to write.  I moved, got married and now am working hard to devote as much time to my art as possible.  The art studio is settled and is a fabulous cave of creative energy.  Makes me wonder if anyone has ever used it as an art studio before.  Clearly an artists' sanctuary is not a room one needs to dress up to show the world, so here are some candid shots of how it looks this morning.  If work surfaces are empty and there aren't piles of something somewhere, then it's not being properly used, right?
Excellent south-facing view of the sky.

Messy!  No, not messy, just busy!

This hutch is absolutely full of beads.
  The UFO box has been opened and is being attacked hard and heavy.  There are some half-finished parts of things that finally NOW have a new use.  Partially made components are coming to life.  It's a wonderful feeling to relieve myself of the backup of ideas that I thought would be lost.

  I'm also fortunate to become part of the team at the Cincinnati Nature Center.  My part-time weekend job in the gift shop will allow me to be around like-minded nature nuts and be smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful landscapes in southwestern Ohio.  It's an endless source of artistic inspiration.  My newest piece is directly inspired by this beautiful plant :



 
  You can see the work in progress on my Facebook artist page.
  Thanks for hanging out this morning.  I plan on being more active here now that I have the time.