Over four days in June I once again attended a Polymer Clay Fests event in Laurel, Maryland, US.
In these classes all participants produce similar work, so there is not much scope for ‘doing your own thing’ – however this means that the classes move along quickly and squeeze in a lot of techniques over the four days. These are the pieces I made.
The key technique in Melanie Muir’s class was mokume gane using the beautiful stamps she produces, but my main “take outs” from the class were her amazing construction techniques (using buna cord and o rings makes these necklaces strong but flexible) her approach to designing and planning, and the benefits of spending more time burnishing flat surfaces. I often do this with wax or baking paper on top, smoothing with hands or the back of a spoon, but firmer pressure and using a heavier object can make the surface smoother and significantly reduce sanding time.
I loved Jana Lehman’s technique for clean geometric designs. Her work is so colourful and quirky. I’d like to try this technique with less geometric designs, using home-made cutters. I’m wondering about using it to add further detail to large cane slices. Again adequate burnishing was a key to a good result.
Finally, Donna Greenberg taught a class that involved carving and painting polymer clay. While I’ve done very little sculpting with polymer clay, I’d be keen to try this technique to produce some pieces that could be integrated with some of the found object pieces I work with.
It was lovely to see a few of the people who I met in 2012, including Mags (I love her Bernie Saunders earrings) and Carol – and, of course, the wonderful organiser of these events, Kathryn Ottman.
These polymer clay pendants are each made from one cane slice. The design at the top is based on a picture of 19th century floor tile pattern. The other design is based on part of a quilt pattern
I have described how to make a simple flower cane here. Here is a video of the process, including making beads. This bangle was worn by one of the actors in Jane Cafarella’s play about surrogacy – “e-baby” which was performed at Chapel off Chapel (Melbourne, Australia) in March 2015.
Sarah Ranken (wearing the bangle) and Carolyn Bock in “e-baby””
Background information about the play “e-baby” Jane Cafarella talks about play (ABC Radio National) .
Check this link for an amazing (very short) video of the building of a Marilyn Monroe cane by Adina Pastelina.
Glass baubles covered with kaleidoscope canes (see here and here) then sanded.
I wrote about the impact of repetition, even using a very basic design here.
To see the results of makin kaleidoscope canes from very beautiful and complex canes, see Carol Simmons’ work here and here.
I took very simple canes – bulls-eyes, stripes, squares and a basic leaf, and packed these together to form a triangular cane (below left). This was reduced and cut 8 times to form the kaleidoscope cane (in the middle of picture below right). Thin slices are then used to cover a blank purse mirror – after first covering the metal with PVA glue (which is allowed to dry) I use liquid polymer clay for a strong bond.
My daughter has some favorite green shoes, which she wants to wear with greys and neutrals – she clearly needed a necklace to tie in the shoes.
I added some ground cumin and coarsely ground black pepper to the white polymer clay, to add a bit of interest. I mixed a color to match the shoes (kato clay: 2 yellow, 1 turquoise and a pinch of red). I created a skinner blend then made beads from different parts of the blend. For the shape, I rolled lentil beads, and once I had the lentil shape, simply squashed them with the top plate.
This ‘retro’ cane is popular – it looks great and it’s not as difficult as it looks, but you do need an extruder. The key to the look is the shape of the die you use in your extruder and your color scheme. As long as you stack a range of colors into the extruder, the design just happens. I extruded through a square – but I would imagine it would work well with other shapes such as triangle and hexagon. See Bettina Welker’s lovely cane made with the small circle shape.