Friday, March 26, 2010

Polymer Clay As Art: Meet Kathleen Dustin

Since falling head-over-heels with the polymer clay medium, I've been searching the internet for other artists who use it. My friend, Glennis (the other Shibori Girl), sent me to Kathleen Dustin's website. When I got there, my jaw hit the floor for two reasons: 1) the stunning beauty of her handbags and jewelry, and 2) the elegance of her website.

What Kathleen says about her work:

"People often ask me,'Where do your ideas come from?' I feel that part of my job as an artist is to pay attention, and so for 30 years I have been paying attention to the stages in my life and those of women around me, to the lives of women in exotic places where I've lived, and now to the quiet life I live and the natural world around me. The imagery of my work comes form taking a deep look at my life, responding to it, and expressing it so that it strikes a chord in someone else too, encouraging them to pay attention."

What got MY attention was her subtle use of color shading and delicate use of texture. Her pieces are exquisite.

(Click on the images below for information about each piece)

"Opening Seed Pod"

"Blowing Grass Purse"

"Apple and Granite"

"Double Brush"

"Leaf Bracelet"

"Stone Ladder Neckpiece"

Kathleen asked that I mention that by May 1st she will have a shop online at her website. Mother's Day is coming! :)

Kathleen will be exhibiting at the Smithsonian Craft Show, April 21 - 25, 2010, at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C. (Metro: Judiciary Square) If you haven't seen this show (the top juried craft show in the country), it's a must. If you are in the area, please stop in for a visit.

Her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin, frequently regarded as North America's principal museum of Fine Craft, Ornament magazine, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, and the Wenham Museum, Wenham, Massachusetts.

Now, I'm off to practice some color blending...

Note: All images used in this post are copyright protected and the property of Kathleen Dustin. I used them here with her written permission.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Monday, March 22, 2010

Variations on a Theme - Polymer Clay Adventures

When I wrote last week's post, I had already finished the sculptural pendant featured. To outline my creative process, I cut two more ovals from the kaleidoscope cane to take pictures. The post is written and I'm left with two unfinished oval slices. Time to put 'em to work!

I ordered some rubber buna cord to finish these necklaces. When I have that in my hot little hands, I'll be able to list the pendants for sale.
My friend, Alice Stroppel of Polymer Clay Etc, suggested I try using brass cuff bracelet blanks. I spent this past weekend working on my first cuff.

This was so much fun. Alice has a video showing how to make a polymer clay cover for business card holders. She assured me the process is basically the same for a bracelet. I watched her video and it made the cuff construction easily understandable.

I started the cuff with a base of black clay, on which I laid slices from my latest leaf cane and the gold fan shapes. The background is gold leaf on black clay with a layer of translucent clay on top. After baking, I added a Swarovski crystal button, and some smaller Swarovski flat-back crystals. Pretty! You can find it listed here.

Thanks Alice! More of these are in my future, for sure.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Polymer Clay and The Big Surprise

This past week I worked on ways to use my most recent (and most wild) polymer clay kaleidoscope cane. Up til now, I've felt precious about every square millimeter of each cane slice. So much went into making them, I didn't want to waste any little bit.

However, this cane was so wild and weird that I took my curvy flexible clay blade and cut ovals around the central motif of the slices.

This transformed them from wacky to utterly charming. Time to haul out Donna Kato's book in search of that inspiration advertised on the cover. I made a triangular pad of clay, laid the ovals on it in a pleasing way, and then pondered, "what next?"

I like the look of Kato's "zipper" canes and made one to match the kaleidoscope cane. Pretty!

A couple of slices of that now surrounds the central oval, setting it off quite nicely.

I have some blocks of metallic gold clay; let's see what that could add to this project. I cut shapes to fill the space around the ovals, laid it in, and using a carving tool, made some lines to look like pleating. (My shibori fabric experience lives on...)

So far, I'm loving this new piece. I rolled some black clay through the pasta machine with a textured plate and cut a surround for the triangular piece : "voila!"... a knockout polymer clay pendant.

The two ovals in the center were sanded, buffed and coated with acrylic for a high glossy shine. The gold and black surrounding areas were left alone for a nice contrast. All that was left was to glue on a flatback Swarovski crystal for some added bling.

Frankly, I was really surprised at myself when I saw the final results of this project. I have no idea where this came from - not my usual style at all. But, hey, you won't find me complaining.

My question now is, "What should I string this onto?" I like the look of rubber "buna" cord, but finding it at an affordable rate is proving problematic. Any ideas??

**Note: no worries that the trimmed off sections of the cane slices went to waste - I'm saving them for something special. You'll have to wait for my next post to find out what that's gonna be. ;)

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Monday, March 15, 2010

200th Post Contest Winner

I dipped my hand into the hat and pulled out a name for my 200th post giveaway contest. *drumroll please...* The winner is:

Lori Vliegen of Elvie Studio

Thank you to everyone who participated and left comments. Here's to another 200.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Funny Dog...

I opened an email from Marble Man the other day and this video awaited me. It was so funny I just had to share.

This reminded me of how much fun we used to have with Pooch, making him do silly stuff just so we could have a laugh.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Monday, March 08, 2010

Spring Fever Polymer Clay Focal Beads

Watch out folks... I've got it bad: Spring Fever. The air is warming, green shoots are poking up, and I'm itching to see leaves and flowers.

After getting our tax prep done, watching the Olympics, and other life stuff, I went to my studio and put away the dull Winter-colored clay - time to bring out the bright greens, purples, and eye-popping neons. The first kaleidoscope cane I made was so vibrant, it was as if the circus came to town and set up the Big Top in my workroom:

This was SO bright, it sorely tested my theory that it's impossible to make an ugly kaleidoscope. I divided it four times before I stopped feeling some revulsion toward it. I'm delighted with the final result!

In an effort to use the clay pieces I'm creating, I'd recently figured out what I wanted to do with this, my first bead. I put together this fun-and-funky, chunky necklace.

You can find it listed for sale in my Etsy shop.

This necklace was such fun to make, I wanted focal beads for more of these great necklaces. I spent the weekend experimenting with flower canes and I'm seriously loving the way the surrounding translucent clay disappears into the background!

Lavender oval bead 1.5" x .75"

Oval bead "Rousseau" 1.5" x .75"

I love the layering effect the clay offers here:

Polymer clay bead "Leaf Pod" 1.5" x 1.25"

I'm still thinking on how to use these new beauties. I'll post the final pieces with pix.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Friday, March 05, 2010

Prayers For Ricardo

My dear friend, Isabel, from A Room Of One's Own needs our prayers and positive thoughts. Her brother, Ricardo, was in a serious auto accident and is in a coma on life support. She's asked for a collective prayer to help him through this terrible trial.

I'm praying for you, too, Isabel...

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

200th Blog Post Coming Up!

Marble Man might argue but... I can't believe I had enough to say to fill nearly 200 posts. Today's post is number 199. So, to celebrate, I'm starting a giveaway contest. To participate, just leave a comment on this post (be SURE to leave contact info if you aren't a blogger!) and on March 15th, I'll draw a name out of a hat. The lucky winner will receive this necklace:

The pendant is a slice of one of my polymer clay kaleidoscope canes. The slice was baked, then sanded, buffed, and polished with an acrylic coating to protect it from skin contact. The finished size of the pendant is 1.125 inches wide and 1.25 inches long.

I've taken many small slices of a bullseye cane and marched them around the edge for interest.

The necklace is made from antiqued brass chain and Czech fire-polished crystals with sweet little brass bead caps. The finishing touch is a brass-toned "S" clasp.

The necklace is 18" long, but if the winner wants it longer, I can do that. We'll tawk.

Be sure to spread the word - the winner need not be a regular reader. I'm so happy to have kept this blog going for so long, I want to share my joy.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Monday, March 01, 2010

Polymer Clay Bullseye

I've hit the bullseye with a new polymer clay method... new to me, that is. Thanks to some very generous artists, there are so many wonderful tutorials and websites online, it's like going back to college minus the tuition. With patience and a sense of humor, I've managed to make a series of these beautiful "butterfly wing" beads.

I saved the waste trimmings and veneered some small ovals of clay to make matching accent beads.

The final result is this beautiful, yet simple, necklace. You can find this listed for sale in my Etsy shop.

It's so nice to have life back to normal. I'm relaxed, and can put all of that energy I spent worrying into something creative instead. I'll be listing more new work steadily over then next few weeks, so check back often to see what's what.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl