Saturday, April 24, 2010

Polymer Clay Landscapes Coming to Life

My adventures into the polymer clay medium continue with pendants being my focus for the past two weeks. I've been steadily creating flower canes since Christmas, collecting them in drawers, waiting until I have enough variety to let my imagined flower garden come to life in clay.

I started with a bracelet cuff.

I cut slices from my flower and leaf canes, trimmed away excess clay packed around petals, and laid them one-by-one onto a black background. Satisfied with the arrangement, I then cobbled translucent clay between the floral elements to fill in the spaces. My hope was to minimize sanding time after baking.

Once the bracelet was baked, I recognized my fairly serious mistake right away. Air pockets were trapped in the spaces between elements, and the black clay now looks purple. As well, there were dips and valleys where the added background clay met the flowers and leaves. Much sanding later, I have a (mostly) smooth bracelet, but those pesky air pockets are still there, preserved forever in clay.

I'll be keeping this bracelet. It's a pretty thing, and I enjoy it, but the flaws are too "in my face" to ever pass it onto a customer. Next time, I'll fuse a very thin layer of translucent clay to the background and then press the flower elements into that. Hopefully that will eliminate the air pocket issue altogether.

Meanwhile, after the Great Bracelet Debacle, I needed something to go right. I explored using these same flower and leaf canes to make "window" pendants.

They came out just as I'd hoped, like little paintings.

However, I can't seem to let well enough alone - I felt my new pendants needed a little something extra special. I've planned to try a butterfly cane ever since I saw one in Donna Kato's millefiore clay book. Time to stop talking about it and just do it. It was a monster cane and took nearly 5 hours to put together. At that point, I said "you're done! No more packing clay to make you round, just stay a triangle." After reducing this behemoth, the wings were distorted because of the triangular shape, but the color gradations were pretty amazing. I was very conflicted at this point: the perfectionist in me was pissed that I'd taken a short cut and not rounded the cane. But the clayer in me looked at the finished cane and shouted "AWESOME!"

The cane was very soft, even after resting in the freezer for a few minutes and slicing distorted the butterfly slices even flatter, but when I rolled the slice flat onto the pendant, it elongated again and looks nearly perfect. I don't even mind the slight blurring at the wing tips - makes me think it looks realistically in flight.

I am so happy with these little beauties!

I hope to have these listed in a few days in my Etsy shop. Keep an eye out for them.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl


Anonymous said...

Abolutely stunning pieces! Love your cane work!

Robin said...

WOW!!!! Those are breathtaking!

rochambeau said...

WOW Kate!!
Love your bracelet!! I've never heard of translucent clay. This is such an art piece. Breathtaking~
You've brought PMC to a new level!

Alice Stroppel said...

Kate you know that anyone would be proud to purchase this bracelet. But I understand how you feel, you wouldn't believe how many of my creations still live at my house. But it's a good thing, otherwise I wouldn't have anything to remind me what I've been doing for all these years.

You're cane work is stunning.

Gabriela said...

Hello Kate,

I love your Window Pendants!

~ Gabriela ~

surfingcat said...

You have been busy!

I think you bracelet looks great. I love the black background makes the flowers pop out!

One of my constant battles, trying to make the surface smooth with no little holes between elements. I sometimes end up loosing some of my cane pattern in sanding if I am not careful. Let me know if you find a way to do it!

The window pendants look great particularly the ones with the lovely butterfly. I am glad the rolling restored them!

lori vliegen said...

i say you keep listening to the clayer in you.....they're ALL awesome!!! you go girl! xox, :))

Stephanie said...

Fantastic, I love the Asian feel to how you have created these necklaces!