Friday, July 29, 2011

Polymer clay collograph

This summer, since I've shut my shop, I've been spending my time focusing on learning new things without worrying about creating something "sellable". I've been messing around with my Bamboo tablet and enjoying the freedom I have to make as many mistakes as I want. I've also been dabbling in knitting, crochet, and polymer clay. All of them have been great past-times because I haven't been concerned with the outcome.

While experimenting with the polymer clay and using stamps to create textures and patterns, I began to wonder if anyone had ever used the material to print with. I thought that once the clay had been baked it would  still have some flexibility and therefore, would make it possible to be applied to a collograph plate and sent through a press without damage. I started to all sorts of possibilities and felt like a mad scientist when I created my plate. I had to create ant least thre different plates before I got one to print the way I wanted it to. I haven't seen anyone else use this technique so I thought I would list off what i learned and perhaps you would like to give it a try too.
I will be hand coloring these with watercolor

1. Once baked polymer clay has a slight texture and will print as a mid-tone grey. If you want to create whites or lighter greys you have to have to either adhere something smooth like plastic or varnish the area. Take note that the varnish doesn't stick well to polymer clay and it breaks down over each consecutive pull. I varnished my plate again half-way through the edition. I've been experimenting with various wet/dry sandpapers to create a smoother surface.

2.It's very easy to create a bevelled and level plate with the polymer clay.Unbaked polymer clay is so manipulative that it's very appealing in its' ability to be "drawn into".

3. The clay can hold very deep lines which can be advantagous or a problem when wiping the plate. If you don't push in enough ink the lines will appear white. It's surprising how little depth you need in your plate lines for them to print well.

4. This technique can be used to create relief  prints and/or embossed images.

You can see ink and oil that has accumulated under the plastic I used for the torso and face.

This gives you an idea for the depth of my plate pattern. Can you see the pattern I scribed into the plastic for the dress?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My version of a homemade light-box

Hello! How has everyone's summer been so far? I hope the sun has been shining where you are. Where I live it's been a rather cool summer so far and there really hasn't been too much sun here. It's too bad because we spend so much of our year under grey skies that everyone looks forward to the sunny days of July and August.

 As artists, my husband and I are really dependent on the sun making it into the studio so that we can see what we're doing. I've tried adding natural light bulbs to my space but that still hasn't been enough really. I really have the hardest time with the lack of light when I try and document my items for Etsy. I do have a couple sunny windows but they cast shadows on my objects thanks to the plants outside or the actual window panes. Over time and with a bunch of experimenting I've been able to get some better shots with my limited light. I know I will have to invest in a tri-pod soon so that I can take photos of my work while holding it. I currently use a 10 second delay shutter and stand the camera on the barbeque but there's still too much vibration and I'm slightly out of focus. If I use boards wrapped in aluminum foil and white foam core as reflectors it seems to help a little. Sometimes.

I've been reading all about how to create light boxes for my 3D objects and there has been some great examples online. I kept running into a problem with storing my light box and not having it look shabby very fast. One day I was in Daiso the Japanese $2 store and I came across some foam floor tiles. You know the ones, they go together like puzzle pieces and there used alot in preschools. When I saw them I thought they would be perfect for constructing an adjustable lightbox. Cheap and easy to store! My kind of light box. Below are some pics. of my box and the resulting photo of a pendant I made. I used a cheap Ikea desk light fitted with a daylight bulb. I cut three of the tiles to hold pieces of parchment paper to create diffused light. What I really like about this box is that I can add more tiles and create an even larger space if I need to as each wall fits into the next. I can't use this set-up for my large monotypes but I just had a thought I might be able to create my own adjustable reflector screens with thin PVC piping and white sheer curtains. All found via Craigslist and the thrift store of course. What do you think? Do you have any DIY tricks for lighting yourself?
$2 ea 12"x12" foam floor tiles

I cut out a 10" square from three of the tiles

The top and two sides are covered with parchment

Hand held shot with my Nikon on macro setting

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Recent creating fun

So besides dipping my toes into the art fair market at the Steveston Salmon Festival, I've been busy trying out all sorts of ideas and projects. I'm currently trying to learn my Wacom tablet and Corel Paint Essentials and although I'm liking the results I'm getting, I still feel as though I'm fumbling around. I'll be asking for Corel Paint 12 for my birthday though as it looks amazing. Way over my head amazing.

I've also been starting some vision boards over at Pinterest. There are so many beautiful images that it's easy to lose and hour or two on the site. If you're on there you can see my boards here. I'm big on following craft and DIY boards. I found this great picture of a fruit salad bowl of a turtle made from a watermelon and I knew I had to try it out. Below is a picture of my version of the turtle. The instructions on the blog don't tell you that you need to use a strip of watermelon along the center for the head and tail but I figured it out.

I also did a couple birthday cakes recently. At the end of April I did a Great Valley cake for my niece who has a thing for dinosaurs. I made a "Butter Beer" cake in a slab form and used some chocolate cake that I had in the freezer in the shape of a cone for the volcano. This cake was really done on the fly but my niece was still really thrilled to get her dinosaur cake.

I also created something for my eldest' spring fundraiser cake walk this year. You had to know that I would jump at the chance to create a cake. This year's entry was "Hungry Man Dinner" which can be found in Hello, Cupcake!. I love the idea of cake disguised as savory food and this was so much fun. With the help of candies and great simple instructions I created these cupcakes that helped win my daughter an extra prize for the spring fair.

The third cake I did recently was for my daughters 5th birthday and we finally pinned her decision on a make-up bag. This one was from 50 Easy Party Cakes by Debbie Brown, my go-to book. I used a simple chocolate devil's food cake recipe and iced it with buttercream rather than covering it with fondant. I didn't really want to make marshmallow fondant for this cake as I need so little so I used fruit chewy candies for anything that needed modeling. It tasted better too.

So what do you think about my latest food creations? Which one is your favorite?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Steveston Salmon Festival. How the show went...

So this was my first Steveston Salmon Festival Art Show. I’ve been to the festival before and knew that the whole community is packed with people to celebrate Canada Day. 70,000 people in fact. That’s some pretty decent amount of local exposure. 
My table was inside the community centre in a room with about five other artists and the local charity pie sale. Treats and coffee in the same room. Perfect. You could tell that I was the newbie to the group because my table was so sparse and everyone else had whole portable walls set up with their work. 
The goal for this show was just to do it and get a little more well known locally for my work. The other goal was to stay positive about the show no matter what the outcome. At least I tried. Did I sell anything? Nope. Did I get some positive comments? Yes. Was my work completely different than the other artists? For sure. Well, I gave it a try and I will reflect on the day more but I don’t think that was the venue for me. There was a craft show going on at the same time that had more traffic and I may have done better there. Those spaces were pricier and a spot was based on a lottery system. A possibility for next year maybe.

I took a few pics with my husband’s iPhone so excuse the poor quality. What do you think of my vinyl table banner that I got from Vistaprint?