Monday, March 09, 2009

Still here - New beads

It has to be 12 to 14 years since I last worked with polymer clay. In terms of what artists have been doing with the medium since then, that translates as more like 200 years. So the pieces above are my first baby steps back into the medium.

Not only have the techniques available multiplied like eager little bunnies, but the material itself has seen improvements. I'm starting to work with Kato clay (designed for artist Donna Kato) and finding that it's an amazing material. Like Fimo, it has to bullied into condition but it works differently. I start by literally hammering a slab of clay before rolling it and running it through the pasta machine. Apparently, this makes its' little molecules return to their proper malleable state and there is the added bonus of my getting to whack the crap out of something! Better than a spa day for tension relief! The colors are different intensities too and learning to color mix is a challenge. (With Fimo, I was pretty slap-dash and used to calculate in a bunch-of-this-little-less-of-that sort of way.)

There's a modest amount of new technology. I've bought a Dremel for buffing and have ruthlessly ripped the brushes out of a round-head electric toothbrush and double-side taped sandpaper to it. There are liquid polymers to try and paints, inks, powders.

I'm having a ball. And of course, a lot that I'll be making will need the addition of my beloved glass beads...ropes and bezels and embroidery. But for now, it's just such a gas to be challenging myself with something that, for all intents and purposes, is new.

I'm taking a year off. The last time I said that, I ended up doing the Saturn Return Gauntlet for the Mary Black Gallery. This time, I'm really going to do it. I'm going to work just for me, just for the joy of it and just to learn.


Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

I got your blog address from one of the librarians at the Surrey Public Library. I was taking out a bunch of books on beading. She said you were her friend and that you had a website about beads. What fun to see you are also trying your hand at polymer clay!

You're right about things flying along at the speed of light as far as techniques and quality of pieces made in polymer clay. Even in the last year that I have had my polymer clay tutor blog I have seen huge advances in the medium!

If you ever need any help with working with polymer clay I would be happy to help. So glad your friend passed me on to you!

LJ said...

Hi Cindy...

I go to your site a lot!...strange coincidence, huh? And my friend working at the library is Tracy
Hetherington...or "T" as I call her. She's one of my favourite people - and fabulous print-maker.

As to working in polymer clay - I've already learned a lot from you...and I've got all of Donna Kato's books plus a few older (but still very good) ones. I find it's mostly getting the feel of it again. The questions will arise as I try new things and I'll be happy to take you up on the offer of advice. I'll be pleased if I can get past the imitative part of the program fast. Years ago - my very first stuff looked like second-rate City Zen Cane, and now I expect to be imitating Donna Kato. Ah well, it's how we learn, right? That and practice, practice, practice (and keeping the cat down on the floor.)

I had a real breakthrough when I started hammering the Kato clay first - it's as bad to condition as Fimo...worse, I thought at first, because I couldn't stick it in a food processor as it responds to pressure rather than heat. I still have a lingering stress injury, the after-effects of working a long time with Fimo without a processor. But I find the Kato clay is a dream to work with once you beat it into submission. It holds shape so well, doesn't fingerprint easily - and stinks less than Fimo in oven.

Anyway - I'm taking up your time. Lovely to get your note and offer of help. I haven't talked to T. for a long time, so it's a good reminder to write her, too. I really doubt you're new to beading - but on the off-chance you are...if there's anything I can do to speed you along you're way - just ask!
You can get me at wildwickedbeads (at) gmail dot com.

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

It is wonderful to meet you LJ! Do you live around here too?

I will ask if I have a question about beading. Although I have worked with beads a fair amount, I haven't really done a lot with bead patterns and seed beads, though I'd really like to. You do some very beautiful work and there is much I could learn from you!

Haven't worked with Kato myself. Have a lot of Premo on hand and since Kato can only be ordered online, the shipping can make it quite a bit more expensive.

Most of the people I teach are new to polymer clay and want to work with something that is easier to get and not as expensive. Though if Michaels stops putting Premo on sale like it appears to be doing, Kato may be the better choice!

Glad to have met your friend at the library. And I love it that you've already run into me. Such a small and spectacular world!

herhimnbryn said...

Hallo there lj,
I haven't stopped by for ages and just look at what glories you have been creating!
They are truely beautiful.