I got frustrated with my attempts at draping on Monday, and decided to play with polymer clay instead. I needed some examples for my book blog, and I thought they would be much quicker to pull together with polymer clay than with my various textile arts. Also, I had no experience with polymer clay, and thought it would be helpful to do some examples to demonstrate how you can do great designs in a craft with very little experience.
And here are my results:
These were done as an exercise in millefiori, a technique I’d long admired. The basic idea of millefiori is to create a cane – a cylinder (or other shape) with an interesting cross-section – and reduce it in size, then slice it crosswise (as you would a jelly roll) to produce interesting patterns. I started with the blue-green bullseye at top left, reduced the cane and cut it into six pieces, then put it together into the second blue-green cane. Then I reduced it still further and cut it into four pieces, producing the last blue-green center.
For the square buttons, I added strips of pink and yellow around the edges, reduced again, and re-formed the roll into a rectangular solid, giving me a square cross-section. Finally, I rolled the square back into a log, reduced it, put six strips together, and wound up with the design at bottom.
That was my first project – mostly, just playing with one technique.
For my second project, I used the same technique plus a bit of info on how to cover an object, and produced this:
This is a smallish jar lid – about 4 inches across – with a single cane that I used in two sizes. I think it’s pretty good for a second project!
What was interesting to me wasn’t really the result – it was the process by which I created it. I’ve realized that my creative process has a step that I think most people don’t use, and it’s the secret to creating complex projects without screwing up. I test my design at each step, running an experiment to determine whether it will be successful. I only commit to that step if I like the experimental results; otherwise I redesign that part until I’m satisfied. This enables me to check whether my piece will be successful before ruining it irrevocably.
I’ll write more about this on my book blog, but probably not for another week or so. I’ll post a link when that section is published.
Off to work! I’m chairing two all-day customer meetings today and tomorrow – they are flying in for the occasion, so this is Serious Stuff – and need some time to prepare before our guests arrive.
Polymer clay is fun to do with kids. My son said it was like making sushi.
One interesting aspect of playing w/ polymer clay is that the colors mix exactly the same way as dyes do for textiles. I’ve played with canes a bit, but mostly my polymer clay work has been with colors–matching them to textiles for buttons. It’s great fun, and you can come very close in your color matching.