Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tear-Away Tuesdsay

I've spent the last month studying African masks and mud cloth in books and in person....and drawing, drawing, drawing.....and scanning, and editing.  I stopped at 34 designs.  I have more ideas but I had to put a stop to it and put some of these designs into action.  For each of the 34 designs, I made 3-4 different sizes.  Sometimes I like to use only part of the design so I may want the tear-away to be large and show lots of detail.  Other times I like to make medallions that will show the entire design so the size needs to be a little smaller.  This anal tendency means that I have about 100 tear-aways to make. 

I've been using my new stash of Sculpey Studio and the new method that was posted on the Yahoo group.  Rather than repeatedly burnishing with your hand and letting the polymer rest under a light source, you use a heat setting tool....like a mini-iron.  You place your design face down on the polymer and run the iron over it for 3 seconds.  I discovered it works better if you put another piece of paper over it first.  A hot iron in direct contact with polymer clay isn't ideal.  You then let the design sit for 2-3 minutes depending on how rough you want your texture to be.  Then peel your texture sheet away.

At first I was peeling them off too fast and ripping them in half.  When I slowed down a little they started to come out quite well.  There's still variation and thin/thick spots using this technique.  With the annoucement that the pthlates (the chemical that makes this whole process work) are going to be taken out of the polymer, I started think about doing copper etching instead.  There are several advantages....the ability to increase the depth of the texture beyond what you can get with tear-aways, a smoother background (although I love a rough background texture), after all the hard work you have a permanent texture plate, and if you get tired of it and never want to use it again...you can give it away, swap it, sell it...or cut it up and use it in other designs. 

I'm starting to think that copper etching is the way to go...but first I have to use up all this Sculpey that I have.  Which will take some time.  I don't save the polymer impression.  I fold it up and reuse it.  I've made ~20 tear-aways with the same sheet of polymer and I'm still going.

On another topic....this is what a pampered cat looks like in our house.  Benny just all stretched out and relaxing in my chair.


Sunday, August 29, 2010


I've been researching giraffes and Baobob trees.  This guy was just too cute not to post.  Makes me want to squeeze him!!

This is a Baobab tree....fantastic!!

CMA and "The Thinker"

This is one of twenty-five 72" enlarged versions of Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker". It is one of the last that Rodin, himself, supervised. It was given to the CMA in 1917. This statue was bombed in 1970.

From the CMA's website:

"At approximately 1:00 am on March 24, 1970, a bomb irreparably damaged the Cleveland Museum's version of Rodin's The Thinker. The bomb itself had been placed on a pedestal that supported the enlargement and had the power of about three sticks of dynamite. According to the Cleveland Police Department, this act of vandalism was committed by a cell of the politically radical Weather Underground that was operating in Cleveland at the time, perhaps as a commentary on the continuing military action in Vietnam or the elitism of the American government. No one was ever arrested or charged with the destruction.

No one was injured in the blast, but the statue's base and lower legs were destroyed. The remaining sections of the cast were blown backward to form a 'plume' at the base, and the entire statue was knocked to the ground. In the aftermath of the bombing, the museum considered three options: 1) obtain and display a replacement cast; 2) repair the sculpture by welding on newly-cast sections to replace the areas that were damaged; 3) mount and display the damaged sculpture. All three options were problematic in some way. With the first, a new cast of the complete sculpture would be removed historically from the original, which was so closely connected with the artist. A recast would in essence be a reproduction. With the second, distortions caused by the dynamite blast would have made it difficult to align the replacement sections with those original sculpture. The third option was chosen largely because it preserved what was left of Rodin's original work and because the damaged sculpture would bear vivid witness to a period of political unrest in the United States during the Vietnam War. Like the museum's other outdoor sculptures, The Thinker now receives routine maintenance twice a year. It is washed and rewaxed each spring and fall."

Near Eastern Treasures from the CMA

"The Stargazer", 3000 B.C. from Western Anatolia (now part of Turkey)

An Assyrian relief, from ~860 BC, close-ups below

Zebu and Bear Woman Vessels from 1000 BC Iran

Egyptian Relief

Sekhmet, 1300 BC, Egypt

5th Century BC, Greece

Bronze Necklace, 8th Century BC, Greece

Another beautiful bronze.  Wish I had molding compound for that angel head!!!

Arched sistrum....musical rattle to calm the gods. Hathor is depicted on the front of this with Bastet sitting in the arch...again...where's the molding compound??

Egyptian relief from 1200 BC....with graffiti??  See the close-up below.  Where did that scratched  cat/bird come from?  Could that be ancient grafitti??


Saturday, August 28, 2010

John Paul Miller - A master in granulation

Another exhibit at the CMA right now is the work of John Paul Miller, a former instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Not only do they have his jewelry, they have some of his sketch books on exhibit.  To say that he is a master of granulation is an understatment.  His work is amazing.  The pictures don't do this work justice at all.  Seeing these pieces in person you realize just how painstaking this work is.  It's on exhibit until January 2, 2011.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Drawings


Kaleidoscope...LOL...chipmonks on speed





Time to make the tear-aways!!

More African Art from the CMA

Headress from Nigeria.  A little scary and a lot awesome.  This was huge.  Another one I couldn't image having the strength to carry on my head.

Pipe from the Congo

Sculpture from the Congo.  This was really interesting.  The top of his body was wrapped in lizard skin.

"Do the Wave...come on Monkey Man...Do the Wave!!!"  Face masks from Mali...again...really large

Bush Buffalo Mask.  The picture below (courtesy of U of Iowa) shows the complete outfit.

Helmet from the Ivory Coast.

Whistles from the Congo

Great collection.  Amazing work!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Viking Beads

Beads by the FABULOUS Karen Elmquist
Aren't these AMAZING!!!!!  Karen calls these her Viking Beads...well... now they are my Viking Beads!!!.  They are very tactile and nubby and wonderfully ancient looking.  They fall into my favorite category of "Lickable".  They will be amazing with bronze and silver.

Karen does fantastic work and is the winner of the Lampwork/Glass Category of Bead Dreams 2010 this year at Bead and Button.  Check her out on Etsy

Karen doing her best "Vanna White" pose, highlighting her winning submission at B&B

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More from the CMA

I have lots of photos :))

Serpent Headress from Guinea.  This is what piqued my interest in this collection.  I saw a close up of the head on the cover of "South of the Sahara" and decided to check out both the book and the collection.  It's about 4' tall.

A face is visible on four side of the headress.  If you look at the reflection in the case you can see the image that is on the other side.

A brass plaque from Nigeria.  The center figure is a king being supported by two of his subjects

A close up showing the detail

Guardian figure from Gabon.  It's wood coated with sheets of cooper and brass

Face mask from the Cote d'Ivoire.  Really amazing piece.

Beautiful belt from the Congo.

Masks and Hats from Africa

More images from the CMA

Headress from Guinea.  This was huge.  You would need a strong neck to wear it.

Face mask.  Modigliani was influenced by African masks and sculptures.  The elogated nose show up in his paintngs.  The Modigliani below is from the CMA.

Face mask from Cote d'Ivoire

Terra cotta from Nigeria

Massive (the size of my head and torso combined) headress from Cameroon.
The animal on top are thought to be leopards. 

Mask from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Amazing!!


I really wanted to put this one on...LOL.  Lucky for everyone it was behind glass

The plume on this is elephant tail.

King's hat from Nigeria