I came late to the polymer clay game, having followed all manner of artistic paths throughout my life-- drawing, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and wearable art, papermaking, rug making, knitting, embroidery, upholstery, furniture painting, interior design, jewelry and finally-- polymer clay. Being fairly new to this medium—since 2008 or so-- I have so many ideas and techniques that I want to try, I've never been willing to “box myself in” by restricting my ideas to a particular series. I know I have a very distinctive style and people tell me they can always spot my pieces in any online grouping like Flickr and have come to expect my work to fall outside the box.
So why have I suddenly decided to work on a polymer clay series I'm calling “Earthscapes”? Well, sometimes when we encounter an idea that we really don't agree with our vehemence in rejecting it could indicate that perhaps there is some merit to be discovered. Or even attempt it for the purpose of debunking it. So I began the latter a few weeks ago in my studio, assured that I would bore myself to death by working within one theme only-- textured polymer, layered in various shapes, creating various elements.
After just a few days, what I discovered was that restricting one dimension of your work—in this case to a technique involving stacked layers of organic textures-- produces a cohesiveness over the total body of work while allowing creative expansion into other areas like shape, color and surface.
I'm a real omnivore when it comes to shapes-- I love 'em all! I saw a Facebook post recently about a Matisse exhibit and his fabulous work inspired me to draw several notebook pages of shapes.
Here's a pair of earrings that followed those sketches and subsequent ideas I had.
Earthscape Series - "Walkabout" earrings-- Souffle polymer clay, handforged copper, chalk, crayon
If you leave your imagination open to the world around you, anything can be a source of ideas, including what you're making for dinner.
Kabocha squash sections
Beginning with the Walkabout earrings, my weeks of inspiration in the studio were doubly blessed with the discovery of a new polymer clay, Souffle by Sculpey, with a suede-like texture that takes very well to pencil and crayon embellishment, a consistency that can pick up subtle patterning and the ability to be thinned to an amazing degree in a pasta machine even in the summer's heat. Thank you, Claire Maunsell for the inspiration to try this new product!
Earthscape earrings, in process-- Souffle polymer clay, chalks, acrylic paints
Gibraltar cuff and bangles - Nunn Design copper cuff and bangles base, Souffle polymer clay, acrylic paint
Tidepool pendant - Souffle polymer clay, chalk, embossing powder, acrylic paint, handforged bails and connectors
The above piece and the next show very well, I think, how the "Earthscapes" theme and the Matisse-inspired shapes were combined.
Samuri pendant - Souffle polymer clay, acrylic paint
All in all, my explorations into working in a theme definitely yielded some gratifying results, which are ongoing as I redesign and load up my Etsy site. In our next Art on the Farm session here in Vermont, coming up this October 8-10, 2014, we'll be using this information to inform our studies about shape, texture and surface. Join us if you can, there are still some spaces available-- see my website: www.storiestheytell.com for more information.