Friday, 26 August 2011

Adventure #9: Dare to Dream

I found myself landed with a quite difficult project at work earlier this year. I'm working up a technology that no one else at our institute is using. It's made for a frustrating time, especially over the last two months - long hours, crazy time points and mediocre results. On top of this, my hubby and I are trying to finally finish renovating our back room (it's only been three years!!) I've found the clay table has really kept me grounded and stopped me pulling my hair out over work and all my other commitments! In the midst of all this, I received a message from Deb Crothers, who runs the Aussiepolyclayers forum. She was giving all the new people to the forum a gentle nudge to think about entering the 2011 Aussiepolyclayers forum competition.

When I read through the thread about the comp and saw all the effort Deb especially had put into organising this comp, I could not say no! I knew I had to put an entry in, even though there was only 5 weeks until the comp closed. The theme was "Dare to Dream" and my mind immediately started taking me to fantasy lands where mermaids swim free, tree-folk come out at night and heroes vanquish the dark forces of evil that threaten the land........I thought of enchanted forests and Alice in Wonderland.......and eventually my mind rested on what "Dare to Dream" really means to me. I remembered the first time I ever felt I could dream big and achieve anything I set my mind to. It was when I graduated from my honours degree. I remembered the card my aunty gave me that said "Shoot for the stars, if you fall short you may land on the moon." I always think of this quote when that nasty self-doubt starts creeping in, it takes me back to that feeling I had then - it gives me hope and confidence.

I wanted to make a piece of jewellery that would depict this quote and this idea. So, using stars and moons as the main theme, I started playing! I wanted to use blues/greens as the colour scheme to relate the calming qualities of the moon. I knew the boldness of the piece would come out in the design rather than the colours. My first attempts were pendants (Images 1 & 2).

Image 1: Stars and Moon Pendant

Image 2: Stars and Moon Pendant

Then I played with making 3-D stars and moons (Image 3). I love these star beads, I used the Starry Nights cane tutorial by Donna Kato. But my husband said they looked more like Morning Stars (Image 4)....which is entirely TRUE!!! Damn - back to the drawing board!

Image 3: 3-D stars and moon beads

Image 4: A morning star weapon - remarkable likeness to beads above - damn!

I then made a lovely skinner blend in soft pearly blues and greens and started playing with this, making different shaped beads (Image 5), mostly using Donna Kato's overlay bead method and cookie cutters.

Image 5: components made using blue/green skinner blends
Finally I composed my original idea was to wirework it randomly and make a star-spangled necklace but my beads leaned more towards a strung necklace style and when I was playing with the little star cutouts, I had a few of them strung together and thought they looked wicked and felt nice against your skin! And so I made heaps more of them and made them the backbone of the piece with the moon toggle clasp and focal bead as features. Here is the finished piece:

The competition ended on July 31st, with the judges deliberating and making their decision by the 14th August. And eventually, after what seemed like forever, we got to see all the entries! I was absolutely blown away by each and every entry into this competition. The theme was so broad and everyone had such different interpretations, that alone was amazing but the quality and time and thought put into these pieces were nothing short of phenomenal. Check them out here. And the first, second and third prize winning entries can be seen here. As well as the two encouragement award entries. I am extremely proud to have won one of these encouragement awards for my piece "Reach for the Stars"!

Applying myself to this competition definitely helped me through a stressful couple of months and at the end of it all, to win a prize was just amazing and has made me a very happy and 'encouraged' little clayer!!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Adventure #8: One ring to rule them all

I'm obsessed with making polymer clay rings at the moment. I bought a gorgeous millefiori ring in Venice. Wore it all the time. Loved it. Then I left it lying around the house somewhere as I do, and it got crushed...dead :(  I'm now trying to get the same comfortable ring design in a pc ring. My first attempt ended up like this:

 It was too long and only baked for 10 minutes, so it was quite brittle. The second attempt was better, but I rebaked it to add some strength and it ended up deforming quite a bit. I scolded my little fingers holding it together until it cooled but it ended up still larger than it had been and way too big for me, which is annoying because I really like it!!

For these first two rings, I was using a wooden dowel as a mold, but I didn't like the texture it left on the inside of the ring. I found a metal spoon in Kmart (<3 the kitchen section!) with the right sized handle and used that as a mold for these rings:

When the sneaky rubber hiding inside the handle melted, the spoon deformed and that's how I found it when I went to retrieve my rings. I managed to remove all the rubber and dissemble the spoon so I ended up with this awesome ring mold - exactly the right size! Now I'm in ring-making heaven...and I just can't seem to stop making them....someone STOP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!