Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Color Palette: Trout Stream

Two things happened a couple days ago. First, I read a blog entry by Heather Powers at Art Bead Scene asking us to name one thing in nature that is our biggest source of inspiration in our jewelry designs. I answered: Autumn colors.

That is the short answer. The long answer encompasses more...when it is spring or summer and there are no autumn colors, I am in search of colors in nature that are something other than green. The trees are green, the grass is green dominates the landscape. So when I see reds, oranges, warm yellow-greens or purples, I am very inspired to do a painting or create that color in polymer.

Castle Creek

Later that afternoon, I found myself alongside Castle Creek near Aspen. I admired the rocks in the creek, and marveled how warm those rock colors were despite being under cold rushing water. The only blue in the water was a bit of sky reflection.

Closeup photo of the colors in Castle Creek

The colors in rocky mountain creeks are always a great inspiration to me. And despite the fact that spring has barely sprung in the high elevation of upper Castle Creek, the water colors are reminiscent of the autumn colors I like. The next day created a color palette I call "Trout Stream", based on the colors I found in the above abstract-like photo.

Trout Stream Color Sample Tiles

I have an idea what I am going to do with this collection of colors, now that I spent a good part of the day mixing them. I am going to work on some jewelry sized polymer mosaic pieces, and I'll post the results here.

In the meantime, check out Tish Collins' color palette of polymer mosaics. It's wonderful.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Life Long Mold Making

This morning, without warning, I decided to blog about my mold making history. So here is a very brief retrospective:

I've loved making things out of molds since I was a kid...I used to have a Creepy Crawler set in the 1960s, I was fascinated by being able to pour "goop" into a mold, heat it and come out with a rubbery bug. After that childhood introduction, I never used any more molds until I was an adult, but you could say the die was cast.

A few of the hundreds of horse rubber stamp designs I made in the 1990s

In 1989, I started my own rubber stamp business called True West Designs. I had molds made from my own original artwork (I never used clipart), then pressed sheets of uncured rubber into a vulcanizer to create each rubber stamp. I did very well with my stamp business, having started it just a couple years before the stamping craze hit. I did all the production myself, and during the peak mid-1990s I used to get wholesale orders for hundreds of stamps at a time. I was extremely busy and made some good money for a lot of years.

In the mid 1990s, I started sculpting horses and making my own plaster molds for slip casting. In 1996, I spent a day with Joan Berkwitz of Pour Horse Pottery in Carlsbad, California, and Joan kindly shared a lot of mold making tips with me.

"Hipshot" a pony I sculpted in 1999 and cast using a four piece plaster mold

Manatee ornaments I made in 2001

I started beading in 2000, and that evolved into making my own ceramic beads. I sculpted originals and made two piece plaster molds for slip casting. It was a much simpler process than the more complicated model horse molds, but still labor intensive.

Manatee ornaments and beads in progress, in the greenware state after slip casting in 2003. Shown are fish, frogs, horses, turtles, etc.

Back in my ceramic days, it was hard to imagine ever giving up earthen clay for polymer clay. But that is what happened, as I have found the imitative techniques and ease of polymer mold making and casting to be very appealing. I can work out my ideas with less time from conception to realization. I used to have to cast many ceramic pieces to fill the kiln before firing, and the lag time was really frustrating, not to mention the less than great results I'd often get.

So here I am at my current state of evolution. I made these beads this week out of polymer using the imitative ivory technique:

Imitative ivory press molded beads-2008