Friday, June 12, 2009

Kathleen Dustin Translucent Layering Workshop

Three pendants I made during the two day workshop. Two are not quite finished.

I just did a two day Kathleen Dustin workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we learned her translucent layering techniques. It was great! Kathleen has an art background, which gives her instruction more depth beyond polymer, she talks about design and bringing your pieces to the next level beyond the ordinary.

We learned about the elements of composition within an abstract piece, translucent layering, polishing, drilling, and finishing.

One of Kathleen Dustin's pieces.

I have taken several polymer workshops and enjoyed them all, but Kathleen's techniques really helped shape a vision I have of getting my own personal imagery onto polymer. I know exactly what I want to do now as soon as I get home!

Kathleen putting gold leaf onto clay.

Student's finished pendants

Annie Hooten organized and made this workshop happen, which was a year in the making. Annie does a great job of keeping students updated prior to the workshop, and everything went smoothly. She organizes workshops on a regular basis, I highly recommend you attend one Annie is putting together.

I am attending the second Kathleen Dustin workshop this weekend, and will report my experience next week!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Why Making Natasha Beads Are Like Painting Watercolors

Natasha Beads

One main reason I paint in watercolor is because I love the magic that happens when colors flow into each other and create interesting abstract patterns and textures. Once upon a time those backwashes and accidental textures were frowned upon with watercolor. Everything had to be perfect. Nowadays more and more painters are shunning perfection and going with the flow by letting things happen in an abstract or partially abstract manner using ingredients such as saran wrap, salt, gesso, etc.

In polymer clay, there are lawless rogues, too--such as Natasha who created the magical Natasha bead. I have fun with these in the same way I anticipate the serendipity of watercolor. Below is a tutorial for making Natasha beads out of scraps of clay.

I cut off ends of several spiral canes and lined them up together. You don't need canes to make a Natasha bead, but at least a few cane ends can add interest the end result.

I rolled them into a log, then twisted the log several times to get the ingredients spiraling around. I then squared the log using a brayer or acrylic roller.

Cut the squared log in half.

The pattern is exposed.

Leaving the two halves in the open-face position, I then cut the halves in half again.

I flip the two outside quarter pieces onto the back, taking time to line up the design. After lining it up, I then shape it into a long, slightly squared bead, shown in the photo at the top.

So oddly enough, this bead may look to some like an intricate pattern, when in fact it is the smushing together of polymer scraps to create a one of a kind original. As in watercolor painting, all the planning in the world can not surpass the excitement of the results you often get when letting things happen by just guiding the process along.