Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Things I Can't Live Without

I've been working on lots of wonderful Halloween spooks this month.  It's time for a photo shoot so I can share some of them here with you.  I can't wait to hear what you all think!

Today I'm going to share a bit 'behind the scenes'.  I've shown you my studio, where I spend most of my days. Now I'm going to give you a peek at a few things that really make it happen in the studio...my favorite, can't-live-without-them tools.

Every artist has their favorite, go-to tools.  I'm no different.  There is nothing fancy here, just some basic utensils, but I use each of these items in EVERY PIECE I make. 
From the top:
ROLLING PIN:  This is actually a $1.00 glass bud vase I bought at Walmart.  I actually have about 4 of them.  It is tall and slender and smooth, and perfect for rolling slabs of clay.  Do they make rollers especially for clay?  Yes, they do.  But I started out over 20 years ago using a little juice glass and it worked just fine.  When I broke it and didn't have another, I went on a hunt and found these.  Even better!  It just proves that you don't have to buy specifically branded tools to do the job. 
NEEDLE TOOL:  You could also call this a stylus, or a dissecting tool.  It's just a tool with a sharp, pointed end.  I use it to 'draw' in details.  I've got 3 different ones, but this one is my very favorite because the needle is the sharpest and thinnest of the bunch.  If I lost this, I don't know what I would do!
FOAM TIPPED BRUSH:  This is my newest addition to the favorite tool list.  You can't see it well in the picture, but it's got a cone shaped tip that ends in a point.  It's actually a paintbrush I found in the doll making department.  It's 'real' use is to paint details on to doll faces without showing brushstrokes.  I use it to smooth out seams in clay and to get in to tight spots where my fingers won't fit--like under arms.  I also use it to sculpt and smooth facial features.  Very handy!  If you are looking for one, it is a Royal Sovereign Ltd. Colour Shaper, Firm.  It came in a package of 5 different shapes.  I use them all, but this one is my favorite.
X-ACTO KNIFE:  Again, I would be lost without this basic, handy tool.  I like the pointed end blades the best.  Because I only cut clay with it, the blades last forever. 
5" KAI SEWING SCISSORS:  My best friend, Marian, sent me a pair of these. I fell in love with them instantly.  They are the perfect size....not too big and bulky, but not too small either.  They cut both paper and fabric nicely.  To be honest, I lost the pair she sent me.  How, I do not know.  My only guess is that they accidentally dropped in the waste basket and I didn't notice.  I searched high and low for two days, then went online and ordered me another pair.  I love them that much! 
NEEDLE-NOSED PLIERS/WIRE CUTTERS:  Self-explanatory here.  I cut wire with them.  I like the pointed-ended ones because I can also bend and shape wire with them as well.  You can see they get used a lot because they have a lot of clay 'gunk' on them.  (Those of you who work with polymer clay know exactly what I'm talking about.)
Under it all, my CUTTING BOARD:  My family has a cabinet building business (my parents and brother).  This board is the cut-out for a sink in a bathroom counter top.  It's a Formica top.  It makes a nice surface to roll and cut clay on.  This one, however, is getting a little bit worn out, so I'm due for a new one.  The next one is going to be a scrap of solid surface counter top material.  It will be even smoother and more durable than the laminate.  I've had this particular board for many years though.  It's done its duty. 
STOVE:  Obviously, this is non-negotiable, since the clay can't cure without one!  I used to bake in a toaster oven when I was doing miniature figurines.  Now I use a full-sized oven because my pieces are too large for a toaster oven. 
OVEN THERMOMETER:  Critical to the process because all ovens heat up differently and tend to fluctuate in temperature.  I've burned many a pieces by not using a thermometer!
I have several other tools that serve their purpose in my studio as well.
BALL-TIPPED STYLUS: for adding details to eyes and sometimes for texture
4" FISKARS EMBROIDERY SCISSORS: were my favorites until I got the Kai.  I still use these to cut sticky stuff and very thin wire.
TOOTHPICKS: have lots of uses--painting dots, texture, curling wire around
KNITTING NEEDLE:  I use this to smooth clay, add details, even to stir paint!
TWEEZERS: for grabbing on to tiny things like little crystals
VARIOUS PAINTBRUSHES: for painting, brushing on blush, glue.  I even have a big fluffy one I use to dust my pieces off before their photo shoots.
COOKIE CUTTERS:  I have lots of sizes and shapes, but my most used are the circle biscuit cutters to cut the bases for my figurines.
These are my basic and most-loved tools.  There are others, but if you are just starting out working with polymer clay, the items on this list will be very helpful.  I know lots of polymer clay artists can't live without a pasta machine.  It aids in conditioning clay and in rolling perfectly even slabs of clay.  Personally, I've never used one.  When I was starting out, they didn't have one marketed to clay artists, and I just couldn't justify the expense of a kitchen model.  I got along fine with my hands and a rolling pin.  Now I can't miss what I never had.  That's a personal preference, and I'm sure many artists would disagree with me on that. 
Of everything I use daily, I  would say that my most important tools are my hands and my imagination! 
Are you a clay artist?  What are you favorite tools?  What can't you live without?  Do you have tools you don't use?  Is there something you don't have you wish you did?  I'd love to hear from you!
Those tools are calling my name!  Gotta go!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Favorites--Angela McLean, My Pink Bag

I can't believe how long it has been since I posted a Friday Favorite!  Let's try to get back on track, Lisa!! 

I've had this feature in mind for several weeks, ever since I received my Summer issue of Art Doll Quarterly magazine and discovered Angela McLean's amazing brides.  Most of the magazine was focused on bride dolls submitted in their recent Bride Doll Challenge.  Angela's work stood out to me because it is so fresh and unique.

Angela makes these fabulous bride dolls from PAPER! (And have I mentioned I have a thing for paper? Yes, I think I have...)  She uses different weights of paper, beads, micro beads, and paper embellishments to create these lovely gowns that have such wonderful dimension and detail.  They are beautiful little works of art.  I think her work is stunning and I've been dying to share it with you. 

Paper Doll Brides
Paper Doll Brides
Paper Doll Brides
Paper Doll Brides
Angela also does custom orders.  You need only contact her and send her a photo of your bride that shows the details of her dress.  She will create one of these lovely paper dolls especially for you.  Wouldn't that be a lovely keepsake of your wedding day? 
You can find Angela here, at My Pink Bag on etsy. 
I hope your enjoyed these lovely paper dolls! 
Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Art Doll Quarterly

Hey, Friends!  GREAT NEWS!!

The Fall issue of Art Doll Quarterly Magazine will be out on the newsstands next week, and I am BEYOND THRILLED to say that one of my own dolls is featured in their Show and Tell Gallery!  YAY!! 

This magazine is a fabulous publication, full of amazingly talented doll artists.  It is such an honor to have my work featured in the same magazine as Scott Smith of Rucus Studio, whose delightfully frightful Catrina in Waiting is featured on the cover.  His work is simply incredible and so inspiring.  He is one of my very favorite Halloween artists! 
I submitted three witches for consideration and the editors chose Pearl, who happens to be one of my all time favorite witches! 
Pearl is a kind old witch dressed all in white. Her dress is sculpted from pearly clay with an ivory silk skirt trimmed in satin ribbon and a fabric flower.  Her cape and hat are ivory crushed velvet.  Swarovski crystals detail the front of her dress and her little black boots. Her hair is made from curly wool roving. She is carrying her cat, Ecru, who is sculpted from clay.
There are so many wonderful dolls featured in this magazine.  If you are at all interested in one of a kind art dolls, you might want to grab a copy.  It hits newsstands on August 1.
I'm also pleased to tell you that my friend LeeAnn of Charmed Confections is also featured in the Show and Tell Gallery of this issue with five of her Halloween creations.  It's her first time being published and she is very excited!  Congratulations, LeeAnn!! 
Have a great day!  I'm off to work on some more Halloween dolls!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trick or Troll

It feels so great to be back in the studio, hard at work creating new characters from clay.  I've been working on Halloween spooks, because let's face it, Halloween will be here before you know it!  At least, in my world of art fairs it will be!

What I love about making Halloween characters is that they can be anything.  ANYTHING!  Yes, there are the classics like witches, ghosts, Dracula and black cats.  But there are also goblins, ghouls, trolls, and monsters.  And who among us has really seen one of those?  They live in our heads, mostly, right?  So the creative freedom is infinite!! 

A couple of days ago this guy appeared in my head:

I'm not sure where he came from, but I really like him!!
He looks a little mean and scary, but I've had a nice chat with him, and he's a lot sweeter than he looks.  Trolls love treats, too, and he's just out for a little Halloween fun.
He dressed in a purple t-shirt with a moon and bat, velvet bat wings and a crepe paper collar.  He has a funny tuft of wool roving hair and carries a little jack o'lantern filled with his favorite Halloween treat--tiny candy corn.
What do you think of this guy?  Is he a keeper?  He will be haunting my etsy shop very soon.  The tricksters are beginning to trickle in.
I'm back at it again today.  I have this vision of a zombie cheerleader.  What??  We'll have to wait and see where that goes....
Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Remember me? And Pfatt Marketplace Update

Hello, Friends! 

I know it's been a while since I've posted anything.  I honestly TRIED to get here, but I've had so many other things going on in the last several weeks that I just had to let some things get pushed aside.  Sorry it was this!!  But I'm back now, and hopefully I will be on a more regular schedule. 

As for what I've been up to....my lovely niece, Hilary, got married!!  YAY!!  So I have been knee deep in projects for her wedding, and helping to decorate for the wedding, and helping to un-decorate for the wedding, and recuperating from the wedding (my nasty back situation reared its ugly head.  BOO!).  Then the July 4th holiday snuck up, and we were back in western Nebraska with my family and also attending another wedding of a friend.  Between all that I snuck in a couple of non-work related projects. 

This week I'm finally back in the studio, doing what I love.  I will be sharing new work with you very soon.  I'm so excited to be back to work.  I've had lots of Halloween spooks haunting my brain over the last few weeks.  Time to get them out of there and bring them to life!!

But for today, I'm actually sharing an adorable witch I made last year.  I never had the chance to get her listed on etsy, so you can consider her a 'freshly made' piece.  I have listed her, along with two other wonderful witches, on my Pfatt Marketplace page for this month.  It will update this afternoon, so be sure to check it out. 

This is Matilda.  She is all dressed up for a Halloween party in her sparkly tulle skirt and polka dot bodysuit.  Her tall witch's hat is paper covered in black velvet and trimmed with a dotted bow.  She carries a magic wand with a glittered cat's head on the end.  (Of course it is NOT a real cat!!)

I love the quirky expression on her face and her big, green eyes.  She is a bit unusual--not your typical looking Halloween witch--which is why I love her so much!
I hope you will go have a look around Pfatt Marketplace.  There are so many wonderfully talented artists represented there.  I always feel so honored to be a part of it!
So, what have you been up to while I've been absent?  I would love to hear from you!  Drop me a line in the comments section below!
Have a great day!  I'll be working!  YAY!