Sunday, August 25, 2013

Creation Story

There are many stories surrounding the creation of the world.  One in particular that struck me years ago is a Native American story about the world being created upon the back of a sea turtle.  I have no remembrance of where I first encountered that story and I've tried recently to find the exact story, but there seem to be many variations and each one I have found since are a little different from what I remember of the original myth.

I've been interested in Native American culture and stories since my college days.  I created my entire senior advanced drawing portfolio based on Native American art.  I think what initially drew me to reading the stories was an awareness and respect for the connection which Native tribes have to the earth.  So about 3 years ago when I was having dinner with 2 of my dad's sisters, imagine my surprise and delight to learn, for the first time, that one of my ancestors was Native American.  My aunts couldn't tell me much more than the fact that my dad's great grandmother was a full blooded Native American.  Considering the part of the country where my roots are planted, my great great grandmother's tribe must have been Lenni Lenape.

When my polymer clay guild, the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE), decided to do a challenge theme inspired by a story or book, the turtle land creation story that I encountered many years ago was what I decided to depict.  Since I couldn't find the exact story, for those who would like to read something similar, here is a link to another version with the same basic premise.  I also found a similar Lenni Lenape version which was much more simplified... it goes:  Kishelemukong, the Creator, brought a turtle up from the ocean. 
It grew into an island (North America).  The first men and women sprouted from a tree on the tutle's back.

The piece of art you've seen in this post was created with this story in mind, as my entry for the September 2013 PCAGOE challenge.  I also had the idea to try to mimic quilled paper artwork.  The look I achieved is not quite what I had in mind, because it became much more complex than I had originally intended. The piece is meant as a wall hanging.  It was created by first stretching a piece of canvas over an wooden embroidery hoop.  I then sketched the design onto the canvas.  After painting the entire canvas with liquid polymer clay, which was then cured, I painted the canvas with inks.  The next step was to mix my polymer colors and extrude them all in long strips.  The strips were adhered to the canvas with a polymer bonding material and heat fused into place.  This was a painstaking process, taking much more time than I had originally anticipated.  The final step was to cover the wooden frame with more extruded strips of varying sizes.  I was quite pleased with the final outcome.  What do you think?

Voting will open on September 1st.  I'll be sure to blog about it to remind you to go vote for your favorite entries and to show you the entries from the other participating members!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Polymer Clay Weekend Away

In my last post I mentioned having gone away for a weekend polymer clay retreat.  The first weekend in August, I had the opportunity to meet (in person) some of the members of my online polymer clay guild, The Polymer Clay Artist's Guild of Etsy (a.k.a. PCAGOE).  Member Cindy Matthews of Arrowdale Art Studio graciously offered the use of her home as a meeting point.  Cindy lives in Williamsport, PA.  Williamsport was once a favorite haunt of mine and my husband's, before the natural gas companies moved in to exploit the area for hydro-fracking; (but that's another subject for another time...)  Considering the retreat would be so close to home (about a 3 hour drive) and in a familiar locale, I couldn't resist being a part of the event.  Not only was it a great opportunity to be with like-minded creative spirits and to be inspired by each other, but it was a chance to meet in person some of the people with whom I'd been conversing on the internet for years!

We met at Cindy's place Friday afternoon, and had an afternoon and evening of sharing food, chatting and show-n-tell.  The show-n-tell part was especially fantastic; having the chance to examine items in hand that I had ogled in online photos.

Saturday morning was a gorgeous day, perfect for working on Cindy's large wrap-around-porch.

Saturday we had a full day of claying together, complete with demonstrations generously offered by Susan of 11BoldStreet, Marie of Marie Young Creative, Lisa of Hi Girls! Designs and Line of Play Sculpt Live.  Each demonstration was a signature technique of each artist.  As a group we all created a version of Marie Young's bird eggs.  Below is a photo of all of our birds together.

Most of us took a shot at face sculpting in the method that Line of Play Sculpt Live demonstrated.  Sadly, I don't have a group photo of our faces, but here's my attempt at Line's face technique.

Saturday evening was spent sharing more food and conversation, and an exchange of twinchies (2" pieces of artwork) which we had each prepared ahead of time to swap.  The group had decided to make the twinchies representative of ourselves or of our hometown.

Here's what my 2 sided inchies looked like; Side A representative of me (silk dyed polymer technique background):

Side B; representative of where I live (Lancaster, PA), with an Amish quilt pattern that originated in Lancaster PA:

Sunday we gathered in the morning to autograph, for each other, magazines in which our work has been published, plus additional technique and business chats before breaking up to head back home.  This retreat was such a wonderful opportunity for me... one that I'll not forget!  I hope to be able to attend more East coast polymer retreats in the future!

Once I got home and unpacked. I finished my bird egg sculpt.  I was really pleased with how he turned out!  Here's a few photos of my finished birdie:

You can view more photos of my weekend get-away on my flickr photostream.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Better Late Than Never! ~ Paleo Necklace Challenge Entry

Today is the last day to vote for the August 2013 PCAGOE challenge.  I'm only posting this now because I was tied up at the beginning of the month with a polymer clay retreat; a weekend away to play with clay and meet (for the first time in person) some internet friends from my guild. I'll post more about that experience soon!  So about the August challenge... this month's theme was Tribal-Goddess and the interpretations were varied and wonderful!  It's always so great to see so much diversity among all of the entries.  My interpretation came about almost accidentally.  The piece emerged as a polymer clay necklace of faux stone and faux rock beads, etched with caveman type drawings.  When I set to work on this challenge, I had in mind an all together different concept; I was planning to create a mother earth figurine. While mixing the clay for the figurine, I saw a beautiful crackled blend of colors appear which begged to be turned into something. Instead of setting that aside to move onto the "planned idea", I let the clay guide me to create this piece.

Those are my favorite types of creative sessions when the clay almost has a mind of its own... so rewarding! For more views of this piece, please visit my flickr photostream

Here's a glimpse at the other wonderful entries created by my guild mates:

Voting closes tonight (8/7/2013) at midnight EST, so head over to the PCAGOE blog and cast your vote for your 3 favorite entries.  Each month 3 lucky voters are randomly chosen to win a prize... one of the winners could be you! So please do go to the guild blog and vote!