Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Holiday Tribute to My Brothers

This month my polymer guild's challenge theme is "Beads and Baubles", which basically means anything Christmas or holiday related.  It's no small wonder that my thoughts of "Christmas or Holiday" lead to my family.  Some of my most cherished Christmas memories (as with most people) are centered around my childhood.  30 + years later, I can still recall the anticipation and excitement I had as a 5 year old waiting for the big day to arrive; Can still see myself twirling around on the hardwood floor, pretending to be Dorothy Hamil, whilst my mom's favorite Christmas albums played in the background.  Can still feel the thrill of the annual search at our favorite tree farm, to tag THE perfect tree well in advance of the holiday season.  I can clearly remember decoration sessions which ended with fighting over who got to put the peacock ornament on the tree... and many countless other Christmas related moments.

Because I am the youngest of 3, I have fond memories of sharing those times with my siblings.  I have 2 older brothers who certainly played a big role in most of my childhood remembrances.  While there are some recollections that are sweet and dear to my heart, there are others that make me think of the dynamic of our family which give me a chuckle.  Because I am the youngest, and only girl, my big brothers (who share my father's ever-mischievous character) delighted in tormenting me in many ways.  One of their chosen methods of teasing was to tell tall tales which, to their fairly gullible baby sister, were taken as truths.  Our poor mother had to soothe many a tear, and banish a few nightmares, over some of the stories that wreaked havoc with the imagination of the youngest of her brood.  It was the memory of one of those tales which was the final key to bring my challenge piece together this month.

You see, I had decided that for this challenge, I would create a snow globe.  I had a lovely tear-drop shaped glass honey jar.  I had decided that this bottle should become a penguin.   I wanted to leave the belly area of the jar open and have the inside be a snow globe.  At first I had thought I would have perhaps a Christmas tree inside his belly with some fish and snowflakes swimming around.  When I thought more of the snowflakes, I thought of putting a snowman inside his belly.  But then I thought, why would anything like a tree or snowman be inside a penguin's belly?  This is where my brothers' story comes in to play.

One summer when I was little, probably in the 5 to 6 year range, my family had gathered at my grandparent's house for a picnic.  We were all enjoying eating large slices of watermelon and spitting the seeds out into the yard.  I was eating my slice of watermelon and I accidentally swallowed one of the seeds.  I mentioned that I had swallowed a seed and my brothers pretended to be really concerned, and they said something like "Well you know what that means don't you? Your belly will get big and fat because you'll start growing a watermelon in your tummy."  I'm sure I'm not the first child to be told this tale, and surely not the last.  So my ah-ha moment with the penguin idea was to turn that tall tale into a story of eating snowflakes:  Poor Penguin so enjoyed catching snowflakes on the tip of his tongue and eating them that he didn't heed his older sibling's warning that he would grow a snowman inside his belly and now look at what has happened!

The snowman is polymer clay sculpted over some aluminum foil.  A bed of snow fills the bottom of the jar, and snowman is secured onto the snow with a small metal rod and some liquid polymer.  They are secured to the inside of the jar with epoxy.  The penguin is a glass tear drop shaped jar that has been covered with polymer to create the penguin.  About 20 small polymer snowflakes were made and they are inside the snow globe area.  One of the polymer snowflakes is in the beak of the penguin, as if this is the last of his captured snowflakes.

The snowglobe is filled with distilled water, vegetable glycerin, the polymer snowflakes and some white glitter.  The bottom of the penguin is embossed with a snowflake and my tiny signature stamp.

The size of this piece is about 6" tall, about 4" wide and 3 1/2" deep.  You can see the scale of him in the photo of my hand holding him below.  The head of the penguin completely unscrews to allow for refilling of the water solution. 

He was so fun to make; after the acorn idea and this one, I am now saving interesting jars for future projects and other ideas... this could become a new storage problem. ;)  What do you think about my latest little creation? 

Voting for the new challenge will, as always, begin on the first of the month (December 1st 2013) and ends at midnight on the 7th of December.  I'll try to remember to post a reminder with the link and a photo of the other entries here, but can't make any promises... as always December looms heavy with gift creating responsibilities and projects galore!

Friday, November 1, 2013

A month of gratitude and feasts! ...with a side of experimentation

November is upon us already; which, here in the US always brings to mind our holiday of Thanksgiving.  Since my last post of belated thanks for websites on which my work was featured over the past 5 months, I was featured in 2 more places for which I need to express my gratitude!

The first feature was on the Polymer Clay Daily website, for my little acorn light.  As a polymer clay artist, this feature is a huge honor.  PCD is curated by Polymer Master Artist Cynthia Tinapple and this site has widespread following.  I've been floating on air since Monday, feeling validated as a genuine part of this wonderful artistic community as I receive multiple new contact notices from other polymer artists on my Flickr account, generous comments on facebook and on the PCD feature post, and some requests for a tutorial on creating my little pod.  A tutorial is currently in the making, with some brand new ideas that will be included, and it should be available by the end of the month (I hope!). 

The second feature, for which I wanted to give thanks, was for another spot on the Craftgossip website.  The polymer finds shared at Craftgossip are curated by Elaine Robitaille.  Elaine has featured me there a few times, for which I was equally grateful but failed to mention here on my blog (because I'm a bad blogger, but trying to be better).  This latest feature on Craftgossip was for my most recent Guild (PCAGOE) challenge piece.

This month's guild challenge theme is Salt & Pepper shakers.  I tried to come up with a clever tie-in of the subject to the objects.  Ever since I was a child, I've been fascinated by science.  I often think chemistry was one of my first loves, even though I didn't really know anything about it at the time.  Like most 4-5 year old girls in the 1970's, one of my favorite toys was a plastic tea set.  But did this girl use it to pretend-drink tea? ...nope, I would sneak into the bathroom and make concoctions of my mother's different Avon products mixed into my teacups; sort-of a little mad scientist, if you will.  That lasted until she caught me and gave me a tongue lashing for wasting her beauty products.  After which, I still made my concoctions, but hid them under my bed... I was eventually found out when she discovered hard caked and cracked substances in my teacup set under the bed.  She never bought me a chemistry set, or a new tea set for that matter to replace the then ruined tea set, so I guess she didn't see the scientist connection back then; but that was indeed what I was up to... Who knows, if she had invested in a chemistry set, perhaps I'd be experimenting with science instead of art products now... and with that difference, my mother has made the world a safer place! ;)

So, while exploring my ideas for this challenge, I thought of the chemical compound for sodium chloride or NaCl, commonly known as table salt.  I found the diagram for it on google and just loved the design that it created with the concentric circles joined together by the one ionic bond.  So, my next thought was, "great, now what do I do for pepper".  So I googled "pepper molecule" and found diagrams for both compounds of capsaicin and piperine.  Being married to an Italian who considers hot peppers to be the essence of life, I'm very familiar with Capsaicin and I associate it with red peppers, so that was out... but what is piperine?  Well, piperine is the alkaloid in pepper which is responsible for its pungent taste.  Perfect!

So, I decided to cover the shakers with a chopped translucent technique, the salt was done in white, frost white and translucent, and the pepper was done in a black, granite and translucent mix.  Then, I used a contrast of black rectangle with NaCL diagram embossed on the salt shaker and a contrast of white rectangle with the piperine (C17H19NO3) compound diagram embossed on it.  Yes, I know, I'm such a geek... that's how the title for these was born "Feed your geek Salt and Pepper Shakers".  After curing, I painted the NaCl embossing with white acrylic paint and the piperine diagram with black acrylic paint.  I sealed the paint with a polymer sealer and sanded the shakers to even out any bumps.  Then the shakers were coated with a layer of liquid polymer and cured again.  To finish, they were sanded again through 10 or 12 grades of sandpaper (I lose track and am too lazy to go count how many I actually use) and finally buffed to a shine with my buffing machine. 

I added little windows in the bottom of the shakers just under my teeny "Create My World" signature stamp, so the owner can easily see when they need to be refilled (they are available in my etsy store).  The shakers in my kitchen are made of wood and the thing I dislike about them is that one never knows when they are empty, until you shake the salt or grind the pepper and find nothing coming out!  So this solves that dilemma:

I was really pleased with the way these turned out.  What do you think?  Leave me a comment below!  And please go vote for your favorite 3 entries in this month's guild challenge at the PCAGOE blog.  Three lucky voters will be randomly selected to win a prize, one of them could be you! 
Here are the other entries, it's so tough to choose favorites among these well conceived entries!