Tuesday, August 26, 2014

11th hour work sessions and other disasters

Disaster!  At exactly 11:15 last night, with a midnight deadline looming, and after spending most of the afternoon/evening working on my guild challenge piece, I made one move that spelled disaster for the entire project... well, almost.  I did manage to make a huge alteration and somewhat saved it... So here's the story, and the method of how I created (and partially destroyed) my latest challenge piece:

The theme this month is "Little Black Ball" - each entry must include a 1" black ball somewhere in the construction.  Plus, as a bonus theme, to celebrate the anniversary of The Polymer Arts magazine, we decided to ask each member to incorporate a technique or inspiration that they received from reading either The Polymer Arts magazine or the blog.  

I had the idea for this challenge well in advance of the month (of August) which should have been used to create it.  I'd been toying with the idea of liquid polymer coated string for well over a year, with nothing worthy of showing until last month, as my friend Line Labreque guessed correctly in the comments of last month's post... that challenge piece, my Rays of Summer lacy soap dish, was based on the string coated polymer idea that had been stewing in my head (after a brief experiment I did a year+ ago, that was unworthy of being shown).  As a subscriber to both The Polymer Arts magazine and daily blog, there was an overflowing fountain of inspiration from which to choose.  My inspiration from The Polymer Arts blog came from two blog posts, one about mandalas and one about repetition.

Idea set in place, all I needed was the time to bring it to life.  August is always a tough month for me to get any work done in my studio.  This time of year, the garden is really starting to rock; so I'm harvesting, preparing and preserving lots of veggies almost daily.  Plus, August brings with it the last chance to enjoy summer to the fullest; before the school year kicks our life into the regimented schedule, stress and limited "couple" time for me and my hubby.  So it was no surprise that this challenge piece would be a last minute work session.  I began working on this yesterday at around noon, after my usual Monday work (i.e. laundry and internet business) was either completed or "in process".  

I began by gluing my dowel rods together to form the supports.  I then built up my 1" black ball of polymer in the center.  This was cured to ensure a strong and stable base.  Next, I started to form the mandala by winding string around the rods and the center ball, and adding polymer layers here and there.  The string was coated with liquid polymer.  From this point, the entire piece was spot cured with a heat gun, at each addition to the mandala.  Here are some shots of the back of the piece:

The original size of the mandala was to be 12" in diameter.  I built out the entire thing and somehow had it in my head that this should have all the colors of the rainbow, thus, the red first colored layer, orange next, yellow was the third... at this point I was really happy with how it was developing.  But I thought the liquid polymer coated string should be covered in color also.  I started with the outer string layers, painted one with blue LPC.  I should have heeded my inner voice, that said... "I don't know, I really love the natural color of the string, combined with the warm colors of the spectrum..."  (I also should have taken a photo of it at that point so that I could show you how lovely it really would have been) but I went ahead and cured the blue and immediately hated it.  So, I then added purple, hated it more, by now the yellow parts also contributed to what I disliked.  So, I then took black acrylic paint to "antique" the yellow wrapped clay, blue and purple parts and to paint the exposed dowel areas and one strip of the LPC string.  Big Disaster!  I just kept hating it even more with each change I made.  I wanted to turn back the time to before I touched that blue LPC paintbrush to the natural LPC string, I wanted to scream or maybe cry!  But, by now it was 11:15 PM.  My photo of the finished project was due at 12:00 AM!  Panic ensued,  I decided to cut my losses, literally.  (this next photo, with the ornament sitting on top of the cut-off portion is kind-of how it looked)

I took my wire cutters and hacked off the outer layers of the mandala, cutting it down it to the central black, red, orange and natural colors, also cutting the size down to 3" in diameter.  I decided instead of a wall hanging, this would be an ornament.  I added little black balls to the ends of the mandala, to cover where I cut off the other part.  A final curing in the oven, and I called it quits on this project. I did save the hacked off part, which I'm already brainstorming how to alter and save for something else.... hmm, what do you think I'll make with this?

 While I do like this little mandala ornament, it is so far from what I had envisioned, that I can't help but be disappointed in this project.  I did learn many things from all of this, not the least of which is not to procrastinate my project to the very last day... I wonder just how many time I need to relearn that lesson! ;)  I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have about this piece, or about your similar experiences... leave me a comment below!

Voting for this challenge will open on September 1st.  I'll try to blog a voting reminder about it, as well as a reminder to check out our guild facebook page in September... because, we are doing something special to celebrate the anniversary of The Polymer Arts magazine!  Happy Anniversary to The Polymer Arts, and it's very talented creator/editor/publisher, Sage Bray!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


I almost forgot again.. here's your reminder to go vote for the challenge (if you haven't already). Chock full of awesome entries again, it's a tough decision to pick just 3 favorites!  Check them out:

And remember to go to the PCAGOE blog to cast your vote here.   Thanks to everyone who takes the time to vote! And remember, you could win a prize... 3 lucky voters are randomly chosen to win a prize each month!