Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy, Shiny Christmas Tree!

I'm an "in the moment, season-to-season" kind of girl. It's rare for me to rush any season by wishing for the next one. This has good points and bad. The good is that I am enjoying the moment. The bad is that when all the business-minded artists and crafters are creating items to sell a season ahead of time, I'm living in the moment and my creations celebrate the season at hand... when fall arrives I'm inspired to make fall items, when the winter holidays are upon us, I'm compelled to create Christmas items. So, while this challenge piece is for the January 2015 challenge, I'm still in Christmas creating mode. This month for my guild, the PCAGOE, our theme is "Illuminated" (any item that is lit by a light or candle).

As happens fairly often, the piece I chose to create was based upon an item I found at my local thrift store. I found this hinged, wire, pyramidal shape that I imagine was supposed to be a sort of abstract Christmas tree. I decided this would be a great little piece to turn into a polymer Christmas tree light. I wish I had taken a before photo of the frame, but it is still exposed on the inside, so you can get an idea from this:

I began by creating flat slabs of translucent Premo in the shape of each side of the pyramid top and base. After these were cured, I glued them onto the frame and sealed the seams with bonding agent and more translucent polymer to smooth out the corners. The entire piece went in for the second curing. Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking about the polymer + heat + gravity factor and did not give it any extra support on the outsides. For those who are not familiar with curing polymer: while fully cured and cooled polymer is extremely durable, if one does not give support to 3 dimensional objects during the heat process, the heat and gravity can make the polymer break or crack when it's in the oven. If a piece is properly supported, this does not happen... proper support seems to be a lesson I am destined to re-learn often! While the frame was there for support on the inside, it was only attached to the outer edges of the frame. With the piece sitting on one of it's sides in the oven, 2 of the side pieces were pulled downward by gravity, resulting in cracked pieces. Because nearly each piece I make is a new and unique idea, there's almost always a learning curve filled with accidents. In this case, I patched it back up with bonding agent and more translucent polymer, cured it and decided to move onward. One of the things I love about this medium is that you can almost always fix problems that may arise. But, because of the patched cracks, I now needed a surface treatment that would hide the patch (originally I had intended to stain the polymer with inks, sort-of like a watercolor painting)....

A while ago, I had the idea to use Ginger Allman's (of The Blue Bottle Tree) Holo effect to create the illusion of facets on a diamond shape (right after I created my Diamond in the Rough container). At that time, I purchased the tutorial from Ginger and put the idea aside for a while. I still have yet to recreate that diamond project using the hollo effect technique, if you follow this blog, you know how rare it is for me to revisit an old project. So, as I was considering what surface treatment to use for this piece, my eyes glanced upon the materials I had purchased for Ginger's Holo effect and that serendipitous moment decided the outcome of this piece. I set to work and finished the outside of the top with a green holo effect and the base with a golden holo effect. I didn't give any texture, as Ginger does to her pieces; I kept it flat because I wanted to see how this technique might be used to create that previous faceted diamond idea, for which I would also want no texture.  Here's a close-up of the tree, so you can better see the holo effect's iridescent shine:

After the holo surface was cured, I covered the corners and edges with strips of raw polymer and bonding agent. After this was cured, next came the dilemma of how to decorate the tree. I decided upon extruded strands that curl and meander around the tree, with multicolored light bulbs reminiscent of C7 bulbs. The base decoration became an extruded, curly and meandering strand of Premo red sparkle clay. I also made a little star to sit atop the tree. This star was also treated to the gold holo effect and it is outlined in gold and sparkle red polymer. It is removable, held to the top of the tree with 2 strong magnets. I did this specifically to avoid having the star bend or break during storage.

As always the process of bringing the concept of this piece to a final product was enjoyable, even with the frustration of the start. I'm especially happy with the holo effect, it reminds me of iridescent dichroic glass, so bright and shiny... such a happy little tree. Oh speaking of "little", the dimensions are 10.5" (from the tip of the star to the base) and 4.5" at the widest point of the base. I wish I had been able to take more time to do this project, to refine things, but I'm in the middle of another big project plus the preparation for the holidays, so this one got more rushed than I would have liked. But overall, I'm quite pleased. If you're intrigued by the holo effect, I highly recommend Ginger's tutorial, she explains everything in thorough detailed description and photos.

I'd love to hear what you think of my little, happy, shiny tree... leave me a comment below!
Whatever holiday you may celebrate this season, I extend warm wishes for a happy holiday.. and cheers to a healthy 2015! The voting for this challenge will begin on New Year's Day and will be open until midnight on the 7th. I'll post a reminder here when voting is open!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Time to Vote!

There are 2 more days left to cast your vote for the December 2014 Carving Challenge! Head over to the PCAGOE blog and choose your 3 favorite entries! Three lucky winners are chosen every month to win a prize, one of them could be you!  **Thanks to Marie Young of Marie Young Creative for the image used above**