Sunday, January 25, 2015

Funny Bones (and how to permanently mend broken polymer pieces with a cast)

The February challenge theme for my guild is Masks. This was one of the themes which I had suggested to the guild when we were posting ideas, at our forum, for challenge themes. Back then I had envisioned making a beautiful mask, covered with either polymer leaves or feathers and possibly an asymmetrical  design with lots of swirls... but as often happens, the stray inspiration of an object, on which to build my mask, took over and my original beautiful vision was left behind in the dust.

"Why give up on the beautiful mask idea? What object could have made me abandon my original idea to create this creepy thing?", you may ask. I always try to be a couple months ahead in my planning/idea stage for the challenges, so this all happened after Thanksgiving dinner when I saw the bones from the turkey. I think I've mentioned on this blog before that I'm a vegetarian, but we do get a humane organic turkey, from a local farm, on Thanksgiving to share with our guests who are not vegetarian. So, after the Thanksgiving meal, as I was cleaning up the kitchen I saw the unique shape of the breast bone and immediately saw a face in it, which hijacked my mask idea from my beautiful mask plans to something creepy-funny-wierd.

Here's the inspiration that I couldn't ignore:

You can see where I saw the nose. The side bones were too close and lined up over my eyes, so these I cut off and then angled out to the sides. The entire piece was covered with a thin layer of white polymer which I texturized around the "face". I knew the mask would be too heavy to be held in place by some sort of tied band at the back of the head; and I didn't want the wearer to be encumbered by upholding the mask with a stick. So I came up with the idea of a bridge spanning over the top of the head.

The armature for the head band was added by drilling a hole into the top area of the "nose" through which a wire was fed. The wire was doubled up and curved over the crown of my head. I then covered the head band wire armature with aluminum foil to make a thicker armature. This was covered with white polymer. Unfortunately, while I was handling the piece firmly, the side bone areas on the face broke off, even though they were covered with clay and cured, I'm guessing this is because I put too much force on those areas, plus the armature of that area was thin turkey bones which are quite brittle. I glued them back and covered with another layer of thin clay and the entire piece went through a second cure.

After the second cure, I added wire armature for the spider-like arms at the top of the head, and once again the side face bones broke. So I devised a method, that is similar to making a cast, to secure them. After curing my cast method, I had no further breaking problems even when I put force on the appendages. I also decided to treat the upper head "arms" to the cast treatment to ensure no breakage with those wired armature appendages. I photographed the process and will share here what I did:

So, if you have a piece that keeps breaking, how do you fix it, to prevent it from breaking again? First, using a strong glue (I used super glue), glue the piece back in place. Then, take a thin sheet of something porous (thin fabric would work, but I used a spent dryer sheet).  Cut a strip of your fabric or dryer sheet and saturate it with liquid sculpey or bake 'n bond. Adhere the soaked strip to the area around the break (see bottom left image), wrapping the area a couple times to ensure a strong cast. Then using a heat tool, cure the cast (you may have to hold the end of the strip in place with a needle tool until the heat fully cures the liquid clay). Add a layer of bonding agent and cover with a thin layer of the original polymer color and smooth or texturize as desired. Fully cure in oven at temperature suggested on polymer packaging.

After the breakages were finally resolved with their cast fixes, and the upper antenna arms were reinforced with a cast, I decided to add spiked horns to the band across the head. The armature for the spikes were the wooden rods of spent Q-tips which I had saved to upcycle. I drilled holes into the band and glued the wooden rods into the holes. Then I covered them with white clay and twisted them up to create the horns you see. Back into the oven everything went for a third curing.

The last thing I decided to add were the armored plates on the headband and the rings surrounding the horns. I decided these plates would finish off the headband well and would not demand a lot of time (something of which I'm always in short supply while creating challenge pieces!). After these additions were made and a final curing, the entire piece was treated to an antiquing with a burnt umber oil paint and then heat set. 

While it was indeed fun to just let the piece create itself from the initial base material, this is so far beyond my typical style! Whenever I put it on my face though, it just makes me giggle cause it's so silly to me. I'm sure someone somewhere would like this mask, but it's definitely not for me. I may make some more changes to it and I am considering listing it in my etsy shop. I'm a bit wary of listing this piece only because I'm not certain it would fit the face of everyone (since it was basically custom fit to my face). It does look kind-of cool just sitting on a table though, perhaps for someone who likes creepy weird items to decorate...  I may still add some things to it and am considering adding another layer of antiquing in black to give more depth and interest. What do you think of my creepy mask? Would you have guessed that it was built upon the breast bone of a turkey? Leave me a comment below and tell me your thoughts!

This challenge vote will open on February 1st. I'll be sure to post here a reminder when the voting is open!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Swapping ornaments

This past December, I participated in my guild's Ornament swap for the first time. I made 3 ornaments which I sent to 3 of my guild mates and, in exchange, 3 other guild mates sent me ornaments. It was great fun and I plan to participate in these much more often! Because I was working on documenting the process of my polymer quilling filigree technique (in hopes to have it published), I decided to create these ornaments in that technique.

(front side)

(back side)

These ornaments were built upon a brass ring (with the chain and clip that you see attached), which I believe was meant to be a curtain ring. The red ornament is slightly different because it was created first, and all the "kinks" were figured out with this one... I think it has a more whimsical look, as the filigree isn't as fluid as the other two, because it was formed in a slightly different manner, but I still love it! The front side of each ornament has the name of the recipient scripted in the center. And the back sides have my little "Create My World Designs" logo stamped in the center with added appliquéd and embossed dots.

The ornaments I received are these wonderful beauties:

The glass heart with appliquéd flowers on the left is from Linda Riopel of NKDesigns, the center Joy ornaments are from Becky Sue Mizell of Becky Sue Creations, and the whimsical tree bell on the right is from Arlene Harrison of Ashpaints (Harrison Hollow Designs).

This was such a fun experience! I look forward to more swaps in the future! Have you participated in swaps? Do you know of any swaps that I should know about? Tell me about it in the comments!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Voting Time! January 2015 Illuminated Challenge

Go to the PCAGOE blog to cast your vote! Three voters are randomly chosen each month to win a prize! Voting closes at midnight on January 7th, 2015!  

Thanks to Marie Young of Marie Young Creative for the image above.