Monday, February 11, 2013

An old work of art turned up recently

Pocket Watch with cover removed to show detail.
Going through a drawer of jewelry I was tickled pink to find this pocket watch nestled in a corner. Seeing it again took me back to the 80's where it all started.

After discovering  Fimo and having fun with it making miniatures and then selling miniatures, my customers soon began to show a preference of the tiny, whimsical teddy bears that were dressed as characters.  These little character bears soon had their own name - PenniBears. 

Over seven years of designing and making them I eventually held copyright on close to 100 designs from 1/8" tall to nearly 3 inches tall. They grew more and more detailed as my skill improved until you could set up an entire wedding from Bride to Ring Bearer Or a Christmas scene from Santa decorating the tree with a tiny mouse helping, to elves, Mrs. Santa with a cookie sheet of gingerbread cookies to a little bear with stick tied to his head for antlers and wearing the jingle bells that the other PenniBears were hanging up as decorations.  


An empty watch case from a garage sale was languishing in a drawer until the Three PenniBears idea came to mind. 

Since I'd been a painter using both oils and acrylics the natural thing seemed to be that this watch case should be painted in clay and a three dimensional scene added to it. 

Background first: The pale blue sky color was smeared thinly over the entire back of the watch. Fluffy white clouds were shaped then smeared into the sky leaving a rounded edge on one side.  A row of tiny muted green trees were put across the bottom where the horizon line would be.

Papa PenniBear with Honey pot on his left.
Middle ground: a field and some larger trees were added, grass texture was very small and a tiny fence set the boundary of the middle ground. 

Foreground: Larger trees on either size gave scale to the change between the middle ground and the scene in the foreground. 

To make the gingham tablecloth I used slabs of clay, cutting and stacking the three values to make a block of gingham. Note that Papa Bear is wearing a blue gingham ribbon.
 After adding the richly colored green grass the gingham tablecloth was pressed into the clay and the tiny figures and foods were sculpted. 

The table cloth has a cherry pie on it and the super tiny ants are after it! Each ant is two incredibly tiny balls of black clay. I tried to make them of three balls, like a real ant, but the two balls were more effective so two it was.  

Momma PenniBear is getting a little shut-eye in the beautiful weather.


 Baby PenniBear is flying a kite. His kite has a PenniBear face on one side and, if you turn the knob, you'll see the kite sticks on the other side. 


It was created back in '86. 
The opening of the watch is 1 5/8 inches.

Below is a detailed image with notes.

Penni Jo Couch 
creator, designer and sculptor of 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Followup from the San Antonio workshop

I had a most wonderful time teaching the Orchid on distressed Faux Bois backer board workshop last week at the San Antonio Polymer Clay Guild and wanted to share a photo or two.

The students were very talented and produced amazing orchids. Since  orchids are found in such a large number of colors and sizes, the color schemes chosen by each student worked beautifully and were rich in realism.

By the end of class there were a number of orchids 'growing' on old, distressed pieces of weathered wood.

The all day class was from 10 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. 


 In the two hours before lunch we made a cane that, when sliced and stretched in the pasta machine, produced a sheet of old looking wood grain. From that boards were cut, shaped and distressed, ready to have an orchid 'planted' on it in the afternoon.

We started with the air roots, added the stem of the plant, the leaves and then the Cattleya orchids were the center of attention until the end of class.  

A cattleya orchid has three sepals and three petals. Two of the petals are alike and are simple compared to the third one, a modified petal. The modified petal usually forms a deep throat shape with ruffled edges.

Cattleya is a genus of 42 species of orchids. They are widely known for their large, showy flowers. The flowers of the hybrid's can vary in size from 5 cm to 15 cm or more.


Left, beautiful cane work orchid with skinner blend petals. 

These two dramatic orchids are exciting as the blue calyxs are support for the orange veined  and white petals.



The beautiful purples and golden yellows bloom richly on both wood boards and a bottle of hope. 

A cane in purple, yellow and lavender forms both the two simpler petals and the deep central petal. The colors of the orchids seem to vibrate against the cooler colors of the leaves and  backer board. Along with the pin/pendant, this student made a pair of earrings.


Once again, the contrast between cool and warm colors makes an exciting flower on wonderfully textured old wood. Here a pair of earrings and pendant are shown in bright colors with a white ruffled petal finishing off the design.


A blended bulls eye cane was made to give a pretty color change in the depth of the throat of the modified petal. A cane with tiny streaks of rose pink give interest and color to the simpler petals. 






This stem of blooming orchids created by myself embellishes a small piece of 'wood' that is about 3 inches tall. It will be finished as a pendant with matching earrings. 

Thanks for taking a look at our garden of orchids. For more information about my Classes check out this set on my Flickr Site.