Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This Challenge nudged me out of my comfort zone.

A while back I joined Christie Fresian's fun forum group and have enjoyed seeing member's work and reading posts. Recently she had a challenge, a circular reasoning challenge for a PolymerCafe article. Her description of the challenge of circular things were clever, fun and inventive including ripples on water. Hummm. (thinking happening here)

Suddenly a rippling idea popped into my head. (Imagine a light bulb suddenly shining over my head here) The design could be a pin with round waterlily pads, rippling water and circling Koi fish in a pond.

As I've been working in my comfort zone for far too long, this was just what the doctor ordered! Not one to shirk a challenge I jumped in with both feet.

First were the little sketches and then, thinking about how to make the fish, the background, the water, lily pads (first cane did not work, had to make a second cane) & flowers, background details, and finally the ripples. Slowly I began to get all my ducks in a row. (my apologies to readers from other lands for using this bit of American colloquialism.)

The circular background was easy, Skinner blend in watery colors. Made blend, rolled into a big cane, cut a slice, flattened on a tile. Also made a translucent and white jelly roll cane from which to cut ripples.

Now, for the fish. Uh-Oh, they need to be flat or the water will be way too thick. Humm, can't sculpt flat fish. (new light bulb over head needed again.) Finally an idea sets off the light. I'll color the fish onto the background. Uh-Oh, the colored pencils will not color over dark, light or medium blue. Another idea! Make very, very thin light gold fish on the background.

A sheet of gold was rolled through on the thinnest setting and then stretched even thinner. Three curvy fish were cut from the sheet and placed on the background and rolled smooth.

Done and baked. When cool, I sanded the goldfish down with 320 grit sand paper to add tooth to the fish so that the colored pencils will stick to the clay. Using my most favorite pencils for coloring on clay, Walnut Hollow Oil Pencils, the koi came to life with bright, rich colors. A coat of Liquid Kato was smeared over the fish and background and then baked again.

Next several slices were cut from the ripple cane, put through the pasta machine at the thinnest setting then applied over the fish and background and baked.

When cool the ripples were sanded until thin enough to be able to see the fish as clearly as possible.

Next a brown border was added, canes for the lily pads and flower petals created and applied. Tiny tendrils crawled across the brown 'earth' surrounding the pond and a final baking.

When cool, several coats of varnish was brushed over the water, allowed to dry and a pin back was added to Version 1.

Unsatisfied with version 1, version 2 was started.

This time the fish are white pearl rolled into the background clay. After baking and sanding the background the oil pencil colors were much brighter and richer. The border was added then came the lily pads, flowers, and tendrils with leaves. The lily pads were elevated above the background to let the 'water' run under them and appear to float.

When it went back into the oven, the center was filled with clear UTEE. As the pin baked, the UTEE melted and flowed into a smooth, glassy finish.

I rolled very, very tiny ropes of clay, formed them into curves and applied them to the top of the baked, solid UTEE and heated the UTEE with a heat gun until it began to melt and the cooked ripples bonded to the surface.

I hope you are able to find a challenge that will bring you as much fun and learning as this one has for me.

Thanks for the nudge Christie!!

BTW, the first person who saw the pin asked if I had used transfers for the fish. (slapping forehead with palm of the hand here) It never occurred to me until that very moment!!

Oh well, live and learn. :-)