Hey, remember when this used to be a polymer clay blog? Well, if you’ve been nostalgic for those days, maybe you’ll like what I have to show you tonight.
This weekend I took a class with Ellen Marshall in Philadelphia. Ellen is the queen of surface treatments. Whereas most of my own claywork involves the library of millefiori canes I’ve built over the last few years, Ellen’s involves coloring and painting on top of the clay with a variety of other media. The two approaches are fairly different, and until now I’ve resisted going the surface treatment route.
You see, my way doesn’t involve any extra materials – it’s just the clay and a small handful of tools. When I take my clay on the road, I can sling a tote bag over my shoulder and be good to go. Once you start surface decoration, you embark on a slippery slope of acquisition. Must-have inks, dyes, paints and powders find their way onto your clay table, and before you know it, you’re towing a gargantuan rolling cart full of your supplies behind you on your way to a workshop.
I’m not up for that. My minimalist approach has served me quite well. Honestly, I’m not even sure why I took this class, being as resistant to change as I have been. But take it, I did…
We scraped powder from pastels and used the powder to decorate sheets of clay, and we made texture plates in order to add some dimension to our colored sheets. For my texture sheet I repeated the same pattern I tend to use on my mokume gane pieces, just to give it a touch of consistency with my other work.
I went through three color schemes before I finally had a pleasing sheet. I promise you I tried to go outside of my zone of predictability on this one, but the yellow and purple sheet didn’t do it for me, and the blue + green + pink sheet was even worse. Luckily, the old standby swampy color mix didn’t let me down, so I textured it, and cut out this pair of gigantic earrings.
(Don’t you think this technique would make nice buttons, too? I can see a big swampy button in this style on a cream-colored neckwarmer. Mmmm.)
So glad I got a chance to try Ellen’s technique. And you know, as much as I hate to add to the craft supply clutter, this class has officially put me in the market for a set of pastels. At least pastels are compact enough to slip into my handy tote bag. No gargantuan rolling cart for me just yet. Whew. Bullet dodged.
[Edit: Martha posted some details – including a video and a slide show – about the class over at the PAPCG blog, if you’d like to see more.]