Matt’s Choice and Wednesday Animal

Yesterday I let myself be sucked into a new piece. It is part of my decision to move forward with making a new portfolio of dimensional work. It is a large undertaking which, is going to require a lot of time and energy. It will probably be a side B to my portfolio. However, this is a long process and I am going to be asking a lot of advice from professionals before I finalize anything. As I am in the midst of trying to make large amounts of work I am actually having a hard time breaking out of my illustrating mode to be online or make dinner . . .

I was hoping to finish the piece yesterday. However, it is taking longer than I expected and isn’t coming together quite how I want. It is going to require some trial and error. I want to try different backgrounds, one being outside and since it is raining today, I can’t give that a try yet. For now here is the work in progress:

With these two taking up my art time yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to make many new cuddly critters for the drawers.  I also didn’t post the new guys from the day before until today, check them out:

And after reading back this post I am realizing I am in a place where balancing my blog and getting work done isn’t producing wonderful results. So, I am deciding to take a hiatus from blogging for the next couple of weeks. I will still post pictures of my daily drawer filling progress, watch my flickr stream for that. I would rather be off line for a couple of weeks and put all my energy into my illustration than spread myself too thin and not give my all to anything. If I get done with something and have time, I will try to post but, plan to look out for my next Husband’s Choice May 3rd. I will post about SOS again before the event on April 30th and May 1st.

Happy Creating!

Super Vibrant Bunny!

Somerville Open Studios has an Artists Choice Exhibit at the Somerville Museum to help promote artists involved. Often I am out of the loop from lack of attention because, I am trying to be involved in too many things. After critique group Tuesday and an email, I got the information that if I wanted to participate I needed to get it together by today. Which I did!

Gareth and his brethren marched onto my studio desk yesterday and today Gareth is traveling to the Museum to tell people about my art and where to go for SOS.

Here’s a shot of him before he left:

Another Rebecca’s Choice

This past weekend my Step Mom and Dad came up for a visit. We always lay low, watching favorite TV, eating the local food, and simply chit chatting. This visit was much the same but, had one wonderful addition. I shared sculpey with Rebecca and she became hooked.

Needing to acquire supplies for her, our daily routine was set up. Get up, have some breakfast, get ready, head to Kelly’s. After Lobster Rolls and Roast Beef Sandwiches were consumed, head to the Artist and Craftsman, and Starbucks. Go back home, with Lucien napping, make scupley critters until 1am, with a couple breaks in there for dinner and Wii Pictionary.

Rebecca went big right away making this lady
This image is an in progress shot. I didn’t take a picture of the finish but, she rocked!

With shared creativity in the room I was able to get a strong start on my art for Somerville Open Studios. My plan is to fill two type drawers with my cuddly critters. Here is my current progress

You can follow along for daily updates here at the full Photo Diary. I am also making larger cuddly critters that don’t fit in the drawers; I will be showing them during this diary as well. As you can see they will have individual shots.

My stop at SOS is #69 on the map. My friend Seth Seligman has kindly let me share his space. Stop by to see us April 30th and May 1st between 12-6pm.

New Shop!

All right, things have been going on in my life and I have to admit they are completely disrupting my regular scheduling. I am still getting things done and am making work; it is just all coming out on it’s own time. Hopefully next week will be a bit more normal and there will begin a new series of Husband’s Choice. I apologize for the break in the usual programming.

However, new things are here! I had a wonderful commission from a friend, 6 of my specimens! As it was left completely up to me on what to make I wanted to give her options to choose from. This left me with 7 new cuddlies to sale.

For a while I have been thinking of making the step to have a separate shop for my specimens. I believe these cuddlies don’t fit in well with my CaseyGirard etsy store. I think when the letters or even the other cuddlies are what brings you the shop and then you see the specimens they are off putting. So, to give them some proper space I have opened up Biology Class my new shop just for the specimens and any other strange creations that come about.

Here are the others that will be going up for sale throughout the week:

Yes the two not in vials are now and will sell in vials.

Happy Year of the Rabbit

A year to catch our breaths and calm down. Last year was rough, so many hardships came down upon people I know and love. I am hoping with the start of this year we can all heal from these trials, grow, and find balance.

My plans for myself are to simply stay on track. I have developed a great work routine over the past 6 months and I don’t want to loose it. As I continue to develop my illustration I am mainly spending time on my own ideas. To keep me on track I have signed up for some online group projects. You can see on the right of this post widgets for them, 250 words a day from Inky Girl and the Picture Book Dummy Challenge (that’s really a twibbon, I also put on my site). I am very excited to be participating!

Also keeping me on track are my weekly post themes, today, Animal Wednesday! I always like to illustrate the animal of the year. However, this is the first year I am happy with and willing to share my drawing. My year of the Rat image defied gravity, literally my rat was standing on air because of a bad perspective. Anyway, this is my rabbit, I am selling this piece on my etsy store too.

Playing along with the other holidays I am planning on making 3 or 4 Valentine’s Critters. Here is my first one:

Happy Year of the Rabbit I wish you all well for this year!

Sculpey/Clay – 2 of 2

It’s been a busy season for my hands.

Sometimes I am left with lots of pain in my hands and forearms. Working clay is not only hard work, it is physical labor. It’s important to find ways to  aid your tendons from becoming over stretched or strained. And now starts my tips for working with sculpey!

#1 When working with sculpey you are usually working small batches; so, it’s awkward to use your full hand and your shoulders to soften or prepare the clay. Which is what you do with large batches of clay, such as for throwing, which helps the creator to evenly spread the force required for kneading. Also exacerbating the problem, clay dries out, like with this fox’s orange. Making it even harder to get to a malleable stage.

Helper: Warm it up, give it to someone with really warm hands (my hubby is great for this) (a method I haven’t used – pop it in the microwave for a minute) or the best solution I have found get one of the acrylic rolling pins. You can use it’s size to give you enough space to use your full hand and shoulders to apply the necessary force. It also helps greatly when you need to add sculpey softener to repurpose the clay. Roll the clay out flat, as best you can. Apply drops along the length then fold it over on itself until you have a mound and roll it back out. Do this over and over until that softener is totally worked in. Then reapply softener until the sculpey is at the workable stage you prefer.

#2 Sculpey that is pre-colored bleeds. The richer the color the more it gets all over your hands. This is not obvious until you touch another color and you notice traces of the last color you were using. The biggest offenders, reds, dark blues, black, and pure white, although not the light weight white.

Helper: Always have a rag or paper towel on hand to wipe your hands clean between each color.

#3 The longer you have been working with your clay the softer it tends to become, easily denting or knicking from your nails or fingers left in one spot for too long.

Helpers: Let your clay rest, put it in a place where it can cool down.

Keep your finger nails short.

Hold your clay gingerly as you work on different areas. Try to never linger too long and if you have to work on something for a long time try to hold your clay in the least damaging way possible. Be prepared to do some reshaping.

#4 Clay can get overworked. Sculpey lends itself to being bubbly or rounded. The need to get things perfect can cause you to work an area with smoothing and shaping for too long, making the clay look wrong.

Helper: Don’t futz. You have to let things go. If something doesn’t come out right, realize it is your own need to grow. The next time you make it, you will get the shapes right and you won’t have to spend a half hour smoothing out a problem spot. With every ornament I make the first one is practice and never seen by people that don’t visit my house. I have never gotten an ornament right the first time and as with all crafts the more I make them the better they get.

These are tips I sculpt by. I hope they are helpful to some of you as you play and create with sculpey. I realize some of the explanations may be confusing without pictures, especially #1. I am going go snap pictures the next time I soften some clay and give a step by step post. Look for that soon! Happy sculpting!

From Paper to Clay

This frog was born during craft time with my son. He thankfully loves drawing and playing with clay. Given that I don’t really want him to mess up my clay and it is a bit too tough for him, I found a recipe for play dough. On my second try we had the perfect batch and together we made creations. He played long enough I could recreate this little froggie out of sculpey.

Sculpey/Clay – 1 of 2

Clay. The medium that relaxes me and makes me feel like I am refreshing my creativity while I work. Example, I worked on projects until 2am last night and didn’t notice the time at all. Over the years I have learned some tricks as well as found other artists who’s work in polymer is truly inspiring.

My relationship with clay started my Sophomore year of college after a horrible winter quarter in Rochester. I was feeling down and out, ready to quit illustration. Things had to change so, I took a quarter of electives: print making, metals/jewelery, and hand building clay (because throwing classes were full thanks goodness!). It was a revitalizing quarter. I would spend many extra hours in the ceramics studio finishing my sculptures because, having my hands wet, dirty, and kneading clay brought me back to life.

Continuing with clay that needed a kiln was outside of my realm. However, I found sculpey which, can be cooked in my oven, a satisfying replacement. This was introduced to me by dimensional illustration class and Teresa. She started out simpley and by the end of our college career she was a master at making all of her art with sculpey. It was impressive and beautiful.

These influences started me making ornaments for all of my cousins. Making over 20 ornaments every year since 2003 was how I learned the ropes of polymer clay.

The year after I left college I was jobless and watching a lot of TV when I saw a Converse commercial featuring Meredith Dittmar. Completely inspired I have been regularly checking out her guys since then. For my first date with Matt we actually got to see her work in a local gallery. A year later I bought him our favorite piece from the show as an anniversary present.

Seeing her work made me want to work beyond the ornaments but, it wasn’t until September 2009-when I signed up for a craft fair where I couldn’t sell my ornaments-that I focused and made something different. Desiring to still make something functional I made magnets. This year I again was part of the craft fair and I stepped it up again. Having gotten some small vials from a biology lab I knew I wanted to fill them with my own scientific specimens.

After two craft fairs and being on top of getting product made I started selling on etsy. I watch the feeds seeing what else comes up and yes watching to see where my pieces land in the pages of items for sale. One quiet day I came upon this shop Beastlies. These Beastlies by Leslie Levings are so completely adorable I adopted Garen. Since, he loves butter and I didn’t want him to be alone, I made him a friend named Butter. They are already pals and keep me company living on my drawing desk.

Making my own creatures has been the ultimate goal since I started expanding from ornaments. Today I have gotten started, these are my Cuddly Critters.

Christmas Skunk

I have been doing a lot of work with sculpey lately, making ornaments. Wanting to change up from making loads of snowmen I decided to sculpt one of my sketches from the summer. These sketches were simplified animals drawn in chalk on our driveway for my son.

Given that I love the less lovable animals I went with the skunk.

I am really happy with how the simplification of his form came out in sculpey. I think I will continue with this and make a series of these.

Since he is still an ornament I adorned him with some Christmas elements. The candy cane was a challenge. As I was saying to some friends last night, red sculpey bleeds to everything and white is the most sensitive to other colors. However, I knew it could be done because I have seen one made by Meredith Dittmar. I figured out the trick! Use the lightweight white sculpey. It has a very different texture from normal white sculpey and as long as you don’t futz with it too much they will roll together well.

I have also decided since last nights conversation to write a blog about using pre colored sculpey. Filled with tips that I have found useful. Look for it Monday.

So, what do you think? Should I make and sell these on etsy? Let’s take a vote! Just for fun. Thanks!
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