Saturday, December 27, 2008

Now that Christmas is over and New Year's is approaching, I find that I have TIME now to do some things that I've been meaning to do.

I cleaned my clay room yesterday and although it is much more organized, I still have a lot of boxes of "stuff" that I need to take care of.

Stuff. You might be wondering what I'm talking about. It's amazing really. I opened one box yesterday and it was full of Computer plugs, wires, cords and an old keyboard. I have been pushing this box around my clay room for three years and haven't used a thing in it for longer, but I still can not bare to throw it out. I think I'm going to have my boyfriend look through it and take what he thinks is valuable and I'll toss the rest.

In another box, I found a cross section of the following...stickers, scissors, a spoon, and old sock, unbaked clay, baked clay, beads, lipstick, old ribbon, wire, some miniature cups, a picture of my x-husband and I on our wedding day, an expired check, a brand new candle, post it notes, markers, crayons, old paint brushes, new paint brushes, a bungee cord, and computer print outs (how to be organized)..

I have about 7 of these boxes stacked in my room. They are 18 gallon storage totes, and they all have the same assortment of "stuff". Most of the stuff is good too. I've found embossing and metallic powders, ink pads, scrapbook papers, tags, paint, glue sticks, hundreds of beads, and every kind of art supply imaginable. Everytime I attempt to clean out a box, I get so overwhelmed, I push the lid back on and save it for another day. (Did I tell you I have aadd,

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder:)

No one has officially told me that, (my therapist suggested it once), but I fit a lot of the criteria and it makes sense to me.))

So, today I'm going to attempt to empty one box. I'll let you know how that goes.

The good news is that my work table is completely cleaned off. There is not one thing on my desk at this moment and I'm ready to start working on a few things. I have four cake toppers that I plan on finishing before New Year's and I'm working on Valentine's day couples. I finished a hippie Cake topper a few weeks ago and here's a picture of it. It's the second Hippie Wedding I've done.

The above picture shows it on their cake.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

It's 7:30 pm, Christmas Eve. The 8 inches of snow that hit us hard a few days ago is slowly melting away as it's been raining off and on all day. A strong wind is gusting through the woods behind the house, and I can hear the trees creaking under it's pressure.

I'm ready to go take a bath and chill for the night, unable to attend Christmas eve parties because I've been sick with a stomach bug since Monday. My son Jason is home in Ann Arbor, relaxing in front of the tv. My daughter and her family are at church and my other son is with friends playing video games. His wife went to Vegas to visit her parents and he's taking this opportunity to hang out with his friends. My boyfriend is getting ready to visit his family and friends, bummed that I can't join him, but understanding about it.

My cat has been curled up in my office chair for hours and soon I'm going to persuade her to join me under the covers. She's the first cat I've ever owned who actually will lie under a blanket and rest her head on the pillow.

It sure doesn't feel like Christmas Eve, but I'm ok with that. Everyone I've talked to seems to be content with their plans for the evening; I'm not the only one staying home this night. I guess I just need to rest and get better, and hopefully, tomorrow, I can cook and enjoy a nice dinner.

I hope that whatever your plans are tonight , whether it's dashing from party to party, attending a church service, or staying home and watching Christmas programs, you remain safe and happy.

Enjoy the evening and especially have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Clay babies altered in Photoshop

As I promised, here are some images that I altered in photoshop.

The idea is finding ways to get the creative juices flowing. There are many ways of firing up the creative process, and this is one I like to use.

The above image is the cut out filter.

This image is done with glowing edges.
I think the two images above were changed using ink out line filters.

The final image is pattern maker.

As you can see, I went a little overboard on the filters, but it's all in
an attempt to come up with ideas, whether it's a painting, clay, collage or graphics.

I could use some of these ideas for templates, patterns, coloring pages, wallpaper, tags and cards.
With more refinement and bit of work, I could use them for illustrations or transfers for jewelry.

Remember when it comes to brainstorming for ideas, there are many ways to get there. This is just one method I use.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finding Inspiration

I work in an after school enrichment program and one of the lessons I just gave the kids was creating art without a lot of fancy or expensive materials. I showed them how, by using cardboard and scrap paper, a few crayons and some paint and string they could make a cool collage. I showed them an example (above pic) and they peeled cardboard and tore paper to make the basic collage. Then I showed them how to drag a string dipped in paint through the collage. They had a blast bouncing the string up and down. In the end, the assignment was fun, and hopefully they can make art at home, without much of an investment.

When I brought my sample home, I took some pictures of it. I wanted to show you how a simple art project or photograph can become more than what you would expect.

I find that Photo shop can really help me to create unusual designs, which can lead me to do projects that I hadn't even thought of.

As you may know, photoshop has several filters that change the appearance of the original picture.

In all of these images, I've used different filters and combinations of filters to change the original artwork. I save each picture that I change in Save as. For instance, my original picture is called cardboard. Then I save the second picture as Save as Cardboard1. The next, save as Cardboard 2, and so on. That way I save my original art work and have additional work that I may be able to use.

The above image was done using pattern maker. I love the way it turned out. I could use this image for altered art, artists trading cards, background for a website or for scrapbooking.

The image above looks like some kind of creature stepping up onto a pile of junk. It's creepy looking, but it could lead to a great idea.

This reminds me of bark on a tree. Think how interesting this would look in a collage

Some of the designs are so interesting, they make me want to use them! I love the color combinations.

They are uniquely different and with each new design I can see several possibilities.
These are just some of the images I made with one original design. I find this exercise to be very stimulating; it really opens my mind up to many ideas. Some times the designs don't work, but the process getting there was enjoyable. In the next few days, I'll show you some designs I made using polymer clay images. In the meantime, if you have photoshop, practice making your own creations with the help of the filter tool.

Snowed In!

If you live anywhere between Washington and New York you probably got as much snow or more than we received yesterday. My neighborhood got hit with about 8 inches.

The snowplow came through yesterday afternoon and now my car is surrounded by mounds of snow that I don't think I can shovel out on my own. I hope one of my grown children can come and help me. Where are all the kids with their shovels looking to make some fast cash? I remember when we would have these big snows, my son Brian would earn $100 in an afternoon shoveling people's walks. He was 10 or 11 and he and a friend would look at a snow day as a money making opportunity. I need a kid like that in my neighborhood.

Christmas Break!

I have the next two weeks off (16 days really) a
nd my goals are the following:

  1. clean and organize clay/art room (again for the 50th time)
  2. start valentine ideas
  3. work on graphics for some ideas i have
  4. scan old documents and photos
  5. paint and do collage
  6. make new kitchen curtains (I'm doing a cherry theme)
  7. Paint trim on cupboards
  8. scour the resale shops and antique shops for old books and magazines
  9. Read Walden; or, Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau

I basically want to end the year on a positive and productive note.
I've planned just enough things to do to keep me from being bored. If I get all of it finished before I go back to work, I will feel like I accomplished a lot
without stressing myself out. I couldn't bare to just sit around during the next
few weeks.

The end of the semester
If you follow this blog, you know that I'm taking classes at Madonna University, working towards a degree in Graphics, and you know that sometimes I neglect my blog because of the demands of homework. I would like to announce that I did well this semester, despite my complaints. I received an A in Advanced Studio, and A in Graphics and an A- in Web Fundamentals (I couldn't believe it as this class was difficult for me)..I'm very happy to have this semester end. Next semester (starts soon) I'm taking Graphics Two and Lithography. I decided to keep it easy and am only taking 7 credits. I'm in no hurry to finish, and am trying to enjoy this journey. Working on this degree is probably the best decision I've made in thirty years!

It's funny, because I always used my age as an excuse for not going back to school. I remember saying once to my x mother-in-law (loved that woman), that I would be 35 or 40 before I could have a degree and she would say, "You are going to be 35 or 40 anyway, so why not have a degree?".

Pretty wise of her because I'm going to be 54 next year and my degree is within my grasp. I have about 6 or 7 more classes to take and wha
t seemed like an impossible task before will now happen before I turn 55. And, like my mother-in-law said, I'll be 55 anyway, so why not be 55 with a degree? Although I don't feel 53, and I really don't act 53 (how does a 53 year old act???), I joke around that by the time I graduate, I'll be too old to work.

I'm off to do some last minutes orders for a few customers. Then it's time to start shoveling!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Check out this group

I get a lot of motivation and inspiration from other blogs, groups and forums. Although I think that maybe I spend too much time doing so, it beats watching TV. Here are a few of the places I visit. I have to admit though, that I lurk, as I am trying to limit my involvement. I don't visit every day either, but when I do, I always learn something valuable.

The above group is great because it's all about making it as an artist. They don't discuss the artwork, but how to promote and market the art


This is another group and it's all about licensing art work. You will learn a lot by looking through the archives. (I just found some messages I left from 2003!)

I just discovered this site...'s all about desk top publishing and has great information if you want to make a living doing graphics. The links page alone is worth the visit.

This site,, wonderful. It has a great variety of fonts that are free. I love collecting fonts and this is the first place I go to when I need something new and free!

My instructor just told me about a motivational site, called tag line is Ideas worth spreading. You can listen to motivational speakers for free (they offer 200 talks in their archives).

Finally, here's a site you may never want to leave. It's called Colour Lovers,

It is a color and design community that is a visual treat. There are color swatches, patterns, different palettes, and a color blog. You can find the latest trends in colors (this fascinates me as I often wonder, Who decides?).

Hope you enjoy these sites as much as I do.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I had an epiphany!

Coming home from last week's show, I started to really think about changing what it is that I do.

I've felt this way many times before, but fear and doubt caused me to continue on the same road.
I have many other interests, but my connection with polymer clay has kept me from pursuing those interests. I have been sculpting since 1982 and I always joke that I'm going to die with a piece of clay in my hands.

But there is a voice inside of me that is not satisfied with the ways things are going for me. I feel like I'm not growing as an artist. I have the same old ideas; I pump out the same clay babies, year after year. Sure, sometimes they are a different color, some are smaller, some are bigger, but, in the end, it's the same stuff I've been doing for years and the medium is the same.

At my show, I took a good look at myself, at my craft. I saw flaws in my workmanship. I felt guilty when people purchased my product. If they complimented me on something, I felt the urge to point out the imperfections. (I didn't do it, but I felt like it.)

I have also noticed that I procrastinate when it comes to working on my clay. In the middle of making something, I'll get up and go wash the dishes or sweep the floor. I found that the clay seems harder to work with and I'm constantly dropping pieces to the floor, as if I've lost strength in my hands.

As I ponder all of this, I think to myself, is it time to put the clay away for awhile? Should I take the leap of faith it takes to start something new? I'm going after a graphic arts degree and feel that there are so many things I could do in the field, right in my own home on my computer.
I love to paint and do collage. Could I make any money at it?

I have been struggling with this for quite awhile and wonder if it goes with the territory of being an artist/craftsman. I think about this all of the time and wonder if it's time to reinvent myself.
The first week of class in January, my instructor asked us to write down why we were in his class, and one of the things I said was that I wanted to reinvent myself. But what have I done to even begin that process?

As the year winds down, I am going to make some major changes that I'm going to implement in the new year. I know I will continue filling orders for my cake toppers if people want them. This is a nice supplement to my income. However, I'm going to work hard to come up with a new idea that will have nothing to do with clay. That's going to be hard for me. But, the desire is so overwhelming, I might get used to the idea.

My dream is to one day have a home office where I write and design. The clay is in a box in case I need it for a project or an idea. My mind is open to a lot of possibilities. Now it's time for me to make the move!

One final thought. At my last show the woman next to my booth was a polymer clay cane artist. She had a few things on her table mixed in with her sister's jewelry. Although the woman was nice, she kept name dropping all of the clay artists in the "industry". I found this very boring, because I don't really care about that aspect of clay. I have discovered over the years that those people are good at what they do, but their art or designs just don't interest me. The woman invited me to a clay guild meeting, but I declined. She seemed appalled that I wouldn't want to go. She said, "Even Donna Kato shows up sometimes"..(For those of you who have never heard of Donna, she is a polymer clay artist who is the inventor of Kato Clay.)

I told the woman,"I'm just not interested." She dropped a few more names and I continued to decline.

Afterward, I found it interesting to myself that I almost was put off by her enthusiasm for knowing a few artists who's names are well known in the clay world. This just added to my epiphany that maybe it's time for a change for me.

I must confess that even though my blog is called Polymer Clay Ponderings, my focus is going to be more on reinvention, motivation, simplicity and creativity. I will continue to talk about clay though, as I may use it in other projects and I will continue to do my cake toppers. So please stick around. I hope that I can inspire and inform those of you who already create, want to create, or don't know what to create!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Last show of the season

This Saturday, December 6, is my last show of the season.

As you may recall, I hadn't done any shows for years, so I wanted to ease myself back into the show "scene".

It was a great learning experience and I found that I do have a product that people like, especially the clay ornaments. I also found that I have to stay away from crappy shows. You know, those little $25.00 shows, that don't jury, don't advertise and have about 400 people in attendance. Some people might do well at those shows, but I never do. (and from what I heard , no one did this year).

This last show will be hit and miss. It's located in Canton Michigan, in a nice area, a Catholic Church, and the promoter is very picky. She only allows hand crafted, what you were juried in for. I think that is great, because that means most everything will be hand crafted. (no buy and sell)..

I made a lot of ornaments and will take pictures at the show.

Wish me luck!

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