Sunday, July 17, 2011

The "Creative Process"

Hah.  I love it when people ask me about my "process."  So I figured I'd give you a look at what goes down, creativity-wise, inside my little wooden head. 

I woke up at 4:35 this morning.  It was light outside, and the kids were all asleep.  With a whispered "carpe diem," I vaulted out of bed---managing not to wake the trio of co-sleepers who'd joined me in the night---and into the shower.  Once I'd woken up sufficiently to regret being conscious, I settled down at the computer to catch up on my Pinterest-ing.  (I can't emphasize how much I'm not kidding, here.)  After a few minutes of browsing, I'd found three ideas to try out in the art room.  The first of them is the one we'll be looking at today.

I love that I get to play around with materials that are out of my usual six-pack when I'm at camp.  This Sculpey pendant was a new, excruciatingly simple application that I'd just never considered when working with polymer clay, and I was eager to give it a go.

First, I conditioned the clay and rolled it flat.  Then I took a little excursion in search of a small,veiny leaf.  On closer inspection of the first small, veiny leaf I encountered, I discovered it was attached to a poison ivy plant.  I excursed elsewhere. (Yes, I know that "excursed" is not a word.  Neither is "veiny," if you want to be particular about it.)

Having found a less volatile but equally veiny leaf to work with,  I returned to my clay and rolled the leaf imprint on to its surface.  I popped it in the oven and waited---not so patiently---while it cured.  When it emerged, I waited some more (for it to cool) and then daubed the imprint with black acrylic paint.  More waiting---this time till the paint was dry---and I was ready to sand off the excess.  I rinsed the pendant and dried it, then covered it with a coat of liquid polymer clay and baked it again.  Here's the done deal:

I was pretty chuffed with the result, so I headed back out for another leaf right away. I wanted to play around with some of the variables---color, curing time, and ditching the translucent glaze---to see what would happen.  What happened?  I chose black for my background.  And then I had a hankering for silver as the contrast.  So I hunted around for some silver leaf (no pun!) that I know is somewhere back there until I got good and tired of searching.  And then, in true ADD fashion, I got distracted.  By a can of shiny gold spray paint. Which yielded this:

By this time, I needed to set up for my first activity, so I set the Shiny Thing aside to dry and did my job.  I checked on it a few (dozen) times, though, because I'm a little obsessive about certain things.  (Most of them are shiny, come to think of it.)  I was distraught to note that the paint wasn't drying.  (Back when I got distacted by the shiny spray paint, I remember thinking very quietly that perhaps it might not be so bright to use spray paint on polymer clay, but then I realized that I didn't have any magpie-friendly acrylics and banished the thought.  Turns out, the banishing act wasn't what you'd call "radically clever."  Who knew?)  So the paint never dried, which didn't so much stop me from attempting to sand the gummy pendant.  Some days are a total waste of sandpaper.  And razor blades.  In case you're still unclear on this, it's not a good idea to use spray paint on polymer clay.  (Unless, for some reason, you're shooting for gummy-mucky-profoundly-indistinguishable objets d'art, in which case it's really the only way to go.)

It's okay, though...the old train of thought has yet to be derailed.  I'm going to give it another shot once the days' activities are done, and then I need to find a way to make it foolproof.  Which means that there will be at least 5 more trials, so I can break the process (the creating process, not the creative one) down into bite sized chunks for the kiddos. 

So there it is: from Pinterest to product in a few short hours.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it redefines "epic fail."  When I'm lucky, I can share it---either in the classroom, or in the shop.  And then there are times when the whole shebang is so vastly different from what we've just discussed that you'd be hard pressed to call it a process.  Clear as mud, isn't it?


  1. So.. you sanded the wet paint off of the black acrylic? and that's what it looked like. hmmm I kinda like it that way...

  2. thanks for the humor. Your writing style and the fact that you create with clay are two reasons I'm going to start following your blog; this is a first for me.


Thanks for taking the time to makes me feel a little less like I'm talking to myself again.