Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When Pigs Fly

"When Pigs Fly"
I was going to post about a new 'scene' I made with gnomes and a chalkboard and glowing clay, but in light of the unlikely things happening around here lately, I've decided to unveil my latest faery sculpture to the blog instead. If someone had suggested that NH might fall prey to a blizzard that dumps 20 inches of snow and knocks out power to thousands and thousands - all before Halloween - they might reply with the title of this sculpture. I certainly would have! :)

This sculpture is seriously much more impressive in person. There's just no decent way to show the perspective of the piece with my amateur camera know-how. But, be that as it may, I've done my best. A rather adorable pig with wings is being coaxed to fly by a flying fae boy. He is in mid-air with no apparently visible support. And the miracle is he's rather quite sturdy up there! Whew!

This all came about when I found some brass rods at the little country hardware store down the street. I've been dying to work on a more difficult armature, something that would wow people. I'm pretty happy with the result. Why the theme? I was working with the television on and there was a commercial involving a dog on a roof with some flying pigs... and some canned baked beans too. Not sure where that came into it, but the flying pigs stuck in my mind. I thought, wouldn't it be nice to show just how you could get one to fly? Hence the faery and a way to try out an out-of-the-ordinary armature design.

The pig completely supports the faery. To make this design, I started with a basic (and I mean stick figure) sketch in full scale of the piece I wanted to create. Then I bent the brass rod along the center of gravity for both the pig and the faery, and then I prayed to the sculpting gods that I guessed correctly on the angle of the faery. Too far forward and he would have tipped. I got it just right! The bar runs through the piggy, up his wing, up the faery's arm and down through his torso. From there, I constructed the armature of the pig and sculpted the basic body of the pig before finally tackling the faery. This took a long while. I was so worried about the balance and center of gravity, that I put the finished pig with the brass rod sticking out on my "to do" shelf at the mill and didn't touch it for at least a few weeks. >.<
Aerial shot
When I mustered up the courage and repeated my little "nothing to it but to do it" mantra a few hundred times, I started working on the armature of the faery itself and then the clay. I was relieved that the finished piece not only didn't tip, but it was highly sturdy. You could actually push on the faery's legs (within reason, of course) and it wouldn't tip.
So I will definitely try more interesting armatures after show season has slowed down a bit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Faery - Jasmine's Green Tea

Everyone knows that tea - especially green tea - is good for you. Full of antioxidants, rich in that lovely anxiety combating L-theanine, slimming, and quite yummy if you brew it correctly. However, have you bathed in it? No - nor have I. Jasmine certainly has. She swears by it! Look at her flawless comlexion. Perhaps there is something to it after all?
This is Jasmine - a bit of a narcissist?

Okay, all that aside, it's kind of been a personal goal of mine to make a new faery or mermaid for each venue I go to. My next show is at The Cozy Tea Cart in Brookline, NH, on November 5th and 6th. This is an event for NH Made's "Open Doors" event in which NH artisans of all kinds hold open studios, shows and tours.
the "green tea" is a special clear resin with hand mixed coloring

The Cozy Tea Cart is a lovely little shop connected to the home of it's proprietor (Danielle Beaudette). It's jam-packed with every sort of loose leaf tea imaginable and a few special herbal tisanes. It's enough to make your head spin, but Danielle is such a friendly, wonderfully patient and knowledgeable person that you'll soon fall in love with at least a dozen special teas in no time.

"Green Girl Box" Hand Sculpted face
I was lucky enough to be invited to this lovely place for the Open Doors event because of the faeries really. TCTC has a lovely little faery garden and Danielle likes to promote local artists when possible. What a perfect match! ^_^ So back to Jasmine! She is, as usual, hand sculpted without the use of any molds. Her tea cup and saucer are not, however - I got those from my own cupboard. The spoon she holds to admire her visage is an antique spoon I bought from Here Today Emporium in downtown Wilton, NH. Her hair is hand 'rooted' and her wings are hand made.

The tea, if you've read the caption above, you'll know the secret behind that. It was a special resin indeed. Some resins will just eat food coloring, so I was lucky this worked out. The bubbles are made of glass. For a finishing touch, I sewed little faery sized clothes and slung them around the saucer (with a stocking slung over the cup handle). Her shoes and belt are made of polymer clay.
Glass bubbles really give her tea a bath time look.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Milford Pumpkin Festival 2011

Creepy Cute Mushrooms made special for the festival. 2011 TSB
Tonight I celebrate (figuratively speaking) the end of my first larger show. I've been looking forward to the Milford NH Pumpkin Festival since I signed up in July. And I often thought today as I spent my last day at my booth in the town hall how I would have never thought as I browsed there as a customer last year that I would be selling only a short year later. It was a blast.
My table! Awww. It was so tiny and cute amidst all the veteran vendors.
The Milford Pumpkin Festival celebrated (not so figuratively) its 22nd year off with a bang with an Atlas Fireworks display. If that wasn't enough to draw attention, the insanely warm weather really brought the people outdoors. I couldn't believe all the snow cones I saw this weekend! In October! Snow cones! It just boggles the mind.
My Saturday Helper Elf - without her imaginary roly poly pumpkin costume.
 It was a very good time - I met a lot of vendors I didn't know (you know... I hate that word. "Vendors". Makes us all sound like soda and snack machines. Henceforth, I shall call us merchants. That sounds more elegant, and that, perhaps, we have a fleet of ships in the Spice Islands.) a lot of really nice festival goers, and I learned a few new things about the merchanting portion of my "trade". (see? vending would have been a tacky word to use!). I also got to spend more time with my sisters K and J, saw my grandparents who I haven't seen in ages and miss dearly, and had a few good friends stop by which always makes me think "awww" and mean it. My favorite part was all the smiles my work evoked. Whether it was out of sheer joy, amazement or ridicule, they were all smiles and that's worth something in this sort of world. To see so many eyes light up and smiles sneak onto the closed and stoic faces that speed by the booth is worth more to me than making my table fee back at a show.
My Sunday helper elf, Janna, earned this little mushroom for all her help. :) I can be seriously bossy.

Hangin' with my gnomies
One thing I already knew, but the idea solidified with this show, is to never have consuming expectations. What went wrong, you ask? Nothing! I made my table fee and expenses back that I spent on the show which makes any event a good one (this is the most expensive show I will do and have done this year at $160 for an 8 foot space.) However, I put an almost scary amount of energy and work into making earrings. I was so convinced they would be my best sellers as they were in past markets and smaller events. I stayed up until 3 am some nights just to finish a pair or two so I could stock up this imaginary demand I wished to supply. If the torch ate at the wings, I remade them because I wanted them all to be perfect. Well! Over 3 months and110 pairs later, I sold 15 pairs total for both days. It sort of felt like all those faeries that naturally shed those wings were laughing at me. Very funny guys. This is because I put little Adelaide in a bell jar, isn't it? Hrmm. That aside, the whole matter made me a little... well okay, very... disappointed. I let a little preconceived notion take over my mind and was mad at myself when it didn't come to fruition. What a silly thing to do. I don't know where I picked that up and I'm hoping to unlearn it quickly. :)
Tara and the Toad along with Ebony's Prince were the stars of the booth. I let a little girl hold Tara on Sunday and she was so amazed and happy - as if Tara would speak to her right then and there -  that it made my weekend.
What else did I learn from my first large show? Bed risers do indeed rock. There were so many little tiny hands reaching for the gnomes and faery doors. Lots of candy apple covered hands. Next lesson. Reading is purely optional on the part of the viewer. My larger faery doors open to show you the realm of the fae. My tiny 3 inch ones only open for little faeries, not for humans. I just can't find hinges small enough and strong enough to function within my standards of work. There was a sign saying as such dead center of the mini door area. I can't tell you how many adults (the children didn't count here obviously) read aloud "mini faery doors", ignored the next line saying the doors do not open for human hands, and then tried actually prying at those tiny clay door knobs! Good thing I make my sculptures strong! I sounded like a broken record "Oh! The tiny ones only open for the faeries." I would say again and again. hehehe

All in all I'd say this was a great event and I'll probably go back next year if I'm still traveling along this path. Who knows? I certainly didn't know I'd be here last year. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blues Vs Reds - Another gnome chess set!

They're so cute when they get along with each other.
I've been trying to play catch up after my ordeals with sick birds, spontaneous farmers market and apple picking excursions (can't miss that now, can I? mmm... apple crisp...) One thing I've been meaning to make for about 6 months now is another gnome chess set.
I made one of these back in spring and it was adorable! I didn't have a board for them then, but sold the pieces alone. It was a hit, even without the board, so I've been meaning to make another. Well, I finally did. Each gnome is either from my original basic gnome design or a spin off of the basic gnome so they fit the character they're meant to protray.
My favorite piece is the Knight - a gnome with a toothpick hobby horse.
No one aside myself, and maybe my sister Kayla, has any real idea how much work goes into each gnome. Sculpting them to be whimsical and yet durable comes with practice. As of today, I've sculpted over 105 gnomes since spring! The head-against-a-brick-wall part comes with the painting. I could use colored clay, but the colors just never come out as vibrant. Polymer clay usually dulls and darkens slightly once cured. This can be corrected with a good sanding, buffing and polish. Imagine doing that to 32 2 inch gnomes complete with tiny noses, arms, hands and feet! No thank you. I use a good quality acrylic to paint each and every piece one by one.

The painting takes forever. Even with high quality artist paints, each color needs to be painted at least twice. It's tedious and attention to detail is tough to keep as you avoid getting paint on the flesh toned areas or finger prints on the hats. I made 3 gnomes separate from this chess set to have my sister paint. She's always looking for ways to help me out. :) I think she had enough of painting gnomes after the first one took her a couple of hours to complete. They look so harmless!

The board for this particular chess set also took quite a few layers of paint. I wanted it to be garden themed, so I painted green and brown "grass and dirt" squares. I separated the squares with vines and dotted the board with tiny mutlicolored flowers.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ebony's Prince

Ok, I know we have ... 1, 2... 43 days until Halloween, but a gal getting ready for a pumpkin festival craft fair has to be prepared early. So, with that in mind, I went to work on another faery sculpture to entertain the tiny masses that stalk my work and those who just happen to pass my booth at the festival.

Her name is Ebony and the piece is called "Ebony's Prince". Now, this sculpture has told me a lot about those around me. Almost like a glimpse into a small portion of a person's psyche. For, you see, there is a story in this sculpture. And how you see it can really show your demeanor in that moment of time. Take a look. Ebony is obviously going to kiss the frog prince.... What story do you see behind it?

The bubbles are glass!
If you said "Well she's kissing him as he comes out of the cauldron" or "she wants to turn him into a human/faery prince", then you're probably a perfectly balanced individual and I envy you that in those moments when customers stare at me a little too long. (Am I the only one that happens to?) That sort of thinking makes it a cute, faerytale, picture book sort of sculpture, doesn't it? Only one other person saw what I saw after I finished making it. "She's kissing the frog goodbye?" they suggested. Wow! Dark and twisted mind I think! But, I'm abashed to say, I thought that too when all was said and done. It wasn't my starting intention, I assure you. So maybe I'm not all bad. lol
Ebony's wings are made from twisting antique brass colored copper wire into a bat wing shape. I made a candy corn of polymer clay and tiny skulls out of ceramic to adorn the back of her belt line instead of a bow.
Her nails are black with orange polkadots. The lace on her left sleeve is vintage lace off a really old valentines day chocolate box.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Adelaide and the Fireflies

Adelaide in the firefly jar.
For months, a large mason jar sat collecting dust on my "ideas to bring to life" shelf at the mill. Yes. I do have a shelf with such a name. Anyone at the mill can tell you, it's full of a rather eclectic, albeit plain, collection of items. Most seem rather boring alone - like the jar - but put them with a faery and there's a story for each item.
Meet Adelaide. I've always loved that name and found out it's a name of a woman swinging high up the older branches of my family tree. I'd like to imagine that woman would love this faery (more likely: my ancestors gossip about me like those griping cartoon ancestors of Disney's Mulan).
Adelaide the faery is a little miffed, if you can't tell from her expression. Picture it - you're a faery (oh go on, imagine it... no one's watching... and honestly, everyone suspects you fantasize you're a faery now and then anyway so just roll with it). The cool night air mingles with the warmth of the remains of the first day of summer. Fireflies zip around you silently. You flash your wings, lure them in and SWOOSH! You caught a few! No.. wait... that was a loud swoosh. Faeries make tiny swoosh sound effects. You look around. You see fireflies... and glass. You've been caught by a firefly catching human!
Adelaide's Wings. ^_^ It's hard to tell but there are 4 of them. She had to have small dragonfly wings so that she would fit into the jar.

The green "fireflies" are actually LED lights. There's a battery pack on top of the lid so they'll never wear out. Adelaide herself is hand sculpted. You know me - I never use molds. Unlike my miniatures in bottles, Adelaide was sculpted outside the jar. I made an aluminum foil circle the size of the jar opening, and when I sculpted her, I did so on top of that circle so I knew she'd fit. She's mounted on a clay base that I covered with cloth, silk leaves and the occasional late spring silk flower.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Starfish Lullaby

For the first time, I've made a sculpture without an actual story in mind. I picked up this smooth granite stone off rocky Rye Beach in New Hampshire. I saw a starfish. I saw a mermaid. I brought the rock home to let the story create itself. Well! It worked somewhat; the sculpture came out easily enough from my imagination... but the story still remains at large.

This adorable mermaid is indeed tuckered out. She sleeps snugly under the cozy arm of a starfish. However, why is she doing this? Something tells me there's a friendship story in this little sculpture. Perhaps this is a good contest question.
I'm looking forward to another trip out to the rocky Atlantic coast so I can take pictures of the pair in their 'natural environment'. Nothing beats a natural setting. As I only completed this sculpture today, I had to make due with white paper and a light box.
Her glass bead belt and her sparkling tail are best viewed in person. You should all come to Wilton, NH to see her. :)
The starfish came first. I blended 3 colors and 2 brands of polymer clay to get the right color, shine and strength that I wanted. I used an eye dropper tip to impress all of those little bumps which are common on starfish of the NH coast.

The mermaid was just plain fun. Unlike the 'Captive Mermaid' and 'Shell Maiden' sculptures I created before her, she has wing like fins shooting from her back. Her copious blue hair shimmers with silver specks of light and it unfortunately hides her awesome shoulder fins. But, the beauty of art dolls is that you can move her hair and style her hair to reveal her lovely shoulders. :)
Is it just me or does the Captive Mermaid look... happier? o.O

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The scary doll and other tales.

The scary doll's wabbit.
I realized with horror that my last post was in May. MAY! Where'd June and July go?? Oh, well let me tell you a few things I've learned. One: you want to have a booth or table in a show? You better realize you do at least 6 months in advance or all the spots are taken. I've been really lucky and managed to find the applications to shows and festivals a week or two before they are due. Two: some people actually do take your business card AND contact you in a few days. I always thought that was just a line people say to be polite. Three: Heat waves and polymer clay are not good bedfellows. We had a week where the clay felt like melting chocolate. I couldn't sculpt with it and it kept me craving dark Lindt truffles.

Well insert montage music here and allow me to recap the highlights of the past 2 months. :D If you care to go beyond the pictoral feast, I've included captions! Yay!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JANNA! (she turned old on July 29th) Ok - about the doll. No. She's not a faery. No. I cannot pay for anyone's therapy bills for viewing her. But yes, Janna has these sort of tastes at times. Janna is my best friend and needed a doll to act out all her Tim Burton-esque fantasies with. The wabbit at the top of the screen is the polymer clay "rag" doll in this doll's arm. This doll was sculpted with a mix of polymer clays, air dry ceramic, paint, fabric, vintage lace, llama wool and the theme to Coraline as well as the Dresden Dolls stuck in my head. 
This gnome is my tiniest yet. Seriously. The bottle is only about an inch long inside. I've been having fun making very tiny miniature scenes. Gnomes are my favorite. This one comes complete with house and flopsy ferns. ^_^ Photograph courtesy of Andrea Pirkey.

This lovely vessel was handmade by Jason Powers of Powers Art Glass. With a tiny needle, I sculpted the grass, mushrooms and little faery to fit inside. We made a couple of these fantasy vessels; another contains a gnome! As far as I know, this little cutie is still for sale.
My newest faery baby. :) I can't believe I'm up to 23 of these little cuties! 

This fire phoenix was one of my favorites. I hand carved each feather and placed them individually. This was one of those instances where I found an item and instantly saw a sculpture in mind for it. This was a large, gorgeous daisy from a fabric store.
This baby sold a while ago - I just always loved this picture. ^_^
My "Naturally Shed Faery Wing Necklaces" have been fun to make this summer. They catch the sunlight so well and I was thrilled to actually see someone I don't know at the post office the other day wearing one! The metal is silver plate, but I also made some in sterling silver for a gallery in Chicago, IL. I'm thrilled to be there! :D

Thursday, May 19, 2011

She needs a name - New Painter Faery!

I just finished her today!
click to enlarge
So new that she doesn't even have a name yet (nor does her little creation). I had been working on this cute little fae all week, and had created her painting last week. I was inspired by a little wooden easel I found at the dollar store made for collective plates. It's perfectly faery sized! Plates? Pshh. No thanks. The canvas and the painting are all made of clay. I started by cutting a rectangle out of white clay, then painted on the wet clay with a mixture of liquid polymer and ink. In the center of the painting is a door with stones leading up to it. And as it was the faery's creation, a little magic was in the paints. A tiny (seriously TINY) faery is coming out through the door!
I sculpted her with a needle.

The painter faery (wow... really need to get a name for her!) was really fun because I tried a couple of "new techniques" on her. For one, I had a blast blowing paint through a glass pipe at her to give her a true artist appearance. The splashes and smears are hard to see in the pictures, but she has lots of purple, blue, green, white and silver flecks.

When you stand in paint, you get a little dirty
Another thing I tried was simply dragonfly style wings. Instead of curling long "spokes" for butterfly ribbing, I made long oval loops with blue metallic coated copper and silver spirals inside. Lastly, I had sewed a little beret and created a little matching pair of overalls for her. Because she's not a jointed doll, she was extremely hard to dress (at least for me. I'm really not a seamstress in the slightest!). Making a pair of pants is easy enough, but you can't just slide them on because the legs are rigid. Same with sleeves.