Sunday, August 26, 2007

Please Vote! And Win!

Voting has begun for the PCAGOE's (Polymer Clay Artists of August challenge! Visit, vote for your favorite, and be entered to win one of 2 prize packs values at over $100! Vote between now and midnight(EST) on August 28th!

The entries:

and the prize packs!

Friday, August 24, 2007

On the Process

As I mentioned in the last post or two, I've been spending a lot more time lately working on photo restorations and organization for my other time-sucking beloved hobby/side-job, I had a custom pendantorder in the works, though, which I just finished up and wanted to share.

This was a custom order for a very, very patient friend.
It is to be a gift for her sister-in-law, and there's a photo transfer charm of each of SIL's grandmothers. It took me FOREVER. I hope they both find it worth the wait!

As of Wednesday night, I had decided it was some of my worst work ever.

As of last night, I had decided it was one of my favorite pieces I had ever made.

After it was "FINISHED!" I laid awake in my bed, unable to sleep because completion of this piece had jump-started my brain and I could NOT stop thinking about all the new directions I want to take my work in.

I can't even tell you how many times in the process of making this piece I started over, screwed up, backtracked, cursed, cried, and just all-around wanted to give up.

I have a love-hate relationship with the custom orders. They are truly my favorite thing to make, but they can be the hardest. First off, light skintones and other light colors can be tough to transfer without breaking/smearing/tearing the image. Second, especially if it's a person, you have to make sure it looks like that person. Whereas with a "stock" item I can embellish over any area that's not perfect, or just put that project aside, with the custom pieces I have to do it over (and sometimes over, and over and over) until it's perfect.

Then comes the real trick, which is knowing when to step away and take a break. Before you overdo it. Before you stop being gentle enough. Before you look at it so long that it looks like a piece of crap in your eyes. STEP AWAY. And sometimes you really have to step FAR away, or you'll end up hating the whole craft. And one should never make art because they feel like they are obligated to. One should make art because there is a passion inside that must be brought forth, because they truly enjoy the process and the product, because the creation of the piece leads to good feelings for themselves and/or for others.

There is a certain satisfaction, or joy might be a better word, that I get from making the custom pieces. I feel like I have created a new heirloom, rejuvenated a memory, turned a little ball of clay into a piece of history. I know, or at least hope, that my custom pieces hold a special value for their owners, and I consider these pieces little historical treasures. It is the same joy I get from restoring old photographs for people, except in this case, it's much more fashionable. :)

When I finished beading that necklace, I felt like a huge burden - not the project itself, but the feeling of dissatisfaction I had been suffering from
, the dread of packaging up and mailing something that I wasn't at all happy with, because time had just run out - had been lifted off my shoulders. It all came together in the nick of time, and I felt like my joy of working in this medium was renewed and expanded as I packaged up the order and rushed it to the post office.

The real fun comes when I hear the feedback from the recipient. Fingers crossed.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Inspired by Kolyla & a New Transfer!

My last post, in which I interviews left me itching to cut some paper. There's a door in our living room which faces west and in the evening, when the sun sets, it blasts through the sheer curtain. 2 + 2 = 4!

Cost = Free
Look = priceless

And then it was time to get down to business. I'm about take that previously-discussed hiatus from polymer clay, while I work on some photo restorations, but first there are still a few things to be done.

One is now done - an image transfer ornament for my parents' 35th anniversary which is today.

Weren't they groovy? 1972!

This was also my first foray into using copper bronzing powders from the dollar store makeup section. Thank goodness it was for my parents, because just as I finished, the bottom point of the heart broke off! I mended it pretty well, but if it were for a paying customer (as opposed to my parents who love me, mistakes and all), I would have had to start all over again!

In progress are two custom pendants I'm working on - 2 grandmothers of one lucky lady!

Don't forget that I do custom orders, which make great holiday gifts! Order early and get to the head of the holiday rush list, and have an ornament in time to put on the tree, or a pendant in time to put around your sweetie's neck!

Now that I have to put the clay away, I'm dying to work with it more. Isn't that just always the case...

Lastly, breaking news: I'm featured today in a treasury made by someone from Adorn Magazine! It's one of my supplies, not my artwork, but that's ok - it's still exposure, and it means someone from Adorn was at my shop!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Interview With Paper Artist

My favorite activity as winter approaches (it does seem odd to even think about winter now, in the heat of summer) has always been folding up white paper and snipping out triangles with scissors to make paper snowflakes, which I then cover my windows with to welcome winter. I've done this nearly every year since I was first allowed to play with safety scissors. Over the years, the patterns have only gotten slightly more intricate, and I still feel the same childlike glee as I snip and snip and cover everything around me with confetti. It's a fragile, precise process, and I am in awe of those who take the art far and beyond the paper snowflake or chain.

Paper is so delicate, yet sturdy, so crisp and white and clean, yet often barely noticed as we have surrounded ourselves by it.

Once a tree, now an empty canvas, next a novel, or a drawing, or a grocery list, its potential is infinite. It all starts here.

And often with simplicity comes grace. I recently came across, the Etsy shop of Nicholas "Kolya" Manion, a Visual Communications student and paper artist in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, who also has a background in architecture. His works are as delicate as the paper stock they are made from, yet strong and visually sound as the skylines which they depict.

I recently had the opportunity, through the power of the internet, to interview this artist who literally lives on the other side of the world from me. Here's a snippet (excuse the pun!) of our conversation:

Pollyhyper: How and when did you begin working with paper?

Kolya: I've always loved the tactile qualities of paper, but I've only been working exclusively with it this year. My cut-outs actually came out of a life drawing class; I was frustrated that I wasn't able to capture the three-dimensionality of a human form with my stick of charcoal, and so I started cutting into my drawings to bring them to life. At the same time, I didn't want to create straight sculptures out of paper... I found the interaction between two- and three-dimensional form far more interesting.

Pollyhyper: Tell me about your background in architecture and how that comes into play in your artwork.

Kolya: I studied architecture for three years at the University of Queensland. I loved it, but in many ways I found it a bit limiting. Model-making and the creative process were always the aspects which interested me most anyway, rather than the problem-solving elements of plumbing and construction etc. I'm able to explore those areas more freely as a fine artist and designer.

Architecture and my paper works actually overlap to a surprising degree. In the architectural field there's a long tradition of using paper/cardboard "marquettes" (mock-ups) to quickly and easily explore ideas of space and form. Using paper I'm still able to explore these architectural ideas, but on my own terms. So best of both worlds really...

Pollyhyper: What are your other interests? Travel is obviously a big one.

Kolya: My other main interest is graphic design (which is part of my current degree), so I spend a lot of time drawing/printing/designing etc. And my wife is a start-up fashion designer, so I love that too!

I absolutely love to travel. This past Christmas Rose and I went to Europe for the first time, spending a month living in London and a fortnight in Paris. In Paris we stayed in a flat that used to be Picasso's dining room! He actually painted the view from our window, which was pretty extraordinary! I've also visited Japan, and my brother used to live in Hong Kong so I've spent some time there too. I'd love to travel more, but sadly flights from Australia to anywhere really are very expensive. Long-term plan is to move to London; it's such an amazingly creative place.

Kolya's A3 skylines were actually born from another collection of work; he started by collecting found objects from around his city, and became interested in the stories behind them and what they represented. One of his very first pieces was a silhouette of St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, cut out of a flyer for the Brisbane Russian Community Easter feast. From there, it was a natural progression to create a wider skyline of Moscow (at top), and then on to other iconic or 'world' cities which speak to everyone. Kolya has already completed a piece from the New York skyline, and is currently working on Seattle and Chicago - he's open to suggestions!

Skyline of Dubai carved into a Russian 100 Ruble note by Kolya Manion

Kolya has recently started a new series of pieces using different world currencies. On his Etsy listings, he sums it up perfectly:
Money circles the globe
forming links between cities
on opposite sides of the world.
I must give them a voice
and share the stories they tell...
If you find your way to Brisbane, you may likely come across one of Kolya's works in a bus shelter or pinned to a notice board. He says "I like the idea of releasing my work back into the world that inspired it. Plus it gives people a little taste of my larger works." His next goal is to make 20 pieces, each over 1 meter (3 feet) high and leave them in bus shelters.

To see more of Kolya's beautiful work, visit him at his Etsy shop, as well as his website, (Be sure to let him know you read all about him on my blog!)