While I continue my VERA FLOS series of wildflowers on mini underworlds, I have added crystals and geodes to the action.
Nature makes such perfect beautiful things, and it seems silly to human make them in a secondary less perfect way. That doesn't stop us creators does it!?
In my obsessive and creative approach to flowers right now, I can't seem to stop adding elements to the finished work. There are insects, animals, rocks, plants all flowing around one another. SO why not add crystals?
These geodes are porcelain and will have crystal and gold linings. The ones below are test samples for a few additional VERA FLOS pieces. Look out for them soon!
A Clutter of SPIDERS!
When showing my work to friends and acquaintances the last few years I have been told often that my spiders, snakes, and black elements will not sell well. Its amazed me! No they do sell well, everything sells to the right audience. You just have to place your work in the right venue.
I am bartering with a fellow artist and she asked for a white garden 'crab' spider. That set me off onto a big batch of spider sculptures. They are so fun to make and yes....play with! Here is the first and second firing of the cluster of spiders...
After the final layers of fired paint, they will receive some joints (special glue knobs) and then hand painted legs and a sealant layer.
Pagan Goddess Commission 2021
Its a very rare thing for me to do a commission these days, but I love doing them. As most folks who have done commissions know, it can be tricky. You can make a custom order and the customer doesn't like the results, or you can finish a piece and it was misunderstood what the price was.
So I found writing it all down is very important. A simple agreement or contract for paid commissions seems to be a good idea. I ask for 50% payment down and will make two options if the work isn't too odd or unsaleable on the open market. I keep the 50% if the customer doesn't want the work- though they usually do.
But my favorite way to do custom work is to barter! I have never had issues in this way. Its been a pleasure for me in placing a unique customer based idea into physical reality.
Above is a pagan goddess with fern antlers and lichen hair. She holds whatever one wants to place in her hands(though I am throwing in a few goodies that can work) After this greenware stage she will be fired, glazed partially and then china painted with many layers.
For more than five years I have been developing methods to make the images in my head! Its taken the discovery of the right clay bodies, mediums, materials, equipment and techniques to make my sketchbooks come alive. At last all the elements have come together!
I found an excellent porcelain clay body for transparency and painting. After much experimentation I use a map gas torch for the copper work and recently added a butane torch to my studios to produce more minute and delicate flowers and stems. And finally, I have figured out the best ways to apply the china paints, thru sanding and layers. Its been very long trek!
Using these methods I have prepared a series of wildflower sculptures to follow closely on the heels of the Tulips Imaginarium series. Miniature pansies, violets, daisies and grasses are being put together in little 4-8 inch stems with hand cut copper leaves the size of your fingernail! Its been a delight and a huge challenge.
Because there is a lot of sanding in painting biscuit ware (or unglazed ware as I call it) there is a fine balance to sculpting the flowers fine enough to be translucent but strong enough to endure up to 6 sandings throughout the many firings. The pansies and violets, no bigger than 3/4 inch total were the finest petals to sculpt so far.
These sculptures are like Botanical drawings in Porcelain including many 'nature companions'.
In the Past I have found it so useful to read what other artists and craftspeople make and how they make it.
So I thought I would share the materials I use and where I get them. It has not been easy to find everything I need to make this work and in some cases has taken years to establish where and how to do it. I order almost nothing online as I believe in keeping local stores open.
CLAY BODIES (cone 6)
1. English Grolleg Porcelain from Clayart center in Puyallip, WA:
-used for: Black and White works(like Seawomen series)
-A easier to sculpt porcelain, but with a creamier look. Does not work well with China paints because it doesn't vitrify at cone 6
2. New Zealand Porcelain From Clayart Center:
-used for china painted sculpture
- hard to sculpt, though more plastic than some other porcelains I have tried....and haven't managed to make anything over 14 inches yet
3. Newcomb & Soldate 60 (Laguna): I am just trying these two out for more traditional sculpting
MS-29 Laguna Clear:
I use only clear glaze. My favorite for years was an old coveted jug of pink glaze from Duncan. It probably had lead in it but it was beautiful and easy to use. I now use Black and White works(like Seawomen series) :. But it is chunky and grey going on so its hard to monitor the layers. It is reliable for use with high kaolin porcelain like New Zealand from Clayart center and can be bought in most ceramic stores.
10 sizes of refer tube and wire: Home Depot (bulk ground wire and coils of refer tubing)and Ace hardware(smaller gauges)
Copper Sheet: .008 x 12x18 is size I used for most foliage. I bought the cutting tool and sheets(in 2 thicknesses) at Hobby Lobby.
2 part epoxy(not the gorilla kind)- HD or Ace
epoxy putty-HD or Ace
judikins diamond glaze-hobby lobby and michaels: use for knobs on insect legs
E6000- HD, Ace, Michaels, etc.
Estate sales, china painting expos, Maryland China
High fire Wire and Dremel Parts: I sometimes order from manufacturer or big distributors. I use the EZ lock 320 grit buffing wheels so order a lot at a time.
A friend and I were talking on the phone one night and we joked around about the insects I was making. She lives in Texas and cockroaches and cicadas are common there. Two Insects I don't see much living in Washington.
I was telling her about the cicadas and their pupae I was crafting and didn't think would sell well-especially the Pupae!!!! She mentioned that cockroaches were certainly not a favorite. As we were talking I suggested the cockroaches would be more marketable 'having tea'. She immediatly ordered a set! It made me laugh!
See it was marketable!!!!
I call this studio, STUDIO 2, when caring for my grandparents. My grandparents have Alzheimers and dementia, and I work with my cousin to assist them.
It helps me to continue my sculpture and painting into that environment as well. And yes I cart the porcelain work back and forth sometimes...on the train no less!!
Not only can I continue my studio work, it is good to be doing my thing while caring for them. Caregiving can be a bit stressful. In addition, my grandparents enjoy seeing someone nearby and they enjoy seeing the activity and artwork. I set up with them in the tv room or in the bedroom for more privacy (if you've ever assisted such folk you know one's own space is needed too).
Seen above is the production and fine sculpture work I am working on in this bimonthly batch. The mushrooms are a current 'product' so I make plenty to have in the gallery in Olympia. The tulips, orchids and insects are components from my new series Orchidea imaginarium and for a show in May 2021.
VIDEO GAME ILLUSTRATION
My little brother is working on a video game this year and we are collaborating on the illustrations for it. I do love to sketch but usually only prep drawings for future sculptures or ideas. Its been fun to push the rusty drawing skills out into the open again! Though drawing on paper is definitely preferable to me, I find learning new skills in any area is a great challenge as well.
I pulled out my dusty, be-webbed Wacom tablet this month to see if it would do the trick. I have little skill at using the tablet but am learning fast. Its great to have so many talented graphic artists sharing their videos online and this has helped a lot. Above is the test samples I finished last night.
DOING IT ALL....
Between laundry, cooking, sculpting, painting and all its been a good balance. The body needs to shift and get rests in between all these ventures, so it helps to move between them during the day.
In preparation for a Dutch Masters Show at Food Art Collection Gallery in Seattle, I am making tulips. Though at first I thought they would be so much easier than crafting an orchid, they have been surprisingly difficult.
When sculpting in porcelain, I roll the petals very thin but leave the centers heavier for support. During this process I find I have to work quickly to shape each petal and attach before the porcelain becomes dry. Those petals flop around and make a mess of things when just starting out! But each flower I make goes more smoothly and one develops a rhythm.
Parrot Tulips are experiencing another surge of attention and well.....they are spectacular!! I am working on a porcelain batch (see upper right). And the picture on Left is of striated versions, but painted on glaze not Biscuit. Both sets above are only in their first wave of painted layers so the colors will deepen from here.
Originating in Turkey, tulips reached a frenzy of fanaticism in the 15th century of Holland. Though the 'Tulip Mania' lasted a short time, 1636-1637, it probably ruined many a speculative tulip buyer.
The Golden age of Holland, 1500-1700 was awash in wealth and art and tulips! I have been indulging my own obsession with this time period of artistic expression. Every month, painting and sculpting my own wee studies of the flower still lives, and 'sottobosco' the forest floor paintings. If you have been reading my blog, Rachel Ryusch and Otto Marseus Van Schrieck are favorites.
The new tulips on forest floor still lives will be ready in May and listed on this site as well as showing on www.foodartcollection.com .
My favorite Rachel Ruysch, "A 'Forest Floor' still life of Flowers." shown below.
COME PURCHASE NEW smaller works AT A WONDERFUL LOCAL ARTIST COOP
Always striving to produce artwork that is unique and seen no where else in the world. The prices are very accessableAmong my work now showing at Splash Gallery in Olympia, WA are:
- Hand sculpted porcelain mushroom and acorn ornaments that have been carefully china painted
- 'No Kill' butterflies and moths mounted in studio made wood boxes that have 4 coats archival paint with uv and dust protection, and a sturdy hanging wire. (See on upper right a china painted Indonesian Owl Moth)
- Unique and marvelous forest floor still life's alive with butterflies, mushrooms, snails, mosses, and snakes.
- Snake, mushroom and mice figurines
- Amazing and ornate mirrors with minute metal work and porcelain and Crystal details.
If you are in the other states and see this work, you are welcome to contact me at the CONTACT PAGE on this site. I can send close ups of your favorites and if you want to buy, I can take your credit card # and ship most pieces.