Saturday, April 9, 2011

PCAGOE Monthly Challenge: April - Afterward

The Monthly Challenge for the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy is just that for many of us - a challenge. We each have our specialties within our medium, and it's very likely that most of the themes lie outside of our normal comfort zones.

For instance, if the theme were to be "canes", "pastels" or "flowers", I would be in big trouble  - these are subjects that are definitely outside of my comfort zone. Oh, wait - next month is "flora and fauna" - GULP! But, that's the idea of a "challenge", right?

This month, I attempted my first wall hanging to comply with the stated theme. As an aside, unless we want to work on a larger substrate, polymer artists are somewhat limited in size of works by a sometimes pesky-but-logical limitation - the width of a pasta roller. Since so much of our work comes out of this piece of machinery, you'll rarely encounter pieces larger than the 4" wide rollers. (Think about it - have you ever seen lasagna noodles exceeding 4" in width?  ;-)

Already playing with the Lisa Pavelka rendition of the "Sutton" slice, I decided to turn this experiment into a wall hanging. The most important part of the technique, IMO is the mold - it needs to be deep, have generous positive areas to hold polymer and most of all, be flexible enough to roll back on itself for the final reveal.

I have some wonderful deep rubber molds, but the images are inverted and more suited to stamping rather than filling. So, I made molds of several of them with Sculpey Mold Maker, and thus had the perfect deep wells that I needed. I mixed six custom colors inspired by Asian-themed window coverings in my home and developed my own system for cutting, filling and packing the mold cavities. It was slow work, but fun - sort of like a coloring book.

Where I deviated the most from Lisa's methodology was in her brutal scraping of the mold surface - my molds were too soft to survive the knife, and anyway, I leveled the surfaces as I went, making that step unnecessary.

After applying the contrasting black background and burnishing it well, I held my breath and began the final step. While slowly rolling the mold back on itself, all of those little multi-colored shapes of polymer popped out, row by row! Too cool! With some final finishing, in 11BOLD street style, I was pretty pleased with both the process and the result.

(My Guild peeps must have liked it, too, since they voted it 2nd Place to tie with Alison Kurek's zany piece! Thanks!) And, you can see all of the winners here.

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