Our Studios…

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 6.03.41 PMFor those of you who haven’t seen our studios, here is Jenn’s in a rare moment of tidiness (plus some of our work spaces and work tables )… There are always a number of projects happening at the same time, and so there is no such thing as spotless but at the same time we need access to all manner of things at any moment in time and so while “organised chaos” may sound like or may even be for some, an oxymoron, …for us it is a workable necessity that there is apparent chaos that we NEED to keep organised. Jenn no longer teaches but continues to make a limited number of pieces of art both for private use and for sale on the virtual Markets that we run every 6-8 weeks on the Facebook Page.

Julie’s Soul Food Studio is exactly that; …food for our souls anyway, and home to many of our creations. Julieย still does some classes both in Silver Clay and in Glass fusing and slumping. Classes are run as needed by private arrangement and each one runs forย 3-4hrs. The rest of the time Julie, like Jenn, works in her own amazing “organised chaos” studio, where her kiln lives which means that often both the girls spend the day creating here. Julie also makes many pieces for sale and for private use, and between us we love and are fed by each other, the world around us, … and our creative space which is filled with endless possibilities.

Mosaic Sample Board…

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 5.32.19 PM

We spent the last couple of weeks making a sample board, as students are intelligent people who also often like to think outside the square and ask loads of questions about whether or not we can use this or that in their mosaics, and if so what will happen (and if not then the same question!) So I decided on a mirror instead of a boring square background, and went BIG (you can see the whole thing only just fits through a door!) โ€ฆ and to use a design that makes sense rather than just random, and I am quite happy with the results!!

We used more tiles made from polymer than ever before, both in the feature tiles and much of the background, which made the project sooo much lighter yet just as strong! Then we included everything we could think of from paper to old jewelry, children’s toys to resin beads, glass tiles, ceramic tiles, porous and non porous, sealed and unsealed, coated in varathane before the grouting process and afterwards, (and not at all). We used glass beads, plastic beads, fake pearls real stones, and even real bone! We threw in a button and something made from polystyrene, โ€ฆ. basically you name it, we used it โ€ฆ… with pleasing levels of success, (almost all were better than expected) โ€ฆ and the few which didn’t work out well, it was easy to see why! There were things that shocked us that they worked so well, and others that we would have expected a different result but still love the one we got, and believe it or not, there were only 2 “no”s! (which weren’t the end of the world)…

A fun thing for me was that one set of clay leaves I made 23 years and had been sitting at the bottom of a drawer since then, I decided that it needed a place here and it is fabulous!! So for all those artists who can’t bear to throw anything out, DON’T!!! (but do find something to use it for !!)

Updating Updating!!

Today we tried to put up some more info on our classes and what we sell,

Here are the two links to our ….

CLASSES:

What when where who etc is here:

https://jennjulieclay.wordpress.com/posts-from-jenn/

Details of the individual classes are here:

https://jennjulieclay.wordpress.com/scheduled-classes/

PicMonkey Collage1

What we SELL:

Is here:

https://jennjulieclay.wordpress.com/for-sale/

So for all those of you who have been asking what the pictures are of and what we do with them, what we teach and so on, hopefully these pages will help to explain it all!!

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 4.19.24 PM

Softening VERY Crumbly Clay

The other day I needed a lot of white clay for an upcoming class on polymer clay mosaic, but the clay was VERY crumbly…. Over the years I have heard many many theories on clay consistency: “white is always dryer” “black is always harder to work with” etc … and while I have had my fair share of dry whites and hard to condition blacks, but I have also had many WONDERFULLY consistent clays straight out of the wrapping, in both these colours. So in my experience it is less about which colour and more about which batch. After seeing all that they do in the factories with air conditioners and so on, they work VERY hard to get the clay consistent across the board, and this applies to all brands, but some just come out softer than others. AND, don’t forget that some that come out of the packaging “perfect” can be clays that become too sticky to work with the more that they are worked… so there is a VERY fine line that the manufacturers need to work with!

I have also opened packs of clay that are 6 or 7 years old and been just fine (it’s amazing what you find when you clean out the dark corners of studio cupboards! …. and nothing should be wasted right?!!), … ย and others that are fresh and new and still need a ton of extra conditioning to get them going… so what does one do when a pack of clay is too hard or crumbly?? I am not talking about clays that need that little extra conditioning before they are right, I am talking about the stuff that just keeps crumbling and refuses to be conditioned!

One way is to use clay softener. I am not very good at this. Yes I have tried it and yes it works a treat, but problem A: is that one has to be very careful of using too much and it going mushy …. which of course you don’t realise until it is too late!! And B: is that to do it best you need to put it in a zip lock bag over night to absorb at it’s own pace, and this takes both time and patience, both of which I forgot to stand in line for when God was handing them out!!! So what is a quicker, easier way??

Translucent clay!! The first reason that this stuff is great is that it is USUALLY (but not always) more on the softer side of usual clay, and secondly, it doesn’t change the original colour. Of course if you use a TON then it can lighten it somewhat, but mostly it just makes the colour you are mixing it with go further.

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 6.22.02 PM

1. I started by conditioning half a block of translucent clay which took 2 seconds because it is so nice and soft ๐Ÿ™‚ then I rolled it on one of the thinner settings, cut it in half, and broke off bits to cover any holes so that I had a full sheet of translucent clay, and laid it under the machine ready to catch all the crumbles of white clay. I then cut the white clay into 3 thin slices and ran one of them through the roller on the widest setting. The crumbles fell through and landed in a pile on the bed of translucent clay ๐Ÿ™‚

2. I gently removed the whole thing being careful not to drop anything, and spread the white clay over the whole piece of translucent so that spread it out evenly (I will do this another day using a colour other than white sorry!!)

3. I then covered the whole thing with the second half of the translucent clay and squashed it down. By now all the crumbles of white are embedded in translucent clay and so won’t fall all over the place as we proceed. You will still have a few bits who get away but for the most part this keeps them all contained ๐Ÿ™‚

4. I then ran the whole thing through the machine as I normally would to condition, and eventually had a consistent clean white block of fairly soft clay.

I then repeated the process with the second third of white clay, using the conditioned translucent/white mix as the base, and then when that was worked through I put the last of the three parts of white crumbly clay through. I ended up with a whole block of white and half a block of translucent mixed, making it one and a half blocks of pure white ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course if I had some white clay that was very soft I could have used that instead of the translucent, and earlier in the week I needed some skin tones and so used a soft terracotta as the base and added the crumbled white to it and it worked just as well. So this worka for mixing colours as much as it works for simply making more of one colour!

In the end I had all the white I needed to make this dove for an upcoming class, and here it is baking with some red embellishments that I made the day before!

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 6.27.04 PM

 

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

jenn