Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What I've been up to, lately. . .

What I've been up to lately (in the realm of clay). . . Quite a few annoying "flops", in varying degrees of floppiness. ;o)

I'll admit it-- I'm impatient, and I have unrealistic expectations. If something doesn't go right the first time, I'm a bit miffed. If it messes up a second time, I threaten to move on to the next thing, never mind the well-known fact that "practice makes perfect", "Rome wasn't built in a day", and so on. If it's something I really want to do, I might give it a third "go"; otherwise, I need to take a breather and come back to it later. These days, I have a number of "come back to it later"-grade projects.

While reading Donna Kato's new book during my vacation, I came across a few more things to add to my "to try" list. I've been gradually working my way through some of those.

The first project I tried (the alcohol ink on metal leaf under translucent clay) kind of flopped (partly because I deviated from The Plan and didn't realize how sticky the inked clay would be, even after a good, long drying time). I have those lemons sitting off to the side, waiting for me to work up the willpower to see if they can be salvaged. (I'm sure they can be, but I'm just not in the mood to clean up messes, lately. As the piles of clutter in the office can attest!!)

The second "Little Project That Couldn't" ;o) was another from the new Kato book. And ok, maybe it "could", but it didn't do it as well as I'd hoped. It was the encased toner transfer project, and this time, my problem was two-fold.

On the first try, I chose a transfer and color combo that didn't work out very well. The colors are ok, but you can't see much of the transfer. It looks almost like some interesting cracklature instead of a transferred design.

On the second try, I took contrast into consideration, so the transfer is alright-- but this time (as with the first try) I had a little trouble with the translucent clay sticking to my work surface and tearing/stretching when I tried to move it (even when I used a clay blade). After all that burnishing to make the transfer, it's no wonder that the clay gets stuck, but it's still a huge pain. Next time, I guess I'll work on a small tile and chill it. . . Then I also had trouble deciding what to do with the sheets of clay. I tried a couple other things with metal leaf and paint-- attempts to dress up an otherwise dull piece-- but I fear I may have only made things worse.

All in all, it took quite a bit of time, and left me with lots still left to do before I'll have anything finished. Not exactly an exhilarating experience, but I have to keep telling myself that I can't expect everything to go smoothly the first time. (If only I were one of those people who truly enjoys a challenge! (g) Instead, I think I really prefer it when things come easily!! Only joking. I guess. . .)

Looking at the pieces again, I think maybe I was too harsh with them. I mean, I definitely wouldn't say they're my best work, but it's not as though I'll have to bury them in the dead of night. ;o) I think my main problem was that I'd looked forward so much to trying this technique, then when I finally was able to, it wasn't the dream I'd been expecting. I do tend to expect things to go more easily than is likely.

So, what else? Well, I tried that faux ceramic tutorial I linked to the other day-- the one that glazes extruded clay beads with tinted liquid clay. The first try was a disappointment. The liquid clay was running more than I'd expected (probably because my bead rack doesn't hold beads on vertical pins, but on horizontal ones). I tried setting the liquid clay with an embossing gun, then put them into the oven to cure properly. Apparently I didn't heat set them sufficiently, as the liquid clay still cured into a slight drip. :o( Fortunately, it was a test run with just two beads, but now I'll have to figure a better way to deal with the remaining "base beads" I made for that technique. (Maybe I'll make another bead rack, like the one used in the tutorial photos.)

So, has anything been going right? (g)
I did go through with a plan to make different pizza toppings, which was fun. I've run into a slight problem with my pizza slices, too, but it's nothing major, and I think I know how to fix it.

I was also pleasantly surprised with toner transfers. I'd been putting them off and putting them off-- partly because transfers in general are such persnickety things and there are about a hundred ways of doing them-- partly because I didn't have easy access to a copier. I finally got around to visiting the Xerox machine at a local library, which wasn't too much trouble (g), and the water technique in Donna Kato's book makes the process much easier than I'd expected. (Yay!)

(Of course, before I could go to the copier, I had to get my "master sheets" ready. That did take some time-- finding images that were in the public domain, arranging them on the page-- and then, when I had ideas for projects requiring specific images, figuring out the basics of Adobe Illustrator and drawing my own vector images. . . Not that all of that is absolutely necessary, depending on what you want to do. It's pretty satisfying to wrestle a new computer program into semi-submission, but it can also be ir-ri-tat-ing!)

Um, where was I? Oh yeah, toner transfers. So I've been focused on those for a little while, now, using them in a more straightforward way-- not in the encased technique. I was heartbroken when a couple of what I'd hoped would be "perfect" pieces came out with bubbles marring them. But oh well. I'm pretty sure I know what went wrong, and I can adjust my technique.

And that's been it, apart from a few other bits and bobs along the way. I don't have many new photos from the past couple of weeks. For some of the projects, I'm waiting until I get it just right (or "right-er"). As a matter of fact, I'm off to test my toner transfer bubble-problem fixer-upper right now! Wish me luck! ;o)

1 comment:

Deabusamor said...

They're definitely not terrible -- in fact that colorful transfer is downright beautiful! *is green with envy* If only my Oopsies turned out as good as yours.