Pasta Machine Standards Version 3.0

Here’s my latest draft of a chart based on input from many sources. The standard sheet thicknesses are now only in millimeters, plus I added a column for the size of the sheet (in mm and inches) that you will get from a regular sized block of clay at the THIN, MEDIUM and THICK sizes.

Look for a guest post from Sage Bray and myself coming soon on Polymer Clay Daily. We will include a short survey to collect data on as many pasta machines as we can. It may take some time but we will have standards soon! In the meantime please keep the comments, suggestions and emails coming.

PDF Version Pasta Machine Standards – Version 3.0

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Thank You Elise

The Racine Art Museum’s Terra Nova: Polymer Art at the Crossroads closed on Sunday. The first major museum exhibit of polymer art in the country, this show could never have happened without the vision and intrepid determination of polymer artist and advocate Elise Winters.

I first heard Elise’s dream for a museum show as we were sitting around her living room during the Masters Invitational Polymer Clay Invitational Exhibit and Sale in 1997.

Held in Demarest, New Jersey, MIPCES was the first exhibit of master and emerging artists in this new medium.  The brand new polymer community happily converged on the Old Church Cultural Center to see the show, shop at the sale, and take the workshops. Envisioned and organized by Elise, MIPCES set the stage for Terra Nova fifteen years later.

Over the years between MIPCES and Terra Nova, Elise recruited a core group of volunteers that included Rachel Carren, Nancy Travers and many, many others.

They started Polymer Art Archives to record the evolution of this new art form, organized a show for the National Polymer Clay Guild’s 2001 conference at Bryn Mawr College, and established the Polymer Collection Project to place polymer art in museums around the country.

At the same time that all these organizational efforts were underway, Elise created a color filled body of work that took polymer to a new level.  Accepted into the top shows in the country, Elise traveled the show circuit and championed polymer clay as an artist’s medium up and down the east coast.  Along the way she battled cancer. And then battled it again and again.

If you are not a polymer artist, you may not be familiar with Elise’s story, her valor, and her beautiful work.

As gracious as she alway is, she will read this and then immediately give credit to everyone who helped the Terra Nova show grow from a dream into a reality.  But as polymer artist Jeff Dever said so well as the show was closing, “Elise . . . you were the catalyst that helped us dare to dream. Thank you!!! We are in your debt.”

Elise Winters website.
Polymer Art Archive.

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Color Method’s Matching Game

This fun color matching game starts out easy- just move the open circle bullseye around the outside of the wheel until the two colors of the inside circle match.

Then it gets a little more difficult – match the saturations, then match the complementary colored pieces of pie. Match analogous and triadic color schemes.  It ends up much harder – match the colors behind to four pieces of the pie.

First Tip –  You are changing the outside color surrounding the pie. The first time you play just watch the bullseye circle to see how it moves the colors in, out and around.

Second Tip -When you get to the last few rounds and need to keep track of multiple colors it helps to know which bullseye is connected to which piece of the pie.

You can play it again and again to try to improve your score. Warning – it can be addictive!

Color Matching Game

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Polymer Exhibit at the Mingei Museum

The Mingei International Museum in San Diego is currently showing their collection of polymer beads and beaded jewelry in New Jewelry in a New Medium: The Art of Polymer Clay.  

I visited the Mingei a few years ago when my friend Doshi had a one woman show of her fiber art. Its a beautiful museum in a beautiful setting. Located in the heart of Balboa Park, the museum showcases folk art, craft and design from around the world.  I’m thrilled to have some of my work included in the show.

The exhibit combines two collections representing the work of over 60 polymer artists. A colorful “Chitin” necklace by Cynthia Toops from the late 1990′s is featured above. For more information and a list of the artists you can go to Polymer Art Archive.

Mingei International Museum: Polymer Exhibit

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Saturday School: Albers Value Trick


Putting colors in order according to value can be tough. Here are the twelve colors from the post about value last month. I put them in the order I thought they should go and scanned the results in grayscale.

They fall into three value ranges – dark, medium, and light but, as you can see, the middle colors from the green to the orange are all a jumble. That’s because its hard to see value separate from hue and saturation.

Sometimes I take swatches into a closet, close the door and then open it just a hair. The lightest colors pop. Then I open it another hair and the next lightest colors pop. I keep going until all the colors are in order. This method is accurate up to a point. (Sometimes there’s an issue with the reds. Could be Perjinke Shift but that’s another post.)

You can take a photo or make a black and white copy – but again this is only fairly accurate. Scanning in grayscale seems to work better but it’s not foolproof. Some quilting books recommend using a red filter gel – but that really doesn’t work!

Anytime you want to know for sure which colors are lighter and which darker you can conduct this simple test that Albers recommends in his book.

1. Taking two colors at at time, overlap the corner of Color A with the corner of Color B. Stare at the overlapping area for longer than feels comfortable. You will start to see a halo around the edges.

2. Slide Color B to the side while looking at the area C.

3. If area C appears lighter than the rest of Color A then Color B is the darker of the two colors. If area C appears to be darker than the rest of Color A then Color B is the lighter of the two colors.

Its easier to see the results if you start with colors that are not as close in value and work you way into comparing colors that are very close in value. When you can’t see any afterimage then you know that the colors are the same value.

When is the best time to use this trick?  Anytime its important to get the value relationships right. Maybe you are putting together a complex skinner blend going from dark to light but two of the colors are so close you’re not sure what order to put them in. Do a quick afterimage check ala Albers.

Another time to try this test is when you plan to use a bright color and a muddy color in a cane.  If the value of  two colors next to each other are too close they will blend together. This may not be what you want. Its easy to think the muddy color is darker than it really is so do a quick check to determine if it really is darker or if the two colors are too similar in value to work in your design.

Its also easy to be fooled by colors with white in them. Sometimes a tinted purple will appear to be lighter than a pure yellow green. Just because it has white in it doesn’t mean its lighter than a color without white. Do the afterimage check.

The test is not as easy as it looks. It takes some practice to see the afterimage as lighter or darker than the surrounding color. Area C is often very saturated and glowing and that can throw you off. But with practice you will be able to sort through a whole stack of colors and get them into a smooth run from light to dark.

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