Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Enjoy The Journey

Okay, so sometime ago (like October!) I promised you an update on an adventure I had with a famous person and a cool person. Oops. Life does seem to provide lots of opportunities for distraction, no?!

The adventure was a trip to Stamplistic in Amherst, Ohio for a girls weekend with my friend Patti (she's the cool one!) to take some classes taught by Tim Holtz (he's the famous one!). This "Designer Road Trip" was titled Enjoy the Journey. If you are not familiar with Tim Holtz, he designs for or has featured products with Ranger, Idea-ology, Stampers Anonymous, Tonic Studios, and more. His Twelve Tags of Christmas in 2007 and 2008 and his technique challenges are beyond belief tutorials... you must check them out.

Consider my directing you there a belated Christmas gift if you haven't seen them before!

I promised Patti I'd make her famous once she hit my blog. You know - because all of my readers are trend setters and movers and shakers and such. Cutting edge type folks. I know it is important not to let friends down - especially when they are the most awesome kind like Miss Patti. So without further ado...

Me, Tim Holtz, and Patti

Tim taught six classes while he was in town. I signed up for two of them. It was more than a little hard to choose! I was in shock to find that they did not sell out immediately (what's wrong with us North East Ohio?!) I wanted to stretch my comfort zone and try something new, so I went quite the opposite direction of paper crafting.

Here are some examples of the items we didn't make:

"Artful Hand" (I truly wish I'd picked this one too...)

"Nostalgic Memoirs" (or maybe this one?)

"Distress-a-palooza" (okay! fine! I should have taken all of them!)

Can anyone explain why I have no photos of the "Generation Grunge" project? I did sign-up for the "Fireless Raku & Fragments from Clay" class as well as the "Shrink Mosaics" class. Here are some details from each!

FIRELESS RAKU AND FRAGMENTS

"Now’s your chance to learn a few great techniques whether you’re a clay user or not! I’ve combined my 2 favorite techniques into one mega workshop. Discover the iridescent colors and textures of creating raku pottery – or is it? In the first half, you will learn the techniques used to create this incredible look of an ancient art form using oxides, Ranger’s Perfect Pearl pigment powders – and polymer clay of course. Learn the simple tricks to mold making using Mold-n-Pour and rubber stamps too.

Then we’re off to achieve the look of metal fragments using polymer clay and pigments… Learn a simple basic technique using polymer clay, rubber stamps, and Perfect Pearl pigments. We will also explore pigment mixing for various metallic finishes and learn the in’s and out of the Ranger Melting Pot. Get ready to play with clay…"from Tim's Site

This one was way out of my comfort zone, but I learned a lot. The main problem I have with classes of this nature is that when I have many choices, I tend to become overwhelmed... does this happen to you? Any creativity I have seems to fall deep into the black abyss of doom and it cannot crawl out. Everyone else is sparking ideas all over the place and I'm over here in the fetal position, mentally paralyzed, rocking quietly, muttering to myself, "Make a decision! Make a decision!" I like the concept of the pieces I made but have no idea what to do with them! I think that the pen nib piece will adorn the front of my art journal if I can get it to stick.

The clay is nothing exotic - any polymer clay will do. It was suggested that Donna Dewberry's clays are terrific and much softer and more malleable, like buttah, better for the molded projects.

Mold and pour is totally cool stuff. If you are interested in this type of project you need it. You can create a mold from literally any item. Very nifty. Tim created the skull mold right before our eyes. I so had to use that one...

We used a pasta machine for both projects. To create the fragments, we broke our blocks into sticks and then into smaller pieces. We put "raw" pieces through the machine cold just once to retain the jagged edge. To create bigger pieces, we put several through at the same time. A second run through will 'mash' them together, but you start to loose definition the more it goes through. For the molded pieces we worked the clay with the pasta machine until it was most pliant and warm for easier shaping. You can also work the edges once molded. If you check out the 'face', 'leaf', and 'key' I molded before baking below you can see how I rolled the edge in the final image above.

We were able to give the illusion of carved or stamped metal on the fragments using rubber stamps. Excess was trimmed away to create the neat edges. We used a razor cutter and I still have all my fingers! So proud!

Fragment pieces were decorated with the metallic color pigment powders prior to baking, it was fun creating some special colors to create different metal looks. When coloring these, it is helpful to use your fingers for more control. This way you can retain the black in the crevices.

Molded pieces were colored post cooking. These pieces were painted with micaceous iron oxide using a metallic brush and then the perfect pearls were added. The micaceous oxide provides tooth and imparts a sparkle. For the dark clay we used the "interference" colors. They appear white until placed on the dark surface then the colors will come through. Once added, the color will not come off as these pigment powders contain a fixative. Apply powder to the piece with a brush, then dampen with water and work in with your fingers.

Yes of course I bought a meting pot. With so many uses how could I not!? We baked the clay right inside for 15 minutes @ 275° with the lid on. (Use the oven in your kitchen to make cookies to eat while you admire your excellent work later instead!) But remember: Tim says not to look inside! If you lift the lid the heat will escape and you will need to add 5 additional minutes to the bake time. So just don't peek. Really. They are still in there. He promises.

Once done, you can use them to adorn jewelry, scrapbook pages, other 3-D pieces, any number of things.

SHRINK MOSAICS

"Combine the luster of glazed tile mosaics with the fascination of shrink plastic…Just when you thought you knew everything about shrink plastic – guess again. Learn a great technique to create glazed mosaic “tiles” out of shrink plastic. Then explore a world of color using Ranger’s Adirondack Alcohol Inks to enhance your tiles with tones of color and stamped images from the Tim Holtz Collection. Learn some great tricks on using the Melting Pot for this unique material - you just might discover a new addiction…" from Tim's Site

Patti reads over the instructions - smart girl this one!

This one was definitely my favorite. I had an easier time during this class with my choices. Knowing that my imaginary craft room is decorated in greens and blues gave me a pallet, then I simply picked images as I went.

You may think that we stamped on the plastic before we shrunk it - not so. Tim suggests that at least with these images, they will be too small when they come out - they don't call it shrink plastic for no reason! We actually stamped on glossy heavy weight paper with black ink. I love Tim's stamp designs, so I ended up with lots of scraps for future projects too!

Shrink plastic rocks. I knew this when I was 7 and the coolness still remains. This way of working with it was unbelievable. First we filled our melting pots with UTEE (ultra thick embossing enamel). Once it was melted (at 340°, the highest setting), we were able to place our pre-cut pieces of shrink plastic directly into the molten UTEE. Then the magic! They shrink up instantly! Once they had shrunk, we pulled them out with our tweezers and allowed them to cool on our craft sheets (no, I didn't buy one of those... only because I already had one! You need one of these too. Trust me.) You could trim off any odd edges if you want, but generally they add more originality.

We flipped them over to their back side and added alcohol inks until we liked the effect. You could use alcohol ink blending solution to thin some spots if you wanted to, so that the images were highlighted in spots.

Once the color was dry, we selected images for each tile.

It helps to place the prepared tiles on your back board to see which direction they will be oriented in before choosing the images. (Just for fun take a quick digital photo of it before going on so when they are all over your work place later drying, you'll remember where to glue them back on!) We roughly trimmed around them. Added glossy accents to the back of the tile and held them in place over the pre-trimmed image. Then once it was partly dry, we trimmed the paper the rest of the way down as close as possible to the tile. It was helpful to bend the paper up around the edges to complete the look. We are trying to create the illusion of stamped colored glass here. Held the image in place a wee bit longer and then they were complete. Just a personal note - I had trouble trimming close enough and wished I had run the edge of the exposed paper with a black sharpie to hide where it met the tile - but only someone with extreme crafter's AR-OCD like me would likely notice. (You know who you are. I've seen you at the meetings!)

The back board was painted black and the ribbon was affixed.

Then we adhered the tiles to the back board. (Bonus: if you have any odd dings or marks on the tiles, like finger print or nail marks, you can hit it with your heat gun and they sort of melt right away.) A chain completes the project and now it can be hung. Voila! A beautiful piece!

Last but not least, I won a door prize! Yea me! Very excited to get some new tools to play with. Hopefully soon! The crackle accents is calling to me...

We also got a nifty bag to commemorate the class - and since I took two classes, I got two bags! One was promptly (yeah right!) whisked off for Edwina to enjoy as I know she will.

A belated thank you to Tim, Mario and all the folks at Stamplistic for a wonderful opportunity!

And of course to Miss Patti for sharing the journey with me. Will you forgive my lateness, dear?

Stay tuned for February when the Further Crafting Adventures of Patti and Connie (and Gretchen and Edwina too!) continue!

4 comments:

Latharia said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! :) And I've had the good fortune to take a class with Tim, too. He's just a fun, down-to-earth, crafty kind of guy! Loved hanging out with him!! :) I learned a lot & definitely had a sense of PLAY when I was in his classes! I'm so glad you got to try out so many new things!! Stop by again to see my album keep growing. Just wait 'til I put covers on it ... then it'll be even THICKER! LOL!

Patti said...

Of course I forgive the tardiness in posting! It was so worth the wait! Brought back the wonderful memories of that weekend! Tim was so much fun, and I learned so much. The pictures you've taken are awesome! Thanks for giving me my fifteen minutes of fame! :)

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

It looks like you had a fantastic time. Thank you for sharing the classes with us. What a lucky girl you are to get to attend one of Tim's classes!

trisha too said...

this all sounds amazing.

i wanna play, too . . .

your pics are enough to set me off!