working on a male figure study

feeling rather non-productive, so am trying to get myself back in the habit of working on a piece for a bit every evening.
and decided it was time to go back to some paperclay pieces… so going to try to finish off this male figure, and then start a maybe lifesized face….

paperclay male study

NIADA conference in September :

to everyone — I consider it an honor to be an artist-member of NIADA – and this year’s conference is going to be at Arrowmont, which is just awesome…

the president of NIADA sent out the following info to share with everyone :

We are happy to extend to you a personal invitation to attend the Annual Conference of the National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA), September 10-13, and our exciting 2009 NIADA Dollmaking School, September 8-12, with 18 Master Classes to choose from. Everyone is welcome; membership is not required. Come just for conference, classes only, or both. This will be a wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from esteemed doll artists from around the world, and to see first-hand some of the most spectacular art dolls in existence. Please be sure to register early before classes and conference are full.

This will be a very unique and enjoyable year for NIADA, as we meet at the renowned Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. With its on-campus housing and meals, wonderful studios, meeting spaces, and gallery, Arrowmont will be a perfect setting for our activities. Come and enjoy the beauty of the Smoky Mountains, create new friendships, and deepen old ones in a more intimate conference setting.

Detailed information about the conference, classes, and registration can be found at, and any questions can be sent to

ALSO: The NIADA Annual Show and Sale at Arrowmont will be open to the public on Sunday, September 13, from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

We’d love to see you at Arrowmont!

Warm regards,

Shelley Thornton
NIADA President

Bev Young
2009 Conference Chairperson

my work room…

I decided to take pity on the fellow occupants of my home — and moved almost everything related to sculpting to a room that recently got vacated. There were still a whole bunch of boxes on a bedframe in there — and the closet was off limits, but i commandeered the overstuffed chair and the long work table. and moved my desk (ok, the desk my daughter left behind when she moved away) and lots, and lots of resin, silicon, clays of all kinds, tools of all kinds, partial sculpts, books, pictures i’ve torn out of magazines, wires, tubes, elastic …. all into the remaining space.

So the rest of the house is actually looking fairly decent. my workspace on the other hand, feels a little like a cross between a hobbit’s hole and a feral creature’s burrow – I hope i’m not in there for the next earth quake, i’m not totally sure what is keeping the futon frame suspended behind the very comfortable chair….

worst of all — a few artists i know have recently been sharing pictures of their work spaces. you could see their desks . so strange.

i wonder if there is a 5 step program for artists/hoarders.

North wall
north wall

sort of south wall
southish wall

I do REALLY like this pic though — was trying to get a picture of the approximately 5 foot space between the window and the back of the overstuffed chair (behind the futon frame – I know i have some books i need back there – have no idea at all how i’m going to get to them though….)

so nice to have a protector totoro watching my back….


standing somewhere in between…. or outside…..

a rather long, random rant about something that may only bother/confuse me….

recently the Interstitial Arts Foundation put out a call for cover art for a book of fiction they are publishing… they wrote :

“Interstitial art is all about breaking rules, ignoring boundaries, and
cross-pollination. Do you have trouble describing your work, or feel
that what you do doesn’t quite fit in anywhere else? Have you been
told you’re too commercial for fine art, too fine art for craft shows,
or too crafty for a fancy gallery? If your art falls between the
cracks of other movements and definitions, it could be just right for
us. Art that transcends boundaries is what the Interstitial Arts
Foundation is all about. Read more about the IAF, sign up for our e-
list, or even become a Friend of the IAF at”

so of course I submitted pics – boy did that sound familiar…. and it started me thinking (again) about the frustrations of never seeming to quite fit in anywhere.

when i sculpt, I usually start with a feeling. When I started working on Transitions
blind angel
I was thinking about the feeling of loss left behind when someone dies, the sadness, and some of the fear of moving blindly into that next phase, which evolved into thinking about what it must feel like at the moment you close your eyes on one existence and open your eyes on the next….

Bone Dragon’s Daughter
woman taking on the cloak of dragon
is all about wondering about how it must feel to truly truly believe in something outside yourself, to be transcendent in the moment and take on the cloak of that belief….
As i worked on the piece it evolved into thinking about how when you have a need to do something – like create art – sometimes that need rides you with no compassion for the other parts of your life….

The end sculpture has more to do with the feelings and thoughts i have while working on it, than any attempt to fit into any particular area of art. And it is something I feel the need to do- not something I do to sell. I wish I could aim my sculpting at a particular market like successful commercial artists do – but the pieces i do when i try that, I think are less successful than the ones that flow out of an idea/feeling…. So i rarely get validation thru sales — but i still want to connect to people, to try to see if other people catch some of the thoughts, the feelings that i’m working with in a sculpt…

So I started taking the pieces to different types of groups. I tried to take some drawing classes in college and was told very firmly that i didn’t have any skill in that area, so i didn’t think of these as fine art …. I was working in polymer at that time, so i took them to polymer clay groups and doll makers groups. In each place I found a small group of friends who connected – but the vast majority thought i should go somewhere else. Eventually I found a wonderful bronze sculptor to learn from, and he was very encouraging – but felt i should be casting them in bronze, while to me the paperclay or polymer was just as important as the shape to the overall feel of the piece. I still don’t feel like i’ve found the place where i fit in — maybe i’m looking for the validation of a label….

Sometimes I wonder if there is a huge quietly seething mass of artists, frustratedly creating their work, wondering where they might fit in… seems like there should be a museum for the outsiders somewhere. Wouldn’t it be glorious to have a place to go and connect with other people making art and not fitting in — (is that self-contradictory – a place for people who don’t fit in, to fit in?) And realistically, probably most of us don’t fit in because its not in our nature – if we had valued fitting in, we could have molded our art to fit the values of the group we wanted to join. (ahem, urm, ok – but i really, really love bjds, really i do —- i don’t just sculpt them because i wanted to fit in —- really i didn’t….. but have to admit, since DOA shut their artists forum, the bjds i’m envisioning are far less mainstream. it probably did me good for them to close)

oh well. its time to head to work. and to try to fit in there for awhile. do other people with day jobs find themselves in the middle of their other job randomly thinking about the piece they are working on, or the piece they wish they were starting?

7 hours and counting

so is been about 7 hours of casual kneading – and i almost have the clay mixed and ready to go.

i’d talk about the zen of clay squishing – but the fumes from the polymer are preventing creative thought.
I like the clay though – I baked some (this stuff bakes at 300) to see how it looks, and the color is close, and no moonies – very nice…..

kneading clay….

ok, devoting today to my least favorite clay activity. or at least my least favorite clay activity before i started sanding baked sculpts to prepare them for casting in resin. Now I’m not totally sure which is worst – kneading polymer clay or sanding stuff. Why can’t sculpting just be the exhilarating part – where you watch/feel the sculpt take life?

anyway — i’m determined to work on the contortionist again, so I need a lot of clay that will be very strong once it is baked. I’m planning (at this time) on leaving her in polymer – though i like her torso a lot, so i might do a resin version of that. I like the grey firm super sculpy a lot for bjds – but the grey color turns some folk off. so I talked to a bunch of folks, and Forest Rogers suggested working with Kato polyclay — she said that she had started adding some liquid polyclay to her regular – and that the result was incredibly strong. I ended up buying some kato clay and liquid from Prairiecraft last fall and its been sitting in the workroom making me feel all guilty for ignoring it.

So this morning I took it out to the garage and ground up 1/2 package each of white and skintone in the food processor that is reserved for polymer – and added some squirts of the liquid. I decided it was looking lighter than I wanted – so I ground up about 1/6th package of the brown too. It was obviously too much brown —- but we’ll see how it goes.

I need to do the legs, another arm – and then probably resurface all parts of the contortionist. I’ve been working on joints, and will probably want to redo her elbow joints too…

long time ago – i used to haul 50lb bags of grain around a food co-op. now-a-days, i’ve turned into an effete wimp. I can hardly make a dent on this stuff!!! sigh. I think I’m going to grind up the rest of the the white and skin packages – and it will probably take all day to knead this all together.

someone brilliant needs to invent a mechanical kneader that senses the heat build up, and has auto-cool cycles to keep the polymer from overheating. course i wouldn’t be able to afford it…. ah well.

stop whining pat! get to work!

does anyone else have truly brilliant methods for mixing hard polyclays? I wish that Sculpy was stronger – its so nice and easy to knead…

Den of Angels Artists forum closes tomorrow

so very, very sad…. I’ve probably gone there at least 2 or 3 times a day for the last several years. Have met some incredible artists and enjoyed talking with loads of people. This forum is what pushed me to learn to make bjds in resin.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye…..

goodbye wave

goodbye wave

goodbye wave

goodbye wave

goodbye wave

with special guest appearance by the Korean company Fairyland’s littlefee ante –

goodbye wave

OOOPS!! (one should never click on a button out of curiousity)

well I seem to have changed my blog’s look and feel. please bear with me while I try to figure out how to get myself out of this particular pickle.

this is not really how I intended to spend this morning!

hmmmph —- this theme doesn’t support blog rolls. and its kind of interesting — it saw that i had a couple of pages defined, but I can’t seem to see where I can define some more. maybe I can turn the available into the blog roll…..

bother…bother…. need more coffee.

ok – working on putting the links back. now what in the world is the name of the image that is the background….. sheesh.
I really like the navigation on the right, though its kind of basic — I wonder if other people struggle with their blogs this way…

nah. probably not.

sigh – oh! found the outer background….. hmph. well this is very simple, like me. but so cheerful! wonder how i can add a few shadows…..

well – its going to stay this way for awhile. I’m supposed to be pouring molds this morning!

3 part torso!

The contortionist actually has a 6 part torso (including neck) — but the tinies (10″ figures) I’ve been working on only had a 2 part torso. The other day I got frustrated with its lack of poseability, ambitious (and avoiding going into work as early as I really should have) —– so I cut the bottom part of the torso in two pieces and started grinding the results down, and adding a 3rd piece in the center.

not finished yet, but the result is already a lot better for posing…
3 part tiny torso

3 part tiny torso

3 part tiny torso

3 part tiny torso

3 part tiny torso

3 part tiny torso

3 part tiny torso

3 part tiny torso

3 part tiny torso

3 part tiny torso

this is a stringing together of mostly junk pieces, 2 left legs, junk casts that need to be sanded and modified before casting permanently. there is a newer upper torso having its mold worked on with a slightly larger/longer neck that works better… and a new right leg that works much better.

I need to add some sort of lock for the hips, work on the wrists and ankles, and then sand for a few weeks. sigh. I hate sanding.

– also thinking about modifying the elbow beans …. there should be some way to make those less square…. which then would require modifying the knee beans similarly.

fooling around some more…

still playing with these little chibi furries (my daughter reminds me they are not chibis in the specific anime style – but i go back to the origin of the word – Japanese for small child or short person. works for me)

I really need to go back to working on the contortionist – but i’ve got another picture in my head that may (as usual) grab my very limited attention…..

but just for fun, hope you enjoy these little guys

Canary looking way too cute…

Canary - girl bird chibi

Canary - girl bird chibi

Canary - girl bird chibi

Bug frolicking. really. he is. and on one leg!

Bug -  chibi

Bug -  chibi

Canary in dance mode :

Canary - bird chibi

Canary - bird chibi