Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Final Installment of the Chain Interview

In my last post, Laura Timmins was sharing with us how she balances the art with the business. She had some great ideas for goal setting, and keeping herself on track throughout the year. Laura then turned to her friend Maureen Carlson to ask a question about inspiration.

Question for Maureen Carlson from Laura Timmins: I love listening to the stories that go with your figures. What is your process when you are starting a new figure? Do you have a story in mind and then develop a figure that fits the character in your story, or do you have a character in mind and then the story comes about as you are working on making the figure? What most often sparks a new idea for you?

Thanks for asking, Laura.
When I create my story characters, such as the Pippsywoggins, I usually start with a character idea, then the story, then the sculpture. The most critical aspect of making it all work seems to me to be imagining a specific spot where the character might live. Then everything else falls in place. These imagined homes are always in real locations with which I’m familiar, such as my backyard asparagus patch or the line of pine trees down the road.
It seems that finding a home for the character makes them real to me, and triggers my mind to go into that world where wee folk might live. I can see them arranging their little homes and taking on a personality. As I do this I start typing questions into my computer, and, if I’m in the zone, from somewhere in that never-never land the answers come pouring out. I can tell if it’s a true story by the way my energy feels. If I have to work hard at it, then I’m forcing it. Then I sculpt the character to fit the story. As I sculpt, if I have an idea for a fun accessory to add to the piece, I can always go back and add it to the story.
When I ‘m doing art pieces that tell a story, such as a story box, I usually go back and forth between the idea and the actual piece, with everything being much more intuitive and perhaps never written into story form at all. After I’m all done I can look at the piece and then “read” it, taking note of the symbols and relationship between the elements. I still use my imagination, but more in an interpretive way.
Having watched one of Maureen's sculptures evolve over a few days, it is truly an amazing process. And one does get a sense of story with each piece she creates. The back and forth process she describes with the story boxes is one I think many artists experience when they are creating. Many of us also know about the difference she describes between being in the zone, creatively, or having the feeling of "forcing it."

Maureen turned to another sculptor, Katherine Dewey, who creates such beautiful sculptures. Both have written and published extensively about sculpting with polymer clay.

Question for Katherine Dewey from Maureen Carlson: I'm curious as to why you've stayed with polymer clay for so many years? I know that you love to experiment with lots of materials, and that with your artistic skills and knowledge of the human figure, you could work with any material. Why polymer clay?
Also wonder if you could give us that sculpting link for the people who are using polymer clay to create their masters for the garage kit and game industry. I think other people on this list might like to see another part of the polymer clay world.
Actually, I sculpt in a lot of media. I currently work in epoxy, paper clay, sulphur free plasticines, and wax. I once worked with terra cotta and stoneware. Polymer Clay is by far my favorite medium. It doesn't require a lot of tools and it's more versatile than anything medium. It's friendlier than epoxy, cleaner than wax, more permanent than Chavant, and it's colorful. Oh, so, colorful. Gray, brown, green or buff-- those are the colors of plasticines, earth based clays, carving waxes and epoxy compounds. Oh, there are days and there are sculptures that are better rendered in a single color (gray and brown being my favorites) because form and texture are paramount. Only polymer clay allows you to sculpt in color. What a spectacular notion!
Here's link to the Sculptor's Corner, my favorite web site where you'll find artists and sculptors far better than I am. All of them work in polymer clay, though most work in other clays and waxes as well. Look for Tony Cipriano, Randy Bowen, the Shiflett Brothers (Brandon and Jarrod), Mark Newman, Chris Elizardo, and Gabe Marquez. Ask any one of them: What's your favorite clay? To a man, they will answer: "Super Sculpey!" I know for certain because I did ask. I also know that artist's whose jobs require they work in wax, Andy Bergholtz or Eric Sosa, for example, begin their sculptures in Super Sculpey and then mold and cast in wax for the finishing touches.
If you are at all interested in sculpture; making, or just admiring, be sure to check out the links above. There is incredible talent to be explored.

This is where the chain ended. I plan on beginning a new chain in the next week or so. Keep an eye on your mailbox.....who would you ask a question of?

To all the artists who participated in this experiment, "Thank you!!"
It has far exceeded my expectations in many ways. It also was a reinforcement in trust and letting go for someone who used to have control issues, that still surface from time to time.

For those of you who have been procrastinating about making New Year's resolutions, or goals for your business for the coming year....or who already feel like you have failed at your attempts at resolutions, I have a post coming up for you. Stay tuned.


Susan Turney said...

I've so enjoyed this experiment and I'm so happy you're going to start a new chain! It's been fun to have another post to look forward to.

tammy vitale said...

wow - very cool! and look at all the great info and links! This is fascinating and I would never have thought of it. Thanks for sharing a great idea!

dayle doroshow said...

Hi Judy, What a great idea and I looked forward to each question/answer with real eagerness. So...... eagerly waiting the next chain- Thanks so much! Dayle

Anonymous said...

are there any venues where these things can be seen?

Nashville Beatle said...

There are so many cool ideas that polymer clay artists come up with.