Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Where ARE the wild things, anyway?

Las Vegas, of course! I'm heading out to Sin City today, along with almost 100 other wild and crazy polymer clay fanatics to teach at the Clay Carnival workshop. Unfortunately, I won't be able to bring my laptop with me since I have way too many things to haul on the plane. Wah! But, I'll be back in about a week and I'll see you then. Wish me luck on those nickel slot machines!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Perfection of Pixiwillow

I recently happened upon the site of Michelle Bradshaw, who creates some of the most amazing fantasy art sculpture I've ever seen. Pixiwillow is the name of her business and it encompasses her interest in faeries, pixies, storybook characters, and other assorted creatures, many of them covered in fur.

This Mad Hatter sculpture is part of her series, "Wonderland Asylum". Be sure to check out Alice, the Cheshire Cat, and the March Hare when you visit her site.

This sculpture, called "Letting Go" is one of my favorites. Michelle says she gets inspiration from "a story, a comment or expression, a walk in the woods, a dream or circumstance, a title, etc . . .". Simply incredible work!

And then, there's Wednesday Addams, one of my favorite TV characters, after the lovely Lily Munster, of course. Looking at Michelle's work, it seems even more amazing knowing that she's basically self-taught and has only been sculpting these fantasy art pieces for about five years.

This piece, titled "Selkie & Seal" is so realistic, I keep expecting one of them to move at any second. I had no idea what a selkie was but after seeing this, I had to find out. According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, "the shy Selkies are marine creatures in the shape of a seal. They can be found near the islands of Orkney and Shetland. A female can shed her skin and come ashore as a beautiful woman. When a man finds the skin, he can force the Selkie to be a good, if somewhat sad, wife. Should she ever recover the skin, she will immediately return to sea, leaving her husband behind." I think that would make a great movie!

This wonderful little mouse, inspired by the mice in the movie Cinderella, is sculpted from polymer clay and then covered with fur of some sort. What a cute little guy and so amazingly life-like!

If you've fallen in love with Michelle's work the way I have, then you'll want to watch this incredible slideshow of her artwork set to beautiful, haunting music from Lord of the Rings. Michelle says her goal with her art is to "give her creations spirit and soul." She's definitely accomplished that and so much more with her realistic, breathtaking sculptures.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What's in a name?

After reading a funny comment left by my talented friend Christie of Dragonfly Lane last week (actually, there were two comments and you can read them here), I decided to share a double top secret with everyone who reads this blog. I have an evil twin named Kim Cavendar. As you can see, she really exists. You can Google her for yourself if you don't believe me. She's very sneaky and does her best to confuse people by spelling her last name a little differently than mine. Here she is, in a rather unflattering photo, at my book signing last year during CHA for North Light books. She looks a little like me but, she spells her name with an "ar" at the end, instead of an 'er".

If you've ever confused the two of us yourself, it's not a big deal. You're in good company. Polymer Cafe has made the mistake several times (love you, Joan!) and even my own publisher, North Light, has fallen victim to her spell, as you can see.
Her lesser known doppelganger, Kim Cavenaugh, has also done her best to wreak havoc. She's taken credit for a clock I made for Carol Duvall, which was shown on HGTV's tour of Carol's studio, and, she appeared with Carol on a live segment of Shop at Home TV. She's shown up for CHA proudly wearing her very own name badge, as well.

And then, there's Kim Clavender, aka Kim Clavicle or Miss Clav to her friends like Lisa Pavelka. She managed to get her work printed in The Polyinformer a few years ago. Perhaps that was my fault for telling people that "Cavender" was spelled like "lavender", only with a "C" in the front.

So, how do you remember how to spell my name? Actually, you really don't have to worry about it since I answer to just about anything now. But, if you're interested, here's my latest idea. Kim Cavendar is "ar, matey", like a mean and nasty pirate. Kim Cavender is "er, um . . ." , like someone who doesn't know what else to say, and that would be me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Things To Be Thankful For . . .

I honestly didn't have an agenda when I began writing this blog. It's just something I felt compelled to do, mostly, I guess, because I love to write. I had serious doubts about even being able to figure out HOW to make my words show up here after I typed them. That part wasn't as hard as I'd thought although, I still have no idea how to do thousands of other things that would probably make this a more interesting place to visit.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I had no expectations about what I would gain from this experience, other than providing another creative outlet for myself, and I've been so pleasantly surprised by what I've received. My giant paycheck from Bloggers International has yet to arrive (I'm sure they've just misplaced my address) but I've learned so much and have had an opportunity to share some interesting things with some wonderful people I may otherwise never have "met".
I've received such nice e-mails from people thanking me for sharing something I've found during my Internet travels and pointing me to many other interesting things to see and do. And, the comments left by everyone have been such an added bonus. I'm so thankful to each of you for taking the time out of your day to reply to what I've posted. I'm still trying to get used to the fact that people are actually reading this blog!
The artwork I've seen from so many of you has enriched my creative spirit so much and I'm grateful that you post your photos and share your talent with the rest of the world. I hope I've provided something in return for all that I've received. I feel a bit guilty for enjoying this so much!
So, in addition to all my other blessings, I just want you to know that I'm thankful for all of you and for the wonderful things you've done to make this journey into blogging so much fun for me. I hope each and every one of you has a Thanksgiving filled with turkey, pumpkin pie, and my mom's delicious noodles and scrumptious cranberry salad. Okay, that's not too likely, I know. So, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with all of your favorite people and good things to eat and that you find much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

MORE Pattern Magic!

Yesterday's post dealt with making controlled patterns using the technique of mokume gane but I just couldn't resist hitting on this again after seeing some new work by one of my favorite polymer clay artists. Californian Julie Picarello concentrates her creative energies on making incredibly beautiful mokume beads in delicious colors and controlled, well-planned patterns. She puts a lot of thought into her jewelry design and her work is always beautifully finished.
This "lazy river" bead is one of her newest pieces. I adore the wire coils and the washers she used in the construction of the necklace. These components echo the colors in the clay and the pattern, as well. So clever and so perfect with this lovely bead!

And then she's got a "carnival" series she's developed with these bright and happy colors. Her use of negative space in this dimensional focal bead is fantastic. I love to see an artist utilize negative space in their design and Julie is a master at this!

No post about Julie would be complete without showing this amazing black and silver necklace, my all-time favorite Picarello piece. The different bead shapes work together so well and I see both symmetry and asymmetry going on here, which makes me hysterically happy. It's wonderfully balanced without being too "matchy-matchy". Perfection on a silver string!
Julie sells her work on her website and you can see more photos on her Flickr site. I'm putting in my order right now, Julie. I don't care if I have to wait until this time next year, I need a Picarello!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Magic of Pattern

Our eyes love a pattern! There are countless ways to achieve pleasing patterns in polymer clay through canework and surface design techniques. Mokume gane, traditionally a technique used in Japanese metalworking, is one of the most effective ways to achieve an interesting pattern in polymer clay. I've seen a lot of very controlled patterns recently using a variation of mokume gane, achieved by impressing a stack of multi-colored clay and slicing off thin layers from the top to reveal the design. This is a wonderful variation on the more organic mokume patterns that I've always been so fond of.

Rebecca Geoffrey of Ontario, Canada is doing some beautiful work with her version of this technique. She uses simple designs in her jewelry and lets the wonderful patterns that she creates take center stage. Her pendants are a great example of crisp, clean finishing and a nice use of color. You can find her work for sale on Etsy.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Multi-Talented Mixed-Media Artist

Eva Buchala, from San Antonio, Texas is a talented mixed-media artist with an interest in bookbinding, doll making, and jewelry. She works mainly with polymer clay but keeps her options open - there are other materials out there!
Eva's interest in researching ancient cultures and history is apparent in the work she creates. This Mixtec snake ring is a wonderful example of how she's translated her passion for ancient Mexico to her artwork.

This faux leather pendant scroll is an unusual piece that really appeals to me. You can see several views of this on her Flickr site and get an idea for how it was constructed. I love that she managed to combine her passion for bookbinding with a wearable piece of art.
Sally Ann Burbank, the bubblegum girl, is one of the fun characters she's brought to life in her art dolls. Eva's work is available on Etsy.
Have a wonderful and productive weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Namesake Pendant

After doing updates and installation on my computer yesterday, I finally had a little time to poke around the Internet last night. I visited the site of Jana Roberts Benzon and could hardly believe my eyes! As some of you may know, I have a fetish for the color lime green, which I'm convinced is "the new neutral". More specifically, I love what I like to call "dirty lime green". This gorgeous pendant that Jana recently made is called the "Kim Cavender" pendant. Unlike me, it's perfect in every way! I adore those stripes and the black and grey colors she used with this yummy green. I'm thrilled to have something so beautiful share my name. Thank you, Jana, for thinking of me.

After I got over the shock of seeing "my" pendant, I scrolled down the page to see what else was new and found this wonderful "plumage" pendant. Jana made some small pieces last year for a swap in this same style and I'm so glad she's decided to make more. These pieces are incredibly seamless and perfectly smooth, except for the dimensional bits that she adds. I really like the feeling of movement these pieces have.

But ,there's even more "wow" work to share from Jana! These new pieces that she's added the slightly variegated wood grain look to are amazing. I really like the addition of the more "solid" elements in these pieces. I think it gives your eyes a place to rest and makes her beautiful canework really pop. I also love the fact that she's used colors that are a bit brighter in these newer pieces.
I really believe that these pendants are some of the best things she's done. It's not always easy to incorporate new design elements or colors into your "signature" pieces but Jana has accomplished that beautifully and flawlessly with her latest work.
Good news! She has a DVD coming out any day now so be sure to check her website for ordering info and availability.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hamsa Mania!

The Israeli polymer clay community is growing by leaps and bounds and the talent in that country is just astounding. I showed you Ronit's lovely work yesterday and she's just one of the many Israeli artists I've met online since I began posting photos on Flickr. I'm fascinated by the cultural influences that artists incorporate into their work and I love how those influences show up in the work of the clayers from Israel. They have an incredible sense of color and design and an ability to successfully combine lots of different patterns into a single piece of artwork

I've fallen in love with the incredible hamsas they make, which are considered to be signs of protection that ward off evil and can lead to good fortune and personal well-being. I have this wonderful lime green hamsa by Tania Damache-Podoleanu hanging beside the door of my studio and it's kept me safe for the last year or so. It's even more incredible in person!

What I enjoy so much about these symbols is that each one is so unique. Not just the embellishments or the designs used to decorate them but the actual shapes as well. Sagit designed this "octopus" hamsa which I love. What a wonderful use of color! Her work can also be found on Etsy.

There are so many amazing hamsas being shown by these wonderful ladies that I can't resist sharing just a couple more with you. This one by Angela is another favorite. A lot of her work looks like crewel embroidery and it's different than anything I've seen before. Very fresh and once again, a fabulous sense of color and design.
And I had to include this beauty from Eti Raz . I love the different layers and textures she's incorporated in her design and the big blue eye meant to warn off evil.

I hope to travel to Israel one day and meet all of the talented polymer clay artists who live there but, until then, I'm available for a hamsa swap any time you're ready, ladies. I don't think there's any such thing as too many hamsas. So drop me a line, okay?

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Master of Color and Canework

Orange Flower Cane
Originally uploaded by Ronit golan

Israel's Ronit Golan is an amazing artist. Her use of color and pattern combine to make her work identifiable and incredibly special. The wonderful relationship she has with color helps to guide her creative process. She says that "Color is everything. When working with color I feel it by breathing it unconsciously. When I combine some colors together I feel my breathing, if it smooth - then the colors are balanced, if it stops - then there is no balance."

I love this idea she had for wrapping one of her flower canes. By dividing the background color , she ended up with two beautiful canes that are related yet still very different due to the cool blue and the warmer green colors she used to pack the cane with.

Ronit's Flickr site is full of hundreds of beautiful and inspiring photos of her work. It's easy to get lost in all the magic so give yourself some time to savor it all.

She says that, for her, the "creation process is like a romantic comedy movie - it always has a happy ending." And, I'm sure you'll agree, a beautiful one, as well!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Stuff to do!

I'll try to get back here by Friday, or Monday at the latest. I've got lots of things I need to clear off my work table and I've been putting it off for way too long. In the meantime, here are a few links to check out.

If you want to create a masterpiece like this one, check out Mr. Picasso Head. Silly, but fun!

This poptart from Mossy Owls looks good enough to eat! Michael is doing some lovely work and I really enjoy her blog posts as well. You can find her work for sale on Etsy.

Molly McMahan from Molymer Clay (what a fantastic name!) has turned me on to On My Desk. I have no idea why I'm interested in what's on the desk of total strangers, whether they're creative or not, but I've been enjoying it nonetheless.

And then there's Monkee Maker. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I loved monkeys a lot. The funny lady behind Monkee Maker knits adorable monkeys and takes them on hysterical little mini adventures which she photographs along the way. She's got a great sense of humor! Thanks to Marla Frankenberg for another wonderful monkey link to add to my collection.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How to waste an afternoon and learn more about yourself than you ever wanted to know!

I've discovered the mecca of blogthings. There are literally hundreds of quizzes here. Some totally bizarre, some interesting, and some hysterically funny. Rather than drag this out over weeks or months, I thought I would share it all at once so you'd have a better idea of exactly how I wasted yesterday afternoon. And hopefully, this will encourage you to waste a bit of your valuable time, as well. I do enjoy being an enabler. The first one I tried was "what color crayon are you?".

You Are a Purple Crayon
Your world is colored in dreamy, divine, and classy colors. You hold yourself to a sky high standard, and you are always graceful. People envy, idolize, and copy you without realizing it. You are an icon for those who know you. And while it is hard to be a perfectionist, rest assured it's paying off! Your color wheel opposite is yellow. While yellow people may be wise, they lack the manners and class needed to impress you.

If this is true, then I must actually be Angelina Jolie. If only someone would have told me this before now. And honestly, I've always known there was something strange about yellow crayons. They just seem to have very little substance.

Not being able to resist the color quizzes, I went for "what color do you need?" next.

You Need Some Green in Your Life
Green will make you feel alive, renewed, and balanced. And with a little green, you will project an aura of peacefulness and harmony. If you want stability, you've got to get a little green in your life! For extra punch: Combine green with blue or purple. The downside of green: It can promote jealousy in yourself or others. The consequences of more green in your life: You will be drawn to a new life path. You will feel free to pursue new ideas and interests, no matter how strange. You will be released from the demands and concerns of others.

I'm sure they must be talking about money here. I can't think of anything else that's green and can do all these things for me.

This one was probably my favorite. It's called "inside the room of your soul" and it asks you about things you see when you walk in a room. I really liked the questions although my results were a little freaky.
You are quite expressive and thoughtful. You see the world in a way that others are blind to. You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. You feet may be on the ground, but your head is in the clouds. You see yourself with pretty objective eyes. How you view yourself is almost exactly how other people view you. Your near future is all about change, but in very small steps. The end of the journey looks far, but it's much closer than you realize. For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

I really prefer that other people see me in a more generous light than I see myself so it's a little scary to realize I'm not fooling anyone. And what about the end of the journey being closer than I realize? Yikes!

I initially skipped over this one but curiosity got the best of me so I had to try "who is your celebrity boob twin?" Thankfully, there was only one question to answer.

Angelina Jolie

No big surprise there!

And then, because I'm still trying to decide, I took "what should you be when you grow up?"

You Should Be an Artist
You are incredibly creative, spontaneous, and unique. No one can guess what you're going to do next, but it's usually something amazing. You can't deal with routine, rules, or structure. You're easily bored. As long as you are able to innovate and break the rules, you are extremely successful. You do best when you can work by yourself and can express your personality in your work. You would also be a good journalist or actor.

So maybe they know what they're talking about. I am definitely unique, along with everyone else in the world. I do work best alone and here's that Angelina/actor connection happening again.

I only took this next one because my children have accused me of it many times. I think there were a few trick questions in "are you anal retentive?"

You Are Totally Anal Retentive
Yup, you're so uptight - people definitely have called you "anal." You're the type of person who's so OCD you organize your M&Ms before eating them. You have so many rules and rituals, it's hard for you to let loose and enjoy life. So go ahead and mix up your alphabetized CD collection. Live a little!

For the record, I do not organize my M&Ms before eating them and my CD collection is arranged by musical style, NOT alphabetically.

I thought this one, "are you rock, paper, or scissors?" sounded like a lot of fun but the results made me think I should probably take "are you a sociopath?" next.

You Are Scissors
Sharp and brilliant, you can solve almost any problem with that big brain of yours. People fear your cutting comments - and your wit is famous for being both funny and cruel. Deep down, you tend to be in the middle of an emotional storm. Your own complexity disturbs you. You are too smart for your own good. Slow down a little or you're likely to hurt yourself. You can cut a paper person down to pieces. The only person who can ruin you is a rock person. When you fight, you find your enemy's weak point and exploit it. If someone makes you mad, you'll do everything you can to destroy their life.

After reading this, you can see why I checked on the sociopath thing. Good news!

You Are 4% Sociopath
You're empathetic, loyal, and introspective. In other words, there's no way you're a sociopath... but you can spot one pretty easily!

So, please don't be nervous about asking me to come and teach a workshop for your guild. I'm actually harmless and I'll even be more than happy to identify any of your guild members who are sociopaths at no additional charge.

And finally, after spending so much time on foolishness and nonsense, I just had to know, "am I a weirdo?"

You Are 12% Weirdo
Your thinking is so in line with the mainstream, it's pretty freaky. Have you ever considered running for political office? You're so normal, people can't help but feel comfortable with you!

Hey, I can live with 12%!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Runs With Clay Blade!

According to my good friend Webster, a rule is an "authoritative direction or statement which regulates the method of doing something." It may just be the mention of authority and the thrill of challenging it that tempts so many of us to break the rules at every opportunity. However, using that old excuse, "rules are made to be broken" doesn't really give any of us a free pass, certainly not in society and to a lesser extent, in our art. And the last time I checked, pleading ignorance doesn't get you too far either.

So how is it that some of the most successful and admired artists are the ones who consistently break the rules? I think it's because they understand the rules better than the rest of us. Breaking the rules for the sake of being labeled a rebel probably won't do much to improve your art. But, breaking or bending the rules in order to enhance your artwork is totally acceptable.

Polymer clay, as a medium, doesn't come with a huge set of rules to follow beyond the obvious safety and baking concerns, which, btw, are on the back of EVERY package of clay. (I only stress that because I find it amazing that so many people think it's fine to bake at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, or to cure clay in a sunny window, or boil and/or microwave it.) However, if you want your artwork to be taken seriously and you want to succeed in doing what you love, there are a lot of rules to learn when it comes to art and design aesthetics. Most of us don't instinctively know these things. We have to learn them. And only through lots and lots of practice and study do we begin to understand what happens when we break these design rules and how to use those results to our advantage. We must understand the reasons behind these rules before we throw them out the window. Personally, I would much rather see a simple piece of artwork done well and by the rules than an elaborate piece with no regard given to design concepts or finishing techniques. Read everything you can find about art and design, take classes when possible, study work from artists you admire, practice until these things become second-nature. Begin where you are! Don't be in a hurry to break the rules. Before you run with your clay blade, you need to walk.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Personification Personified

Remember having to memorize all of those figures of speech in your English classes? The easiest one to remember was personification, giving human qualities to things that are not human. I'm not sure why, but, as a child, I always felt as if trees had human qualities. They just looked and seemed so "alive" to me and they still do. I've spent my whole life surrounded by trees and mountains and I can't imagine not seeing trees when I look out a window. Next to rocks, they're my favorite thing in nature.

Maybe that's why I was so deeply moved when I saw the work of Rachael Direnna of Pittsburgh. Rachael is a self-taught sculptor who works primarily in paper mache (I know there's an accent mark missing but I have no clue how to get it to float over that "e"), which she makes herself from shredded "junk" paper. She credits the thought of making "something from nothing" and being able to recycle paper as reasons why she chose to create with paper clay.
Her subject matter ranges from animals to people to what she calls "nature spirits" or "tree goddesses". I see immense sadness, strength, elegance and grace when I look at her work. Maybe the sadness it invokes in me comes from the bare branches or maybe it's something more than that.

Part of the beauty of art is that it's such a personal thing for everyone. I see wonderful and well-made things just about every day but I'm rarely moved the way I am when I look at Rachael's sculptures. To see lots more of her amazing work, check out her Flickr site. She also has a shop on Etsy where she sells note cards and prints of her work, in addition to the sculptures. Be kind to your trees this weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Croc-Eating Schnauzers and A Plea for Your Help

Let's talk about choices. The kind of choices that we often take for granted. Just a few short months ago, I was starting each day with a choice. It wasn't a difficult decision, really more like freedom of choice combined with a bit of guilty pleasure. I was choosing what color of Crocs I would wear throughout my day. Just to clarify, I'm fully aware that Crocs are unfashionable but, at this point in my life, my feet scream much louder than my inner fashionista and I've made a conscious decision to listen to them. It was a bit of an indulgence to purchase three pairs but, I really love these Mary Jane Crocs and they're just about all I wear. Then, the schnauzers moved in.These are the culprits: Jackson and Baxter. For the first couple of months, they were too small to go up and down the stairs on their own so life continued on in a fairly normal way. Then, they grew. I would realize they were no longer nipping at my heels and after a somewhat frantic search, I would find them upstairs in one of the bedrooms busily sorting through the trash can they had knocked over. So, I made a rule that the bedroom doors must be kept shut at all times during the day. As with all rules, certain people (you know who you are!) love to break them. I walked into the TV room last month to find one of my olive green Crocs sitting on the table and my husband wearing a guilty look. I was pretty sure that the guilty look wasn't because he had chewed through the strap of the shoe and, after a short interrogation, he admitted to having left the bedroom door open. Of course, I didn't take it well. The olive green Crocs were my favorite! But, I still had two pairs left and I was sure I would survive. Then yesterday, my survival was threatened once again.
Caught in the act! Notice the guilty expressions and their unsuccessful attempts to appear well-behaved even in this obviously staged photo. My second-favorite khaki Crocs chewed beyond repair! The choice that I enjoyed making each morning was snatched away in a matter of moments. My life is now reduced to one pair of size 8, burgundy Mary Janes. Or, as I'm beginning to realize, divided into the pre-schnauzer and post-schnauzer eras. There is hope, however. Luckily, the schnauzers left me with both a left and a right shoe still intact.
Something is wrong with this photo, beyond the obvious color difference. If I could just find a way to add some continuity between these shoes, perhaps I could get away with wearing them to take out the trash or to the mailbox at the end of the driveway.
Nope, not even lime green rhinestones, which normally can overcome ANY fashion crisis, can make these shoes more presentable. So this is where you, an innocent bystander reading this blog, can be of great help to me.

Last night I was laying in bed and mourning the loss of the Crocs and I started to think about all the wayward shoes out there. You've seen them. One lone shoe on the side of the road and no mate in sight. How does that happen? Does one shoe come to life and jump out of a moving car when the window is rolled down and no one is looking? Does someone stick their foot out the window, lose a shoe, and decide to leave it where it falls because they have lots of others at home? In more than 40 years, I have never abandoned a shoe by the side of the road so I can't fathom how this happens. It's one of the great mysteries of life which may never be solved. In any case, should you happen to pass by an abandoned Croc as you're driving down the highway, pull over, stop your car, get out, and have a look. Just remember to use caution and your emergency flashers when pulling off to the shoulder. I'd hate to discover that you were injured by a passing motorist while trying to help me out. Or, perhaps you have a friend whose home has been invaded by schnauzers and one of her Mary Jane Crocs, in khaki or olive, size 8, was also eaten. Maybe we can arrange some sort of Croc swap or a support group for schnauzer owners. All I ask is that you keep your eyes open for a mate for my single Crocs. I would be forever grateful for your help. And don't worry about the lone burgundy survivors, they will be locked in a steel box on a shelf in the top of my closet when they're not on my feet, which will be pretty much all the time since they are now my ONLY choice.