Excavations

I’ve always been drawn to digging. When I was a kid, I made several attempts to dig to China, much to my mother’s chagrin. I didn’t get too far though, probably about a foot down into the earth. Obviously, I didn’t make it to China but I did find all sorts of neat things buried in our backyard – earthworms, old rusted bottlecaps, sticks and stones and roots. I think that’s when my love of gardening was born. I loved the feel of plunging my hands into the dirt and smelling its rich, earthy scent. Finding what was below the surface of things resonated with me then as it does with me now.

Many years later, my love of digging led me to pick up my carving tool and start experimenting with digging into multi-colored layers of polymer clay. I gouged through the layers both before and after baking the clay to reveal what’s hidden below the surface. The gouge marks leave jagged edges which I don’t smooth by sanding. I leave the clay rough which speaks to me of the organic process of a spiritual journey and digging into/peeling away the layers of the psyche to discover your inner core. The process can be sharp-edged and painful at times but what is ultimately revealed has a beauty all its own, rich and colorful and unique.

To create my bracelet, I chose a color palette that made me happy and then mixed my colors in polymer clay. I always like to mix my own colors as I feel it lends a uniqueness to my piece. Plus I just loooove mixing colors! I made a sheet out of each one of my mixed colors and then cut some circles out of each sheet. I randomly stacked the circles and then loaded the “log of circles” into my clay extruder. I extruded the clay using a round die and then cut the resulting snake into equal pieces which I lined up horizontally on a sheet of polymer clay. I apologize that I don’t know who originally invented this extrusion technique. It has become quite popular in creating canes. When you cut the snake into equal size pieces and then bunch the snakes up, the cut ends reveal bulls eyes in color variations of your chosen color palette. What I was interested in here, however, was not the cut ends but gouging into the length of the snake.

An unexpected and delightful surprise occurred when I cut the tall thin rectangles for my bracelet components. I discovered that there were small gaps where the snakes abutted on the clay backing, perfect for stringing a cord through. To finish the bracelet, I did a little beadwork over the silver crimps and attached a multi-strand tube clasp. The silver clasp was so bright that I immersed it in liver of sulfur to darken it. It’s still not dark enough for my taste so I’ll repeat that again very soon.

I created other components from my excavation work that day. I’m working on a necklace right now and will happily share my results once it’s finished. I’m so happy to be sharing my artwork with you once again! As always, thanks for stopping by.

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9 comments on “Excavations

  1. Judy Shea says:

    WOW… this is amazing. Your work is so detailed and you can tell you are passionate about how you put it all together. Great colors. Glad you didn’t get to China.. cuz we need you here.

  2. Snap says:

    Wonderful color and texture!

  3. shemann says:

    Lovely bracelet. I was a digger as a child too. I fould old bottles and some bones. At the time I thought I made the greatest dinosaur discovery. lol Turned out to be cow bones. I wanted to keep them, but they disappeared. Love gardening too.

  4. artandtea says:

    Thanks so much, everyone! xo

  5. acrawley63 says:

    Great bracelet Karen. The clay extruder reveals lots of interesting patterns. Your bracelet definitely has an organic, earthy quality. Looking forward to seeing the necklace.

  6. […] creative adventures in digging into baked polymer clay with a carving tool. You can read that post here. At the time, I constructed a bracelet of my carved components. Recently, I created a necklace […]

  7. anna says:

    Your work is wonderful. I am new to polymer clay and I love to look at the work of other talented artist. I use my extruder alot but I have never seen any one carve the extruded clay to create a design like you did. It is beautiful.

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