Julie Picarello Workshop

This post is long overdue! In March,  I had the wonderful opportunity to take a workshop with the talented polymer clay artist, Julie Picarello. Here is one of her fabulous creations destined to adorn some lucky person.

More of her amazing work to inspire and delight!

Julie has explored and perfected her own faux mokume gane technique using layers of colored clay, metal leaf and all sorts of nifty texture tools. From this layered and textured clay, she creates colorful, unique jewelry pieces.

Color inspiration can come from many sources.

A yummy color palette.

The first thing that struck me about Julie upon first meeting her is her warm smile and twinkling eyes. In a new place and new experience, she made me feel very welcome and right at home. She is kind, generous and very patient, perfect qualities for a teacher to possess, allowing your students to relax and open up to the creative process.

Besides learning a new approach to one of my favorite polymer clay techniques, this fun workshop also taught me to open up to new color inspiration and that you can find fabulous texture tools just about anywhere.

Soon I’ll share with you what I created at the workshop!

My Taos Wrap

Inspired by the rich colors and textural landscape of Taos, NM, I started this wrap at the Jane Thornley knitting retreat I attended there last September. If you’d like to read about my journey there, I wrote about it here, here and here.

Fully intending to complete my creation once I returned home to New England, I found that life kept pulling me away from this particular set of circular needles. It was only after I moved into my new home permanently and life settled around me that I could wrap myself into this project once again.

Worked from wrist to wrist with a series of increases and then decreases, I felt like I was climbing a mountain – up, up, up, resting for a bit on the peak and enjoying the view, and then down the other side. In my case, I made the descent side of the “mountain” symmetrical yarn-wise to the ascent. Where I started out intuitively reaching for the next ball of yarn, I retraced those color choices for the second half of the wrap, a balance of right brain and then left brain thinking. After completing my descent and binding off, I sewed small sleeves starting at each wrist.

As you can see, my wrap can be worn quite long. Alternately, I can always bunch it up for a shorter, bulkier wrap. I prefer wearing it in its full length glory. And with a flower sprouting from my head!

In wearing it a couple of times already, I have discovered that a shawl pin would help it stay on my shoulders more securely. I’m still considering whether I’d like to make one of polymer clay or bead embroidery. What do you think?

I’ve already started another free-range knitting project – a Winter Woods vest, inspired by Jane Thornley’s Winter Forest Evocative Guide and my Sunday hikes in a nearby wood. Here’s a peek at what’s on my needles.

There’s something so magical about blending colors with yarn. Mmmm…

What project are you working on?

Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. All the other tangible rewards will come as a result.

~Maya Angelou

A Color Workshop

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My art voice has been very quiet here lately. As I have become increasingly focused on fixing up my new home and moving in, I know that I have been neglecting the playful, art side of myself in a big way. Now, feeling totally overwhelmed, I’m quickly learning how very important it is for me to set time aside and regularly nurture that side of myself to maintain balance in my life. I think that when that feeling of overwhelm creeps into our lives, it is because something important is being neglected. All that said, I embraced my art self once again when I attended Lindly Haunani’s color workshop called Dancing with the Rainbow.

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With her soft voice and gentle manner, Lindly patiently brought us to a greater understanding of the world of color and, most appealingly to my inner “Color Kitten” (my favorite childhood book by Margaret Wise Brown), how to mix colors (oh joy!) to achieve a color palette that is a true expression of your artistic voice.

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Our homework before the workshop was to gather pure color images clipped from magazines. As described on pages 44-47 in Lindly’s book (written with Maggie Maggio), Polymer Clay Color Inspirations, our first task was to sort these images into subsets of color families, those colors that “went together”. We then chose the subset that resonated most strongly with our inner spirit. As we went through this process, Lindly spoke with each participant one by one and carefully observed their body language and listened to their voice very closely for clues to individual palette preferences.

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Once we chose our subset, we created a collage with the images. Out came the scissors and glue sticks and I felt like a little kid again, joyfully arranging my images onto a sheet of Bristol board.

Fall was definitely in the air that day as quite a number of us chose a similar autumn color palette.

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Once our collages were complete, we brought them together and carefully studied each one, choosing the polymer clay primary colors that best represented our collage colors. Zinc or cadmium yellow? Fuschia or cadmium red? Ultramarine or cobalt blue?  We used the Premo brand of clay but you can use any brand as long as you have a “cool” and “warm” version of each primary.

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One of the most amazing teachings of this workshop was about “mud”, the color you get when you mix all 3 primaries together in equal proportions. We all think of mud as being, well, mud brown. Well, the “mud” mixed from my set of primaries was actually dark green. And the neatest part was when we took small pieces of mud and mixed them into our primary and secondary colors to achieve the most gorgeous earthy shades. Wow!

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With a range of colors mixed from our primaries, we then began to cover a wood framed mirror that Lindly had brought for each person. Just when I got into the groove of covering mine, it was time to go home! Isn’t that always the way of it?

Here are some closeups of the beautiful collages and frames started.

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I passionately encourage you to run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of Lindly’s book. If you have the wonderful opportunity to take one of her workshops, even better. It will change the way you view color forever. It has with me and I am looking forward to studying again with this marvelously talented artist.

Lindly, you are truly my color hero and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your inspiration.

Saturday Morning Tea

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This morning I am up before dawn to step out into the crisp autumn air and go on an art adventure, a journey that will lead me down to Connecticut to go “Dancing with the Rainbow”, a color workshop given by one of my color heroes, Lindly Haunani. When I first found out that I would have the opportunity and pleasure to attend, I wrote about it here.

While I am unable to share a cup of tea with you this morning (mine was quickly made and poured into a travel mug), I’ve included a peek at next week’s tea. I don’t usually choose my teas a week ahead but this one is very special and I am so excited to be able to share it with you.

A small hint…..the fragrance of lilacs…

“Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.”

~Maya Angelou

Taos Journey – Last Day

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The last day. So final.

This is the day that you find yourself trying to fit in everything that you wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to on all of the other days. So, it turned into a “bits” day – a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

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A little bit of knitting.

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A little bit of walking around the grounds, poking in and out of all of the wonderful nooks and crannies of Mabel’s house.

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Here’s the door to that fabulous doorway.

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A little bit more shopping. There’s Dad relaxing while we buy more yarn at Weaving Southwest.

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A nice scenic drive for a little bit of picture taking.

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Relaxing in the living room.

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And the sitting room.

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I sure will miss this wild, beautiful land.

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted any photos of my shrug yet. Weeeelllll…it is almost done with just the sleeve seams to be sewn and the little yarn ends to be woven.

Stay tuned for the “ta-da” moment of my Taos Shrug!

It is not a country of light on things.

It is a country of things in light.

~Georgia O’Keeffe (on New Mexico)