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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fly Eyes & Staggered Kaleidoscopes - Ancient New Art Forms




Decades back, I played with making kaleidoscopes... really real kaleidoscopes. I felt they were magical, every instant they create a completely new image. They are literally reinvented moment by moment. Imagine how clever I thought I was when I created my 1st new polymer clay technique which I called 'Staggered Kaleidoscopes'. I began initially working with canes I built & later began integrating fabric with my clay.

Fly Eye inspiration - because inspiration determines uniqueness... or so I thought.
I played a bit with Fly Eye lens when I was making kaleidoscopes. It was a fun way to turn a 16-24 section kaleidoscope to well over 40. Do you know what fly eye lens are?





Here is a view of the lens & below are views of the world through these unique lens.





When I created in clay or combo clay / cloth, I staggered my design - sometimes design was butted flush against each other, sometimes I separated sections with a coordinating color, hence the name I gave them, 'Staggered Kaleidoscopes'  Imagine my surprise to find I'm Not as unique as I believed. Although my personal inspirations may have been somewhat off the beaten path, this an an artistic expression that has been around for 1000's of years. With the internet, I was able to follow quite a historical trail of my 'New' technique. 

I found polymer artists using this technique under many different names dating back to the late 90's & being coined 'Convergence Technique' within the polymer community as the 1st featured project in 2013 Polymer Cafe, although I can only find 3 clay artists that use this term for this technique today. There are multitudes of quilting techniques that utilize this technique by this name as far back as the 60's, but also found it used frequently within the Art Nouveau Movement although never by this name. I found it frequently beginning in the mid 1700's within the quilting community, although usually classified under the Crazy Quilt category... organized crazy if you will. I then found it within historical glass artwork dating back as far as 300 bc, although again never by this same 'referenced name'.

Ecclesiastes 1: 9 - That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.

Isn't it wonderful that the Bible addresses EVERY single question we may ever comprehend? I have come to the realization that Nothing we can create in our clay is totally unique as far as the finished product or 'look' of our finished piece. Let's face it... polymer clay is the ultimate mimic - it is used to create even the oldest techniques in a new & often more flexible medium. So, technique can be new - for about an hour since word travels quickly on the internet... but the finished look is going to be a revamp of what is OR what has been.

Hence, this writers dilemma. I have to keep a gazillion 'techniques' & patterns sorted in my head as well as in the menus. Many of you likely sort by technique name, but that is an issue... since 100 different artists may have 75 different names for the same technique OR finished look. Although some in the clay community may call the above technique 'convergence'... this is a name which actually comes from the quilting community. With fabric it is a fitting name, but strikes me that it doesn't fit a clay technique. Convergence defined - the act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity. After all, isn't our skinner sheet a convergence, or jelly rolls - aren't Most of our techniques about convergence? So... I am going to explain the 'keep it simple' way I will categorize New clay categories & sub-category topics.  

I think of ALL of my artwork as a type of quilting, this is how I thought of my windows & this is the way I think of my finished clay pieces. Create pieces that interlock until you create a whole, kind of akin to assembling a puzzle. So much better than quilting, of course. No needles to thread, no bobbins to fill + you can do a fabulous complex Large piece in just 1 day. I don't know about you but I Love instant gratification! 

Quilting will have 3 primary categories... 
1 - Flat quilting piece-work. Far cleaner & more complex after assembling than typical 
     cane work. VERY Easy but the finished work is so complex that it will look like it 
     was hard.
2 - Dimensional quilting piece-work. I Love the flexibility of this category, it is a wonderful 
     unique look. As with flat quilting, there are many variations, most being very easy but 
     Look so complex. My very 1st piece was a dimensional  piece & I've been hooked 
     ever since.
3 - Landscape quilting. Exactly what the name implies. We'll look at everything from small 
     artwork to huge window inserts & everything in between. 

Ok, now I'm ready to make some sense of the new menu build categories & to introduce you to some new techniques you may not have considered yet. My 1st 3 posts will cover 'in general' how to do each of the 3 techniques above & then I'll provide a few tuts walking you through the technique at the top of the page for 'Fractured Kaleidoscopes' followed by 2 posts on Convergence work which I categorize as 'Strip Quilting'.
Then, if you are game I think I'll introduce you to a new really old PVA product you may not be playing with yet... it's my all time fave for doing Mandala art. 

Until we meet again, I hope you have a chance to create something beautiful!
Happy Claying