Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guest post - Roberta Warshaw

I thought I would tell you a little about how I came to work in my medium of choice, Polymer clay. It has been a long and winding road to say the least!

I have always had a need to create. In fact you could say I am addicted to it. When my children were young I was a painter. I would be quite lost with out a studio in my home at all times. I once had a really lovely studio on a sun porch with windows all around. It wasn’t heated though and in the winter I had to have an electric heater to keep myself from freezing. I loved that studio and miss it a lot. When I lived in Key West, my studio was in the dining room! We ate in the living room much to my family’s dismay! Key West was really where I blossomed as a painter. I was surrounded by so much tropical foliage and color. My work really came alive there and I will always grateful for my time in such a special place.

I first began making jewelry around 2007. In the beginning it took me quite a while to get used to creating something three-dimensional after so many years of working on a flat piece of paper or canvas. My first jewelry making class was a simple bead stringing class at a local bead shop. I think this is where most of us began with jewelry making. From there it took on a life of it’s own. I became more interested in the metal findings than the beads!

I am fortunate to have some wonderful schools near where I live for studying jewelry making. I studied basic jewelry making at the Museum school, a part of the Museum of Fine Arts. It was here that I learned how to saw and file metal, as well as solder and set stones. Here is the first piece I ever made:

From there I studied a variety of techniques at a school called Metalwerx in Waltham MA. I studied fold forming with the amazing silversmith, Cynthia Eid, and weaving with fine silver wire with Munya Upin. I also took a class with Micheal Good in anticlastic raising. I really loved working in metals but something was always missing and that something was color. Being a painter at heart I never could get used to working in only the metal colors of copper, silver and brass. Colored stones were not enough either. I wanted to color the metal itself.  Here is a sample of a piece from my weaving with wire days:

It was then that I discovered enameling. I bought a kiln and took a class with the very talented enamellist Margaret Langdell. But over time, I found that enameling is a really difficult medium to master. It is also brutal on your hands especially if you have any type of repetitive stress as I already as I did. I really admire the artists who work in this medium and do such wonderful work but it was not for me.

That is when I discovered metal clay; I loved PMC and already had the kiln so it was a perfect time to try it. When the price of fine silver metal clay became too high I was in a dilemma. I wasn’t selling any of my silver jewelry in my Etsy shop and so I really couldn’t justify spending all that money on it. What was I to do? My favorite piece of jewelry to make in metal clay turned out to be rings. As you can see by the piece below, Kate McKinnon and her wonderful work in metal clay inspired me.

When I retired I knew I had to find a less expensive material to work with and that is when I began working in polymer clay. I really love the way I can cure the clay in the oven (although now what do I do with the kiln?) If I make a mistake I can just toss it in a pile and not worry so much about the cost.

I am mostly self-taught in polymer clay although I have bought quite a few books and tutorials on the subject. And I am very excited to be taking a class with Kathleen Dustin in June of this year. Recently I have begun adding paint to the surface of my pieces.

I am very excited about this newest direction and can’t wait to see where it takes me!

You can find Roberta on Etsy, Flickr, Facebook, and her Blog.


Artisan Beads Plus said...

Wow, Roberta, I loved following the paths that you took and are still taking. I think that is what is so much fun for me. I am always up for trying something different since I think exploration is my favorite part of creating. I just made beads for my husband's wood-firing that is coming up this weekend. That is one of my favorites because you never know what the different wood and ash will create on a piece. I've admired your work and I'm looking forward to seeing more.

Izzy said...

Thanks so much for visiting with us today! Your pieces are absolutely amazing!

Roberta said...

Thank you again so much Izzy for inviting me as a guest blogger. It was quite an honor and a privilege.

Thanks everyone for all your kind comments on my work.

Julie Holmes said...

Roberta, your work is always amazing no matter what medium you are working in! I also loved reading about your journey and was thinking that I'm doing it backwards. Years ago I tried polymer clay and just couldn't get the hang of it...and tomorrow, I start a painting class! I'll always love enameling, but I think most creative souls can never be satisfied unless they're constantly honing something new.

Beetique said...

I've always wanted to try polymer and think I will. I want to make some beads. Have you tried swellegent yet. It's a neat paint and made especially for polymer clay.

stacilouise said...

Beautiful work!

I really enjoyed seeing how your work has evolved and changed mediums. I used to paint and draw as well, and so I love when I get to paint my polymer beads, like little canvas'!!!!

mairedodd said...

while you really are quite capable of creating beautiful things with just about any material or technique as you have shown, finding what speaks for you is what it's all about... your ability to apply your love of painting to the polymer must feel so good... the results are lovely... i really admire that talent...

Barb Fernald said...

Roberta, it is so much fun to see you over here on another blog I check regularly. Since I got to "know" you in your metal clay days, it is fascinating to hear what you were doing before that. I love the balance in the photo of your first piece!! (I used to do a lot of pierced work. All that sawing and filing. I gave it up when metal clay came into the picture.)
I guess I'll just bop on over to Polymer Clay Daily since I know you are featured there today, too. Congratulations!

Patti Van said...

I love to read about the journey's artists' take in life! You do beautiful all mediums!

MÂȘ Reyes said...

Muy interesante, gracias a esta entrada podemos conocerte un poco mas y saber mas cosas de tu trayectoria como artista. Besos

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