Sunday, September 9, 2007

Marla Frankenburg's class!

These last two days I had the distinct honour and privilege of attending a class with 19 other people offered by Marla Frankenburg through the Southern Ontario Polymer Clay Guild this weekend.

For those that don't know Marla's work - her specialty is translucent canes (flowers, ferns, and dots) layered over clay so that the translucency floats and disappears into the clay background. She has a technique for a matte finish that makes her clay looks special and not at all plasticky. You can see photos of her work here.

Marla is a wonderful teacher, very generous, kind, and sensitive to the class level. She didn't disappoint and I am so glad that I attended this class. I was so impressed with the way she was quick to credit others for techniques that she was showing us or had adapted from others. She's more humble than she needs to be.

We first started out the class by learning how to slice canes thinly and to apply them to clay to make pleasing shapes. We also learned tips on finishing so that it looked like we were considering the final finish (i.e., softened edges, perfect holes...).

The big bonus was that WE GOT TO USE HER CANES TO PRACTICE WITH!!! I felt like we were stealing. Most people came out with a pair of earrings. To the left is a Sucrets tin that I covered with her cane slices.

What was really interesting was that even though there were maybe a half dozen of her canes that we were playing with, all of our results looked so different depending on the background colour of the clay we chose and the combination of slices we chose. Unfortunately I don't have photos of everyone's work but everyone came out with something uniquely beautiful and there were many "oooohs" and "aaaahs" as people wandered around to admire other's work.

Then Marla got into demonstrating flowers and reeds and how variations on a theme could lend to a gazillion options. To the right is a simple reed that she created and all the variations that could be done with it. It's easy to see how this could translate into fire, wings, super-complicated looking flowers, feathers, and so on. Like all good teachers and polymer clay artists, she made it look easy.

My favourite lessons were learning how to make dots and ferns. I had always thought that ferns would be difficult and fiddley, yet she showed us how to make simplistic beautiful ones in less than an hour. You can see to the left the size of the fern that she starts out with. While we didn't get a chance to play with these in class, we all took samples home of this particular fern for inspiration and memories. I was surprised at how easy an irregular shape appeared to be to reduce.

Marla was consistent in telling us that we were smarter and better than the clay. While at times we had our doubts, it was a powerful lesson and one that helped me when I wasn't happy with what I was doing. There were many jokes about how we didn't buy the right clay since it appeared to be smarter than us

Below are samples of the different canes we made during the class. We all learned the same technique but the variation in our flowers was wonderful. What was also interesting is that many people (myself included) didn't like our flowers when they were large, but once we reduced them to quarter size or smaller, they became beautiful.

Thanks so much Marla for driving 300 miles to see us and to providing inspiration and learning like you did. I enjoyed myself immensely.


violette said...

You lucky people you; I am so jealous!!!

Gera Scott Chandler said...

Looks like sooo much fun!

The photos have given me ideas... ;-)


Louise said...

That looks great Sandy. I am not a flower afficionado but those are really nice.

Anonymous said...

Sandy is so right.. it was a great experience having Marla teach us her 'secrets'. After doing my cane, I came home an looked at the canes I had purchased from eBay.. guess what!! I think mine is much nicer.. at least in the flower canes I purchased. Thanks Marla
Gail :>)

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