Monday, September 22, 2014

Witches Hat, Broomsticks and Black Cats Challenge - WON

Last month, my Halloween art group, Every Witch Way Lane, held a juried challenge, the theme being Witches Hats, Broomsticks and Black Cats. We had to create an art piece that incorporated the three elements of the theme, in any medium we chose. I kicked around several ideas, with the most obvious being a doll, but after mulling it over, I went to my sketch book to see what was in there. An old sketch of a set of witch wind chimes caught my eye - with a few modifications, I could make this work for the challenge!

Some time ago, on a family outing to the Atlantis Aquarium in Riverhead, I had come across these wind chimes in the gift shop - they were on sale for a dollar each so I snapped up six of them, figuring they would come in handy at some point for a project. I did the sketch on the right not long after that, but it wasn't until this challenge called that I seriously set out to use them. Again, a few modifications to the design as per the quick sketch on the left and I had my project well in mind. Now to get it well in hand!

 I assembled some supplies - I had this large brass ring that I really do not remember what it was intended for - I did go through a dream-catcher phase but all those were done with actual willow hoops that I had cut from weeping willow trees, so I really just don't know. What I DO know is that this was exactly what I needed, although first I will cover it with black cotton cording by wrapping glue soaked cotton cord around the ring. As for the cat's head, there is no school like old school and so paper mache it was, using newspaper and flour-glue to make the cats head.

I purchased some new chain, large double jump rings, parachute cord and a wooden disk and I think I am now ready to actually start this project.

Now I know this is a bit chaotic but it really isn't. Here you can see the paper mache drying and the wooden disk marked and ready for paint. Those little balls there are going to be pumpkin "pins" - polymer clay jack-o-lanterns that were made by rolling a tight foil ball around a long jewelry pin, then covered with floral tape. A polymer pumpkin is sculpted over the ball, with the long pin sticking out of the bottom. Using a jewelers pliers, a ring is made from the wire, on the other side of the plate, making a place to hang the heavy jump rings from. Sounds complicated, doesn't it? Not really - let me show you.

At this point I also have the cats head about done. I had painted it over twice before I was happy with the look.

Next up, the small disks that the wind chimes will be strung through. I need five of them.

I made the disks out of polymer clay, and will paint the pumpkin design from the wooden plate onto orange paper and then basically modge-podge it to the disks.

Next order of business will be sculpting the witches that will be the draft catchers that will hang from the center cord of the wind chimes, where the bead will be. I am using black cut glass beads that have proven to give a very nice sound when the chimes bump them. The witches are all sculpted from polymer clay over a wire armature, with a wire ring atop each of their head where they are strung from, which is then threaded through the hat. I did NOT simply thread them from their hats - they are very secure and should fly for many years provided they are not left outside - this piece is not meant to be outside, but rather a sheltered porch or somewhere breezy where they will not be exposed to the elements. Ok, five little witches, coming right up!

First of course are the armatures - there you see the wire that will be twisted into the ring after they have been polymer sculpted and baked.

For finishing touches, I made two paper clay beads - one for the top of the wire that the cat and pate are strung onto and one from underneath the plate wher ethe center witch is hung.

I ran into a bit of an issue with the balance of the ring and the plate. I had originally wanted eight chains around the ring, but ended up shortening the chains and "doubling them up" so there were four points of connection on the ring. I got the wind chime strung after quite a bit of annoyed frustration - who would have thought reverse engineering a bit of string on a set of wind chimes would be so difficult? It made me feel stupid, that's for sure! But, I did it!

And here is the finished piece! I am very proud of it, and I love how it came out. The wind chimes sound lovely, the cat's head spins around freely, the ring rocks back and forth with every motion and the balance is good. There were 17 entries into this challenge, with some seriously amazing pieces turned out. I was VERY happy to have won it with a near perfect score in Work in Progress documentation, Use of selected medium and theme incorporation. I had people telling me they have never seen anything like it - it made me very happy, indeed. Its hanging in my art room and I don't think I will ever sell it. Some things are just meant to hang around!! LOL! Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read this!! Hugs and Love!!

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