Tonight we took part in the first three Final Makes for the semester. Shayla taught the class how to make jewelry, including bangles and beads, out of polymer clay, Marie demonstrated how to make hot wire foam cutters, and Jen walked us through the grid method, a technique commonly used in drawing and painting. Not only did I learn several new techniques and skills during the demonstrations tonight, I also enjoyed the variety of topics covered. I learned how to make home-made jewelry using a polymer clay known as Fimo and was pleasantly surprised by how easy, efficient, and quick the process was. In a matter of 30 minutes, we each had at least one piece of jewelry sculpted, baked and ready to wear. An added bonus is the “affordable” price for polymer clay (I learned never to use the word “cheap” in reference to jewelry making – people may think you are alluding to the quality of the jewelry and not the price!), which you can buy easily online or in-store. A pack of 24 small pieces in a variety of colors will cost you about $25 bucks on Amazon. I appreciate the individual touch and sentiment in a piece of handmade jewelry and think that it makes a thoughtful and unique gift made even better by its small imperfections.
Marie’s hot wire cutter demonstration was the most science and engineering- based make of the night. I particularly liked how these wire cutters are made out of common household materials, like Popsicle sticks, aluminum foil and D batteries (the stainless steel wire is probably the only material that you would have to buy specifically for the purposes of this project). I would never expect that these four materials, along with a bit of hot glue, would produce such an effective and innovative tool. The electric current provided by the D batteries creates enough heat in the stainless steel wire that these simple wire cutters can cut through Styrofoam and plastic. It would be interesting to take the project one step further and see what kinds of shapes or designs we could make using the wire cutters. This tool made me think back to the outdoor project made of Cloroplast, or corrugated plastic, which involved assembling large cut-out plastic flowers. While this project was completed using a laser cutter, I could envision creating a smaller scale project using shapes cut out of plastic foam using the hot wire cutters.
Finally, I enjoyed how Jen used a topic that she is passionate about – mathematics – and incorporated it into her final make. While some critics think that the grid method is like “training wheels” for novice artists, I think that it is a practical artistic technique which Jen was able to seamlessly transform into a lesson on ratio and proportion. Great artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Durer, and Vincent van Gogh used variations of the grid method to create some of their most famous works. I agreed with the class’s consensus that the grid method should be viewed more so as a tool rather than cheating. After all, your talent as an artist takes into account far more than you ability to draw in proportion and to scale.