This week's blog was written by polymer clay artist Laurel Swetnam of Sequels.
January inspires many of us take stock of the past year’s accomplishments and challenges, honoring cultural rituals or making resolutions to pursue new goals or do better on old ones. Growing up, my best friend’s German family always invited me to make three wishes for the new year while breaking off a piece of warm Neujahrsbrezel, a delicious sweet pretzel which symbolizes good luck. My husband’s family was a bit more dour. Honoring an Appalachian tradition - think backwoods Kentucky - my father-in-law boiled a pig’s head on New Year’s day, because hog jowl and black-eyed peas keeps you humble for the next year. When we lived in Spain we capped off very late celebrations by stuffing grapes in our mouths - the idea was to chew twelve grapes at once!
Artists seem especially attracted to the idea of new beginnings, perhaps because we’re always searching for inspiration and relishing a reset. My studio partner Kirsten Carpentier invites friends to choose and embellish their word of the year, focusing energy into a single intention.
One of my favorite bloggers, artist and bookbinder Roz Stendahl, advocates doing a little bit of everything you love on the first day of the year, sort of priming the pump with joyful activities. This year I followed Roz’ advice, practicing a Bach cello suite I’m learning on classical guitar, drawing a couple of pears, taking a walk in nearby snowy woods with a couple of happy dogs, and working on some canes for a new bowl class I’m teaching.
Personally, though, I love most of all to spend part of each new January 1 by diving into color, mixing hues and making Skinner blends, polymer clay gradients which are the basic building blocks of many of my pieces. Mixing colors is a lovely antidote to gray skies, as relaxing as meditation and a functional activity which helps me in my work. Since my polymer clay art is all about color, it’s a great way to get in the groove of new palettes and new designs. Sometimes I check out color trends like the Pantone color predictions for 2019, peruse delicious Design Seeds photos with their composite photos or take a trip though my Palettes Pinterest board. Mostly, though, I just merrily fiddle around. Here’s a pair of blends I made on January 1, 2019. These colors could be jungle leaves, Carmen Miranda flowers, or eye-popping polka dots.
Stop by Artistic Portland in a few weeks to see what they become!