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February 23, 2017: Fran’s Artwork

My friend Fran lives in Fairbanks. She’s a woodworker and painter, and over the years she has done some remarkable art. The same can be said of her daughter Sarah. Fran wrote me the following and sent photos with it. I was rather blown away by the images of what she created as well as her description of the process. I thought others might enjoy reading what she wrote.

Here is a project that Sarah and I worked on in January. June, the lady in the tent next to us at the Fairbanks Farmer’s Market does these neat wood intarsia plaques. If you haven't seen any before, it's kind of like marquetry, except it is done with thicker pieces of wood and marquetry is done with veneer. Anyway, a few years ago, she did this draft horse design, and I fell in love with it. I was thinking about

Fran's poly clay draf thorse

buying it the first day she had it for sale, but I went to the restroom and when I got back it had been sold. She makes it a rule to only sell one of each design, so I couldn't talk her into making another. She buys her intarsia patterns off the internet, and told me where to find the pattern, so I looked it up, and had a photo of a wooden one on my desktop ever since then that I often look at. Anyway, I was wondering if the design could be executed in polymer clay, so Sarah and I decided to try it for fun in our downtime in January. She conditioned the clay and mixed the colors to my specifications. We wanted it to look kind of like wood grain. I made the pattern to be 12 inches across. Then we rolled out the clay to the thicknesses we needed, different parts of the piece needed different thicknesses of clay to give it a little 3-dimensional relief. I cut out the pieces and fitted them together. For the first bake, I did just the horses without any harness except for the big collar piece. Then Sarah helped me with the harness, reins, and buckles etc. I cut them out and she put them on the horse. It was fiddly work, and her experience helped a lot. Then it was baked a second time. The clay pieces stick together pretty well during baking, but I wanted to make it more secure. I cut out a piece of stiff matte board to the outline of the horse, and glued the baked clay piece onto it. I added a hanger to the back, and it is now hanging in my studio right across from my painting table where I can see it whenever I look up. I am not going to make these to sell, first of all, because I don't want to go into competition with June with her wood pieces, and secondly, because it took a lot of hours, and I could never sell it for enough to earn a decent hourly wage. We did this purely for fun. Anyway, here are two photos showing the work in process, and the third shows the finished piece hanging on the wall.

Next: 55. 2/24/17: A Conversation with Hrimfara fra Lough Arrow II

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