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Highlights Index March The Year of 2005

All blog posts will be un-linked. Two blogs disappeared when I changed webhosts 4/2012.

Recommended reading is something I do here from time to time. The process of being an artist must expand further than "tips and techniques" books within our medium. For they are just about medium, meaning they are neither "rare nor well done".  Reading books that break your preconceived notions, that lead you to places you never had the nerve to dream of, is the best way of opening your mind. This will make you a better artist for you will realize that all the self censorship you do to yourself is nothing when compared to how some authors reveal themselves to us.

You Got to read this book,  by Max Barry

Jennifer Government, ISBN# 1-4000-3092-7

I don't write fan mail that often but I had to write to Max Berry and tell him I did this last Saturday Demo on a few hours sleep because of this book.

James read it and came to me waving it in my face hollering "You GOT to read this book!"

Now most of the ClayMates know that James doesn't demand much of me, if anything. That's why I can run CITY -o-Clay and do demos and he stays out of my hair if I stay out of his while he plays Everquest. This being said I'm waving this book in your face hollering "You GOT to read this book." Buy directly from the author if you can, more money for him.

Another book James came waving at me hollering "You Got To Read This!" CHINA MIÉVILLE's "Perdido Street Station" ISBN # 0-345-45940-7
  Dark, dense and compellingly readable. There's images of strange races that are so unique you can feel the synapses in your head snap, crackle and pop like Rice Krispies. Prose that is more like dangerous poetry.
  There's use of magic with Victorian Steam Punk machinery that dredge up mythical creatures that are as beautiful as they are horrifying.  Like life, there are no happy endings and the bad guys don't get brought to justice.

 "Runagate-Rampant" Polymer Clay Sculpture Index Starting the study pages for the sculptures inspired by this book.

Recommended Video

"Brazil" Directed by Terry Gilliam, formerly of the Monty Python troup.

If this film was dangerous when it came out it is particularly relevant now. If you think that contemporary society makes you crazy you just might be saner than you think.

For New List Members of CITY-o-Clay Thank you Staci of the COCModSquad for capturing these screen shots during demo.  06-18-08: These Epson albums were not saved before Epson photo storage closed down.


03-12-05 Sculpting an old face

03-14-05- Sculpt the Green Man Head

 03-05-05- Sculpt the Baby Face

3-14-05 Sculpt the baby

03-14-05- Petals on a Pen: Use slices of petal or leaf cane to cover the pen barrel. An alternative to pressing a sheet and getting that straight seam.

Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny may have been proven wrong, and that theory may have been applied in Jungian sort of way in the book "The Origins and History of Consciousness by Erich Neumann, Foreword by C. G. Jung, where it is postulated that " THE MYTHOLOGICAL STAGES in the evolution of consciousness begin with the stage when the ego is contained in the unconscious..." implying that there's a recapitulation of the development of consciousness found in the myths of various cultures. I'm adding my two cents into this fray.

There is a recapitulation of the history of clay technology with each new clayer that has joined CITY-o-Clay. 

Cultures long dead have sculptures like the The Venus of Willendorf which look like my beginner ClayMates might have made it. My own early works look like remains from an archeological dig. These dishes below are my first minis from 1998. Just doing what humans have always been doing when given some clay and some time to goof around.

If the efforts of new clayers look like things that ancient people might have made, then it stand to reason that studying the ancient cultures would be a unique way to get a grip on polymer clay.

Instead of the tutorials where you'll be taught the craft of making something contemporary look back to the past and rediscover what the hands of humans have made.

Volume one of four in a series: A History of Private Life.

To simulate things from the past it is nice to know the significance of things. To do that you got to get into the private lives of the ancient peoples. This series is unique in focusing on just that.

A History of Private Life, Volume I, From Pagan Rome to Byzantium ISBN 0-674-39975-7

Official Blurb: "First of the widely celebrated and sumptuously illustrated series, this book reveals in intimate detail what life was really like in the ancient world. Behind the vast panorama of the pagan Roman empire, the reader discovers the intimate daily lives of citizens and slaves--from concepts of manhood and sexuality to marriage and the family, the roles of women, chastity and contraception, techniques of childbirth, homosexuality, religion, the meaning of virtue, and the separation of private and public spaces."


There are Endangered Cultures all around the world. Blink and they're gone. Blink and languages over 10,000 years old will disappear and with that the folk lore of how to have a sustainable ecosystem. It was folks lore that ran that tribe uphill out of the way of the Tsunami. Being more modern and techno don't make us smarter, just fills our heads with unnecessary and extraneous information. Protect our Endangered Peoples what they know can help us. What we loose when they are gone will hurt us. Sort of like the Gospel of Thomas, "That which is within you, when you release it, it will save you. That which is within you, if you don't let it out will destroy you." I dunno chapter and verse, it's part of the Gospel that got edited. But I digress, dig the book below.

Endangered Peoples by Art Davidson ISBN# 0-87156-423-8

Official Blurb "This book celebrates the magnificent diversity and beauty of indigenous peoples, from remote villages near the Artic Circle to the Rain Forest of Sarawak in Borneo. The words of the people themselves, commentary by Art Davidson, and more than one hundred photos by Art Wolfe, John Isaac, and other top photographers combine to bring to light a hidden crisis of our times. As never before, distinct cultures are vanishing overnight."

There are many collections of music from indigenous people, this set has a big book with pictures along with the audio, nifty.

Voices of Forgotten Worlds, Traditional Music of Indigenous People, ISBN #1-55961-220-7

Official Blurb "Listen to the Music of Indigenous people - The First Inhabitants of the land, Beautiful and intriguing music which helps us get to know a part of the human family, all too often invisible to the Global community.

"You will hear otherworldly "Throat Singing" of Mongolian Twans; Georgeous polyphonies from Ba-Benjelle Pygmies; Native American songs from three Indian Nations; Didjeridoo Music Played by Australian Aborigines; Ancient Overtone Chants of Tibetan Monks; The Driving Rythms of Carifuna dance; and the simple beauty of an Inuit Drum song."

Music from Globe Trekker is wonderful, get the videos and take a mental vacation. Stream or Download audio samples.
March 15, 2005

Pendant of polymer clay with Cuneiform and bass relief.

Mix Cuneiform with bass relief

We're not talking about complicated sculpting here. Ancient people's
sculpted like Newbie Clayers. Makes sense when you think about it.

Now think of something like this as a pendant. Then add some rough
faux Lapis beads (mined in Afghanistan), some gold clay beads. You
can do faux ancient jewlery in a modern minute.

Look at some of these artifacts. The pinch pots and animals are very
simple. One only needs to use one color of clay.

I feel all new Clayers can learn from the Ancients for basic
techniques like bowls, pinch pots, simple animal sculpting. By
simulating ancient artifacts you can practice and still have
something that you can treasure.

March 16, 2005

Let's see if we can find another example of the Cueniform Alphabet.
Check out the links at the bottom of this page.
People, mythology, daily life, birth and burial,
writing and archeology. Not only for the Near East,
but also for Rome, Greece, Africa, and Egypt.

I find this so interesting because a lot of what we
see is transferable to working with clay, making mini
scenes and we learn some history at the same time.



March 17, 2005

Saint Patrick's Day Post from Yours Truly .

Does anyone know the series of books

"A History of Private Life"?

To quote the Library Journal "These volumes, edited by
Philippe Aries and Georges Duby, are aimed at both the
scholar and layperson who wonder how people lived and
behaved from ancient times to the present: "their
thoughts, their feelings, their bodies, their
attitudes, their habits and habitations, their codes,
their marks, and their signs."

There's four volumes, I'll give tiny urls from

Vol. I: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium

Vol. II: Revelations of the Medieval World

Vol. III: Passions of the Renaissance

Vol. IV: From the Fires of the Revolution to Great

One thing about these books, do not lend them out. I
have to replace the first volume because I let one of
my son's friend borrow it. He left it at his Mom's
home. She moved to another location and now no one
knows where the book is. LOL I lost the Pagans!! Drat.

Usual history books do not deal with the private life
of the people. I believe that the private life is more
interesting than which war hero won which battle for
which plot of land. I can't relate to that. I can
relate to how people love, what they feel is beauty,
their worries about health, weird habits.

There was this class I took a long time ago and we
studied how values we think are unchanging really do
change over time. What is beauty? What is love? What
constitutes betrayal? These are values that do change
with the times. Learning how these things were
perceived in other times will help reveal the inner
workings of people from the past.

For example: there was a time when it was thought that
the heavens were fixed in their position. The
celestial bodies would rotate with the seasons but
they were not expected to change much other than that.
How fixed the heavens were so too was the social
structure fixed on earth. God in Heaven, King in
Castle, Man in Home. Fixed and unchanging.

Well one day there was a Super Nova, I think it was
off the tip of the horn of the bull in the sign of
Taurus, around 1054 AD. Chinese Astrologers made
mention of it. It was said that it could be seen by
daylight as bright as Venus in the night sky. It shone
day and night for two weeks.

This just blew people's minds. If the things in the
heavens can change then all bets are off.

It used to be God in Heaven, King in Castle, Man in
Home and that was fixed as the stars in the sky. Then
if the sky can change, then by golly by gum these
other things can change too.

Beliefs change, values change, superstition is
replaced by scientific fact, these things you'll find
as variables in different times in history.

What does not change is birth, breeding, death.
Everything else is up for improvisational guerrilla
theater. It's ad hoc and what we believe is just that,
what we believe at this time in this place in this
life. It is not what has been believed through out
time for things even as basic as "what is beautiful".

Look at the bodies of women in paintings from the days
of Ruben. All Big Beautiful Women.

Look at what is considered beautiful today, hard
bodies. I don't think that the singer Madonna looks as
cute now all cut and buff as she did when she was a
pudgy "Material Girl". But that's just my belief.

Everyone else has their beliefs. Beliefs over time
change radically and these volumes of "A History of
Private Life" spell this out most excellently.



From Mehreen in Islamabad, Pakistan, St. Patty's day post

These are some links to sites explaining a bit about the ancient cities
of Harappa and Mohenjodaro.

I'm not well informed about them myself, but after reading Nora's email
about replicating the ancient artifact, I thought about these and some
of the sculptures I had seen that came from these cities.

Hope you enjoy reading about them,



Assalamu Alaikum Nora,

So glad you liked the links....and yes I agree the stuff that new
clayers make does look similar to these artifacts....when I opened your first glance I thought it was from an excavation some place... :)...(i opened it before reading you email)

And the best part is that these sculptures though simple still look
BEAUTIFUL... Some of the sculptures like this one

is so simple, yet beautiful, with absolutely no detail on the ox, but
still we can tell what it is by its shape, its four legs and the fact that
it's drawing a cart...

Here are other pages from the site which give a detailed introduction
and history and some very nice images...

Hope you enjoy these,

Fri, 18 Mar 2005, from Eva of the COCModSquad:
Ok, before I totally fall out, here are some artifact links I've had
bookmarked so I could drool over them periodically:

Cool Maya designs (in fabric but easily replicated in canes and pc):

Here are a couple of thorough ones on Mesoamerican stuff:

This woman's website, devoted to the Maya culture, etc., has a
tutorial for writing your own name in Maya glyphs:

And this National Geographic project is supposed to be for kids but
it's just too cool to pass up:

Some things I've been making in my head while setting up house. LOL.



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