Textures 101- How to find, use and implement them.

Texture is a very important consideration when making things with any clay-like material, whether it's ceramic clay, polymer clay or our favorite . . . METAL CLAY!

Here's a list of ways that I've found textures to use in my work:

Natural objects found on walks - rocks, wood, rusted metal, leaves, flowers:

I really like this crumbled leaf!
surfaces like wood, linoleum, textured paint swatches from the hardware store, walls!

wallpaper books with textured vinyl pages:

Japanese textured papers:

rubber stamps - using partial patterns for collaged designs.

Here are a few things I made with rubber stamp patterns

tearaway texture - toner photocopies or printouts from a laser printer made popular in the polymer clay community and extensively by Celie Fago.  She had more to say about it recently because for a while the polymer clays didn't work for this technique but she has done some more experimenting and you can read about it here.

mold material - silicone 2 part mold material, this one is my favorite kind . . . and I have tried quite a few.

A few pieces of the material in it's molded state:

photopolymer plates - processed with UV light - Wanaree Tanner uses them with her own artwork.

Wanaree's Celtic Griffon

Here's a link to a photopolymer platemaking tutorial from Maggie Bergman's website.

Wine labels might have patterns for tearaway or photopolymer applications:

I found this pattern on a computer mouse at Target:

laser cut paper - Rolling Mill Resource is a great shop on Etsy that provides these.  They can also make your custom artwork into a laser cut design.

I want to take a moment to address the issue of copyright and using patterns from rubber stamps and patterns found online:

If you're only using a small portion of these patterns in any design, there is no danger of infringing on a copyright of the manufacturer.  If you use a small portion of some artist's cut out artwork, as in making your own texture from their art, the same rule applies, especially if there's only a small portion used in your design.  The problem that arises with the issue of copyright is when any person uses the entirety of the previous artwork in their own work and sells it as their own.  Selling in large quantities, using another artist's work is the heart of this persistent argument.

However, the sore point for many artists, is the copying of technique and style without the artist's permission, so that the artwork looks the same and could be mistaken for their work. 

My favorite way to make jewelry pieces is to collage together little bits of patterns that complement each other.  Here I used two molds, one from a little picture frame I found while on vacation and the other was from a metal tool I found on ebay.  I also used a rubber stamp for part of the background.  The earrings are the finished product.

Currently I'm having an obsession with "LACE". So I found some of the real stuff:

I got a few books with patterns in them:

and I found this great sheet of rubber stamps full of lace!

I've found graffiti all over the place where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I take snapshots:

Then I convert them to black and white images in my photo editing program:

I use Photoshop Elements.  I can even invert the pattern:

depending on what I want my design to look like, an "innie" or an "outie".

I've also made flat sided polymer shapes, baked them for half the time stated on their packages, drawn my pattern to the surface and carved it out with a sharp tool like a tungsten scribe.  Perfect for rolling metal clay onto.  I made a brooch, a couple of pendants, and a small bowl with this design.

There are so many sources of texture to be found out there, you just have to look and I know you'll find something.

A little collaged bowl I made:

Here are a few links to members of our team who use many of these textures in their work.  Please take a look and see if you can tell what they used.

Teresa Boland uses leaves and natural forms.   
Christine Childress uses vintage buttons.
Lori Magno uses gingko leaves and molds
Evelyn Pelati makes amazing and delicate patterned pieces.   
Sue Urquhart makes jewelry with pictures of animals and birds.
Kristi Bowman makes many of her own beautiful textures
Christine Street has very fun ideas!
Zoe Nelson collages like I do and her work is beautiful.  
Bev Gallerani uses textures from the sea
and last is me, Catherine Witherell, the collager! 


Artifice said...

Catherine-wonderful article! So fun to see more of your artistic process.

Linda Greiss

Anonymous said...

WOW, Catherine, what a rich and inspiring article. Love your beautiful, unique work. Many thanks for sharing : )
Natalie Knott

KristiBowmanDesign said...

Really love this post Catherine because I love textures. I'm going to have fun checking out all the resources you shared, thank you!

HappyDayArt! said...

Yay! I've done my job!

kim said...

Great blog post Catherine, very inspiring!

RoseMarysClay said...

Thank you sooo much for sharing. I'm signing up for a beginning class in metal clay......can't wait to begin this new adventure!

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