Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
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Friday, August 16, 2013

You might already know Judy Belcher and Julie Eakes...

There is enough to tell about these two women to give them each a post of their own, but they're good friends, and they sort of go together, like peanut butter and jelly, or music and lyrics, or Rodgers and Hammerstein, or, well, nevermind.  Anyway, Judy Belcher and Julie Eakes, in certain circles, are demi-goddesses.  To polymer clay artists, their names are familiar from features on other blogs, like Polymer Clay Daily, from the covers of their books, appearances on TV, and workshop rosters across the country.  Even a fringe-folk like myself (I experiment, but I'm not addicted), knew who these two were, when I saw them on the list of participants in the class I took in France, this summer.  (If you haven't been reading this blog lately, scroll back a few posts to meet some of the other characters from my summer adventure)  Anyway, I confess to being a bit star-struck when I read a few of the names on that list.

Judy Belcher is from West Virginia, and she is warm and funny and real.  These photos capture her charming southern lady side, but miss her equally charming other side, which is, well, hmmm...let me just say that I really didn't need to spend those two weeks prior to my trip cleaning up my wharf rat's language.  Not that she swears like a sailor, well, oh bloody 'ell, I'm diggin' a hole here.  Let's just say that Judy, along with several others in the class, can tell a story with the best of 'em, and there wasn't a thing I coulda said that would have curled ears.  Real women, with real stories, in real words.
Judy with Ann Mason, learning silk painting.
Silk painting was unfamiliar territory to Judy, but not the geometric design of her sampler square.  Here's a shot I blatantly stole from her website, featuring a project from a class she taught awhile back:  
metallic blend pendants by Judy Belcher

If you like something a bit sleeker still, how about this:

Judy Belcher takes polymer clay in some pretty sophisticated directions.

That's enough thievery from me.  You better just take a break here for a minute and go check out her website. Be sure to come back, cause I haven't run out of words, yet, and you have to meet Julie, too, who shows up further on down this post.

Judy shares her book during our final show and tell.
Judy isn't just a world travelling polymer clay artist and teacher.  She has a new book out, Polymer Clay Master Class, which she co-authored with Tamara Honaman, in addition to another book and a video. As if that's not impressive enough, she's also her state's representative to The American Crafts Council, and she's heavily involved in working with Tamarack, a juried artisan venue (and more) implemented by the State of West Virginia.  Judy is so incredibly passionate about getting artists to take the value of their work seriously, and connecting them with patrons and buyers, and I admire her enormously for her choice to take time away from her own creativity to do this.
Ah, here's the story telling face.  
On this storybook doll, by Judy Belcher, the book isn't a book at all, but ribbons of fabric on which words can be written.
I'm not sure who was more charmed by whom...the Southern Belle, or the French Artiste.  He's a copper artist who lives just a few doors up the street from La Cascade.
Julie Eakes, like Judy Belcher, travels and teaches, and tells tales.  One of the great things about Julie's blog (yes, that's a link, which you better click in a minute, but read on a bit, first), is that Julie will talk openly about what didn't work.  Of course, when you see what she attempts, and what she considers a failure, well...her worst attempts look better than a whole lot of my best ones.  Still, she isn't afraid to let the world see the imperfections, and this, among many other endearing qualities, makes her instantly lovable.
Ann Mason with Julie Eakes
Julie deftly paints the center motif.
It was fun to see how the silk paintings we did were similar to our other work, and Julie's intricately patterned scarf was no exception.  On my Internet thievery spree this morning, I also nabbed a few works from her gallery to show you.

Holy cane-oli!  I so love borders and bands and patterns, and Julie Eakes does them like no one else.

Okay, so you see the amazing patterned border?  Now, get this, that face in the center?  That face is not a photo, and it isn't painted.  It's made from a polymer clay process called caning.  Most polymer clay artists strive to do this technique as well as Julie does it on the borders, creating quilt-block like shapes in logs that can be sliced and placed in patterns.  Creating face canes like this is beyond masterful.  She does mosaic faces, too.  
Okay, now you really must check out her blog.  While you're there, in her comments, please razz her about at least posting a teaching schedule, even if she can't come up with more time to write posts.

Saint Julie (?!) visiting her village.
Usually in classes, I am the clown, and have to remind myself sometimes to tone it down.  Partly because I was laid low and rendered dull by the first cold I've had in six and a half years (yeah, there's some "interesting" timing for you), and partly because there were several exceptionally witty people in the class, I'm not sure anyone there even suspected this was my reputation.  Julie was one of the most vocal of the comediennes.  Literally.  Not only does she have a quick wit, and a great grasp of the ironic, but she can sing the appropriate line from any Broadway musical to cleverly deliver the joke.  She was the one most responsible for turning our two carloads into a travelling musical revue, everywhere we went.  

Julie's storybook doll, Candy, displays a little of Julie's signature cane work, in her striped stockings, but mostly shows off a whole lot more of her great sense of silly.  Perfect example of an artist on vacation.
Julie Eakes with Candy, cracking up.
Julie Eakes, cracked up.  Apparently, the Julie Eakes Mohawk is a trademark hair-do, as it was begged for at the dinner table, by those in the know.  She obliged, and she let me take photos.  She also didn't openly hate me for passing that cold on to her, well, except for calling me Typhoid Mary, at one point.  (Sorry darlin'.  I wouldn't have wished that buggar on anyone.)
I am so grateful to Dayle Doroshow for putting me in this group (I wasn't picky about which week I went, so I let her choose).  I got to meet women I've idolized from afar, and others I'd never have known any other way, and spending time with them really felt like being among my own tribe.  If you're an artist or other creative soul, you probably have a sense of just how rare that can be, and just how wonderfully refreshing it feels.  Oh, but this isn't quite the end of my introductions.  Cynthia Tinapple is up on Tuesday morning.  You want to meet Cynthia, so come on back.

Does all this talk about polymer clay intrigue you?  Did you know that the summer issue of 365 Being features polymer clay artist Maureen Carlson, and her tutorial for creating some simple canes?  Now you do!  You can purchase the single issue in PDF or print format, or a year's subscription, just by clicking here:  365 Being Bookazine


Julie Eakes said...

Dear Typhoid Mary, thanks for the wonderful words. It was a wonderful time spent at Dayle's. I can't wait for the 2015 reunion. I am going to see Maureen soon and hope to get some dates to teach ( which I will promptly put up on my blog). My only bone to pick with your post is that my Mohawk can be so much better than that. It must have been the cold (that someone gave me) that was keeping my hair down. Love to you and hope to see you again soon.

Dawn-Marie deLara, Artist in Wonderland said...

The first shots I took of the Mohawk showed a better do, but I was laughing so hard, they were really fuzzy. That was the last one, after you had done a lot of wild posturing and head shaking. This photography business is just that--a whole other business! Maybe by 2015 I'll have developed some skill!

dayle doroshow said...

Every time I read another post, it makes me miss you all so much! I hope we will all rendezvous in 2015- xox Merci Dawn-Marie!