October Magic

I love October. The weather has cooled down but it’s not too cold – just perfect sweater weather. Even though the days are getting shorter, the vibrant colours of fall are in full development and it feels like everything and everyone is busy getting ready for something. There’s is a lot to be thankful for in October. For me, my studio is a disaster of activity – but all in a positive way. Being an artist is often a vulnerable path, but I’m very grateful that I am able to pursue my creative passion and share it with you.

IMG_2785I can’t talk about October without talking about Halloween. It’s right up there with Christmas as one of my favourite holidays. This is the month I get to show you my sculpted witches – but not the ghoulish horror movie witches. My witches are  kindred spirits, intuitive witches that many women can relate to. They represent nurturing, the healing power and spirituality in women. Mature, experienced, but beware, when needed, strong, intimidating and defiant.

I get a lot of questions about my sculpting techniques, especially with more realistic faces like the witches. Although I IMG_2768like and use Super Sculpey quite a bit, when I sculpt more realistic faces like the witches I usually use Living Doll. Both polymer clay products are made by Polyform Products and are similar in many ways, but it’s the differences in the products that makes more realistic sculpting techniques work better for me. For example, Living Doll is a little firmer so it holds it’s shape better and doesn’t soften and distort while I’m sculpting and holding it in my hand for longer periods of time. It also holds up to the pressure I use pouncing and dragging my tools across the surface of the face creating fewer little pillings. The other important difference is that with Living Doll you get fewer, or no “white moons”, a problem most polymer clay artists struggle with. White moons are little white spots or IMG_2781lines that show up in baked clay, especially the flesh tones. Caused by trapped air or moisture that you may have inadvertently introduced in the kneading and conditioning process, or even from the humidity and moisture in the air. Living Doll also comes in a range of skin colours which gives me a choice of base skin tones to start with and when I add colour to the wet clay, the colour doesn’t drag and collect as easily.

Let’s get back to witches now. . . Just in case you are not sure if you are a witch or not, here are a few guidelines that were posted during the 1693 Salem Witch Trials to help them determine if you were a witch. One offensive and you would be marked a witch. A couple of offences and you would be burned at the stake. While you’re reading this I’m going to go check on the expiry date on my skim milk. 

  1. You are a female.
  2. You are poor and cannot support yourself financially.
  3. You are rich and financially independent.
  4. You have one or more female friends.
  5. You had an argument with another female.
  6. You are very old.
  7. You are very young.
  8. You are a midwife.
  9. You are married and have too many children.
  10. You are married and have too few or no children.
  11. You exhibit stubborn, strange or forward behaviour.
  12. You have a birthmark or mole.
  13. You have green eyes.
  14. Butter or milk has spoiled in your possession.
  15. You had a premonition.
  16. You planted more than one type of seed in the field.
  17. You wore your hair in braids.
  18. You built a fire on the Sabbath


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NEW Art Workshops

I hope you’ve had a great summer and are enjoying the last few days of August. Before you know it we will be settling into our routines and planning ahead for cooler weather, holidays and if you are like me – creative overdrive.

As promised I’m releasing the dates for my in-studio workshops this fall. You don’t need any experience – all my workshops are easy to follow with step by step instructions, and just in case you forget a step, I provide you with a PDF tutorial to review and refer to after the class.

This year I’m introducing a new one-and-a-half-day workshop, “The Angels”. You will create a beautiful heirloom flowing angel that you can display on a pedestal base or as a tree topper. In addition to sculpting the angel’s head, hands and upper torso in polymer clay, we will also be creating beautiful embossed wings and flowing robes in natural fibres of cottons and silks. This figurative sculpture will become a family heirloom for generations to come.

Back by popular demand – “My Little Elf”! This adorable little 14” character is bendable, poseable and is a fun addition to your holiday traditions. You will start and finish this project in my one-day workshop and you will absolutely fall in love with your Little Elf.

These two workshops are $150 per person. This includes all supplies, as well as lunch, coffee and snacks. We will be using Super Sculpey and Living Doll polymer clays, textiles and natural fibres for costuming. Class size is limited. Book your spot in one of these workshops at https://saracinocollection.com/collections/intermediate-classes

I’ve also added one date only for “Sculpt a Bust” where you can make a witch, a Santa or any other character you choose. This is a detailed two-day workshop. Check out the details on my website at http://www.saracinocollection.com

If you live outside my area or prefer to work on a project at your own pace, you also have the option of taking the course online in the form of a PDF tutorial. Email me for more info at maria@saracino.ca

Don’t forget – my mini three hour workshops are also available for private bookings either in-studio or at your home. Workshops are only $50 per person and include all the supplies. Best of all, if you organize a group of 6 people, your class is free. This is a great idea for an adult birthday party, social evening or paint nite alternative. Pictured here is my Potted Elf.

For more information or booking one of my workshops, visit http://www.saracinocollection.com or email me at maria@saracino.ca

Hope to see you soon . . . keep creating!

Posted in Art, Art Awards, Art Dolls, art exhibits, Art shows, Artists, Christmas, Figurative Art, Halloween, Maria Saracino, Orange Art Gallery, ottawa, Ottawa 150, polymer clay, sculpey, Sculpting Workshops, Uncategorized, Witches, Workshops, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sculpting a Figure – Blog Series at www.Sculpey.com

This month I’m writing blog posts for the Polyform Products website and facebook page. Here’s the second post in the Figurative Sculpture series on body proportions. “Like” their page and you’ll get updates, new product news and mini tutorials. Enjoy!

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Sculpey Blog Post

I am happy to announce that I am the feature blogger for the Polyform Products website at http://www.sculpey.com

Each month they highlight one of the Design Squad members and July is my month. Check it out – there will be a new blog post every thursday this month.

Here’s a direct link at https://www.sculpey.com/create/figurative-sculptures-and-proportion/?platform=hootsuite
Sign up for the newsletter and you will get great product info as well as some little tutorials and tips and tricks to make your art even better.
Happy creating!

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Birthday Celebrations

Celebrating the day of your birth is a pagan tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Actually it was the Germans who are credited with starting the tradition of children’s birthday parties in the 1700s. They put candles on tortes for “kinderfeste,” one for each year of life, along with some extras to signify upcoming years. Historically, Christians didn’t celebrate birthdays because they believed evil spirits lurked on special days. I have one very superstitious friend who still downplays her birthday milestones fearing the celebration might attract bad luck. Another friend used to find a reason to mark every birthday with a party, lots of photos, music and dancing. Looking back it was a way for her to pack lots of living into a life cut short, way too soon. For me, it’s a bit of both. Intimate celebrations for regular birthdays and creative bashes to mark the milestones, and without a doubt, it’s definitely more fun to plan something special for someone else than to be on the receiving end.

Sometimes birthdays come with some personal emotional baggage – I remember turning 50 was a tough birthday for me – even though I was the same person the day before as the day after, it felt like I was stepping into some imaginary portal, leaving my youth behind forever. Turning 60 was a lot more fun. I’ve accepted my age and I enjoy the senior discounts that go with it. Being in my 60’s has also earned me the right  to speak my mind and call out BS when I hear it. The most interesting benefit of growing older is that you lose a lot of your insecurities and gain a sense of urgency in accomplishing goals or checking off bucket list items.

As an artist, I observe and take mental notes of how people behave in different situations. Birthdays are a great source of inspiration. “Another Birthday” is a sculpture I did a few years ago based on a scene I witnessed with a family member. I tried to capture a little annoyance on the birthday girl’s face. Everyone made a fuss over her but the story I imagined was that all she really wanted was a quiet evening with a glass of sherry and a good book.

Another Birthday is now part of a private collection. It was sculpted in Living Doll Polymer Clay. The body is constructed from wood, wire and textiles. The hat, cake, dish and fork are made from Super Sculpey.

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Polo in the Park Ottawa

The finishing touches were completed and this special commission was unveiled at the Rotary Club of Ottawa South last week. This sculpture,  “The Polo Player” is being auctioned at Polo in the Park Ottawa on Saturday July 7th.

I look forward to this event all year long. If you’ve never attended, it’s a chance to step out of your usual routine and give yourself a new experience. Polo in the Park Ottawa takes place at Wesley Clover Park on Corkstown Road. Organized by the Rotary Club of Ottawa South, you’ll see exciting live arena polo matches, a hat competition, fashion show, dog agility demonstrations, music, food and entertainment and a great kids zone with rides and games. Tickets are only $20 for adults, kids under 13 are free. Or book a luxurious spot in the VIP pavillion for you and someone special. The beneficiaries of the event are Wounded Warriors Canada and Rotary projects throughout the community. It’s a fun filled day and a great way to kick off the summer, not to mention a great excuse to unleash your “fashionista” side. You can learn more about Polo in the Park Ottawa at http://www.polointheparkottawa.com

Hope to see you there!  Put this date on your calendar right now – Polo in the Park Ottawa, JULY 7TH, 2018  at Wesley Clover Park (401 Corkstown Road, Nepean).

Posted in Art, Art Awards, Art Dolls, art exhibits, Art shows, Artists, Figurative Art, Maria Saracino, Orange Art Gallery, ottawa, Ottawa 150, polymer clay, sculpey, Sculpting Workshops, Uncategorized, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The “Living History” Mural

I am very proud to finally be able to share with you the unveiling of the St. Marguerite d’Youville “Living History” Mural. It’s taken several months from the initial proposal to the final installation of this collaborative mural, but the results are well worth it. The mural measures 8′ x 8′.  There are over 400 polymer clay relief symbols in this installation, plus the portrait of the school’s patron saint, St. Marguerite d’Youville.

I have to admit, when I was first approached by the teachers at the school to come up with a concept that had to incorporate so many different elements, I was a little worried. The mural had to contain aspects of Canadian history; Indigenous symbols; Religious symbols; the school community; and it had to involve the whole student body of 400+ students at St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Elementary School. Oh yes, one more thing . . . it would be done in relief, in my medium of polymer clay. Coming up with a concept that included all of this was not easy,  but like many light bulb moments, the solution came in the middle of the night. Once the concept and all the design work was approved we moved into production mode.

Step 1: Training day with the teachers.

Step 2: Teaching and working with the students to create the symbols. We used Sculpey III in every colour available. We had two pasta machines constantly conditioning  and flattening the clay.  We divided the symbols so that the kindergarden and Grade 1 students created the powerballs and circles; grade 1-2 created the feathers; grades 3-4 created the fish; grades 5-6 created the more complex symbols. We had groups of up to 90 students working in the school library at one time. There were always 3-5 teachers on hand as well as 5-6 senior students helping. The students were fantastic, but I now have a whole new respect for how hard teachers work.

Step 3: All the symbols the kids and teachers made were taken back to my studio where I did quality control . . . cleaning, defining, finishing, baking and glazing. I counted, adding a few missing symbols, sent a few requests back to the senior grades and encouraged some of the teachers to add their own work to the collection as well.

Step 4:  Creating the base of the mural from two 4′ x 8′ wood panels. Designing the shape, jigsawing the wood panels, sanding, priming, breaking the sections down, and painting the wood background.

A big thank you to Paverpol artist, Mary Lou Devine for her help creating and stiffening St. Marguerites habit.

Step 5: Sculpting St. Marguerite d’Youville. This is a life-size relief sculpture based on a beautiful image one of the teachers provided for me. I used “Living Doll” polymer clay for the face and hand. I mixed all the bits and pieces of leftover Sculpey III clay to create a nice grey colour which I used to make the sleeves of her habit. Her tunic and headpiece, however were a challenge. I needed to make sure they would survive curious little hands and remain stiff. For this part I enlisted the help of friend and Paverpol (liquid polymer) artist, Mary Lou Devine. This medium is strong enough to withstand the outdoor elements. Mary Lou stiffened the fabric of her headdress and coated the front of her tunic. After the work was done it had to rest and cure for 2 weeks. The blessed medal is the Crucifix of St. Benedict and comes all the way from the Vatican.

Step 6: Attaching and laying out a pattern for all the symbols around the image of St. Marguerite d’Youville was a process that took two weeks, on and off, and several reconfigurations.

Step 7: The installation. It wasn’t easy is all I can say. Luckily I  had the help of my strong nephew, my patient husband and 3 teachers. Once everything was safely secured to the wall, my team helped me add all the finishing details, we made a few corrections, cleaned up some edges and patted ourselves on the back while taking lots of photos.

In this last photo you meet the whole team. From left to right, Diane, Me, France, Virginie, Principal Jeannie Armstrong, Sylvie and Sister Shiela from the Order of Grey Nuns.

The whole process of how this mural evolved was made into a lovely slideshow presentation. To see the slide show you can click on the link below or copy and paste in your browser.




Posted in Art, Art Awards, Art Dolls, art exhibits, Art shows, Artists, Figurative Art, Maria Saracino, ottawa, Ottawa 150, polymer clay, sculpey, Sculpting Workshops, Uncategorized, Workshops, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment