Tuesday, April 22, 2014


When I first chose the name "La Loon Designs," I wanted a name that could grow with me yet still let me be "anonymous". About 6 months ago I left a full time job to apply for a Jewelry Design and Technology scholarship to learn how to use CAD modeling software. This transition has made me realize how committed I am to pursuing a career in the jewelry industry. To that end I am moving my bloging to my new website www.michelleloon.com. I look forward to sharing my jewelry adventures with you there! Michelle

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Observation and Mythbuster Moments

I have been interested in CAD/CAM for awhile now, and just got a new toy called the Silhouette Cameo Cutter, a digital paper cutter that will cut out your own drawing or designs. One of the most challenging things about working with a clay like medium is precision with delicate or thin pieces. By running thin sheets of clay through the Silhouette as Wanaree Tanner has outlined in her Metal Clay guide for the Silhouette, the possibilities are intriguing!

Ninja star earrings
Pre-made fine silver PMC sheet & ACS paper clay
2 layers, no solder ;)
Materials that can be cut have to be dry but somewhat flexible for clean cuts. For fine silver that means using PMC+ sheet, Art Clay paper, or making flexible clay by adding glycerine to lump clay and drying it.

PMC is thinner, more flexible and feels almost foamy compared to Art Clay Paper. Art Clay Paper is relatively thicker, looks metallic right out of the package and feels like a flat refrigerator magnet.

For this experiment, the clay was only cut once.

PMC sheet stars
Bottom left corner - ACS sandwiched between 2 layers of PMC
Click on photo for more detail
I found that PMC sheet didn't like to stick to the Glad Press N' Seal cling wrap and needed a cover sheet on top to hold the clay in place while cutting per instructions. Art Clay Paper picked up the texture of the wrap and was better mounted directly on the cutting mat or the sticky side of contact paper.

Art Clay Paper picks up texture of the Glad Press N'Seal
Click photo for more detail

Without the top sheet, the surface is untextured
The cut lines are a little more ragged on the edges, but it is easy to clean up
Slowing the cutting speed may help.
Click photo for more detail
I've heard mixed review as far as adding glycerine to lump Art Clay Silver - binder degrading, glycerine sucks moisture out of the clay, and Yes, I've done it!

I started with 10g of fresh clay and thoroughly kneaded 1-2 drops of glycerine into the clay at a time alternating with 1 drop of water. The clay shouldn't look like it is disintegrating, nor be too sticky to roll out. This clay was rolled 2 cards thick and air dried.

Flexible ACS sheet

Each clay has its own characteristics and while PMC+ sheet with PMC+ lump clay would be the easiest to use for compatibility of shrinkage, I like knowing what can be possible if the ideal materials are not at hand.

Additional Reference: Hadar Jacobson's Youtube video on making flexible clay. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0xRNBh34JY

If you would like to add to these observations, please share a comment here! Also, check out what other metal clay artists are doing and learning on the MC SILies Facebook page.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The "I" in Artist

The past couple weeks with Artful Success learning about the various hats or mind sets needed to get things done and facing the mental resistance to the fact that something has to be let go of, has finally made me see that the way I view myself could use some adjustment.
I cannot take the "I" out of being an Artist and am finally at a point where I realize this and it has to be ok with me. There is a difference between taking yourself seriously as a business, being too serious about life, and just being down right critical. I'm failing at trying to fail, and need to stop trying to see myself as a failure that will let everyone and myself down.  No matter how much I worry about letting all the wonderful people down that encourage, nudge me along, and just plain kick my a*s into gear, it is up to me to take action so I don't go crazy beating myself up. Or making myself more crazy. It does hurt more than me, and I truly don't want that. 

Ignore the chatter that questions this!
Just Accept it.
And keep moving.

It is deadline time again and I've still got major avoidance issues when it comes to actually sitting down and working without worrying about the outcome. Things usually turn out better than I think and if I have fun making something, other people usually have fun with it too.  I do need to schedule more time for getting lost and figuring things out though.

Someone once said they see me as a little mad scientist making things in my garage.
Finally, presenting myself with confidence and some sense of style?

 Well, I've been assured a hat helps with that too.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Reflection & Re-commitment

Selection of pieces from figurative sculpture class projects.
Ceramic clay
Michelle Loon

Collage created  on http://bighugelabs.com/

Sunday, precipice of and old week and beginning of a new one.  Reminders that figurative sculpture class and Artful Success are nearing their official ends has been bittersweet this week. They both have enabled me to challenge myself and given me confidence personally with self awareness and technically as an artist more than I have ever imagined.  For sculpture class, seeing completed class assignments together really has struck me on how much I definitely love sculpting while working with ceramic clay has challenged me to work larger and build fearlessly. Of all the tools that have been shared with us through Artful Success, the most challenging and helpful ones are the least tangible. Seeing the difference between mentally knowing and actually taking the little action steps to shift my mindset to a more positive place; and the importance of breaking down goals to microscopic steps to prevent a constant cycle of overwhelm has been invaluable.

Recently I've mentally been stuck trying to define and explain the inspiration behind the pieces I have made for an artist's statement. I realized there is a disconnect to the pieces I have made and where I want to go as artist.  Instead of trying to define the things I have made (things to amuse myself or explore a technique to teach) - use what I have put together as an artist's statement as a guide to make new pieces that will fit better with things that I want to make. Impatient as I still get to immediately try changing everything once the switch is found for the light bulb in my head, this is just another push to re-commit myself to making time to take action in my pursuit of full time art-dom.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Defining passion

Killer Instinct - Humming bird with human eyes and skeletal hands.
Ceramic clay.
Michelle Loon, 2012
Killer Instinct - Humming bird with human eyes and skeletal hands.
Ceramic clay.
Michelle Loon, 2012

This week my goal had been to distill the seemingly random things that make me tick and fuel the adventurous part of my soul into a concise Passion statement.  During figurative sculpture class, I had a deja-epiphany (the kind where the Aha! moment makes sense, forget the details of the moment, then it pops up again ages later).  All the hobbies or classes I pursue are justification to explore and can be related back to something I have wanted to try in metal clay.  In the figurative sculpture class, the medium we are working in is ceramic clay, which is vaguely familiar yet completely new to me.  I love learning the technical aspects of sculpting realistic figures though as seen with "Killer Instinct," the more creative license I get, the more things end up having some kind of an imaginative twist. The process of creating things is very seductive to my imagination, and sculpting is my way of creating my own reality that can be shared with others.

My passion is to create expressions of motion and emotion through whimsical, wearable art. 
How do you feed your adventurous soul?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: All is One and One is All

Tree of Life bracelet, front
Fine silver with copper and sterling silver chain
Michelle Loon, 2012

This week I finished a Tree of Life bracelet. The friend who requested it for her boyfriend wanted it to have elements that reflected both of their personalities and would fit with the macramé jewelry he makes. He is an earthy type of person and likes the symbolism of the Tree of Life while the swirly branches reflect her aesthetic and spirited personality. On the back, the inscription reads “All is one and one is all.”

Tree of Life bracelet, back
Fine silver with copper and sterling silver chain
Michelle Loon, 2012

The bracelet’s inscription reminded me of the quote Tonya shared with us a quote by Derek Sivers during Artful Success, “how you do anything is how you do everything.” Over the past few weeks, I’ve been battling La Resistance in my head as far as continuing to change my mindset and it took an open clash of wills with my family to really understand what that means for me. I can’t just focus on changing the way I approach art or business. I must cling for dear life to the belief that I can let go of past choices and will not abandon anyone by not meeting other people’s expectations. It is still easy to withdraw into depression mode, but I can’t ignore the fact that really good things are going on around me anymore.

Parents will always worry because they care, and want me to be happy. It will take adjustment for me and my family to retrain ourselves and accept that no matter what I am working on or stumbling over at the moment, I am already a successful artist who wants to continue to push my artistic boundaries and find my niche within the community.

My accountability buddy Stephanie has been encouraging as she has gone through a similar situation with her son. She shared a quote with me from Chariots of Fire (hey, I have actually seen that movie!) and said to put it in an art context: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Yep, that about sums it up!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Being Human

There's nothing to be scared of, you can only fall as high as you can climb up! 
- Advice to new aerial students with a fear of heights.

I was so excited to keep moving forward with the newest Artful Success module this week but over the past few days I have fallen into the rut of beating myself up over things not done, fighting to figure out where my thinking went wrong, and second guessing myself to the point where I would not commit to anything for the next day either.  How is torturing myself, and inadvertently others around me, progress? Some feedback from friends of how I've changed over the past couple weeks: Happier, a bit more productive, excited about projects, and focused on my metal clay future. These, of course, are all good things but quantitatively they are harder to measure.

I still haven't quite figured out how to turn off the sly commentary in my head before it turns into an avalanche, but something clicked today. Hitting this low allowed me to see how much I have learned from this program and that there is an analogy to my aerial exercises. In silks or pole, everyone starts learning to climb on the ground and every time you do it you are able to go up a bit further. As stamina increases, you're able to hold your own weight longer. Whether it is in a controlled, graceful drop or an accidental tumble, you're at the bottom again and need to go back up for the next trick. Following through with a motion is important visually, but plans literally can be changed in the air without anyone being the wiser. Now I know if I can't avoid a drop, at least I can gracefully control my descent.

Finally, for a bit of lighthearted pole dancing (something that I also dabble in) humor on perspective, check out my friend Leen Isabel's webcomic post: The floor is closer than it appears.