Materials and Process
Fran's work is created with polymer clay, a man-made substance that begins as blocks of solid-colored clay-like material that does not require water to become soft. (You may know it as Sculpey, Premo or Fimo.) Repetitive kneading softens and conditions it for use.
Like clay from the earth, polymer clay can be shaped, carved, and textured. Unlike other clay, the colors of the polymer clay can be blended just like blending paint. That is, mixing together blue and yellow polymer clay yields green clay. Also, polymer clay bakes at 265 degrees rather than in a high-temperature kiln. Like many polymer clay artists, Fran uses a pasta machine not only to condition the clay, but also to blend colors and achieve new designs. Although she never uses any paint on her work, she sometimes incorporates gold leaf or foil into the clay. All of the colors in the pieces come from the clay or the foil.
Many of Fran's pieces interpret in polymer clay the fluid sense of fabric caught at a moment in time. It blurs the line between what appears might yield to the touch and what actually is permanently formed. Many people believe her pieces are made from fabric when they first see her work. Fran is fascinated by the wide range of color, texture and form that can be created with polymer clay and the sense of exploration that comes with mixing the colors and draping the clay. Her background in architecture and urban planning inspires her use of geometric and structural forms.
The pieces of clay that make up the designs are baked and then mounted on stretched canvas that has been covered with fabric. Depending on the design, the piece may or may not be framed. Presenting the pieces without glass over them encourages the viewer to take a closer look. Working with the clay in this way allows a broader exploration of polymer clay as a fine art medium.
To see a short video of Fran demonstrating her process, click here.