Suzanne Forbes, an expat New Yorker in Berlin. Made possible by the generous support of her Patrons. https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes. Former DC Penciller for Star Trek, former courtroom artist, painting portraits and teaching drawing.
I don’t stress about when things get done; the project queue has no hierarchy.
So I went back to this pretty girl when I started to feel sculpty, a couple months ago. I used some epoxy clay to strengthen her limbs and smooth awkward areas.
The internet says it is perfectly safe to rebake polymer clay sculptures that have epoxy clay added to their armatures, and lots of sculptors use a mix of epoxy clay and polymer clay for strength. But I wouldn’t be like me and do it in your home oven. I am an unreliable guide on the subject of chemicals; after all, I put liquid LSD in my eyes when I was 14.
Here you can see Sally (which is the mantis gal’s name) with greyish-white epoxy clay added all over her and areas of plain and green Translucent FIMO still showing.
I had been disappointed and frustrated by the performance of the colored FIMO transparent clays when first baking Sally.
There were a lot of “plaques” and cracking. Probably because I carelessly globbed the clay over the armature without making sure there were no air gaps, and didn’t have an oven thermometer yet, and didn’t let the oven preheat for a solid hour first.
Forgiveness not Permission is my making mode, and I figured try it first, see what happens.
So when I returned to Sally, I first thought I’d just cover her with epoxy clay and paint her and call it a day. But I found I still liked the transparency of her limbs and didn’t want to give up the bright greens of the clay after all. So I painted the epoxy clay areas shades of green to match and did another pass with a mix of colored translucent clays, adding some of my wonderful new Sculpey Premo Opal Accent Clay.
The Sculpey Opal clay is a new product and I ordered some from the US last Fall (I almost lost my mind waiting for it to come, checking the mail every day). I used it for the first time to make this piece and my 2016 Cake Level Patron gifts, here to the right.
It performs so amazingly well. It is very soft, and blends and smears beautifully, and it makes almost watercolor effects over other colors.
It is quite translucent, so it can be mixed with translucent colors to add opal glitter and soften and improve them. I mixed it with some dark green and some lavender for Sally, covered some of her epoxy clay areas and did an initial bake at the temp recommended for the Sculpey Opal clay. The results were amazing.
No plaques, beautiful translucency, just great. So I continued to add a little more volume and opalescence here and there, mixing with both solid colors and FIMO translucent colors. I kept rebaking, for thirty minutes each time, until I was satisfied with both Sally’s shape and her opalescence.
I put her Siam colored Swarovski crystal eyes on before the second to last bake. Once the circles of clay that held them in were baked I used Sculpey Bake and Bond to smooth the eye sockets nicely onto her skull.
I use my fingertip to smear the Bake and Bond; probably unwise. But it’s so goopy and hard to use!
I reinforced a crack in her abdomen with Bake and Bond.
The air trapped in the tinfoil I used to provide bulk with less weight had expanded during baking and caused a crack. I also added balls of clay to the top of her head to hold her antennae, poking the wire in to make a hole but leaving the wires out til later because they hit the roof of the oven! Then I did the last bake, and there she was.
What a treat to host the lovely Suzanne Ramsey as a visiting artist in our salon.
I have known Suzanne tangentially for years through my beloved friend-Patron-muse Monique Motil. Monique makes exquisite costuming and custom clothing for both of us. But in the busy Bay Area club/performance/burlesque scene, I never got to spend more than a few brief minutes with Suzanne.
Recently I’d started following Suzanne on my new Instagram account, and totally loving her amazing photos of Bay Area life, vintage postcards, and recently her stay in Paris.
So I reached out and suggested she come to Berlin, and she did!
Here in Berlin, where I am always in the kitchen/craftroom working, there is time to really talk with visiting friends. Suzanne and I got to talk and visit, even though I was unfortunately sick while she was here. She is so talented, beautiful and kind, and knows everyone.
She took care of me and went to the Apoteke to get me medicine. She took lovelypictures of our house. And on her last night, when she came in around 1am after a dinner with some of her many friends who live in Berlin, I drew the portrait above. We both felt it truly captures her.
Here is Suzanne meeting up with Miss Natasha (see my last post for our recent adventures!), who has been a fan of hers for years! They had their first IRL meet at Frau Behrens Torten, an absolutely delightful cake shop near our house.
Ah, what could be better than sharing Berlin with loved ones?
Our friends came all the way from Friedrichshain to make us waffles!
On a Sunday afternoon friends of ours who the hub knew back in SF came over with an enormous waffle iron. Ursula set up a new laptop and chatted geek talk with the hub while Ben made a yeast-raised batter. The waffles were amazing, ethereally light yet toothsome. We had them mit erdbeeren, himbeeren and schlagsahne. As you do.
Ben told me some crazy stories about hacker camp Iron Chef contests!
He chilled out after waffle-making, while Ursula checked hub’s German-learning progress. You can see her showing him some pronunciation tips when we first arrived here.
I am so glad to know awesome women in tech like Ursula here in Berlin. There’s plenty of tech jobs for women here, in case you didn’t know!
We spent about five hours at Charité, Berlin’s huge teaching hospital, last week.
My hub has to have major surgery. We had waited almost four months for the appointment to see this particular surgeon’s group, because we trust our orthopedist and his recommendation.
I couldn’t sleep at all the night before, and so I was pretty wasted when we got there.
Of course, the email had said the group would be in the “new building” after February 2, so first we went to the info desk at the shiny new skyscraper.
Where they laughed and sent us down the street to the ancient Winchester Mystery House-esque “old buildings”. Go through the cafe, they said.
Of course the new offices weren’t ready yet! Of course they hadn’t moved! Construction and renovation in Germany is…extremely, extremely slow.
Remember that new airport? Ha ha ha!!
I had allowed extra time for this possibility, so we arrived at the registration window precisely on time and gave them our info.
We were directed to the waiting room. All German offices have waiting rooms, often multiple, numbered waiting rooms.
Every other doctor’s or dentist’s office we’ve been to has been extremely nice, fancy and dressy. Like my Fifth Avenue ob-gyn when I was a teen.
But this warteraum was old and grubby and governmental looking.
So we just went into Ausländerbehörde mode and figured it would take as long as it took.
Then we waited. And waited. When the dozen people who were there before us had all been seen, and they were starting to call people who had arrived after us, we investigated.
Turns out we had been forgotten! “We broke the system!”, hub said. They were very apologetic and in moments sent us in to see the surgeon.
And the surgeon was very nice and very on top of things and we were promptly sent along to Radiology for new x-rays and given a stack of paperwork and returned to the surgeon and in what seemed like no time at all, given a choice of dates for surgery.
The need for this surgery and future ones is one of the critical reasons we moved here; we’ve been talking about it, planning for it, most of the time we’ve been together.
To suddenly, finally, have it scheduled, with eight days of hospital care and three weeks of inpatient rehab and an entire year of pt offered, and six weeks of paid work leave guaranteed, with absolutely nothing to pay, seems like another Berlin miracle.
We used to live near Charité the summer we first moved here, and there was a student center across the street from our apartment.
At term’s end there were International med students having trolley races in the street at four am, singing “Eye of the Tiger” in the universal key of beer.
We have very fond feelings about Charité, and we are hopeful that the shiny new building will actually be done by the time of the operation. But if it is not I will be making drawings from some still perfectly serviceable hundred year old waiting room on June 20, Goddess willing.