Harmony of Earth & Sky (sold)
Harmony of Earth & Sky by Heather Miller

Title: Harmony of Earth & Sky
Year: 2009
Size: 14″ H x 8″ diameter

Harmony of Earth & Sky was made of polymer clay, beads, wood, and metal.

The Story:

The Harmony of Earth & Sky was one of the most enjoyable experiences I had.  It made art school seem like an even bigger waste of time, something I didn’t think was possible.  This was not created for art school, this was created for an arts organization called The Del Ray Artisans in Alexandria, Virginia.  The group has its own gallery in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria where they hold regular exhibits.

In my four years of art school my professors would often try to come up with creatively challenging exercises.  Most of them were just plain stupid.  It turns out they only needed a couple of dart boards.  The Del Ray Artisans had a show in 2009 called “Object D’Art.”  The name of the show was rather clever because every piece of art on display was created by throwing two darts.  One dart board had artistic themes written on it, the other had mediums.  My dart throws required that I create a sculpture using the them of harmony.  For the record, I’m terrible at throwing anything including darts.  It’s a miracle I hit the boards at all so the only thing I was trying to hit was the boards themselves (I admit, it took 3 throws because I missed one of the boards completely LOL).

I was totally thrown about what I could do.  The sculpture part wasn’t the problem, it was the theme.  That’s a damn broad theme.  To be honest, I have no idea how I settled on making an abstract tree.  Not even a sliver of a memory remains for that choice sadly.

I do remember that this was my first freestanding sculpture using all polymer clay.  The trunk of the tree is solid clay.  I had to bake it, add another layer, then bake it again.  Truth be told, I burned the hell out of the first one so what you’re seeing is the second trunk I made.  The branches were made separately.  Using a combination of a drill and a Dremel, I drill holes in the trunk to insert the branches which were then glued into place.  Once it was all assembled, I got to painting.

I studied mythology and ancient religion the first time I went to college.  I have also read a lot of mythology on my own.  When I was deciding on what colors to paint, I remember several creation myths that talk about sky meeting the earth (sometimes the water).  Imagining the blue sky literally blanketing the earth gave me my color scheme.  Rather than a traditionally colored tree, I blanketed it in shimmering blues and teals.  I added sparkly beads to the twists of the branches to evoke the stars.

To ground the piece, I decided that there needed to be some earthly colors.  I created the spirals of green grass to sit at the base of the tree.  The edges of the base are also painted a shimmery green (I kind of got carried away with the shimmer).  The tree is glued to a wood base which was mounted to a 6″ candle ring that was painted black.

When the piece was done, I couldn’t decide if I loved it or hated it.  For better or worse, I put it in the show.  I was actually shocked when it sold.  Looking it back on it after all these years, it has grown on me.  I wish I put more detail in the sculpting of the base – then again I also wished I learned what an armature before I did this piece too!  Otherwise, I was so happy that someone fell in love with the piece and wanted it for their home.  I hope it still adorns their living space.