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Artist Christi Friesen to host steampunk whale polymer clay workshop in Morro Bay 

For one year, Christi Friesen will be a mobile artist out on the open road. Next stop? Morro Bay.

"I realized I had so many gigs lined up, it just worked out," the polymer clay artist said. "It's a great transition year."

click to enlarge MALLEABLE Artist Christi Friesen—who creates sculptures, figurines, and jewelry using polymer clay—will teach a workshop at Art Center Morro Bay at the end of April, where participants will make their own steampunk whales. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHRISTI FRIESEN
  • Photos Courtesy Of Christi Friesen
  • MALLEABLE Artist Christi Friesen—who creates sculptures, figurines, and jewelry using polymer clay—will teach a workshop at Art Center Morro Bay at the end of April, where participants will make their own steampunk whales.

Friesen was formerly based in Tehachapi, California, but her creative travels will take her all over the U.S. and even as far as Australia, Thailand, and Japan, where she'll teach polymer clay workshops and hold longer artistic retreats. Come December, Friesen hopes to pick a new locale in which to settle down.

On April 27, Friesen will host a polymer clay workshop on the Central Coast at Art Center Morro Bay, where participants will make their own steampunk whales. The finished piece can be a brooch, pendant, or small wall piece.

Friesen, who has written 11 how-to books on creating art with polymer clay and has her own line of water-based metallic paints, said that the medium is ideal for all skill levels.

click to enlarge PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHRISTI FRIESEN
  • Photos Courtesy Of Christi Friesen

"It's soft and flexible until it bakes," Friesen said of polymer clay. "There are a lot of possibilities."

Unlike earthen clay, which needs to be fired in a high-temperature kiln, polymer clay just goes in the oven at under 300 degrees. Friesen said it's also cheap to buy and easy to work with.

"It holds detail really well," she said. "It doesn't air dry so you can keep working it."

Friesen describes her own artistic style as eclectic, taking her inspiration from nature and from different cultures around the world. She often brings together various materials to make something rich and vibrant in texture, with intricate detail work.

click to enlarge PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHRISTI FRIESEN
  • Photos Courtesy Of Christi Friesen

"I like putting a lot of things together," Friesen said, hence, her fascination with the steampunk style, which is part machine, part Victorian-era lace and top hats, and part futuristic cyborg.

"Steampunk is one of those styles that had been around for a long time but resurfaced in the past six to eight years," Friesen said. "It's a weird mix of animal meets machine. It looks like a mad scientist put it together at the turn of the century."

For those not into the steampunk aesthetic, Friesen also invites participating artists to decorate their whale in whatever way suits their fancy, perhaps with crystals for a bling whale or a more modest, unadorned au naturel whale.

Whether people are brand-new to polymer clay or have been working with it for years, Friesen said all will be accommodated and engaged.

"No one feels left behind or bored," she said. "It's not stressful, it's very supportive of where you are in your creative journey. This will be the place to explore your imagination." Δ

Arts Writer Ryah Cooley is peering through a monocle. Contact her at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

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