Tag Archive | birth art

Polymer Clay Goddess Experiments

A couple of months ago, I attempted to branch out from my usual style of polymer clay goddess figures (see past birth art posts). I’m not particularly satisfied with any of them, but I had this post saved in my drafts to share pictures of them anyway! I have some new translucent sculpey that I’ve been working with without very satisfactory results. It is stickier and meltier than regular sculpey, which makes it a challenge to work with. The figures don’t hold their shapes/poses as well while baking and the clay also folds into itself and sticks very firmly and it is hard to reposition/refigure things after having let it stick accidentally before you’re ready). Anyway, I tried to make this sort of “siren” (double-tailed mermaid) figure first and she’s all right:


I also tried a figure using only the translucent sculpey. She turned out looking like she should glow in the dark!


I also had a vision of making a sculpture with a small “offering bowl” in which you could place a crystal or something else. She kind of sagged over to one side in the oven though. She is my first figure with a face too!


So, I tried again. This one sits on her own (leaning back very far), but I burned her by mistake!


So, I tried one more time. This one I used gold pigment on and I don’t really like how she turned out either. Back to the drawing (sculpting) board, I guess. After this third attempt I kind of gave up on my vision and haven’t tried to make any more in this style again.


At the same time that I was experimenting with these figures, I also experimented with using a rubber stamp and pigment to make a flat disk of sculpey with the embossed sort of impression of my Goddess of Willendorf stamp on it. I then used that disk when I took a class in making a stained glass panel:


My panel is on the left and Mark’s is on the right:


Then, this past weekend I became ordained as a priestess (more about this later) and after that ceremony I decided to make another figure to add to my series. I’ve never made a standing figure before and she needs some work. I’m lukewarm about her–she didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned and I need to experiment some more before I really add her to my series of 3-D journaling sculptures.

Polymer Clay Birth Power Pendants

20111219-192036.jpgInspired by a tutorial pinned by a friend on Pinterest, I made a bunch of polymer clay birth power pendants this weekend. Short version instructions are to roll out polymer clay in a pasta maker. Stamp something cool on them using a rubber stamp and cut it out using a clay/cookie cutter and then either carve or write a meaningful word on it. I used individual pieces of type from my dad’s antique printing press to make the letters on mine. I was psyched to make these because I already have my birth logo as a rubber stamp (I drew it and it is fun to be able to get so much mileage out of just one drawing once upon a time!) I also have a rubber stamp of the LLL logo. More awesomeness.20111219-192106.jpg

I used metallic powdered pigments (Pearlex brand) to color them–I did some by brushing the pigment onto the unbaked clay after already having stamped it and others by brushed pigment over a whole section of rolled out clay and then stamping and cutting it.

My husband drilled small holes in the tops and made copper rings for them, so they can be strung as a pendant or used as an ornament.

I had a delightful time having the lifespace to be crafty and then my husband accidentally cooked my art at 350 degrees and burned the living daylights out of all of them.


So, after a few tears from me about my wasted effort, we started over from the beginning and made a new batch. We put ribbons on the least burned ones and used them as birth power ornaments for the Christmas tree!

They do have a certain similarity to Necco wafers or poker chips, but I’m pretty pleased with them.


New Training!

This year, I completed several new trainings that I am very excited about.

Prenatal Yoga Training

This weekend I fulfilled a 7 year old dream and attended a prenatal yoga teacher training in St. Louis. I have wanted to teach prenatal yoga since I was pregnant with my first baby, but a training opportunity just never opened up for me until now. I felt like this was perfect timing. The training was through YogaFit and was pretty basic, but it was just what I needed to feel like I can move forward with this dream. YogaFit is a very “fitness” oriented type of program vs. any kind of holistic-mind/body connection stuff, but I can add those elements in myself. I think I will be able to offer something fairly unique—not just yoga and not just childbirth education but yoga-childbirth-education. There are several other programs like that, of course, but none in the local area! At the training, I also learned some really cool partner yoga stuff that I didn’t know how to do before.

Birth Art Training

In February, I completed something else that I’ve been dreaming about for some time—I took Birthing from Within‘s online course, “How to Lead the Birth Art Process.” Aside from a few minor complaints about the sometimes-frustrating “Zen” underlay and occasional contradictions within the course, I really LOVED this class. I found the online course format to be an ideal format for me—real-person interaction through message board, chat, phone call, and email; written information; writing journals/essay responses; hands-on personal practice with the assignments; and real-life application with other people/clients in birth art sessions. I felt like I got more out of actual use out of this workshop than most of the other classes and workshops I’ve attended—I think this was because the course was spread out over 5 weeks, not just a weekend, which allowed plenty of time to really assimilate and USE the information. It was very affordable too and I was able to attend right from the comfort of my own chair! The class is marketed as suitable for beginners, but personally I found my past background in childbirth education to be very important and I cannot imagine having taken the class with no prior birth class teaching experience—I think the people who had little experience were kind of disadvantaged in this course. Birthing from Within is my all-time favorite birth preparation book/resource and it was so exciting for me to have a little taste of direct training with them. Hopefully at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will take further training with BfW.

Childbirth Educator Certification

In March of this year, I was pleased to earn my childbirth educator certification with CAPPA. Since I am already certified with other organizations, I enrolled in the dual certification program option. I am very excited to be “throwing my hat in” with CAPPA. The organization is very friendly and stable and I really connect with the CAPPA Vision. The program information itself was pretty basic and I didn’t really learn anything new from it, but that makes sense because it isn’t specifically designed for people who already have CBE teaching experience—I think it is a great program for someone starting out in this field.

Comparing CBE Programs:

I get a lot of inquiries from people seeking information about different childbirth education programs and thought I would provide a super-quick mention of the things I enjoyed most about each of my certification programs/organizations. Keep in mind that I certified with ALACE first, hence, I had the most direct experience with their full training program, vs. the other organization’s “accelerated” options (which I SO deeply value and I am SO grateful that ICEA and CAPPA make that option available to people—I’m very, very grateful!). In sequential order:

ALACE (now IBWP)—phenomenally in-depth training program with a wonderful woman-oriented, holistic, midwifery-model. Very homebirth friendly. When I finished this program, I felt like I’d earned another master’s degree—this time in birth. At the present time, however, I do not get a “stable” or professional feeling from the organization and that is very disappointing 😦

ICEA—very professional. Lots of really good information on how to teach and on the principles of adult education in general. I learned the most about the “how” from ICEA (and the “how” is very, very important). They also have several great teaching manuals that are super-affordable. I enjoy the International Journal of Childbirth Education as well. Very professional. The training information assumes educators will be teaching a “mainstream” population, probably in a hospital, but their position papers are very sound and I can really get behind their mission as well. Their certification exam was the most difficult of the three programs and I feel like I really earned my certificate!

CAPPA—I am really pleased with my association with CAPPA. As I noted, they are very friendly and I feel like they will be around for a long time to come. I just get a lovely, warm feeling of “sisterhood” from CAPPA and that is very important to me. I feel connected to the organization and the people and it is a very supportive atmosphere. I recommend them for training, especially for people who are just starting out. I’m excited about the free conferences CAPPA offers as well and I’m going to my first one this July! I also enjoy the CAPPA Quarterly and and I am proud to write the book/film reviews column.

Birth Symbol

At the very end of August, I went to see Birth, the play in St. Louis. I was about 5 weeks pregnant at the time. Following the play and “talkback” event, there was a BOLD Red Tent (birth stories sharing circle). Right before the birth stories portion of the Red Tent, we did a birth art project. The Birthing from Within Mentor who was facilitating the Red Tent asked each of us to draw a symbol on a card that communicated what we would want to share with other women about birth—not in words, but a visual representation of the message we’d like to share. We then painted our symbols onto prayer flags to be strung together as a whole “language of birth” in symbols. We left the flags with her to be taken to births to share the symbols with other birthing mamas. I drew a spiral and explained that the message I was sharing was, “You can do it. You’re okay. Let it happen.” I also added a little birth goddess with wild hair that to me represents the intuitive birth wisdom women carry with them (when I was pregnant with my first baby I was worried about being too “in my head” to give birth powerfully–I created a series of needled felted sculptures of birth goddesses with wild hair and worried that the hair showed that I was too in my head. After he was born, I realized that my sculptures were telling me about the wild, natural, birth wisdom I had in my head, not the “book learning” that was also there and was what I had worried about interfering with the flow of birth).

A few days following my miscarriage in November, I received a Facebook message from the BfW mentor (and friend) who had facilitated the Red Tent session. She attached a photo of the flag I had painted during the Birth Art session and asked me to “allow the gift to come and sit with you” (as well as gifting me with “no response necessary”).

It was amazing to have my own birth symbol come back to “speak” to me in this way during such a painful (and also transformative) time.

“You can do it. You’re okay. Let it happen.”