Originally Published: December 21, 2007 10:13 a.m.
PRESCOTT - For Arts Prescott co-op member Rowena Tank, a creation by a colleague adds a special magic to her Christmas tree.
Polymer clay artist Judith Skinner, 64, creates Christmas stars from a design technique she invented known in the art world as the Skinner Blend.
An early innovator in the medium of polymer clay, a synthetic clay originally designed for use as a children's modeling material, Skinner came up with the technique soon after she started working with the material.
Tank, who collects Skinner's Christmas stars, met Skinner in a Yavapai College jewelry class and was impressed with her polymer clay jewelry.
"She created the Skinner Blend, which is going from one color into another color, and she uses a pasta machine. For the polymer world, this is a big thing," Tank said, adding that Skinner's Christmas stars add a special look to her tree.
Tank said she decorates her tree in a European style with all German clay ornaments, a style she inherited from living in Germany for 13 years.
"Judith Skinner's polymer stars, which start out at about four inches in diameter, really pop in a European tree," she said.
Skinner said she originally designed the stars, which are actually the shape of snowflakes, using cookie cutters, and eventually added artistic flair.
"Each artful star has a different shape and character. Some have a bit of glitter and some do not," Tank said.
Skinner, who splits her time between Prescott and Cowley, Wyo., to be close with her sister, said she came up with the technique out of "needing gradation as a background for another piece - just subtle background that didn't interfere with the detail of the piece that I was putting on top of it."
"It's a very nice technique. It's used in a whole lot of areas now for gradation. Before they just had to use stripes, which were various shades of a color, but still were stripes," she said.
Skinner said she plans to make a new star each year available through her website, though she is out of them for this year.
The Arts Prescott Co-op Gallery will feature her as a guest artist from mid-August to mid-September in 2008.