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Kimberly Affleck dragon feather beads A collection  of elements doesn’t always get the best photo set ups, but when they shine so beautifully regardless of the makeshift backdrop, you have to admire and take time to get a really good look at the beauty of each piece.

These gorgeous glass beads are the work of Kimberly Affleck. Although the seahorses kind of draw you in first, it’s what she calls her dragon feather beads that have me entranced. There is so much going on with them–that feathery texture wrapping around in soft swirls among the delicate colors, accented and accentuated by the raised dots that follow the swirling, and then there is the focal point of one clear dot that somehow pulls it all together. I would love to hold one of these in my hands and get a really close look at the work.

However, Kimberly had to cut back on her glass work when her day job became more demanding back in 2011. Her last posts on Facebook in early 2013 were the last public postings I could find, so it seems the job didn’t ease up so very much. If anyone knows of more recent work hidden on some other websites, do let us know. Otherwise, you can find the greatest collection of her beautiful glass beads on her Facebook fan page.

 

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annetulpe tube beadsTube beads–they are round straight lines. Yeah, I know … sounds a little simplified and obvious but think about it. Round and straight don’t usually go together, but here we are, able to put the two together. My mother says I have never lost my childlike wonder of the world, and I guess she must be right since something as simple as a tube bead can still rather fascinate me.

Not only do tube beads have two seemingly disparate characteristics, they easily embody both the softness of their round aspect and the directionality of their straight lines. They can also be staccato by lining up short versions or hold long notes by being thin and lengthy. They can, like most beads, hold a tremendous amount of detail in a small space, such as the tube beads you see here by Annerose Doerling. The many colors and visual textures are just so yummy.

Now, here is the cool part. Annerose’s tube beads have been blogged about before, and it was revealed back then (some seven or so years ago) that she was working with a technique created by Dominique Franceschi that she found on another blog a couple years before that. The wonder of the Internet has preserved the links and the corresponding posts, so … tada … you can go back in time and see how old, very dry and crumbly clay can be turned into such gorgeous elements as these beads here. You can go to the Parole de Pate post here to see the super easy technique, but then you might want to bounce on over to Annerose’s Flickr pages to see how she perfected the technique and the finish for them. I’m sorry to say I couldn’t find any recent work by either the creator of the technique or her apt pupil, but I hope they are both out there still creating with childlike wonder and abandon.

 

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il_fullxfull.207091800This fun little set of beads is actually an example of the beads you can make from a kit that Barbara Briggs ingenuously put together. Not that kits are anything new, but this one for beginning polymer beads is pretty clever. She offers wooden bead centers as a jumping off point for shapes and adds mica powders and pre-mixed clays in particular color palettes as designated by the buyer. Along with other basic necessities, she offers plenty of instruction.

I thought this sampler of what her buyers could make was quite lovely on its own.  The colors are slightly muted, and the textures are organic and rounded, so they could easily be paired up on a single necklace string. I’d wear that! And, how exciting for beginners to see the versatility and the ease with which polymer can create lovely components. The hard part is getting away from a kit and making your own color, form, texture and other design choices. But, that is when your own voice comes into play.

If you are unfamiliar with Barbara’s work, she is an insane beader who works in all kinds of beading material. If you are on here because you find polymer fascinating but maybe haven’t tried doing much with it yet, here is a great opportunity. Or if you’re one of our experienced readers, take a look at Barbara’s other beading kits and add some complex beading to your repertoire. These kits and patterns can all be found in her Etsy shop.

 

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Solly cabsThe classic, shiny, smooth cabochon has been a favorite shape for semi-precious stones for ages. It’s not surprising that with our vast array of techniques and our ability to add liquid polymer and resins, the polymer community has embraced and rather run wildly with many possibilities that recreate these popular focal pieces. I remember that they were the first truly exciting polymer elements I ever made, and I am still madly drawn to them. They are hard to resist.

This collection was created some years ago by Sharon Solly, but still feels fresh and alluring today. According to the description on her Flickr page, these are polymer clay painted with Lumiere paints and mica powders and then sealed with Kato liquid clay. They are reminiscent of dichroic glass, and the veins in them give them a more nature-made look.

Sharon had a lot of fun with cabs back around 2008. If you hit up her Flickr photostream around pages 3 & 4, you’ll see more cab variations like this, as well as caned cabs and those embedded with fantasy fibers and the like. She also is quite the multi-talented craftsperson with glass and bead work to show off as well; many of them are also collections of components that we can admire today.

 

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Belkomor mircobeads

Although finished work is the usual focus here, I am often just as fascinated by the elements that make up a piece of jewelry, a sculpture, or a wonderfully decorated container. Well-developed faux stones, layered cabochons, complex canes and intricately designed beads can be such little worlds of wonder unto themselves. I guess part of me has held back on sharing images of components because the quiet little unimposing collections may not look so impressive as a tiny photo on the blog or on Facebook. But this week … we are going to show them anyway. I’d highly encourage you click on the images in the posts to find the larger views, so you can really soak up the details.

This is one I found yesterday that kind of sparked the whole idea. It popped up somewhere on my Pinterest feed, and I was just so excited to see microbeads being used in such a controlled manner. I have been working out ways to use these a bit more myself and just fell in love with Maria Belkomor’s lovely application. These beads look like individual little planets, well seeded and covered in beautiful lush lands and waters.

She has a number of these microbead bead sets on LiveJournal including a bracelet with strips using this application. Get yourself a closer look on the post here.

 

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Concave, convex, flat, nested, or peek-a-boo … domed disks hold numerous possibilities for polymer designs. Like this necklace of flat disks plus a focal concave disk accent on each that have been created by Polymeramoi who actually started this because of a momentary obsession with blended ikat patterns. The concept of disks show off the patterned polymer, and the solid, concave disks create a simple focal point that echos the flat disks in shape but with more volume.

If you want some ideas for playing with disks this weekend, there are numerous tutorials to check out online for free. Here are just a few I found fascinating. This first one is actually done with ceramic clay but lay down a little liquid polymer between the halves and it could be done with polymer.

Have a happy weekend claying, relaxing or otherwise enjoying the first day of Spring!

Hollow Ceramic Lentil Beads

Glow Lentil beads

Pastel Hollow Beads

 

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Grant_13283The domed disk is, of course, not only a polymer thing but makes regular appearances in materials where a flat surface can be manipulated or molded such as with sheets of metal, glass or ceramics. Vicki Grant created this gorgeous disk from porcelain complete with a peek-a-boo window not unlike the popular forms of this type we see in polymer.

Vicki’s disc has some very enchanting movement in that swirl of the ferns on the outside that is echoed by the tight swirl of the nautilus tucked inside the window, both have cross patterns created from the fern leaves and the shell chambers respectively. Although she titled it Windows to the Earth, the juxtaposition seems to conjure up earth surrounding a window to the ocean; a contrast of lush soil against the clean whites of a small spot of underwater landscape. The contrasts add a bit of intrigue to the design.

Vicki’s work is regularly intriguing and inspiring. See more of her work for that inspirational “shot in the arm” on Vicki’s website,  Claytree Fine Art

 

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Picking items to feature this week was quite diverting. There is so much out there in this form but no easy way to search for it, so I just meandered the polymer highway; very grateful to find such cool things as this highly-organic ring by Tanja of Flickr’s Fantastisch-Plastisch. I actually found it after spotting the domed beads […]

A week’s exploration of the domed disk form could not be presented without discussing the variations of hollow lentil beads. Especially not those with peek-a-boo windows. This is a popular and rather classic look that is so easily formed in polymer and has so many possible variations. This form has to be Betsy Baker’s favorite. […]

The domed disk, used for nesting as in yesterday’s post, is also commonly used to present a surface design with dimension and substance. We do love our domed, hollow, lentil-style beads, don’t we? But, here we have a beautiful example of a domed shape used as a center point and a raised form for some […]

There are certain forms or elements that make a regular and popular appearance in various types of art. Sometimes they appear so often because the form is something the material and associated tools are particularly suited for. Sometimes they have simply been a large part of the culture in which the art form originated or […]

Since the spring issue’s theme was Diversity, there is plenty of ‘Outside Inspiration’ in this issue, but it’s focused more on how other materials can be combined with or can inspire polymer works. So, the obvious choice for this Friday was to choose one of the mixed media artists and share work that didn’t make […]

The big, information laden and in depth technique tutorial in the spring issue is on polymer quilling. Quilling with paper has gotten quite popular and has gone beyond the realm of basic decoration into some truly museum-quality wall pieces. The art intrigued Beth Petricoin, and she wrote me last year to query about whether our […]

I think the brightest article we had in the spring 2015 issue had to be Jan Montarsi’s “Expanding Your Color Range with Alcohol Inks”. In this article, Jan not only shows us the best way to use alcohol ink as a colorant for the clay, but also gives us recipes and insights into developing a […]

One of the key aspects of the spring issue was in introducing readers to materials that currently are not commonly combined with polymer. In our “Color Diversity” section, we were lucky enough to get primers on using two other art materials that artists Margit Bohmer and Penni Jo Couch have been playing with—that being pastels […]

The newest issue of The Polymer Arts has been out for about a week and has been selling like mad. It is really a full issue. And, we had to cut down or save a lot of the material for later because the contributors for this issue sent us so much good stuff! So this […]