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I wanted to look at wall sculpture this week. This is actually where my own exploration has been headed. Wall sculpture can utilize just about every technique we have developed in polymer clay. From surface treatments to inclusions, to painting and even, yes, sculpting of all things! They tend to be rather big and time consuming projects, but they are also highly expressive forms in our medium. Even if you are purely a jewelry or miniature artist in polymer, wall sculpture can be an enormously inspiring source of ideas because what is a pendant or bracelet, but the same thing reduced and arranged to hang on the body rather than a wall?

Can’t you see this piece as a pendant if done in miniature? Well, I could, but I am glad it is wall art. It being just for hanging and contemplating is what really separates wall art from jewelry or decor arts. It has no purpose beyond being created to express and to be viewed.

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This intriguing piece was  created by Dorothy Siemens. It is titled “Colony” for what is probably an obvious reason, but the base for each inhabitant  of this colony may not be so obvious. If you sew, you’ll know right away. The forms and colors look like they might be inspired by sea creatures, but perhaps it really just started with the bobbins and grew from there. Dorothy’s work does often make you stop and wonder where these unusual forms came from. What is it that Dorothy sees around her that inspires such unusual shapes? You can check out more of her polymer sculpture as well as her other work in other mediums on her Flickr pages.

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Alright … one last thought about pushing necklace design. Because we love our polymer so much, many of us may think almost exclusively in terms of polymer elements in our designs. But reaching out and grabbing other mediums can be the very thing you need to push your work in a fantastic new direction.

This necklace by Marlene Brady has the simple, but dramatic addition of felt, which is both a functional element and a contrasting design element. The soft, fuzzy felt gives one of the few textures to this piece that polymer cannot duplicate. The black and the soft edge of the felt contrasts heavily with the white, chiseled beads. Marlene also pushes the design by allowing the felt and heishi beads to fall very long down the front of the wearer. There is no dramatic engineering of the necklace here, but the choices make it unusual, and that gives us a few points to consider towards the stretch of a more traditional design.

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Marlene has been exploring the mix of fiber and polymer for a few years. You can see more of her unusual necklace compositions and other ideas on her Flickr page and her blog.

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Okay, this isn’t terribly old, but let this illustrate that pushing the construction of a necklace isn’t a contemporary idea. This piece below was created 60 years ago. Note the openness of the construction and the careful balance of the compositions – things we’ve talked about already this week. They aren’t that new, but they aren’t that common either.

 

"Patina" neckpiece 1955
“Patina” neckpiece 1955

This intriguing piece was created by Art Smith, a Cuban born American. It is all silver with some surface texturing and some careful planning in order to get the balance right. I can easily see something like this in polymer. Who is willing to push a piece to this level of engineering?  It is something to consider if you are playing in the studio this weekend. I’ll try to dig up one more idea or challenge for pushing your idea of necklace construction for tomorrow. It will be quite warm in much of the US as well as other places around the world, so why don’t we all just stay in and push ourselves a bit?

 

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Pushing the construction or composition of a necklace doesn’t have to be overly complex. Simplicity is sometimes the best path to unusual pieces.

With this composition by Russian artist Oksana Aleksandrovna Vedernikova (she works under the name  Silverpepper), the rather stark presentation really helps us focus on the delicate details of these of the gorgeously crafted polymer beads. The uneven drop length keeps the composition from feeling stagnant and gives each bead a separate height from which to be admired.

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Oksana rarely creates in typical or classical composition. If you enjoy the idea of pushing construction and presentation of your polymer within the art jewelry form, you will find further inspiration within her other creations. Just head on over to  her Flickr pages.

 

 

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This necklace isn’t so off the beaten path when it comes to composition, but it is a bit different in its construction. The hinge construction is somewhat of a trademark for Louise Fischer Cozzi; although, I have wondered why this kind of simple way of connecting hasn’t been seen more. The metal wire goes through one shape into another in order to form the hinge upon which they are connected. This allows the flat beads to move and rotate while on the wearer.  This rotation hides and reveals the surface of the shapes as the wearer moves.

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I love the simplicity of this type of construction, but I also think this could be pushed, using that hide and reveal result, to allow unexpected images that come and go. This would create compositions at the point where the surface textures meet up. Yes, this would take a bit of planning, but how fun and intriguing a piece it would be!

To see more of Louise’s hinged jewelry, along with her other beautiful decor and quilts, take a look at her website here.

 

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Let’s look at the simple idea that necklaces don’t have to be a complete, fully attached, encircling item nor does the closure for it have to be at the back of the neck. If the point at which the necklace opens can be integrated into the design, it can be placed anywhere on the piece. And if you have a firm, but pliable structure, it doesn’t even have to connect.

Olimpia Corvino used this approach with a number of her designs. This necklace breaks the usual standards of using wire as structure. This breakaway from the norm allows for a front entrance and two large pieces of polymer to just barely meet in the middle. That “barely there” touch is fantastic as it causes tension and a point of focus. I really enjoy that she has used wire work to break the swathes of polymer at a point that would have normally been the center had the necklace used a standard wire structure in order to join it.  It’s another subtler point of tension, but these near connections do a lot to enliven the design.

 

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For now, Olimpia’s designs seem to exist only on Facebook, but as it is a business page, you can actually access it whether or not you have a Facebook account. Take a look at her wide range of pieces, which are sometimes nontraditional, sometimes standard, but always bold in color, texture or approach.

 

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I have to say that necklaces are both my favorite and most dreaded form to create. I love the wide ranging possibilities but because of that I tend to come up with some really difficult design ideas that I then can’t help but try to engineer and probably fail in doing so successfully about half the time. That’s the dreaded part, knowing I won’t always be successful and getting frustrated by that. But, when it works … it’s just such a great feeling of accomplishment!

Pushing necklace designs beyond stringing beads is a challenge we may not all be up for, but I do encourage you to consider trying some challenging designs every once in a while. It can add to your skill set and give you great confidence in your abilities to design and execute each time you do have a great success. So this week, let’s look at a few unusual necklace designs to get you thinking about the ways in which you can stretch your ideas of how to create a neckalce.

This piece is not so far off from the classic multi-strand designs usually created with chain, pearls or other small beads. But rather than working with a flexible set of elements, Claire Maunsell created these continuous organic shapes that, although they will not move and sway the way chain does, do give a sense of soft, flowing movement.

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Can you think of other possibilities for necklace design that either incorporates a continuous piece of polymer encircling the neck or that can also convey a sense of flowing movement in polymer that doesn’t require a string of beads? Just something to ponder.

Claire is quite the master of implied and visual movement not to leave out her amazing organic textures and colors. She has a number of websites, shops and blogs to take in her work from. Start with her Flickr photostream to get a idea of the breadth of her work then, go to her Flickr profile page for the list of other sites for more art and information on Claire and her work.

 

 

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It’s time for us to start planning our issues for 2015! This year we thought we’d get YOUR input on what type of articles you’d like us to research and write for you. You can contribute by giving us a theme word or phrase, describe a concept, or just tell us what kind of subjects [...]

I was thinking about the many ways that we use to establish our variations when I came across this interesting selection of wall hangings created by melting crayons. That’s when I realized that one of most obvious ways in which we achieve variation is by letting randomness and chance have a say. We’ve all had [...]

It’s certainly not going to be news that if you want to create variation in a piece, it can be done by strictly using the clay itself. Polymer is perfect for creating all types of color and textures! Here’s a straight-forward example by Nora Pero using various colors, translucency, visual texture, and color blending to [...]

If you are ever in need of an inspiring push to get out of a creative rut, the classroom is the place to go, especially those that encourage variation in the end result. Fabiola Perez Ajates, (known simply as Fabi) encourages a broad range of expression in her classes, and she photographs and posts collages of [...]

Another collection of work for your consideration of examples in variety are these brooches by Betsy Baker. She takes similarly treated sheets with variations in color and texture, cuts them in an assortment of shapes and layers them to create compositions with different effects and impact. You could do the same thing with some standard [...]

I’ve been seeing a lot of collage and photos of groupings of people’s work. These images are a great idea especially for sales materials and websites–it can show your breadth of work as well as give customers ideas for custom pieces. For us artists, it’s a great way to compare similar pieces side by side [...]

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I am really pushing the idea of what a triangle is in today’s offering, but I had to think up some excuse and quick to share this incredible work with you. This piece you see below is all paper. Intricate, perfectly cut and layered sheets of paper. Check out the detail shot below it before [...]

Triangles, like any other flat form, can be treated like a simple canvas to be filled with all sorts of potential colors, textures, accents, lines and shapes. The thing about triangles though is that you are working with what is visually an arrow so you have this added dynamic characteristic to play with that is [...]