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Christi Bead Wad no7 smI just got back from Racine late last night and have a ton of thoughts and work to share with you. I still have to go through all the photos and notes. I will say it was an invigorating weekend, as all these kind of artist gatherings are that are focused on the ideas behind the creation of art and the support of the medium in particular.

We did stop to goof off and enjoy each other’s company. However, more often, by twos or threes or by the half dozen, we’d find ourselves putting our heads together, trying to work through the various issues we face in polymer art and as craft artists in a world where the higher value and preciousness of art is primarily attributed to either two-dimensional work or work done in precious materials.

But, before we jump off the deep end this week, how about just a new delightful piece by our community’s representative of delightful and fun art, Christi Friesen. She confided that this necklace was whipped together right before the show, as we all want something new to display for these events. When asked what she called the necklace, she stalled a moment by looking out the glass doors of the guest house we stayed at on the Johnson Foundation’s Wingspread grounds to contemplate the fiery colors of the fall landscape. She then pronounced the piece as Bead Wad No. 7. I give her a look, and she said, “There isn’t a 1-6, so you know.” Yes, Christi, that was suspected.Wingspread 101814

 

I’ll distill more fun moments and photos to enjoy throughout the week. In the meantime, have a wonderful Monday and enjoy another photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house, Wingspread, for which the location is named.

 

 

 

 

 

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rr11I wish I could start sharing all the wonderful things we’ve already started talking about and sharing at the Polymer 2.0 conference in Racine, but I think we really need to wait until it’s over to pull out the juiciest tidbits. So, while I am off taking photos and notes for future blogs and articles, why don’t you try this unusual, but older, technique that involves creating long ribbons of polymer.

The tutorial was originally created by Nora Jean Stone for Polymer Clay Polyzine some 13 years ago, but it’s still a relevant technique today that I really think could use some more exploration. The depth and patterning results of this approach could be dramatically altered by changing up the layers and the way the ribbon is folded, as well as choosing solid or mica clays or a combination of them.  Have you ever  tried it? If you haven’t, wouldn’t you like to?

Go get yourself some time in the studio with this or any of the other neat tips and tutorials dug up for you this week. See what surprises you have in store for yourself!

 

 

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Terry-Hogan-3-768x1024This is really not a tutorial but more of an inspiration, hopefully, to look outside our community’s offerings for things we can learn. There are many other craft forms that have tutorials that will teach you skills applicable to polymer.

Papercrafts, scrapbooking, beading, and, of course, ceramics have a lot of learning opportunities. I’m using this week of cool tutorials and tips to just look at something that represents the most basic approach to working the surface of an elastic material–sculptural texture. We have so many color options and additions we can add to our clay that perhaps we skip over this very basic approach when such work could be the very thing to add the energy or impact you are after.

Hand tools on clay have been a staple method of creating in clay craft throughout its history. Really intricate decoration with hand tools can take some time and patience, but it can result in amazing textures and designs. This work in progress and the cups below are decorated primarily with carefully placed impressions added over and over in a pleasingly fluid design by ceramicist Gary Jackson. There’s nothing more here than clay and a hand tool. So simple and beautiful. Does it make you want to go back to basics and just play with the clay for its sculptural qualities alone? I bet this kind of work is extremely meditative and zen-like. I could really use some of that.

gary-jackson-tumbled-mugs

 

But, no sleep for the wicked or, as I say these days, the overworked. I am off to Racine, Wisconsin today for the Polymer 2.0 conference. I will get you one last fun, surprising tutorial tomorrow then next week, I hope to have enough photos to share the thoughts and the art that I’ll be immersed in this weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

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s kousky duhy_Hl

 

Is it just me or are the patterns in these beads particularly mesmerizing? I am not much of a caner, as I have professed before, but there are times when I wish I was more accomplished at it. When I saw these beads on Pinterest not long ago I thought the cane was a pretty cool one that had a lot of potential for visual textures, back sides, borders, etc. Then I clicked through to the link and saw how easy it was. Even I could do that!

Petra Nemravka, the force behind the Czech Republic’s shop and website Nemravka.cz created a very nicely photographed and easy to follow tutorial for this cane including rainbow variations.  If you can make a jelly roll cane, you can create this little beauty which could be great for caners and non-caners alike.

 

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20140928_175240If you’re a fellow art and/or craft junkie who has tried every other medium that has come your way, there’s a very good chance you have worked with resists. They are most commonly found in watercolor and in textile dying, but any art form that includes paints, dyes, stains or any other liquid that might be used to change the color or appearance of a surface, there are almost always resist techniques.

Polymer is no different, although such techniques are a little less common. I have seen stencils, colored pencil and crayons as resists on polymer a number of times, and once, I recall seeing the use of brushed on masking fluid that is commonly used as a resist on watercolors. Rebecca Watkins discovered a slightly newer version of these options–a masking fluid pen. And she does it in layers!

The control the pen affords makes for some beautiful possibilities as you can see here. Instead of just one layer of resist designs as is commonly seen, Rebecca lays down several layers of alcohol ink, changing the resist design in between to create this complex effect. She shares her news beads, where to get yourself one of these pens, and her technique on her blog. How very clever and generous of her!

 

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Faux-Beach-Pebbles-Jewelry-07smIn my house, anything can be art materials. And I mean anything. We keep trying to come up with more ways to use the hair we brush off our furry kids, but dog and cat hair is troublesome and far too plentiful as inclusions. But seriously, if we have a lot of anything we’d otherwise throw away, my roommate or I have tried making something with it. Dryer lint is rather plentiful here (and full of pet hair too) and has long had its place in my studio. Yes, it sounds odd, but it’s really a fantastic material. I’ve been using dryer lint for years as an addition for strength and bulk in paper, resin and concrete castings. I don’t know why I didn’t think about mixing it with polymer, but someone else did!

Vanessa Brady was looking for something to help create a faux stone look when she came upon the dryer lint idea. And it does work beautifully. You can see here how it gives the faux rock a subtle rough look. I would love to see this faux rock technique in bolder colors and translucents. I may be giving this a try myself in the next couple days just to see. It look quick and easy enough for a whole slew of experimentation. The complete tutorial is on Vanessa’s blog along with other polymer and non-polymer crafty tidbits.

Additional note: On its own, lint is a rather flammable substance so use it with care.  Keep it away from open flames and heating elements. Mix it well in the polymer clay before curing.

 

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DIY-Nice-Polymer-Clay-FlowerI just got back from nearly 3 weeks in California taking care of family matters and have 4 days before I am off again to the Racine Art Museum polymer symposium, so I will be looking towards the fine examples and ingenuous ideas of others this week to keep you inspired in case my words fail me. I have noticed a number of very clever tutorials and tips roaming about the online waves. Most are, after you see them, very obvious little tricks and ideas, but it’s so often only obvious after you see it!

Take this flower petal texturing method. I have seen many examples of lines in canes to create the visual look, but the actual tactile look of lines running across petals is far less common. Here is a very simple way to get those tactile lines into the petals: just scratch a series of lines into a soft but sturdy material and press your petals into the texture. I think texture was created on foam of some sort, but you could, of course, use polymer and bake it. It adds a wonderfully realistic quality to the petals. Here is the full visual tutorial.

Are there other items you tend to texture with hand tools that you could create a basic texture form to press or stamp with instead? It’d be worth a try if you think of something.

All I know about the creator of this tutorial is that he or she is going by Lufy, or did, on Livemaster.ru, but the Livemaster link for Lufy is not working, and this tutorial is spread all over on various sites without credit. Maybe we can correct that? Does anyone know who the craft artist is? Let me know if you d,o and I’ll dig up more about this clever clayer.

Note added on Oct 14th: Thanks Natalja for solving the mystery!  It is not Lufy, but -Luly and the artist’s name is Julia Kotselova. Here is the link to her Livemaster shop.

 

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Although earrings are commonly made as two of the same exact design, this is no steadfast rule and a little change up to this standard can be just what is needed to make a pair stand out on the wearer. Mirroring the design is a very simple and subtle way of doing this. Simple and subtle is […]

As I mentioned at the beginning of the week, mirroring is extremely common in nature, especially among it’s many creatures. From the tiniest insects to the largest mammals, most creatures start out as forms that split into two, becoming whole as two halves of the same original design. It’s kind of interesting if you think about […]