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raven_11I love that polymer illustration is coming more and more to the forefront. There are some amazing illustrators out there. In our last issue of The Polymer Arts we featured Tammy Durham’s playful work and in the upcoming winter issue we have the honor of being able to include an article by Joseph Barbaccia, the creator of the amazing illustration you see here. The article reveals the steps in his process, as well as how he came to this new calling after a full and successful prior career in graphic design and years of traditional sculpting.

This image is a beautiful and striking mix of the dark and the light, the two sides, as I mentioned on Monday, that are needed for either side to be appreciated, and in this case, create the heavy contrast that is the basis of the dramatic atmosphere here. The beautiful range of additional color beyond black and white have added to the drama. Look closely at the lovely saturated teals and magentas in the raven and the various shades of blue that make up the rich and glowing night sky. Even the moon gives into off-whites and various yellow and green relations to gray.

The rough, and yet wispy, edge created by just leaving the tapered tendrils of clay displays an unusual and effective treatment of the boundary for the image. It really brings out the dimensional quality of the work that may not be as apparent seeing it just as a photograph. To learn more about Joesph’s work, take a look at his website and, of course, be sure you are subscribed or pre-order the winter issue of The Polymer Arts magazine, due out November 28th.

 

If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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CaptureWith the popularity of vampires still high these days, I would be remiss in letting a week of beautiful dark things go by without presenting at least one of the well-loved creatures. And this one is not hard to appreciate. She’s actually a “Darkling” as envisioned by sculptor Barbara Key.

Darkling is actually not a noun in any standard dictionary I could find, but the concept of a darkling is described broadly as just a creature of the night in listings and records of our pop culture nomenclature. So, an artist’s rendition is really wide open for interpretation. And Barbara does run with it–a vampiric fairy with a thing for leather and lingerie and what looks like a either a rough day on the job, or she just finished a good tear-jeaker of a movie. But truly, for a creature of the dark, she is rather darling.

Barbara is always good for a few unexpected details on her art dolls as well as an elegant beauty even in her darkest creations. To enjoy similar seasonally appropriate darlings, spend a little time visiting Barbara’s website.

 

 

If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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grisbleu spider flowerI love spiders. Not very girly of me, I know, but I just find them to be some of the most fascinating creatures on earth. They are beautiful and graceful fellow crafters who just happen to be so absolutely terrifying at times. Poor, misunderstood things.

Regardless of the terrifying moments, spiders really can be fantastic inspiration, not just from the patterns they weave, but their own inherent elegance–the long, slim legs, the way they delicately hang and negotiate their webs, the graceful way they reach out and weave their silk. Well, that last may remind you too much of dinner time in the web, but nonetheless, the spider’s structure and movements are beautiful.

I imagine this is what drew Céline Charuau to create work like the piece you see here. She calls this Fleur Araignée or Flower Spider in English. And with that title, she has drawn a simple equation between what is considered one of nature’s most beautiful creations with one of its most frightening. If you think about it, there are also deadly flowers and harmless, but gorgeously colored, arachnids. For being such completely different types of organisms, they actually have a lot in common.

The drawing of equations between seemingly unrelated things is nothing new in Céline’s work. Man-made with organic, mineral with animal, hard with soft, and lots of other unexpected combinations in her images and titles like Embroidered Eggs and Canned Chromosomes. I honestly am not sure if I enjoy the titles of her work or her craftsmanship more. See what I mean by taking a leisurely jaunt through her Flickr photostream with more insight to be found on her blog, Gris Bleu.

 

 If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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il_fullxfull.475132936_d734This week counts down to that one very dark and ominous day (or fun and frolicsome, depending on your approach) sometimes known as the All Saint’s Eve, Day of the Dead, Samhain, Allantide among other things, but most commonly known as Halloween. It’s that day when, in many Christian-based religions as well as pagan and European folklore, we either have a chance to speak to loved ones passed on and/or we must hide from the demons and other creatures that have the opportunity to walk the earth the one night when the veil between the worlds of the living and dead are thinnest. That makes the holiday seem rather dreary, but truly, it’s more of a celebration of the lives that have lived. Death and the things of the dark exist in contrast to the vibrancy of life and the light. Without the dark, how would we appreciate the light? And even the dark things can be quite beautiful.

So this week, let’s look at the beauty of dark things. I promise it will not be all spooky and ghoulish. But, okay, we’re going to start off kind of on that end. If you are familiar with the movie Aliens then you would likely then recognize the imagery of Swiss sculptor, painter and set designer, H.R. Giger who designed the alien and extraterrestrial environments for that movie, in the work of Aniko Kolesnikova that you see here. This journal cover is a display piece that Aniko uses to show off her hand tooled polymer sculpture techniques. The melding of Aniko’s skills and the Giger imagery makes for gorgeous lines and intriguing textures as well as being an combined example from two different artists of how beautiful the dark renditions of the imagination can be.

Most of Aniko’s work is not that dark, she just embraces this as part of all that is beautiful in this world. Or that’s how I see her work. I mean, her moniker is “Mandarin Duck” (I don’t know why … ) and commonly refers to her blog readers as “honey bunnies”, so she’s definitely not all about the dark side. See more of her varied work on her website and more journals on this Pinterest board.

 

 If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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sean mitchell smThis is Sean Mitchell. He’s 12 years old, home-schooled, and the youngest person to ever take a college-level polymer clay course.

Wait … is Sean the real news or is it the fact that this past year, the first college-level credit course in polymer art was actually accepted and implemented at an accredited American institution? Well, they are both news in their own way, aren’t they? Both Sean and the class are bright lights for the future of polymer art.

The class, “Art 200: Polymer Clay” was taught at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin by Diane Levesque who was also the curator for the exhibit at the H.F. Johnson Gallery of Art at Carthage CollegeA Re-Visioning: New Works in Polymer. Diane presented her overview and thoughts on the course at the Polymer 2.0 Symposium along with inviting a number of students who took the class to attend the presentation and symposium that day. Sean was one of them.

At 12 years old, Sean isn’t quite of college age and is not one of those kids skyrocketed into a university education at an early age, although I have to say, after hearing his participation in our discussions and talking with him myself, I think he could have been. He’s exceedingly bright, curious and well-spoken. It was fortunate that special circumstances and the need for a creative option in his home school curriculum landed Sean the opportunity to take this class in which he excelled. He brought this sculpture to share with us. That piece alone was pretty impressive.

So, I had to ask him … “Do you see yourself continuing to work in polymer?” His answer was yes, but he did confess that he was actually interested in going into industrial engineering. So, we may lose him to another creative area, but nonetheless, Sean as well as his fellow students, were very enthusiastic about their experience with the medium, which brought up the question, “How can we introduce polymer as an art form to more of the younger generations?”

Well, we can start with the kids in our own life. I’ve had quite the year of introducing the many facets of polymer clay to the young people in my family and beyond. I now have at least one niece that seems to be inextricably addicted to it, and she introduced it to her friends as well. Word of mouth works well in spreading the love of creating as well as in business! And, of course, if we can continue to push for college-level courses and maybe even introduce it into high schools and after-school programs, polymer can continue to expand its range and the world’s view of it as art, not just hobby craft. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

 

If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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amy gross 2 blogBefore I write up a blog, I search what I’ve posted over the years to insure I’m not showing the same artists over and over, and that it’s been a while since I’ve posted their work. It’s a way of spreading the love around, so to speak. I don’t usually have to worry about that with posts from artists working in other mediums, but I was afraid I’d already shared the stunning work of Amy Gross and maybe shouldn’t be sharing it again. But, to my surprise, I never have! I don’t know how that happened. However, since her work was in the Racine Museum of Art’s (in)Organic exhibition I saw this past weekend, I can now correct that.

Amy is so one of my very favorite artists in the realm of mixed media art. The richness of the textures and colors are what draw you in, but it’s the imagery, both realistic and implied, that holds you there. At least it does me. It helps that I have an interest in both the growth and decay that is the cycle of nature. Amy’s work filters what she sees in this cycle through her own personal experiences as she notes in her artist statement on her website:

“My embroidered and beaded fiber pieces are my attempt to merge the natural observable world with my own inner life: I’m trying to remake nature sieved through my own experiences. I’ve always been attracted and frightened by things that are in their fullest bloom but on the verge of spoiling. There’s such beauty and sadness to them, heightened by the undeniable inevitability of their ending.”

amy gross vivariumI was so immensely thrilled to see her work in person for the first time at Racine Art Museum–I had read her work would be in the exhibit–that I was having a hard time containing myself. But, jumping up and down or squealing with glee is not museum-appropriate conduct. So, I am happy I have a chance to to do so here. The first image is one I was given permission to take at the museum. I really wanted to capture the colors in that top leaf in contrast with the darker colors below. The second photo is from her website and gives you more details of the lower half. See even more shots of this and other pieces of Amy’s in her website gallery pages.

 

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Tabakman fr Laura or CarthageOne of the most impressive works we saw over the weekend in Racine was at the second exhibition we visited. Laura Tabakman’s On the Trail was a large installation piece set up at the H.F. Johnson Gallery of Art at Carthage College as part of the exhibition, A Re-Visioning: New Works in Polymer.

The installation is a wonderful little field of these colorful pods and balls standing on the tops of thin wire that swayed slightly as you passed and interspersed with bright handmade tassels, some in the pods, some fallen to the boards below them. It’s a bright, yet quiet and peaceful,  piece that draws you in to look closer at all the variation in detail between the polymer elements.

Aside from being drawn in by the beauty of the piece, as polymer artists we gravitated to it as an unusual type of work that few of us have had experience in creating. There were a lot of questions about the planning and building of it, as well as the shipping and installing of the work. I guess Laura was queried enough to post the process on her Facebook page here. You have to read and see what she did to her living room for the sake of her art! She is a dedicated lady!

See more of Laura’s installation and smaller works on her website as well as on her Facebook pages.

 

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Unlike Dever’s work as we saw yesterday, Maggie Maggio exhibited work that is a continuation of her exploration of structure in polymer. Her wrap bangles and neck pieces are growing ever more bold, as well as bigger. Here is the piece that just mesmerized me. As Maggie explains it, “Grow III represents the interweaving of the animal […]

A major theme of the weekend in Racine was the idea of stepping out of pre-set boxes. There were a whole range of ‘boxes’ being discussed including our own personal boxes we put ourselves in as artists. Because of those conversations, I wanted to bring up the piece by Jeffery Lloyd Dever that was exhibited […]

I 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 […]

I 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, […]

This 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 […]

  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 […]

If 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 […]

In 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 […]

I 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. […]