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I am really pushing the mirror theme here, I know. But, I have been in love with these bowls since I first saw them. It was during those first few magical months after I realized what polymer clay really was and what it could do. I was taking in everything I could find online. The images of James Lehman’s bowls were by far the most breathtaking for a newbie like me. The colors are amazing, the shine is unreal and the form and overall workmanship was unlike anything I’d seen. To this day, I think of them as being in a class by themselves that no one else has quite been able to match.

So, the imagery isn’t usually mirrored in James’ pieces, but the polish is mirror-like and because of the detail and attention he applied to both the insides and the backsides of his bowl, he had to take photos of them on a mirrored surface to show the full effect. So, humor me while I fit it into this week’s theme. Because this kind of dedication to the finish of a piece — this was nearly 15 years ago as well — is awe inspiring, if not a level any fine polymer artist would want to aspire to reach.

James still has a site with his work online here but has not done much in the community for a number of years. If you Google the guy and look at his other websites, it’s obvious that he is one easily distracted and fanatically curious fellow, and it’s no surprise he has gone on to further develop his skills in another area of interest. But, we will still have his amazing work to enjoy, appreciate and inspire us.

 

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Because mirror images are so common in nature, I do suppose we find their centered-ness less adventuresome, edgy or contemporary. But, when it comes to nostalgic decor, centered and familiar is where it is at!

1caec81dd2cee5d97d7b25a283c402f8Many holiday ornaments like this carefully crafted piece by Kay Miller, will play off some of nature’s most common mirrored designs. In this case, both floral and snowflake designs are harkened to. Floral influence is seen in the motifs chosen and the petal-like structure of the form, but the way they are built up, in visual steps from the center outward, changing as they progress while using the same kind of shapes, is particular to the snowflake and other crystal patterns.

I couldn’t find an active page for Kay, but she does have an Etsy shop; it’s just a little empty at the moment. However, you can find a lot of her ornaments on Google images using her name and ‘ornaments’ as key words (or use the link you see here, of course.)

As a little fun side item, try to find the one single element that is not mirrored in this ornament. I don’t know if she did this on purpose, and if I had the time, I’d start combing through her designs to see if she does this with all of them. This one single discrepancy,  which becomes very obvious once you find it, reminds me of a story I heard in an art history class many moons ago about a tradition in a particular tribe of American Indians. Their artisans were so adept that they could make every object with absolute perfection, but instead they would purposely make one tiny thing incorrectly, weaving one twist backwards, miss one painted dot in a series or leave one carved feather untextured. Why? Because they were not gods and believed they should not create as if they were perfect like the gods. I always thought that if I become that perfect in anything I do, I would do the same. I’m just not that perfect yet to even worry about attaining a god-like status in my work. But, it’s fun to think someone else might be doing something like that out there.

 

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burst-of-pendants22The ‘mirror image’ is a very common element in nature; from leaves to flowers to fruit to every creature I can think of, there are often two halves mirroring each other to make the whole. I’ve  seen a number of interesting uses of this in polymer pieces lately and thought this might be an easy theme to gather up work for this week. Not so much, however. Because using this kind of element necessitates a centered composition where the mirror images appear–their meeting point in the middle creating a center line–and with a community much enamored of asymmetry, it is far rarer than I would have thought. But, I aim to find a variety of examples where the mirroring adds energy or depth to a piece rather than feeling stale because the element (or elements) are arranged on some center line.

The obvious first place to look is in caning. The kaleidoscope cane alone holds up a great argument for mirroring. Create an pie slice shaped cane, cut up the length and lay matching sides together to fill in the pie round (or some approach akin to that.)  And you end up with usually very energized visuals. Lines, curves, angles and other directional elements will be moving from the center in opposite directions creating that energy.

When I hear kaleidoscope canes, I always think of Carol Simmons and her intense precision in this art form.  These pendants are examples for her upcoming workshops being held in Racine, Wisconsin after the RAM Symposium later in October. (It’s a waiting list only class; find out more on her website.) The center lines from the process of mirroring images have become a range of star burst like patterns, pushing direction from the center of the pendants to the outside that adds dynamic energy and a mesmerizing amount of detail on such a small space.

If you haven’t attempted a kaleidoscope cane before, but are interested, there are dozens of basic free tutorials as well as more intricate ones sold on Etsy and through other shops. Just Google the term “kaleidoscope cane tutorial” for many instant options.

 

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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48487_900A piece with shibori style ripples, fire, and crackling? How could I resist? The creator of this richly textured bracelet seems to go by nothing more than morskiekamni over on LiveJournal. This particular clayer dabbles in a little of this and a bit of that with a fair amount of miniatures and a lot of floral in there.

So, this bracelet comes as a bit of a surprise in the line-up of work. But, a lovely surprise. The cracks ripple across the base layer of orange, as well as along the edges of the flames. The whole surface looks to be in flux, and I find it hard not to get lost in intricacies; it’s an awful lot like staring into and losing yourself in those campfire flames or the fiery embers of a fireplace.

Yes, I usually give you a little something to work on come Saturday, but I couldn’t help but share this lovely piece first. If you are looking to try something new, how about creating using a ripple blade? The ripple blade looks to have fallen out of fashion in polymer within recent years, but I seem to be seeing it in use a little more just recently. Here is an older page full of still fantastic ideas for rippling up some really beautiful polymer! Enjoy!

 

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serena Di Mercione earring ring setWhat else would we do for an outside inspiration that started out looking at shibori, than shibori itself? The artist behind these earrings and ring, Serena Di Mercione, has a number of pieces we actually found on a few polymer clay focused Pinterest boards even though this is silk with beads and pearls and metal findings.  I’m not really surprised. It would not be hard to imagine these as polymer instead of silk ribbons. But how would you do that?

I was thinking maybe thinly folded pearl clay colored with diluted alcohol inks applied to just the edges of the folds with a cosmetic sponge. Or Skinner blends applied in thin strips to a pearl clay back and then rolled thin so you can fold it, letting the folds land on the strips of colored blended clay. I’m not really sure how with would work, but I’d be willing to give it a try . I just might do that this weekend as I pull out my clay and tools to show the wonders of this medium to a few curious young minds. We must instill a love of polymer into the next generation, right?

To really brighten your Friday, take a stroll through more of  Serena’s delicious shibori and soutache jewelry creations on her Facebook page. You will either get your creative juices flowing or start craving rainbow sherbet!

 

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dr fimo ripple purple 2

If yesterday’s version of ripples was controlled and reserved, today’s rippling beads border on being a full-fledged party.

Although Daniela Wernli, also known as Dr. Fimo, only uses one color plus white in these beads, the energy here is very high, but you know the color isn’t a primary factor for that.  The beads actually push the whole idea of what a ripple is and can be. You see ripples in the twisted clay curls with their repetition and progression wrapped into tight swirls that ramps up the sense of movement, making for a very energized piece.

In case you were wondering, Daniela was named Dr. Fimo by her family because she is often seen wandering about with her polymer work gloves on.  See more of her work, especially some very interesting dots and rolled clay pieces, on her Flickr page.

 

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connybrocksteadt ripple pinWe’ve looked at a few rather free-form versions of rippling, but ripples can also be well controlled and stylized while maintaining that similarly energized feel of movement.

The pins that emerged in The Broken Internet Project had a lot of controlled, but high-energy lines in the designs, most likely due to their inspiration being a pin by the meticulous Dan Cormier, a pin that had a zigzag line (a cousin to the ripple, you could say) through the center of it. I loved Cornelia Brockstedt’s interpretation with both a controlled rippling Skinner blend and a silhouette of a ripple inserted next to it. Calm, but energized. It’s almost the definition of that.

If you never had the chance to see the whole Broken Internet Project results, be sure to jump over to The Cutting Edge’s Facebook page to see them all together. And, for more by the fabulous Cornelia Brockstedt, take a look at her website or her Flickr pages for her latest pieces.

 

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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Although shibori is a fantastic source of inspiration in polymer, adding the liveliness of rippling lines and textures can be achieved in a myriad of ways. Just consider what rippling is and how it works in a design. Ripples are lines and like any lines, they create movement. However, unlike the forcefulness of straight lines […]

First of all, apologies for nothing showing up over the weekend. We had some glitch that wasn’t letting us post. It took all weekend to get it figured out so we had to just abandon our Saturday post. I’m aiming to make up for that with a Sunday post this week. This week we’re going […]

I just love what Ginger found for us today as an outside inspiration. A scene created with tiles, a kind of bas relief where the elements create the imagery and depth from how they are layered and arranged. This is not so very different from some of the polymer scenes we’ve seen this week. The […]

Ginger really wanted to share a micro mosaic piece with you this week and I’ve gone back and forth on options for us. The thing is, micro mosaics in polymer were really established, and I think are still best done, by Cynthia Toops. But I’ll be breaking a rule of mine to not feature an […]

We have another scene picked by Ginger Davis Allman today, this one by miniature sculptor Angee Chase. This is actually an older piece but it was kind of hard to pass by for someone with a love of painting and light like myself. If you’ve ever taken a painting class you probably heard a lot […]

Ginger’s pick for today is a bit of lovely wall art by  New York’s Joan Israel.  Like yesterday’s post, this polymer clay landscape scene consists of individual elements that are arranged to tell a story although I think this one is more about the artist than the town. Although scenes and stories in polymer are most […]

So here is something new for you my dear readers … a week of posts chosen by a guest artst! A little while back I reached out to a number of artists who regularly send me content ideas and asked if they would like to take over the art choices for a week. The idea […]

So after a week of extruder contemplation, have you gone into the studio to try out some new ideas yourself? Well, if not, but you’re anxious to try something out, here are a few ideas for you.   A shaped cane with no background fill? Is that possible? According to Lilu of Russia, you can […]

Reader Corine Lindhorst was kind enough to write and share the work of this highly talented paper artist whose work you see here. Although it’s not extruded, the use of long strips of paper is not unlike using long snakes of extruded clay to form patterns and images. The images in the case of these […]