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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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Maggie maggio at RAM 101714 smUnlike 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 and plant world by blurring the lines between snake and vine.” She adds, “I will need a larger oven as the pieces grow and grow!” This is a bit of reflection on the success of her exploration as well as the size of her pieces. To understand just how big this issue is, take a close look at the necklace modeled on the exhibition card you see on the far right of this photo. (You can click on the photo for a larger version.)

Maggie had several pieces in the Racine Museum of Art’s (in)Organic exhibition, (there until February 1st, 2015. Get out to see it if you can. It is amazing.) including a piece that evolved into something quite different as she created it. Read her post about her process of exploration and one of those welcome accidents that led to a satisfying, but unexpected piece on Maggie’s website.

 

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JLDever Black install 101714 smA 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 in the Racine Museum of Art’s (in)Organic exhibition running through February 1st, 2015. This was already shown on Polymer Clay Daily last Friday, but since I had the luck to be part of a conversation with Jeff about this piece, I thought it was worth showing again and sharing some of his thoughts.

This piece really pushes beyond Jeff’s usual presentation in that it is all black. Completely absent are the glowing gradations of color, the fine lines and the back filled spots that he is so well known for. While standing around after a full day of discussion already, the conversation turned to flaws, and Jeff stated that no one seemed to see the flaws in his work because of all the varied detail. He felt that distracted viewers from the imperfect line or the errant fingerprint. This naturally brought up this all black piece of his since those elements were there to distract. Was it harder to create and finish this new work because there were no visual distractions? He said no, that the limitation of the palette was really quite freeing.

What he wanted to know in turn was whether the work was still recognizably his. We gave him a resounding “Yes.” He seemed surprised. He had worked outside his own still fairly roomy box by abandoning his colors and his details and even working with new forms, and yet, we still could see him in it. Why is that?

My thought on that question is simply this: When an artist is working with their own authentic voice, when they’ve gone through long periods of exploration and discovery, the knowledge and experience they’ve gained over time flows out into their work. I see Jeff’s signature in the cleanness of the shapes, the fluidity of their connection, the sparseness of elements so that they each have space enough to be seen individually and, of course, the organic source he constantly returns to in the forms and compositions he chooses. It may have felt quite different for him, but for us, it is still uniquely Dever.

 

 

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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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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. […]

After all this talk of gray, I thought it was about time to challenge you with some further ideas about color values so you can see for yourself what understanding value can do for your work. First of all, take any photo of one of your pieces and put it into a photo manipulation software program, […]

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I am traveling today, so I apologize for the brevity here. I was sent this lovely wallpiece by Fran Abrams after she saw what the theme was this week.  The piece is called “Six Degrees of Separation”.  It’s wall art that is 18″ x 18″ and created using only black clay and white clay mixed in varying proportions. I […]

Take a look at this pair of earrings by the very talented Sonya Girodon. What are some of your first impressions? What strikes you as most attention grabbing, or what are your eyes drawn to? As you look over the pair, does it even occur to you that there is no color here? Not to say […]

As I briefly mentioned yesterday, the gray you work with may actually be a very faint version of a muted hue of color. You have probably heard the terms warm and cool to describe differences in grays when it comes to things such as matching clothing items for an outfit. What this means is that the […]

Gray is not what we may think of as a particularly exciting color palette, but this non-color has quite the design concept to teach us all. I say “non-color”, of course, because gray has no color hue, not as a concept. Many grays we use actually do have a recognizable cool or warm tone due to […]