Loving Monsters

This may not seem much related to polymer or art, but I did find this on the site of an artist who works with polymer among many other things. Æ(Alexis) Pierre-Louis lives in Seattle and creates jewelry, paintings, sculpture, installations, video poetry, and writings. I discovered Alexis through a post on Daily Art Muse (which you should check out for great artistic inspiration) and although I do like the rings shown in this post, it was the story on her blog page (no longer being updated) that really got to me:

When Alexis was a little girl, she was afraid of a lot of things, especially the dark. After a bedtime story, her father would kiss her on the forehead and turn off the light. Within minutes she’d be howling and would dive into her parents’ bed for comfort. Naturally this situation could not last long. One day, instead of her usual bedtime story, Alexis’s father told her this,

Imagine how small and dull our lives would be if we allowed ourselves to be ruled by fear. Very small indeed. It’s a big, scary world out there, sometimes people can be cruel, and circumstances can seem larger than our imagination so that our dreams become nightmares filled with big, scary monsters. It’s natural to be afraid sometimes; the trick is not to become stuck in fear, and there is only one cure for that: love. Fear is like a big, scary monster. Love kills all the monsters. So the next time you see a monster, give him some milk and cookies, tuck him into bed, tell him a bedtime story, give him a kiss on the forehead, and say ‘I love you’, and watch your monster turn into your friend.

Fear is part of our lives. Maybe more so as artists because we face an unknown every time we sit down to our studio table. What will we make? How will it turn out? Will I succeed in creating what I envision? Will it be good enough? These fears can cause us to freeze up. But what or who are we really afraid of?

We are afraid of ourselves … afraid of our abilities and inabilities, of how we will deal with being judged be it by others or by our own person. So, I think Alexis’ father’s idea is great. When you are afraid, give your monster — yourself — some milk and cookies and say “I love you.” And then go and play with your clay.


Bottles of Hope Wish

On the Clay-Polymer Yahoo group last week, we got some sad news from member Pat Jones, who was recently told she has cancer which has crossed over into her brain. She came to the group with a very simple request of the clay artists. Make art, specifically a Bottle of Hope.

Pat has made over 250 bottles during the last 7 years. She has a sister who is a cancer survivor, so the program is something close to her already. It was started in 1999 by a Rhode Island cancer survivor and has spread internationally.


This image is a collection of bottles Pat made for her sister to pass out at The James @ OSU Medical Center. These bottles are only given away, never sold.

If you would like to make one, see these pages for more information about the best bottles to use and how to get them into the hands of cancer patients.

Outside Inspiration: Tactile Textiles

In quilting, it is more often than not about line and repetition – those elements that instill order to a variety of color and pattern. But that doesn’t mean the lines need to be straight, the repetition be squares or the print of the fabric being used.


In this small piece titled Celtic Spiral by Larkin Jean Van Horn, color and pattern on the fabric aren’t primary elements at all. There are no straight lines and no squares. Just a closely-aligned repetition of eye-like forms created by swirling lines with dense, rich rivers of beads flowing along with them. The potential translation to polymer seems obvious enough. A repeated stamping with flowing spaces of either beads or other richly textured surface treatments would make an amazing piece as well.

If you are interested in the concept of repetition and rhythm and haven’t seen the latest issue of The Polymer Arts, it’s a an issue packed with ideas for using these concepts to enliven your artwork. You can get your copy or a subscription here.

Ruffled & Revealed

Today’s pretty is brought to you by Nihal Erpeden of Istanbul, Turkey. I love the freeform folding and ruffling of the clay but creating it like a pod that is opening to reveal a botanical treasure is what I find really appealing.


Nihal’s professed inspiration comes from Jana Roberts Benzon who spent a lot of time ruffling, crumpling and folding her clay in the early half of this last decade.

Nihal has also posted a tutorial showing how she creates her ruffled form here (English translation … pretty funny actually). See more of her artwork in her Etsy shop as well.

Framing Possibilities

I was intrigued by this simple tutorial on make polymer frames for jewelry. This example is pretty straight-forward but what I find interesting are the possibilities if you expand upon the basic concept.


For instance, a frame doesn’t have to be a circle. If you have graduated cutters of any shape, you can cut a frame, a smaller frame for the ‘molding’ around the focal space and then punch the focal space in squares, triangles, marquises, stars, fish, flowers … anything you have graduated cutters for. Another possibility is making a good moderately-thick large base shape then adding very thin ‘moulding’ in not just one layer but several using different size cutters.

Frilly Flower Canework

Creating a repeatable section to develop complex looking canes is a standard approach in polymer caning. However, with most such canes, the section repeated has a centered image or pattern which, of course, makes it easy to halve and repeat or at least allows the artist to butt the pieces up next to each other without worrying about how the edges will match. So I do always admire the canes that depart from this and build from sections where the imagery is not always fully centered such as these Frilly Flower canes by Cathy Harm.


It’s a subtle difference but if you look at the  bottom left and bottom center cane, there is a dynamic sway to the imagery that you dont’ see in a cane built from balanced and centered components such as the top left piece. Nothing wrong with centered work, as I’ve said before, but if you want to have more movement in the patterning of a cane, learning to to build such components will give you that option.

So what kind of considerations must be taken into account to create canes like these? Well, I personally don’t know … yet. Luckily, Cathy is sharing her approach in a CraftArtEdu class which happens to be discounted right now so it’s a great opportunity to learn from this caning master. According to the class description this is not just a limited number of canes you’ll learn but rather an “open-ended technique that will enable you to design so many unique canes depending on the amounts of blends and the colors that you choose.” How cool does that sound?



Retro Blend Gone Wild

So, if you haven’t heard about (or seen) the latest community craze, you may want to check out Bettina Welker‘s pixelated retro blend cane and all the creative work that has come out of it. It really took off after Cynthia posted Bettina’s work and the link to her free tutorial on Polymer Clay Daily.

Here is just one take-off on the use of this as a base and accent for these beads by Polymeramoi.


To see a wide variety of applications for this technique, check out the busy Pixelated Retro Blend Flickr group formed just to share this very thing.


A View of Our Mistakes


Whether it is a mistake you’ve made while creating art, in your business or your personal life, don’t let the realization that you are just human and imperfect get you down, frustrate you, or make you want to quit.

I have had more than my share of mistakes to face this past week. There was a  moment (or two or three) when I just wanted to go bury myself in my bed, pulls the shades, shut the door and disappear into the darkness of my room. But a very wise friend told me to get up, go outside, sit in the sun, look out across my horizons and think on all the wonderful things in my life. There is nothing like having a good view of one’s horizons.

Teeny Tiny and Tasty

Maybe it was the birthday gathering I am going to tonight and the mention of birthday cake but I’ve had pastries and sweets on mind. Better on my mind than on my hips but I think that is what drove me to seek out some calorie free versions online.

What did I find? Some very teeny, tiny and very tasty looking minatures by Amber Dawn. This yummy looking berry tart is sitting on the tip of her pinkie finger!


She has pages of these delicious looking pastries, cookies that are literally the size of snowflakes, and all kinds of tiny food stuffs that just make me wonder at her patience (and if her neck doesn’t hurt from all that tiny close-up work!) Take a look at her Flickr photostream for more calorie free goodies. I’m going to go get ready for the birthday celebration and aim to eat a portion of cake only this small! Yeah, right …

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