Obsessed with Day of the Dead

Of course, I had to look for something in theme with my favorite holiday today. I find Halloween, the Day of the Dead and similar observances so very intriguing. Our passing is as much a part of life as our living and an acceptance and even celebration of it can so very much help be at peace with it as well as helps us appreciate each day we have to live, love, create and share.

I am not, however, a year round observer but I think Tamra Kohl of Sacramento, California may be. She has the most varied presentations of the Day of the Dead theme I think I’ve ever seen. With a well honed sense of humor about it, she has been making dolls, dioramas and cake toppers with the well known skeletons and flowers motifs of the holiday. Only she doesn’t stick with just the famous Fall holiday. Her skeletons can also be found lounging in a bubbly tub for Valentines and in Santa suits. Others are out getting tattoos, having acupuncture, flirting with a playboy bunny while seated at a slot machine and even skeletons dogs can be found surfing as you can see here.

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There seems to be no boundaries for these Day of the Dead spirits. And why should there be?

You can enjoy Tamra’s many renditions of the Day of the Dead motifs on her Flickr page and website.

Delightfully Crowded

If you have seen crowds photographed from above, you may have noticed there tends to be a pattern in the way people group. Sometimes there is a definite direction as it will be during a concert with everyone facing the stage. Sometimes there is a pronounced flow, a line of people moving back and forth on a path through the throng. Crowded spaces, be they at an event, within an abundantly planted  garden or the result of a busy day at your studio table, have some pattern and impression to impart.

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This piece by Klavdija Kurent of Slovenia is the kind of crowd I can get into. Like little faces or tiny, blooming flowers, the silver ball accented folds of polymer open up to the space outside their crowded circumstance in an almost expectant and lively manner. The fact that it is black and white rather than multi-colored keeps the crowded space from becoming overwhelming. There is always a danger of over-doing it when you crowd elements in your work but if it’s well balanced with simplicity in other aspects, it can result in a delightfully subdued complexity.

Speaking of crowds … how are our Eastern US friends doing? I’m hoping you and your families are all doing well, are safe and comfortable, and if you are crowded into shelters that your stay is very short and you get to go home soon. Good energy and wishes going out to you all.

Integrating Function

Etched metal bails, thoughtfully crafted ear wires, and spiraling wire rivets are just a few ways we add the necessary findings and connectors to our art jewelry to make theme functional. But what if you used the items that you need to make your art jewelry functional as an integral and primary part of the design instead of just having it as an accent or as a way to disguise the connection to the art?

In Laura Bocchi’s “Lazy Cloud” necklace, ball chain, which is commonly used for more casual and even industrial designs, is wound through translucent polymer clay to help define and add movement to a simple cloud formation.

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 There literally would be no design without the integration of the ball chain which also is the material from which the design can be worn. Splendidly simple.
There are many ways to integrate the needed functional items into a piece in a way that makes them a prominent and supportive addition to the design. Can you think of ways to wind, encircle, elongate, or decorate your chain, bails, ear wires, jump rings, hinges, clasps, etc so that add balance and/or movement,  or they echo and/or emphasize elements in your design? The possibilities have been overwhelming my poor little brain. Now if I can only find more time to spend in the studio to try some things out. Even though I may not be able to, I hope you do.
For all our polymer friends and their families in the coastal north eastern US today, I hope you and yours are some where safe as Sandy comes bearing down on the Atlantic coast and the only unusual clouds in your day is this one sent here.

Is Beauty a Matter of Good Taste?

When I first read this, I laughed of course. Then I thought, well, it really doesn’t matter. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist — if you find something beautiful, your view is all that matters. But then I thought, if that’s true, why do we even have the concept of “good taste?” If we judge people’s choices are we not discounting their personal view?

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A Garden At the Tip of Your Fingers

In the northern hemisphere, we are all preparing for cooler weather. Many of us are saying good-bye to our gardens as they change colors and die off. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep a little garden or park right at hand … or literally on your hand?

This below is a ring. A little bit of green landscaping that will never die-off and go brown. A little pond-side view to cheer one up on a snowy day.

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Kati Gumenius calls these impractical whimsy pieces. I suppose they could get caught on a few things, but I don’t think that would stop me from wearing them. What is art for but to cheer us, make us think, and put us in a place a little beyond where we are at the moment? If a piece does that, I think it’s pretty practical — at least for the purpose of transporting us for a moment.

Many thanks to Porro Salhberg for bringing this fun stuff to my attention.

Outside Inspiration: Trying Not to Be a Polymer Snob

Below is an intriguing, elegant necklace by Danielle Gori-Montanelli. Fairly simple with a calm yet random pattern and subdued colors. Nice, right? It’s felt.

Have you ever worked with felt? Dense, rich, durable and a really earthy medium. Great fun for the very tactile artist. It’s also pretty forgiving if you mess up and have to take your piece apart, rebuild, extract or expand. And still … my first thought when I saw this piece was “How cool. But it would have been so much easier to make in polymer.”

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Now why did I say that to myself? It wouldn’t necessarily be easier or quicker — considering the conditioning and handling of the clay that would be needed before constructing it. But it did make me realize that I’m a tad bit biased. Okay, more than a tad. And that’s with fiber being one of my first loves.

I think it really comes down to an overriding admiration for the versatility of the medium as well as the very sharing and generous nature of the polymer community. It’s really hard to beat. It’s rather insane how many other art materials have been sitting in boxes — untouched — since I became a full-blown polymer addict some 7 years ago. I think I need some intervention.

All materials are valid. There are a very few that cannot work with polymer. So to temper my snobbery, I have been mixing fiber with polymer. It has been seriously all too fun. Has it been helping my prejudice though? Well …

Do you have a medium that you worked in before polymer? Have you tried combining the two? You should really try it if you haven’t. You will probably come up with some incredible works of art!

Of course that would further support a prejudice for polymer … what can’t polymer do? Oh, well. I guess those of us so inclined need more therapy … yep, we will have to spend more time in the studio exploring. Oh, how terrible.

Winter 2012 Cover …

Choosing art for the cover for the next issue of The Polymer Arts magazine was a tad bit difficult this time around. I had all this great work by lots of wonderful artists but the gremlins of chaos seemed to be everywhere and with everyone the last few months. I had initially felt obligated to get kind of crazy with the bling since it’s the Shimmer & Shine issue but there were many last minute changes and getting high quality, high resolution images at the 11th hour is tough. So we went with a personal favorite artist of mine Nicole West (and hopefully soon to be one of yours if you haven’t yet seen her work) and her gorgeous Alice in Wonderland inspired sculpture which certainly shines! Nicole is sharing her work in the Mentor Gallery for this issue. It’s not to be missed!

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Spiraling Color

Movement in art is often times instilled with the use of lines just as they are in the earrings below by Carol Blackburn. But along with the lines, there is also a feeling of movement due to color changes.

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The movement is not just from a cool blue to a warm brown but there is also a sense that time is working its way up the spirals from the tip, much like the browning edges of leaves to the clinging brights of a deep sky that has not given into to the change. It’s an interesting and intriguing color combination that emphasizes the active lines of the spiral polymer strips.

If you find the form of these pieces intriguing as well, Carol just released her class on these Shell Earrings on CraftArtEdu.com. Perhaps its time to try arranging your own spiraling colors.

Fimo Deco Gel … alive and well

There was some chatter a month or two ago about Fimo Deco Gel no longer being manufactured. Well, after a discussion with liquid polymer queens Ann and Karen Mitchell (they literally wrote the book on it) — they went directly to the source and have been told by Staedtler, the Fimo manufacturers, that there are no plans to halt production of the wonderfully clear liquid polymer.

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Erin “Eirewolf” Metcalf created this Fimo Deco Gel butterfly for her mother some years ago. The clarity of Fimo’s liquid polymer allows for inclusions to shine through like the mica powders tracked through the wings here. The only difficult thing about Fimo’s Deco Gel is finding it. There are still suppliers on Amazon and in the UK there is supplier on Ebay. (Update–Polymer Clay Express is carrying  it too: http://www.polymerclayexpress.com/fimo.html) Otherwise, you can still get it at some of the local and chain craft stores. But it goes fast  — so if you see it, grab it!

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