The Pro Look of Bold and Brilliant

It must be the mid-winter blues that keeps drawing me to the dramatically colored this week. I know whenever I am in need of an injection of bright and colorful and I can always count on Silvia Ortiz de la Torre. She is never shy and always experimenting with color, form and texture and how they work together.

Here is her latest post on her Flickr page. It’s a piece that almost shocks you into looking closer. The colors are so vibrant and the textures used make the whole piece seem alive.



You have to stop and wonder how something so colorful, created with fun little balls of wound polymer string and puffy pillows beads still comes across as being more sophisticated than silly. There is something in the boldness that exudes that professional level intent. I could see this on runway models or rich movie stars wandering Rodeo Drive. It’s kind of crazy. So crazy you have to envy Silvia’s talent. And maybe even aspire to be that bold and confident someday yourself.

Are you looking to increase the professional impact of your work? We’ve an article in the upcoming Spring Issue of The Polymer Arts magazine on just that subject. Don’t miss out on the issue. Pre-order it or get your subscription here today: 

Bead Frames for Polymer

It’s hard to find a polymer artist who doesn’t also have a love of beads. Many found their way to polymer through collecting and wanting to expand their bead options. So, it only makes sense that we combine them.

Stringing a necklace is one common way to combine our love of varied bead materials. Embedding beads into the surface of the clay is another. And below, we have yet another method outlined by Anne Poncet on her blog using seed beads to create a frame.


The process involves seed beads and wire, which is embedded in a backing of clay. She has two versions of the tutorial on her blog; one simple, quick and with lots of photos, then below there are detailed explanations for each step. Something fun to try out next time you are pondering what kind of finish you want for the edge of a piece.



Exploring Mandalas

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle.” These visually engaging patterns have spiritual and ritual significance for some eastern religions and western communities and have been growing in popularity as an art form.

Susan Buhrman is one of the most prolific mandala artists that I know of in our community. She uses cane slices, cut sheets of clay, beads and other objects to create the patterns for these wall pieces.


Mandalas aren’t just a beautiful art form; the creation of them can be quite a therapeutic activity. Take a number of scrap canes, sheet clay or what not and simply start placing them in a balanced and repetitive pattern on a board or other stiff, movable surface. Don’t think too much about it. Let your inner artist just play. This should get you into a very relaxing zone, and at the end of your time creating this, you may find yourself surprised by what you end up with. Just something fun and relaxing to try when you need it.



Bright and Brilliant Monday

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. It was a little rough around here. There were numerous friends, pets, and family having more than just a little bit of a hard time. My heart goes out to all of you who are dealing with so much sorrow and frustration right now.

So today, I’d like to bring a little sunshine to us all. These beautifully bright beads are just the thing. The pure, highly saturated colors, a nice glossy polish and the graphic lines call for smiles and grins. We have Sagit of Karmiel, Israel to thank  for this ray of sunshine this Monday.

sigalotDesigns beads


Sigat is not afraid of color. In fact, our bold artist pushes bright and brilliant past what our little packages of clay would seem to hold. How is this possible? Actually the spacers of white and black separate the colors so we see them each clearly, and the contrast against the non-colors make them appear as saturated as possible. If the colors where side by side, our eyes would blur and mix them, even going so far as to tone down some of the characteristics that the colors have in common.

For instance, find the points in the clover canes on the flat beads where the reds and oranges touch. Where they meet there is far less drama and the colors don’t seem to have the punch where they meetup. Imagine a bead with just those colors pushed up against each other. It just wouldn’t have the punch.

Color is actually pretty crazy stuff. If you have never done any color study exercises, you can find some on the internet and in books that will just blow your mind. Try Marilyn Fenn’s pages for online exercises or Maggie Maggio’s and Lindly Haunani’s “Polymer Clay Color Inspirations“.

Have a beautiful and brillant start to your week.



Ta-da! The Polymer Arts Spring ’13 Cover

Doing the cover for each issue has to be the most nerve-wracking part of putting the magazine together. It’s what people see first. It can determine whether someone wants to buy it or not. It is that ever important first impression. It is ineveitably the one part I am never really satisfied with. But as I said earlier this week, one must know when to stop and decide a piece is done. So, this is my moment. Let me  (and the talented Layl McDill) know what you think.

13-P1 Cover fnlCk

If you like this or just really like The Polymer Arts magazine, I would love for you to share this with your polymer friends and cohorts. For those who need to get their next issue ordered or renew your subscription, you can do so at


Going Far Enough

Earlier this week we talked about pushing your art, knowing when it’s time to stop perfecting it. But there is another side to that coin … knowing when to push it a little farther.

Being able to discern whether you’ve added to or worked out a design enough can be difficult, and it’s not something someone can readily teach you. It takes practice and mindful awareness of your process. So how do you know when to take your work a step or two further?

Well, here is an example. Fiona Abel-Smith created this image using a polymer technique first explored by Sue Heaser. It’s based off a mineral mosaic like technique called pietra dura. Fiona starts out with the first image, inlaying clay. Pretty nice as is, right? But then she adds little bits of clay in a painterly manner and the image goes from just nice to quite impressive.


The depth and dimension the bits of clay add takes it from great craft work to rich illustration. The texture gives it a liveliness it just didn’t have before.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “I kind of like the one on the left better or at least as much.” In truth, the pietra dura is not better, it’s simply a different kind of piece. That is partly why knowing if you have taken it far enough is so hard to determine. So, when working on a piece, there are  a couple questions you need to ask yourself. “What do I want this piece to be?” or “What is the purpose of this piece?” and then ask yourself, “Is there anything else I might do with this to accomplish what I am after?”

If you are unsure, you can add to and reaarange your work or try ideas out on a scrap piece before answering that last question. Playing with options is part of the process and certainly part of the fun. Just don’t ‘give up’ on a piece that you sense could be taken farther for what you want it to be. Push it a little, see what you discover. You can always go back if you don’t like what happens when you take it a step further.

And  speaking of Sue Heaser, she’s already well-known for her many books on polymer and other crafts …  she’s just recently released her first eBook, Polymer Clay Jewellery for Beginners: Book 1 – Millefiori Canes and it’s only $5. It’s a very clear and well laid out book for those who haven’t yet explored Millefiori and for those who teach, it can be a great tool to recommend to students for preparation before they come to your class so you don’t waste precious time getting them up to speed on basics.



Outside Inspiration: Combining Visual and Tactile Texture in Metals

Today, we bring you a great combination of both visual and tactile texture, perfectly juxtaposed in this metal brooch by Judith Kinghorn.

We have on the left treated metal with a soft, warm antiqued coloration and almost stone like texture broken by rhythmic while on the right, granulation set into nautilus like cells whose partitions precisely repeat the lines on the surface treated metal. Two completely different textures. Not the same type of texture, not the same form, not the same depth and even the golds are different tones. But it works. Well. Simply because of the continuation of those rhythmic, swirling lines.



You don’t always need much to bring cohesiveness to a design. In fact, simple, direct and obvious elements can be your strongest tool for this. Contrast in a piece is a wonderful way to give it energy and excitement, but it does have to have something to bring it all together. But as you can see, it doesn’t need to be complicated. Theme for this weekend then … don’t over think it.



Mixing with Mokume

Today we’re going to sit back and admire a great combination of materials. These bracelets are mokume gane polymer bangle bases with moving add-ons in the form of pmc, sterling silver, brass, and bronze rings that transverse the bangle as the wearer moves.


Celie Fago  explains her rather lengthy process on the IPCA Synergy 2 page I found these on: “These bracelets evolve, in fits and starts, over the course of years. They mix many media and processes; they are material collaborations. I work in relays: I make the polymer bracelets, then the embellishments: I put them on the bracelets, take them off, move them from one to another …”

This brings up a couple thoughts. One … no work of art is ever really complete, is it? I think we could tweak and changes pieces forever, always seeing ways to improve or change them. The real talent is knowing when to stop.

The other thing that hit me about what she said was that these are “material collaborations”. We think about people collaborating but yes, why not consider how materials can “help” each other not just how they can fit together? In these bracelets, the variety of metal seems to actually increase the flash and depth of texture in the mokume gane. The metals and polymer are working together in a synergistic manner to make the parts, which seen on their own would not be so very impressive, integral and intriguing points in the whole of the composition.

Speaking of Synergy … if you plan on going to Synergy 3 in March, be sure to come and find The Polymer Arts in the vendors room and join me for my workshops and discussions on writing for the craft arts market, centralizing polymer information, and a interview panel of publishers chatting about what we do and why we do it for you. See you there!



Simple Sculpting, Intricate Results

Mind you, its not me calling the process Natalija Pap used to create these splendid pieces below ‘simple’. Maybe it wasn’t Natalija either but the Google translator. This is how Google translated the introduction to her Live Journal entry:  I finally seduced simply sculpting technique … It’s super! Show most recent work (much). They call ‘fungi’ “

Don’t you just love these translations? They are so entertaining! But art, at least, does not need translation and we can appreciate the work and vision of these “fun-gi” pieces without translation.


There are a number of applications using small pointy tools here. It’s possible i’ts all done with the same tool–the texture on the flowers and background, the pin-points, the decorative dots, and the dashes around the edges–but the variation is delightful.

These pieces had to take a fair amount of time and patience so I wouldn’t call it simple because the effort put into these really was not. However, if you break down the steps of many techniques, they are pretty simple. The question is, what is done with those simple steps. Much beauty and intricacy can come from the simplest things.



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