Dynamic, Dancing Sculpture

As you know, polymer is particularly popular among figurine and art doll sculptors. And so is the passive stance of the figures. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this … a figure posed standing still and looking off into the distance is often the best way to show the character and emotive facial expressions of the subject. When sculptures convey actual movement though, the effect can be almost mesmerizing.

Mark A Dennis is an accomplished doll sculptor with a tendency towards dynamic, movement based compositions. This piece below, “Sky Dancers” is a gorgeous example of instilling a kinetic feel to stationary figures.

Sky Dancers 3


Movement in sculpture is all about the lines. The lines in this case are in the bend and flow of the figures’ torsos and limbs with emphasis and focus brought to this through the the swirl of the fabric. Establishing single or connected flowing lines gives us the sense that the single moment portrayed keeps going, off the composition into the surrounding space and off into that next moment of time we easily imagine follows this frozen one.

If you want to learn  more about using lines to convey movement and direction, see the Fall 2012 issue of The Polymer Arts where both flow and repetition are discussed at length. You can also check out more of Mark’s work on his website here.

Lessons in Back-filling

Even if you are not into making rings, you will want to take a look through this series of tutorials by Bobrotermit (on Livejournal). His planning, carving, and especially his back-fill methods could lead you to do some experimenting with other forms if not with rings.

This ring was formed, carved and back-filled. All the designs are back-fill color, no painting or caning.


He also treats us to tutorials for two other rings, one primaily carved, the other primarily back-filled. Take a moment to look through his tutorials. They are full of great ideas that can be applied to your favorite form.



Cohesive Variety

Sophy Dumoulin uses a plethora of different textures in these contemporary pendants but somehow they all work together without any sense of chaos or clashing. Why does this work?


As long as there is consistency and cohesion in the rest of the piece, a great variety in one aspect will be balanced out.  In these pendants, the muted tones in gradated reds, grayed whites, and dusty blacks bring a cohesive calm to the pieces. That along with the simplicity of the shapes–rectangles and dots with even the dots arranged in rectangular patterns–makes these orderly and pleasing even with the variety of textures.

Now if these had been done with bright colors, it probably would not work as well. Instead of a calm orderliness, we’d feel high energy and maybe a little tension as the bright colors accentuate the many different textures. Cohesiveness has as much to do with  matching the tone and feel of the rest of the components as it does with the more tangible characteristics.

Sophy Dumoulin plays quite a bit with texture and more often with brighter colors. Flip through her blog if you have a moment. Her work is delightful. She is also a Craft Art Edu instructor now with a couple of her classes up and ready to learn from in English and her native French.

Slimming Down the Bangle

The bracelet is such an fantastic form to work with in polymer clay simply because of the range of possibilities. It can be small and dainty or big and bold. It can consist of beads of nearly any shape and size or be laid like a broad canvas around the wrist for showcasing favorite surface treatments or even a narrative scene. And best of all, you can wear bracelets with anything, anytime.

So I was definitely excited to see Bettina Welker’s new book Polymer Clay Bracelets come out late last year. You’ll see a review of the book and some sample interior pages in the new Spring 2013 issue of The Polymer Arts magazine. I really like that she address ways to make bangle bracelets without having to make them so big just to get over one’s hands. She has a couple solutions in the book but since I can’t show you that, how about this simple solution in a bracelet shown in the Shout! online exhibition. Its made with a spring hinge.


This is such a beautiful piece with the subtle texture and then just the small spots of brilliant green peeking through. And with the simple embedded hinge the construction of such a piece can keep it slimmer than a traditional slip on bangle. The lower profile of the bracelet makes it more wearable in more situations. There is nothing wrong with big and bold but if you just want to jazz things up a bit while you run errands or go out for a casual lunch, you don’t want your jewelry to get in the way of rummaging through the bargain bins or have it dipping into your soup. Or is that just me that has those problems?

If you’d like to order Bettina’s book, you can do so from her website here.

The Brilliance of Imagination



You might not consider Einstein as someone who values imagination over logic, not initially. But science is as much about imagination as logic. Science is about possibilities and the only way to come up with the suppositions and theories that are tested through science is by using the imagination. Einstein was famous for his thought experiments, a process in which one goes through a process by imagining the steps and the consequences of each as a method for determining the legitimacy of an idea. It is an imagination experiment.

How is this relevant to you and your art? When you design a piece of art, it is really a thought experiment. You imagine what it might look like, what components it would need, what steps you need to take  and you determine the likelihood of being able to create it as you see it in your mind. Einstein’s saying becomes particularly relevant at this point … lean on your imagination more than your logic as you think through what you create. Logic will only take you so far. Imagination will take you to places you, well, didn’t imagine you could go.

Bails on the Backside

If you’ve gotten your latest issue of The Polymer Arts magazine (yes, I know many of you are still waiting for it to come in the mail … they just went out this past week so give them a little time but they will be there soon!)  you probably saw the article “Back Stories” which Jan Montarsi put together, soliciting a number of artists to tell why and how they treat the back sides of their work for a professional and well finished look. Jan’s penchant for doing all things well shows in his own carefully finished pieces and simple but elegant ideas such as these backside bails.


Jan has several shots of what he does with just a jump ring and a little clay on his Flickr page. Heading on over to his pages also gives you a chance to ogle his beautiful mica mush pendants (seen here) and other beauties. Don’t you just love the colors and shimmer? Jan’s Flickr pages are a treasure of color and fun pieces so hopefully you can take a little time to wander around there and check out his work.

If you haven’t received your latest issue of The Polymer Arts as a digital subscriber, check your spam/junk mail folders first as they do sometimes get shuffled off there. You can also write me at connect@thepolymerarts.com to inquire. Please be patient about print issues arriving … they are on thier way. If you need to order yourself a digital or print copy of the Spring 2013 Stories themed issue or would like a subscription, that can all be done here: http://www.thepolymerarts.com/Subscribe.html

Outside Inspiration: Wood, Metal and a Single Point

The reason a work of art has impact, draws our attention and/or fascinates us can vary greatly from piece to piece. I think we assume it is the whole composition that, in the end, is what makes us stop and examine the work. Essentially it has to be–if all the elements of a piece don’t work together every element is diminished by this failure. Yet it is often one part of the piece that grabs us in the first place and is usually what also holds our attention. Sometimes it is the color, the dazzling quality of the texture, the enticing shape of the form … but it can also be a single, small point that on its own would be nothing and mean nothing yet in the context of the work, it can be everything.

In Julia Turner’s mixed media jewelry, she uses these single points of interest to draw and hold the attention of the viewer.  In the two pieces below, it is the smallest thing … an enameled staple in one, a square pin in the other. Take out these single points and neither of these brooches would be nearly as fascinating.



Julia’s work is a mixture of wood, steel, enamel and paint. Most are very sparse in detail (the brooch above is about as detailed and colorful as they come) which leaves a kind of muted canvas on which to set a small focal point. These points are like seeing a single sail board out on a still ocean or a lone tree on a snow covered slope. There is something about the lone point in a space of ‘otherness’ that we feel an affinity for. Not to  get overly deep here but we all know what loneliness and isolation feels like, being that one point of difference in a sea of people or the only soul in a big quiet house. Images that are like that tug at us. Not to mention the contrast of a single element unlike it’s surroundings will always be the strongest visual in any piece or scene.

A simple point of interest is something to consider when working on pieces that have large swathes of texture or color. The surface design might be quite beautiful on its own but a single point of contrasting interest can emphasis the beauty of it and give the viewer a place to focus and a visual “home base” from which to explore the piece as a whole.

Reflective Overload

I wanted to get some sculpture in on the blog this week although what I found myself fascinated by was a bit unexpected. I couldn’t pass up sharing this if for no other reason than to bring something bright and shiny to all you who are getting through some gray wintry weather today.

One does needs to be careful when using a lot of glitz and shimmer but then again, if you are going to use a lot, don’t do it halfway. CityZenKane really does push the glitz on this large wall sculpture. There is no indication of exactly how large this is but looking at videos of other pieces being built, I’m thinking it’s more than a foot long. That’s a lot of reflective surface.



This sculpture is a mixed medium piece using nearly every sparkly, metallic and color saturated material that will reflect light. Besides polymer, the list found on the Flickr post says it includes “dichroic glass, Swarovski crystals, glitter, Metal leaf, holographic glitter. Most sculptures, fluoresce in UV light and glow in the dark. They sparkle in the sun and under a hard light source.”

What do you think? Is it too much? Or do you enjoy the eye candy (emphasis on the candy metaphor)? There certainly is a lot to investigate and I admire the fearlessness of CityZenKane’s going into reflective overload. This artist has quite the imagination. Want to see more? Check out the videos on the YouTube page. It’s pretty interesting and definitely different.

Patterning with Mokume

How about today, while I wind up the release of the latest issue of The Polymer Arts,  we turn to the thoughts and detailed process of Carol Simmons as she worked through some experimentation with mokume a couple years ago.

This beautiful metallic mokume is the result of Carol’s experimentation with arranging mokume strips in patterns as well as additional layers built from punched out shapes from the mokume sheet.


It’s a nice reminder that even something as intricate as mokume can be pushed just a little farther for new and interesting effects. Read about her process on Carol’s blog here.

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