Proud to be Ridiculous

I was looking for something Easter-y but different and came across this image. Yes, a different kind of Easter Sunday theme, but as artists we do tend to do things a bit differently so why not be humorous today. There are reasons to laugh and be joyful even if  you’re the odd egg out. But …


… in truth, that’s the best way to be! Go ahead and be a little odd, a little ridiculous, be human … just don’t be boring.


In Awe of New Hope

Easter, whether one partakes of its religious or more secular traditions, is really about hope. Between the observance of the rising of the Christian savior and the association with ancient agricultural societies’  Spring celebrations, its traditions focus on the promises and optimism of the coming year. The colors are light and bright and the symbolism is, well, young. Baby bunnies, little chicks, and of course, all the sweet young children we tend to focus on … especially us doting aunts, uncles and grandparents.

I am so in awe of sculptors that can capture that very unique look and expression of innocence and hope in children. Cynthia Malbon is one such artist. She can imbue her art dolls with a visage that nearly breaks your heart. Here is one of a child slightly older than the majority of her body of work shows on her sites, but this child’s open expression is just so precious, not to mention amazingly realistic.


If you can handle a serious overload of adorableness, take a look at Cynthia’s SmugMug page. You might also want to check out her blog with process photos on some of her posts show her amazing talent in more detail.

Outside Inspiration: Wood with Spirit

Yes, it’s true … on Fridays I usually bring you something that is not polymer. And believe it or not, I am being true to form. As much as it might seem that this below should be polymer, it is not. It’s wood and the stunning creation of Liv Blåvarp, a Norwegian born artist whose has received a tremendous amount of recognition in the USA over the last few years.



Here is an excellent article with numerous examples of her work. As she says in the article, “… the recurring theme in my artistic practice is to create structures that seem alive.” I think we’d all agree that she manages that tremendously well in this piece. Truthfully, there hasn’t been any of her work that I’ve seen that doesn’t do this. She repeatedly gives one the impression that her pieces could get up and slink off or fly or even rise up like a proud peacock just gently prodded.

She does not seem to have a website, but the article and these couple of pages I’m listing here will give you the opportunity to really delve into the beauty of this incredible work. Enjoy!

Lentils, Snakes and Extrusions

Lentils, snakes of clay and extrusions are more than a little common in polymer but how often are they brought together?

I do enjoy discovering new ways to use scrap clay. Below is another option for making something beautiful from leftovers. These wonderful colors–and a new take on the possible definition of a ‘swirl’ lentil–are from Russia’s Tatiana Begacheva. I can’t say for certain that she used scrap (the Google translation makes her sound like an ethereal poet–which she very well may be–but it didn’t help explain her process.) Nonetheless, it is a fantastic idea for scrap and a jumping-off point for using scrap-extruded snakes.



I do wonder what would happen if you actually applied the swirled lentil process to these wrapped beads. As soon as I have time to spend in the studio, I think I’ll try it. If anyone tries it out before me, do send photos or share with us on our Facebook page.

The Secret to ‘Charming’ is Variety

I guess I’m on a variety kick this week. The mixture of color in these bangles by Lauren Abrams are particularly attractive but I think it’s the uneven repetition of the elements that gives them true charm.


Bands of color filled with stripes and crackled metallic are repeated but in uneven, varying widths and not predictably ordered. The pin head beads, although of the same shape and size, vary in color and spacing. The bangle underneath boasts but one accent, which if worn alone might seem a bit unbalanced but if worn together, the variation would feel supported. Actually an arm full of them would be truly charming.

I’m not saying orderliness can’t be charming, but quirkiness, unpredictability, and a disregard for expected order is what we find most delightful in children, pets and ourselves when we let go. But even when letting go, there needs to be some underlying order or consistency to keep things from falling into chaos. In the bangles it is a repetition of color and visual texture as well as repetition of common elements including the consistently used bands. A simple device but highly effective and easy to apply when you want to have a little fun.


Gather Your Flowers

My mother is a horticulturist so although I have never been heavily drawn to flowery things, I learned through her to fully appreciate the beauty of a well-formed bloom. Polymer artists, as a whole, do like their flowers likely because so many of our ladies are drawn to their inherent beauty, but also because the complexity of a flower can easily be achieved through the repetition of relatively simple petals. But the petals of a real flower are, in reality, quiet complex, each petal with its own curls and waves and way of enfolding the flower’s center. To properly reproduce this complexity, each petal needs to be given a little individuality. That is what I enjoyed so much about finding these little beauties by Taisa Chernyak.


It might take a bit longer to give each petal its own form but don’t you think the individuality of each gives the whole a much more convincing and natural beauty? Take a look at her tutorial on how she produces these life-like blooms.

The idea of each individual providing the character that creates the true beauty in the bigger picture is true on so many levels. Even as individual artists, bringing our own personality and uniqueness to the artwork we produce creates a more splendid picture of polymer art overall. Repeating what has already been done will add very little to the art world, but your own unique art adds much, much more.

Mixed Media Full of Grace

Mixed media is part of the theme of the next issue of The Polymer Arts (coming out in May) so my recent research has been focused on how polymer is combined with other mediums. Here we have one of my favorite mixed media and polymer artists, Grace Stokes. Grace is not afraid to combine whatever works to create the designs she has in mind. Can you guess what she has combined here?


Chances are polymer is one, right? (Being that is what I usually talk about here, that’s a pretty sure bet.) So yes, it’s that and sterling silver. That’s all she lists. Can that beautiful cabachon in the center be polymer?

Not only does Grace mix materials, she mixes approaches to creating her pieces. She uses traditional metal craft, polymer craft, bead making and CAD drawing. Yes, technology is something she likes to use in order to create the forms she wants to cast in precious metals. And why not? If it helps produce your vision, there is no good reason not to use it.

Creating is not about the medium. It is about the artist, what they want to create, what they want to share. What you use (and how you use it) to get there is of little importance as long as the design and vision is authentic you.

Best Business Practice: Cooperation not Competition

If you have the first issue of The Polymer Arts, you may have read the back page Muse’s Corner piece written by Marjon Donker and Saskia Veltenaar, the editors of From Polymer to Art. It told the story of how we e-meet and why we decided to work together, not compete, even though we were all producing polymer clay magazines.

The thing is, I would not have started The Polymer Arts magazine if Marjon and Saskia were producing the same type of magazine I wanted to produce. Nor would I have done so if our other industry magazine, Polymer Cafe was covering the material I wanted to cover. So, when it came down to it, we weren’t at all competing, rather we were complementing each other. The ways things are now, hobbyists and those who just want to play with polymer have Polymer Cafe to look to for basics and fun projects while the more experienced clayer who wants to branch out can look to From Polymer to Art for more advanced projects and articles on issues that interest the polymer fan. For those who look at what they do or aspire to as serious art or are looking to make their craft into an income producing business, they have The Polymer Arts to push and challenge them, make them think, and help them build a better art business. As one of the attendees said during the magazine editor’s panel, we’re now covering the full range for polymer clayers.

Polymer magazine editors after our Q&A panel at Synergy 3. Starting top left and going clockwise, Sage Bray (The Polymer Arts), Anne Huizenga (Polymer Cafe), Saskia & Marjon (From Polymer To Art)

Do we have different philosophies on publishing for this community? Yes, we certainly do but we all have the similar goal of spreading the wonder and improving the work of polymer artists, regardless of their level of work.  We all four talked over the week in Atlanta for this reason. All the editors even came to my Writing for Polymer in Print workshop (get the guidelines from this workshop on The Polymer Arts website)which was fabulous as the attendees got to hear from us all once again. That’s exactly how it should be.

The thing is, my magazine really NEEDS these other magazines. Someone new to the material might be overwhelmed by The Polymer Arts (unless they are really gung-ho and determined, are coming from another art medium, or they got the polymer bug bad from the start!) So yes, if you’re new, you may want to start with one of the other magazines and if you find yourself getting serious and want to push yourself and your art, we’ll be here. Or just give in and get them all. I do! You just can’t have too much polymer information, can you?

If you are interested in writing for a polymer publication, please do consider sending us ideas. Any of the editors here would love to see your ideas. Just help us out and send it to us one at a time. If what you have doesn’t fit my magazine, for example, I’ll pass it on to one of the other gals. The more we share as a community, the better it will be for clayers everywhere.


Finding Our Authentic Voice

One of the big discussions at Synergy (Are you tired of hearing about that show yet!? Sorry … it was just such a treasure box full of ideas and I want you all to benefit from it too) was about finding our voice as artists. I was not the only one that came away with this concept eating away at me. Linda Garbe jumped right on it with a new video discussing texture and materials in the context of finding personal creative expression. Her Box of Color, as seen below, showed up in the video and I just had to get a closer view. Linda kindly sent photos so we could all get a good look at the details. Talk about an authentic voice!

garbe box tip view
Linda Garbe’s Box of Color, top view
garbe box side view
… and a view of the bamboo and fungi sides.

Linda says she created the box as a result of doing the exercises in Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio’s book Polymer Clay Color Inspirations.

While it took great discipline to do each and every exercise in order, it was well worth it. I learned a lot about color. The last exercise is to cover a box using what you have learned about color. I visited the Chicago Botanical Gardens during the time I was doing the color exercises. They have a Heritage Garden which show how early gardens featured one type of plant in each area. They did not mix plants together in the same flower bed as we do today. This garden became the inspiration for design of the box. Each side features one type of plant: bamboo, fungi, Queen Ann’s Lace, and ferns. The top is a fantasy garden created in my mind.”

This box and more of Linda’s explanation about its creation come in at about 3:10 on Linda’s video. The video starts out with thoughts on cultivating our own unique approach to creativity but the majority of it actually focuses on texturing and using everyday objects as tools. A lot of good ideas here so if you have a few minutes, sit back and soak up a little inspiration this weekend.


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