In the Halloween Spirit

Alright … I have failed at finding creepy cute thus far, but I do have a good candidate for this weekend. Must research further!

In the meantime, here is something tastefully cute and in the Halloween spirit for today. I think from a distance you might not see much more than pleasant color combinations and enticing texture, with a hint that something else must be going on and you should get a closer look. Because of that and because they’re so darn cute, I’m not sure I’d want to save these to wear for just this holiday.

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These earrings were created by the clever hands of Deirdre Dreams (I’m thinking that’s not her actual last name, but that is all she has on the half dozen sites her work is presented on) from the south end of the Netherlands. She works with tiny polymer details, exploring romantic, hippy, fantasy, and a wide variety of imaginative imagery. If you like the earrings here, check out more of her work on her website or her Etsy shop.

 

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Halloween Bookmarks

Today and tomorrow, we’ll be sharing the cute and creepy-ish in honor of the more lighthearted side of Halloween. Today we’re skipping the design lessons and such for just a bit of fun.

Here we have some easy to make items you can whip together if you have need of a few little gifts for the crew at the office  or party favors for your masquerade bash. This black cat bookmark tutorial is by Finland’s Nelli Kivinen. Cute, functional, and in the spirit of the season.

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You could do basically the same thing (keeping a space at the bottom to slip a card into) with ghost shapes, skulls, witch hats, or anything else you would like to fit the season. You gotta love little gifts that can be given to anyone of almost any age, are gender neutral, and fun to make to boot.

I might make a few suggestions to make things easier and quicker for creating these. One, don’t remove the cardboard from the cat legs when you bake them. In fact, use the exact same card material you will use for the bookmark itself so it fits well and the two sides of the cat legs don’t by chance droop and cure together in the oven. Second, smooth the clay as much as you can before baking so that you won’t have to sand or finish the finished pieces. If you use an acrylic block or other flat, smooth item to roll the cat’s body and head before bending the body shape and pinching out the ears, you should have few if any fingerprints to deal with. Just a few thoughts from a clayer who is all about making it easy!

Beautiful Nightmare

Artist Valeria Myrusso specializes in unsettling imagery. I can’t quite put my finger on why this piece below gives off a sense of eeriness, but there is definitely something vaguely creepy about the creature melded with the violin here. It makes me think of being trapped, that this might be something I’d see in a nightmare–and yet it’s just really beautiful.

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A large part of its beauty is in the abundance of detail. All the tiny details, the faces and filigree and even the little floating orbs around the character’s neck come together to give this piece an otherworldly quality. This photo alone doesn’t show half of it, either. Take a look at her page with detailed shots of the piece here. If you like her work, she has more, both in polymer and in other materials, on her website.

Classy Creepy Week

With Halloween on the way and myself with a healthy admiration and appreciation for the darker side of things, I thought a week of creepy but classy art might be in order. Can something be classy and creepy? I definitely think so. I might even have some cutesy creepy to toss in for levity.  Which also brings up the question–can anything really be cute and creepy at the same time?  I guess we’ll see what I can come up with!

I am traveling today, making my way home to Colorado from the Kentucky retreat, where I stayed a little ways outside Nashville with a fellow retreat attendee. My mind has been trying to take in and sort all that I saw, learned, and experienced the last four days, but visually I keep thinking of one artist’s work in particular. Since her art also fits the theme this week, I thought I’d share a little Leslie Blackford with you today.

Leslie’s work is pure expression and very original. One of the talks I gave during the retreat was on developing a personal artistic voice, and Leslie came up as a prime example of what it is for an artist to have that particular voice that is a direct reflection of oneself. Funny thing is, although her work is a bit dark and even disturbing at times, Leslie is this adorable, generous, very kind and lively person. However, her work reflects something not on the surface but underneath. As one attendee said, there has to be a story behind each thing she makes and you just want to sit down and hear it.

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There is a simultaneous reaction to these–they feel somehow both cute and disturbing. On her DeviantArt page this photo is titled “Off with Your Head,” not to refer to it in the macabre sense but rather because the heads are interchangeable. But between the title and the slightly off and mostly unfathomable expression of the various heads, one gets the feeling that all is not well in Wonderland, or wherever such creatures might reside. I know her work is not for everyone, but there is something about it that draws you in, especially if you get to see it in person. There is just so much personality, emotion, and raw expression in her work. Her artistic voice is one of the strongest I have had the pleasure of seeing in person, particularly in polymer.

For more expressive classy and beautifully dark work, take a look at Leslie’s CraftArtEdu classes, her Deviant art pages or her website, Moodywoods.

A Weekend of Collaboration

I thought today I would just talk a little bit about what I was doing this weekend (besides running about trying to find an internet connection). And besides, my group built a piece off of what was basically a glass box, so it fits the theme!

The polymer retreat at the Mammoth Cave National Park was really different in that the whole weekend was collaborative. The attendees were split into six groups, each creating a collaborative piece based on an organic theme. Most of the people here have not done anything like this–collaborating with 4 or 5 other people and creating something that represented them all in a matter of 3 days. There was a lot of fretting at the beginning, but all the projects turned out great.

There is really something special about collaborating. You are forced to relinquish control over the end result, which can be scary, frustrating, or freeing depending on the kind of person you are, but in the end, it’s quite exhilarating because what is created could never have been conceived and produced by you alone.

You also find yourself trying things you wouldn’t usually do. I know Ron Lehocky, known for his perfectly finished cane covered heart pins, had to let go and allow the work to be rough and less controlled to create moss and the bark of a tree. He even ended up making the impression of flowers on the side of our cave sculpture rather than actual flowers.

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Created by Ron Lehocky, Iris Weiss, Anita Kennerley, Ellen Prophater, Amy Nemon, and Sage Bray.

 

If you have never collaborated with another artist, I highly recommend trying it. You can discover so much about yourself and will probably have your ideas pushed in directions you never imagined. This is especially good for times when you are feeling stuck or feel like you’re getting into a rut. And if not that, at least get out and join a group of artists at a guild meeting or class so you have the chance to exchange ideas and get input on your work. It’s so amazing and invigorating.

Building out the Box

With my connection (and faith) in the internet restored, we will resume chatting about boxes and ways to expand on the popular form.

For our weekend peek at lidded containers, I saved a piece by Kim Detmers. The concept here simply stretches the way that you can use your ‘canvas’. Even though a canvas is a flat space to begin with, that doesn’t mean you need to create your work based on that kind of two-dimensional space. Consider possible ways to build up, build out, and work into the space around the vessel, not just the ‘real estate’ that is the surface of the vessel. Kim builds up on the lid, and out into the space above the container. She has also made the lid the unmistakable focal point, which is a bit unusual since it would seem that the tendency is to make the lid an accent or compliment to the body of the box. In fact, with the lid on, it may not look like a container at first, but rather more of a sculpture. And in essence, what should an artistically formed box meant for a bit more than function be but a sculpture?

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I know the concept of building into space, considering design and composition in terms of the form, and then using the space around it can sometimes be daunting to ponder. But it is great fun and quite visually impressive when something as simple as a box has been grown into a sculpture that lives in the space around the container, not just on its surface.

If you want a little more information on how to use the space surrounding your pieces, check out the article “Create With Space” in the very popular Spring 2012 issue of The Polymer Arts about this very subject. (Said issue which is just about sold out in the print format, so if you want this or the Summer 2012 issue, you might want to order them soon before we run out.)

And if you like Kim’s work, take a look at her engaging blog and her Etsy shop.

Disconnected in Kentucky

My internet connection out here at Mammoth Cave has been challenging, so this is going to be brief. I had a nice attendee’s husband drive me into town so I could get this little bit posted. (Thank you Pat Lacy & John Donica!)

I haven’t had much time to search for a piece today, but I have this box by C.A. Therien I found earlier in the week that I wanted to share. Believe it or not, this is polymer–but doesn’t it look like wonderful enamel?

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Charlene (C.A.) has had her hands in quite a number of projects the last couple years. Her Etsy shop is on vacation but her you can still check out her Memorial Beads website.

Please forgive me for the brief post and if I manage not to get on tomorrow, know all is well and I will be back soon!

Defining the Box

Today’s thought on boxes is pretty simple: a box does not have to be square. It doesn’t even have to have straight sides or be flat on the bottom. A box is basically a container used to hold or store things and has a lid. That’s a pretty wide open definition, which is great for an artist.

Here is a version of a box that may be taking a bow to the square, but there certainly aren’t any straight sides. Do you agree that it is still a box?

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Maureen Thomas is the maker of this box. She created a whole series of these pinched edge boxes a few years back, all lovely in their texture and variety of generally subdued but delicious colors. You can check out the boxes and more her Flickr page. 

Around the Corners

I am traveling today, heading out to the Kentucky/Tennessee Polymer Clay Guild’s retreat at Mammoth Cave National Park. I’m so excited to see the park, not to mention being immersed for four days in polymer creativity with a great group of people. I might be less verbose than usual (some of you may be relieved to hear!) but I will bring you something box related the rest of the week.

Fall is just about over but I am hoping there will still be colors in the park. I so love the change of seasons, that point of transition that brings us forms, colors, and textures that are only temporary but so much better appreciated because it isn’t static and isn’t what we see everyday. I found a very cleverly done box to match that sentiment today. This amazing piece is a lunch box created by Leigh Ross, one of the founders and wranglers of the huge Polymer Clay Central website. Every side of this represents a different season and each is just wonderfully done.

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The polymer on here looks so much like a painting. Remember what I said earlier this week about a box being a many sided canvas? Well, here we have that certainly taken to heart!

Now off to catch a plane. More box fun tomorrow

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