Outside Inspiration: Pure Shape and Balance

Polymer clay as a medium gives you so many choices as to color, texture, size … it really is one of the most limitless mediums. But unlimited options are not always a good thing. Limitations can force you to work more creatively. For instance, we have here British Artist, Henry Lanham, a jewelry artist who works with wood. If he wants to show off the beauty of the wood, there is a very limited palette. If you have few color options, as we saw last week, you have to lean on other design elements. Here, Henry resorts to shape and symmetry with absolutely stunning results.

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Henry is a design sculptor who creates jewelry and body landscapes made from hand carved and fabricated wood pieces. Not only are the pieces visually stimulating to look at, but they also make an interesting and pleasant cacophony of sounds when in movement. To see his art as a performance, take a look at his YouTube video, “Landscapes of Time.”

 

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Abundant Symmetry

This “Necklace for a Wild Mood” by Corliss and John Rose (also known as the 2Roses) is about abundance and consistent, balanced symmetry. At first glance there is a harmonious sense of beautiful proportion and balance. The slightest variation in the marbling of the clay, shape or length of the beads helps to avoid a static feeling.  There is a fine balance in which the corresponding beads are not necessarily exact but very similar. The colors in this informal symmetry give the piece undertones of luscious extravagance.

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Corliss and John Rose are a fascinating couple, each a master craftsperson in his/her own right. In edition to art jewelry, they produce work in commercial and industrial design, tool and die making, painting, photography, lithography, sculpture, holography, furniture, fabrics, engineered plastics, leatherwork, ceramics, lapidary, and gem cutting. I’m exhausted just thinking of all that work. Check out their website and Flickr pages to find our more about this intriguing partnership and be inspired by their art.

 

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Building Off the Center Line

The work of Laurie Mika is rather  mesmerizing. You can sit and stare and find new things for many long minutes as well as every time you return to a piece. And most everything she creates is built off a centered composition with balanced shapes if not textures and motifs on either side. This is in large part due to the shrine format that is the basis for much of her work.

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Laurie is a mixed-media artist with a passion for combining and overlapping a variety of mediums to create her easily recognized style. If you would like to learn this technique, she teaches at ArtFest, Art Unraveled, Art and Soul, Raevn’s Nest and Hacienda Mosaico in Mexico. You can also check out her book, “Mixed-Media Mosaics: Techniques and Projects Using Polymer Clay Tiles, Beads, and Other Embellishments,” or her YouTube video. Or just wander through the couple dozen pages of her art on her website.

 

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Arrows and Plumb Lines

This came up on Pinterest and was too excellent an example to pass up. Whoever originally posted this as their inspiration did not tell us who created it. After a little research, we found this piece was created by Melanie Muir. She explains that she made this piece as a challenge to herself as well as to submit to a show. This is a striking example of symmetry that is precisely and dramatically applied.

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The high gloss solids atop the bold print base of the arrows along with the layout of the total design of the necklace show off the strengths of symmetrical design. Each bead on the left is matched to each bead on the right. To be further inspired by Melanie’s work, take a look at her website and Flickr pages.

 

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Excitement in Symmetry

I have always been a bit of a rebel. In writing classes I was told “write what you know” then would proceed to write about a place that didn’t even exist. In my first art classes I was told “paint what you see” and I proceeded to paint only things that were in my mind. By the time I got into art school doing the opposite was almost a knee-jerk reaction so when I was advised to not create art that was symmetrical because it would be stagnant … guess what? I went on to irritate professors and classmates alike with my straight up the center compositions. Why? It really wasn’t a purely rebellious move. I believed in the beauty of symmetry. Not only that, I believed it could be dynamic and challenging and highly expressive.

I actually believe in the usefulness of all kinds of compositions but I would like to spend a week putting symmetry back on the pedestal where it belongs. We have an automatic draw to symmetry not because its easy but because its familiar. Our bodies are symmetrical, much of nature is symmetrical … well, almost anything that is alive is symmetrical. Symmetry represents balance and growth. Why would one want to avoid it in making art?

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This symmetrical necklace is a creation by Lauren Abrams, a layered pendant that she describes in her blog as “over the top, but who cares?” She creates a lot of pieces that are symmetrical with a ethnic, tribal, bohemian feel to them. As she explains, “I love polymer clay because of the immediacy of it as a medium. It is endlessly challenging yet among the simplest of mediums to use. There are new techniques being developed daily and the excitement of trying new ones keeps it fresh and enticing. It’s great to be learning from other polymer clay artists (who are among the most generous of artists when it comes to sharing information) and a day does not go by when I don’t see something done in polymer clay that  intrigues me….”

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Graduated Colored Cups

Here we see another limited palette using gradients of the same color for the theme. Even though flowers lend themselves to this technique, you certainly don’t have to make a hyacinth flower with it. Of course, we can’t think about gradient colors without thinking of Skinner blends. The gradient used here is made by adding varying amounts of white to the base color, but you could also go in the other direction, and add blacks, which would darken the gradient. You could also try analogous blends, using a limited color palette of colors that are near each other on the color wheel.

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The artist who made these grape hyacinth pins is Kellie Mowat. She has tutorials that make use of repetition and a limited color palette, as well as tutorials for lots of other mediums. She also has some tutorials posted on YouTube for all of you visual learners out there.

 

If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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Fading Out

Here color is minimized but what little color is brought in, is subdued and blends into the composition rather than accenting the dominant copper browns. In Tammi Sloan‘s work here, the palette of browns provides a warm, earthy feel that draws you into the narrative sketched on the front. Using this limited color palette gives the piece a maturity that bright colors would not provide. Through this pairing of copper and polymer clay, she has created an effective juxtaposition between hard and soft materials. She created this piece by rolling a sheet of polymer clay and impressing it into the fired metal clay, so that it would come up through the holes.

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Tammi, who is from Whidbey Island, Washington, has a passion for creating. She moves where inspiration takes her. As she explains it, “It is a moving meditation that brings me to a place of deep peace.  When I create, I rarely have a picture in my mind of what it is I am going to create.  There is a general idea,
but the finished piece is a melding of that idea, the feelings, and thoughts that are flowing through me at the time.” Take a moment and visit her space and become inspired.

 

If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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Outside Inspiration: A Tale in Silver

This antiqued silver pendant by artist Samantha Braund uses intricate textures, form, and unique shapes to tell a story with this Spider Conch shell design. Working primarily with silver  limits the number of colors used in her, but embellishing with a lot of texture and shapes to invites us in to hear her story or to invent a story of our own.

Because of the way hte varied planes and edges are composed in this piece, emphasis is placed on the center where the shell opens up to us. The form could also be seen as a metaphor for the heart. The colors of the gems used here remind us of the turbulent emotions that flow through our own hearts as we travel along each day meshed in the highs and lows of life.

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Samantha is a multi-medium artist with strong roots in graphic design, photography, and precious metal clay jewelry design. This necklace is part of her Spider Conch “Joy to Pebbles” series made with metal clay. For some more examples of her work, and to see her electroformed copper on polymer clay pieces, take a look at her Amadora Designs’ Flickr pages.

 

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Giving Way to Intricate Lines

With just black and silver and a subdued navy blue, these lentil beads would not easily be carried by the palette alone. However, the textured lines and floral transfers along with the break in the larger lentils create an intricate serenity. The positive and negative space of the large beads and the oval links in the oversized chain add a feeling of Art Deco style, while the size and design elements bring it back into modern art imagery.

This is the work of French artist, Olga Nicolas, who enjoys creating in limited color palettes, embellishing with intricate textures using transfers and foils. There is a richness in the colors chosen and the baroque textural designs on some of the beads give this modern piece some old world charm.

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You can see more of Olga’s designs using limited palettes on her Flickr pages. Olga teaches workshops in France and has some online tutorials on YouTube.

 

If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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