Sculptural Thoughts

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It’s hard to have a week about sculptural wall art in polymer and not bring up Meredith Dittmar. Her work is often very complex with a lot of symbolic imagery, and unlike the work we’ve been looking at so far, it is not comprised of a series of smaller, similar pieces or canes, but uniquely sculptured components. However, if you are looking to see how her techniques relate to your work when you create your jewelry or decor, just look at this piece, which is a relatively abstract example of her wall sculptures. Can you see this as a pendant or the lid to a beautifully rendered box?

It is the composition, the color palette, the shapes and the juxtaposition of them that make the work so vibrant and interesting; all concepts and examples that can be translated to other polymer work. Well, any kind of art at all, really.

Meredith’s work may be even more inspiring to you if you create creatures of any kind. Some of her wall art includes endearing animals, and then she has her “guys”, which are her art toy figurines.  Her website which has her main portfolio has a nice overview of her wall art while you can find  her “guys” tucked away in a different website dedicated just to them.

 

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An Adventureland of Ideas

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A more traditional approach to wall sculpture, but keeping with the use of smaller parts to complete a larger and whole part, would be something like this fantastical piece by Layl McDill. Her wall sculptures are composed of a wide variety of cane slices, beads and sheets of marbled or surface treated clay.

The entrancing thing about Layl’s work is just how wildly playful it is. This work is not about finish, precision or any particular technique. It’s about the story and a child-like ability to let the imagination roam freely.

This piece entitled “Blingo Flamingo Adventureland” has to be my favorite piece of hers to date.  Every part of this piece either reaches out or swings back, and used alongside the high-energy of the colors and cane patterns, creates this frenetically kinetic composition. Such fun!

Layl is the co-owner of Clay Squared to Infinity, a shop for handmade ceramic tile as well as Layl’s polymer sculptures, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Layl also posts her work on Flickr for a full, all-at-once visual dose of her child-like abandon.

 

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A Wall Collective

I think a lot of clayers may avoid trying wall art because working on a larger scale may be imposing. But most wall art in polymer is smaller parts put together. We saw that yesterday. Today, we have an even more specific example of it.

This is a collective work of multiple polymer tiles by Dan Friedlander. As you can see, the whole installation is a series of smaller tiles arranged as a larger piece. Although, at about 6″ square, the tiles are larger than most of us work with to create jewelry. However, think of each tile the same way you consider each bead or element you put together when you create a necklace, and you are using the same approach needed in order to construct a wall sculpture like this.

From this perspective, does creating wall art seem imposing at all?

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Dan’s work is all about texture and contrast. His pieces involve tiles or components that would ideally work as a collective as they show off the subtle difference in their compiled forms, which is the basis for his textures. It’s rather hard to describe, but it’s much easier to see and experience.  Take a quick jaunt over to his website to see what I mean. On his Shows page, take a look at the large porcelain installation “Isotope Breakfast” for a rare look at his integration of color. This is another great example of gathering individual components  in order to create wonderful wall art. 

 

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It’s Coming Out of the Walls!

I wanted to look at wall sculpture this week. This is actually where my own exploration has been headed. Wall sculpture can utilize just about every technique we have developed in polymer clay. From surface treatments to inclusions, to painting and even, yes, sculpting of all things! They tend to be rather big and time consuming projects, but they are also highly expressive forms in our medium. Even if you are purely a jewelry or miniature artist in polymer, wall sculpture can be an enormously inspiring source of ideas because what is a pendant or bracelet, but the same thing reduced and arranged to hang on the body rather than a wall?

Can’t you see this piece as a pendant if done in miniature? Well, I could, but I am glad it is wall art. It being just for hanging and contemplating is what really separates wall art from jewelry or decor arts. It has no purpose beyond being created to express and to be viewed.

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This intriguing piece was  created by Dorothy Siemens. It is titled “Colony” for what is probably an obvious reason, but the base for each inhabitant  of this colony may not be so obvious. If you sew, you’ll know right away. The forms and colors look like they might be inspired by sea creatures, but perhaps it really just started with the bobbins and grew from there. Dorothy’s work does often make you stop and wonder where these unusual forms came from. What is it that Dorothy sees around her that inspires such unusual shapes? You can check out more of her polymer sculpture as well as her other work in other mediums on her Flickr pages.

 

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Mixed Elements

Alright … one last thought about pushing necklace design. Because we love our polymer so much, many of us may think almost exclusively in terms of polymer elements in our designs. But reaching out and grabbing other mediums can be the very thing you need to push your work in a fantastic new direction.

This necklace by Marlene Brady has the simple, but dramatic addition of felt, which is both a functional element and a contrasting design element. The soft, fuzzy felt gives one of the few textures to this piece that polymer cannot duplicate. The black and the soft edge of the felt contrasts heavily with the white, chiseled beads. Marlene also pushes the design by allowing the felt and heishi beads to fall very long down the front of the wearer. There is no dramatic engineering of the necklace here, but the choices make it unusual, and that gives us a few points to consider towards the stretch of a more traditional design.

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Marlene has been exploring the mix of fiber and polymer for a few years. You can see more of her unusual necklace compositions and other ideas on her Flickr page and her blog.

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Outside Inspiration: Composition of Old

Okay, this isn’t terribly old, but let this illustrate that pushing the construction of a necklace isn’t a contemporary idea. This piece below was created 60 years ago. Note the openness of the construction and the careful balance of the compositions – things we’ve talked about already this week. They aren’t that new, but they aren’t that common either.

 

"Patina" neckpiece 1955
“Patina” neckpiece 1955

This intriguing piece was created by Art Smith, a Cuban born American. It is all silver with some surface texturing and some careful planning in order to get the balance right. I can easily see something like this in polymer. Who is willing to push a piece to this level of engineering?  It is something to consider if you are playing in the studio this weekend. I’ll try to dig up one more idea or challenge for pushing your idea of necklace construction for tomorrow. It will be quite warm in much of the US as well as other places around the world, so why don’t we all just stay in and push ourselves a bit?

 

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Staging Simplicity

Pushing the construction or composition of a necklace doesn’t have to be overly complex. Simplicity is sometimes the best path to unusual pieces.

With this composition by Russian artist Oksana Aleksandrovna Vedernikova (she works under the name  Silverpepper), the rather stark presentation really helps us focus on the delicate details of these of the gorgeously crafted polymer beads. The uneven drop length keeps the composition from feeling stagnant and gives each bead a separate height from which to be admired.

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Oksana rarely creates in typical or classical composition. If you enjoy the idea of pushing construction and presentation of your polymer within the art jewelry form, you will find further inspiration within her other creations. Just head on over to  her Flickr pages.

 

 

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The Simple Hinge

This necklace isn’t so off the beaten path when it comes to composition, but it is a bit different in its construction. The hinge construction is somewhat of a trademark for Louise Fischer Cozzi; although, I have wondered why this kind of simple way of connecting hasn’t been seen more. The metal wire goes through one shape into another in order to form the hinge upon which they are connected. This allows the flat beads to move and rotate while on the wearer.  This rotation hides and reveals the surface of the shapes as the wearer moves.

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I love the simplicity of this type of construction, but I also think this could be pushed, using that hide and reveal result, to allow unexpected images that come and go. This would create compositions at the point where the surface textures meet up. Yes, this would take a bit of planning, but how fun and intriguing a piece it would be!

To see more of Louise’s hinged jewelry, along with her other beautiful decor and quilts, take a look at her website here.

 

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Barely Met

Let’s look at the simple idea that necklaces don’t have to be a complete, fully attached, encircling item nor does the closure for it have to be at the back of the neck. If the point at which the necklace opens can be integrated into the design, it can be placed anywhere on the piece. And if you have a firm, but pliable structure, it doesn’t even have to connect.

Olimpia Corvino used this approach with a number of her designs. This necklace breaks the usual standards of using wire as structure. This breakaway from the norm allows for a front entrance and two large pieces of polymer to just barely meet in the middle. That “barely there” touch is fantastic as it causes tension and a point of focus. I really enjoy that she has used wire work to break the swathes of polymer at a point that would have normally been the center had the necklace used a standard wire structure in order to join it.  It’s another subtler point of tension, but these near connections do a lot to enliven the design.

 

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For now, Olimpia’s designs seem to exist only on Facebook, but as it is a business page, you can actually access it whether or not you have a Facebook account. Take a look at her wide range of pieces, which are sometimes nontraditional, sometimes standard, but always bold in color, texture or approach.

 

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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