Sudden Color

4ddf3ca2204958b57dcbb7c1c1d4ae78Isn’t one of the most breathtaking things in spring really just the blossoming of color after long months of a barely-there tint to the world? It’s a simple and even expected occurrence, the return of brilliant color, but when starved of something for a while, we become so much more appreciative and even excited by it, as if it was our first glimpse all over again.

Simple, but perfectly bright and cheery, is what I thought of this hair slide by Kathy of Flowertown Originals on Etsy. It’s really those jelly roll canes, going from light in the middle to bright color on the outside that makes the composition seem to glow. (See our Summer 2014 article in The Polymer Arts on creating the illusion of light for more on these techniques.) Between the blossoming flowers, the greening of the grasses and the lengthening days, this is just the kind of work that will be very well appreciated this time of year!

 

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Spring is in Bloom

Verelova roses suspendI have to say up front that I am not a particularly floral kind of girl. I am far more likely to be found in the plumbing department than the gardening department at the local hardware store, but I still have a sincere appreciation for nature’s creative show during this time of year. Those of us in the northern hemisphere who are lucky enough to be in a climate that has benefited from some of the beautiful weather these past couple weeks are seeing the first of the spring flowers covering the hillsides and sprouting up alongside the country lanes. It makes one just ache to jump about and sing a few lines from “The Sound of Music” … doesn’t it? Okay, maybe that’s just me, but truly, the signs of spring are showing, and we can get excited about the prospects of warmer weather and colorful scenery or be bidding the summer’s bounty a fond farewell if we are south of the equator, so it seems about time that we honor nature’s most lovely creations.

If you will be participating in any upcoming spring shows, a good selection of floral motifs would certainly be welcome displays. I’ve picked out a lovely bunch to share this week. This first set is a bow to the rose and to floral abundance. Not only does Vera Veselova have lovely bunches of blossoms here to share with us, she has a tutorial for it as well! Click the image to get to it.

Now, what could you do with these rosy flowers? Well, I was thinking you could envelope the upper or half dome of a lentil shape, run blooms down the outside edge of a rectangular pendant or, for the truly ambitious, ring the center line of a vase or bowl. Abundance is itself a legitimate element of design. The key is to tone down or control the variety of other elements so the viewer is not overwhelmed. I mean go look at a freshly sprung field of wildflowers … we must admit that Mother Nature knows a thing or two about design!

 

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Simply Perfect

Red White BlueI saved these beads for last because for all the color, texture and wow factor we saw in the other beads this week, these are the ones that I find most impressive. The care and precision shown here make them some of my favorite polymer beads to date.

The creator of these amazing pieces is Cody Craynor. He has many sets with similar motifs and forms, but this set shows a wider example of possibilities when using his bead making techniques. He has the ability to create variety and movement within his designs. How he does this, I’m not completely certain; although, he gives some first hints on this post on his website from 2012.  He has some interesting things to say concerning his approach, too:

“By its nature, polymer clay lends itself to organic fluidity and sculptural forms. But through mechanical intervention I coax the clay to comply with my own mathematical rigidity. Unpredictable chaos makes up much of my life. The clay allows me to create forms, symmetry and rhythm, which are personally therapeutic and welcomingly familiar to my instincts.”

Well, I do like his instincts! You can view more of these visual marvels on Cody’s website.

 

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Outside Inspiration: Feathery Glass

Kimberly Affleck dragon feather beads A collection  of elements doesn’t always get the best photo set ups, but when they shine so beautifully regardless of the makeshift backdrop, you have to admire and take time to get a really good look at the beauty of each piece.

These gorgeous glass beads are the work of Kimberly Affleck. Although the seahorses kind of draw you in first, it’s what she calls her dragon feather beads that have me entranced. There is so much going on with them–that feathery texture wrapping around in soft swirls among the delicate colors, accented and accentuated by the raised dots that follow the swirling, and then there is the focal point of one clear dot that somehow pulls it all together. I would love to hold one of these in my hands and get a really close look at the work.

However, Kimberly had to cut back on her glass work when her day job became more demanding back in 2011. Her last posts on Facebook in early 2013 were the last public postings I could find, so it seems the job didn’t ease up so very much. If anyone knows of more recent work hidden on some other websites, do let us know. Otherwise, you can find the greatest collection of her beautiful glass beads on her Facebook fan page.

 

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All in a Line

annetulpe tube beadsTube beads–they are round straight lines. Yeah, I know … sounds a little simplified and obvious but think about it. Round and straight don’t usually go together, but here we are, able to put the two together. My mother says I have never lost my childlike wonder of the world, and I guess she must be right since something as simple as a tube bead can still rather fascinate me.

Not only do tube beads have two seemingly disparate characteristics, they easily embody both the softness of their round aspect and the directionality of their straight lines. They can also be staccato by lining up short versions or hold long notes by being thin and lengthy. They can, like most beads, hold a tremendous amount of detail in a small space, such as the tube beads you see here by Annerose Doerling. The many colors and visual textures are just so yummy.

Now, here is the cool part. Annerose’s tube beads have been blogged about before, and it was revealed back then (some seven or so years ago) that she was working with a technique created by Dominique Franceschi that she found on another blog a couple years before that. The wonder of the Internet has preserved the links and the corresponding posts, so … tada … you can go back in time and see how old, very dry and crumbly clay can be turned into such gorgeous elements as these beads here. You can go to the Parole de Pate post here to see the super easy technique, but then you might want to bounce on over to Annerose’s Flickr pages to see how she perfected the technique and the finish for them. I’m sorry to say I couldn’t find any recent work by either the creator of the technique or her apt pupil, but I hope they are both out there still creating with childlike wonder and abandon.

 

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A Collection Kit

il_fullxfull.207091800This fun little set of beads is actually an example of the beads you can make from a kit that Barbara Briggs ingenuously put together. Not that kits are anything new, but this one for beginning polymer beads is pretty clever. She offers wooden bead centers as a jumping off point for shapes and adds mica powders and pre-mixed clays in particular color palettes as designated by the buyer. Along with other basic necessities, she offers plenty of instruction.

I thought this sampler of what her buyers could make was quite lovely on its own.  The colors are slightly muted, and the textures are organic and rounded, so they could easily be paired up on a single necklace string. I’d wear that! And, how exciting for beginners to see the versatility and the ease with which polymer can create lovely components. The hard part is getting away from a kit and making your own color, form, texture and other design choices. But, that is when your own voice comes into play.

If you are unfamiliar with Barbara’s work, she is an insane beader who works in all kinds of beading material. If you are on here because you find polymer fascinating but maybe haven’t tried doing much with it yet, here is a great opportunity. Or if you’re one of our experienced readers, take a look at Barbara’s other beading kits and add some complex beading to your repertoire. These kits and patterns can all be found in her Etsy shop.

 

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A Collection of Cabs

Solly cabsThe classic, shiny, smooth cabochon has been a favorite shape for semi-precious stones for ages. It’s not surprising that with our vast array of techniques and our ability to add liquid polymer and resins, the polymer community has embraced and rather run wildly with many possibilities that recreate these popular focal pieces. I remember that they were the first truly exciting polymer elements I ever made, and I am still madly drawn to them. They are hard to resist.

This collection was created some years ago by Sharon Solly, but still feels fresh and alluring today. According to the description on her Flickr page, these are polymer clay painted with Lumiere paints and mica powders and then sealed with Kato liquid clay. They are reminiscent of dichroic glass, and the veins in them give them a more nature-made look.

Sharon had a lot of fun with cabs back around 2008. If you hit up her Flickr photostream around pages 3 & 4, you’ll see more cab variations like this, as well as caned cabs and those embedded with fantasy fibers and the like. She also is quite the multi-talented craftsperson with glass and bead work to show off as well; many of them are also collections of components that we can admire today.

 

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A Collection of Beaded Beads

Belkomor mircobeads

Although finished work is the usual focus here, I am often just as fascinated by the elements that make up a piece of jewelry, a sculpture, or a wonderfully decorated container. Well-developed faux stones, layered cabochons, complex canes and intricately designed beads can be such little worlds of wonder unto themselves. I guess part of me has held back on sharing images of components because the quiet little unimposing collections may not look so impressive as a tiny photo on the blog or on Facebook. But this week … we are going to show them anyway. I’d highly encourage you click on the images in the posts to find the larger views, so you can really soak up the details.

This is one I found yesterday that kind of sparked the whole idea. It popped up somewhere on my Pinterest feed, and I was just so excited to see microbeads being used in such a controlled manner. I have been working out ways to use these a bit more myself and just fell in love with Maria Belkomor’s lovely application. These beads look like individual little planets, well seeded and covered in beautiful lush lands and waters.

She has a number of these microbead bead sets on LiveJournal including a bracelet with strips using this application. Get yourself a closer look on the post here.

 

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How-To: Domed Disks

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Concave, convex, flat, nested, or peek-a-boo … domed disks hold numerous possibilities for polymer designs. Like this necklace of flat disks plus a focal concave disk accent on each that have been created by Polymeramoi who actually started this because of a momentary obsession with blended ikat patterns. The concept of disks show off the patterned polymer, and the solid, concave disks create a simple focal point that echos the flat disks in shape but with more volume.

If you want some ideas for playing with disks this weekend, there are numerous tutorials to check out online for free. Here are just a few I found fascinating. This first one is actually done with ceramic clay but lay down a little liquid polymer between the halves and it could be done with polymer.

Have a happy weekend claying, relaxing or otherwise enjoying the first day of Spring!

Hollow Ceramic Lentil Beads

Glow Lentil beads

Pastel Hollow Beads

 

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