Translucent Clouds

jahyun rita baek cloudFirst of all, I just realized this will be the last post of May. Really? This month is over?  Wow … that went quick. Due to all the bedlam here, we’ve been just barely keeping up with the 3 blogs a week, and we have at least another week or so of chaos to get through. So, between that and all the notes from people who are liking the 3 days a week (“We have so much to read every day as it is …”), for now, we are going to keep this pace. Once we have the summer issue wrapped up next week, I’ll put together a survey (and some fun stuff to give away!) and give everyone who wants to offer their opinion, a chance to weigh in on the blog schedule.

In the meantime, my search for recent translucent clay work that uses the clay’s very particular characteristics in a new or surprising way was not as fruitful as I might have hoped. Have we gotten a bit tired of it? There are plenty of people using it to produce a wide variety of faux effects and mixing it with regular clays for better color and luminosity, but purely translucent for the sake of playing with its diaphanous quality seems to be the purview of just a handful of folks. However, in my search I ran across the pieces you see here. The first example I saw was the earrings you see in the upper left. I thought they were polymer, but then I got to the artist’s page and realized it had to be acrylic.

The artist is Jahyun Rita Baek, and this work is not new either, but something created when Rita was in art school in the United Kingdom. The series is called Cloud, which I  believe is referring to the concept of light in both the illuminating quality and the perceived weight that are at play here. The work is beautifully simplistic and mesmerizing. Similar approaches with translucent polymer would be just as amazing, don’t you think?

So, this is the bit of inspiration I wanted to share with you today. Simple forms in floating and swirling designs could be created so easily with polymer. About the only thing this would take is knowing how to hold back and working clean–by which I mean clean clay and clean lines. If I could even get into my studio right now, I would go play for an hour just to relieve some stress. But parts of my office are in the way! So back to that.

Jump over to Rita’s website for more of her unusual work, not just in acrylic, but all kinds of materials from plastic to precious. And enjoy a beautiful spring weekend with a bit of creativity mixed in!


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Translucence and Texture from Mother Earth

il_570xN.725327179_q4v1Shortly after I sent Monday’s blog, I ran into this interesting set of earrings on Pinterest. Yes, we’re talking translucent polymer here, but can you guess what the colorants and inclusions are?

The pieces were made by Dawn Wilson-Enoch who is not a polymer artist but rather is what one might think of as a natural artist. She draws from nature very directly using all kinds of stones, plants, seeds and even earth to create her jewelry or inspire her metal work. These were the only polymer pieces I found of hers, so my guess is she wanted a way to present these fragile and granular elements of the natural world in a way that would show their beauty and natural state, yet allow them to be wearable. And translucent polymer, with its diaphanous nature and low curing temperature compared to other clear material options, was the answer she found.

I was drawn to them by the textures the natural elements create. The rough and sparingly random elements are contrasted wonderfully. The cracked metal leaf is layered much more completely across the hand torn ‘leaves’ of polymer. Dawn says each of these pieces encase “a different desert plant, sand, or metal leaf. When you are still, the contents of the layers are mostly hidden, but when you move the layers dance and swing and reveal their treasures.” I can only imagine how much more intriguing the revelation would be under a bright light like the desert sun.

I was thinking that the inclusions, tearing, and contrasting textures would be great fun to play with further by each of us in our own way with the elements we are most drawn to. What do you think? Is it time to go play with a bit of translucence and texture?


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Looking Through to Another Dimension

BeatrizCominatto trans scalesWe haven’t visited the wonderful world of transluscents in awhile, and I have been curious to see what people have been doing lately. Strangely, there is not a lot of recently posted work. Anyone have anything new they’d like to share? I’ll keep searching, but I’m up for some striking new work to be landing in my mailbox, too. Hint, hint.

In the meantime, here is a beautiful piece by Brazil’s Beatriz Cominatto that she created a few years back. It’s not a complex concept, this scale-like layering of cane slices, but it does show off the particular advantage of working with translucents. Instead of considering just the surface of the clay, translucents allow you to focus on the content of the depth of the clay. The layering offers another dimension to the design when translucents are in play, which allows for such criss-cross patterning and other ways to create lines that work in multiple ways.

Beatrice created this in 2012, if the Flickr date is correct. She did a lot of exploring in many different techniques then, so although there is not a lot of translucent, she did some great sushi canes with the translucent clay along with other polymer work. You can explore more of Beatrice’s work on her Flickr page and her website.


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A Little Fairy Magic for Friday

fairy mirrorI’m going to need a little fairy magic for this one actually. I love this mirror, but I ate up all my time tonight trying to find out who made it, and it must truly be from some magical forest because for all the dozens of links that I followed through the vastness of the Internet, there is no attribution for this. But I had to share. And maybe, just maybe, someone here will know something of its origins.

I just love how this whole piece was considered when decorating it. The magic is not just on the frame but blooms above and beyond it and also into the space of the mirrored glass itself. This is the kind of thing that I just love to see in polymer decor pieces–not just covered or decorated, limited by the form and space of the object, but moving beyond that, letting the object be a starting point that does not define the end creation.

I found this fantastical mirror on a blog full of mosaic art, but there are no names for any of the work. So, if you want to try a search and see if you can find the fairy that dreamt this up, please do and let me know what you have found. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful art of mosaics.


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

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A View of Charm and Color

0_0_0_0_300_259_csupload_62771804I jumped on Pinterest to see what interesting work might have arisen while I was deep in proofing mode for the next issue, and one of the first things that popped up was this bracelet by Doreen Kassel. It delighted me so much, in part due to the section in an upcoming article in this Summer issue where she explains her inspiration for her cute and quirky pieces.

It’s probably best that I save those tidbits for you to read in the context of the article. However, in the process of looking up the image and her website, I also found these odd fruit that I had seen before and just thought they were fantastically colorful and formed. There is a ton of texture to examine as well and not a little bit of hand tooling and form building to divine and try.

0_0_0_0_353_246_csupload_65979618_largeIf you’re enjoying the fun and colors as much as I am, pop over to her website to see her posted collection of new pods, plants and other colorful pieces. For those of us who have been dealing with rain and gray skies for days now, this color is a welcome sight!




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


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Creating Constellations

caprilliciousI am neck deep in some last minute tweaks for the next issue, so I’m giving you an assignment while my brain is otherwise occupied. Well, not an assignment, but it looks like a fun little tutorial to try out in a spare moment.

If you tried out the pastels tutorial in the Spring issue, then you already have what you need to try pastels in a different way. This tutorial is about dusting the pastels onto pieces. It was created by Neena of Caprilicious JewelleryI like the scattered texture and her bold colors. Although the tutorial starts out with just flat disks, I thought this simple bite into those disks that created a moon shape along with the bright green dangles was a nice touch; it has contrast and movement and is just fun. Nothing wrong with fun. I’m looking forward to having some time to do a little something fun later this week after the issue is safely and squarely in those printing machines.

See the tutorial on Neena’s website here and don’t forget to push the idea after you try it out. Try completely different forms like round or tube beads, work it into part of another piece, mix it with other surface treatments … just have fun exploring. You never know what will pop up.


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


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Soul Searching Leaps

chris carlson bigboldFirst, thank you to every one who wrote me offline, in the comments or on Facebook about the last post. I have to say, this is one brave community! It was lovely to hear affirmation that constructive criticism and encouragement to push oneself is something many of you would really like to see more of. Because this blog is so public, I won’t be changing up what I do here, but that has resurrected an idea I had a few years ago that was shelved because Voila was covering the peer critiques quite well ,and I was otherwise occupied too. Not that I’m not overly occupied right now, but when things slow down a little, I have some ideas that I’ll explore concerning ways to get honest feedback. If anyone has their own ideas and you think we can help, do let us know!

In the meantime, let’s explore that idea of doing something unusual, of pushing oneself into trying something new. In this case, we are looking at jewelry artist Chris Carlson, who worked in traditional and natural materials for many years before finally making the leap to polymer after a period of uncertainty. In her own words:

“After years of using only the most beautiful stones, pearls, bone and other natural materials, it took more than a little soul-searching to take the leap to incorporate a material as different from those as polymer.   I hope you’ll agree that while the materials may be radically different, the designs are true to the philosophy I’ve held from the beginning.”

Her philosophy encompasses the idea of working in a primitive spirit with a contemporary simplistic approach.  If you take a look at her work in natural materials and then in her polymer work, you’ll see the leap she took and the freedom of form she has embraced with polymer, but you’ll also see she doesn’t stray from her own aesthetic approach to do so. Her inspiration for her polymer looks to be her own prior work and love of the “spirit of primitive tribal and ethnographic artifacts that touch the soul.”

“Bravo” to another brave soul.


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On Being Brave

ayelet beads fall necklaceSomeone told me the other day that they thought I was brave. The reference had to do with running a business in this crazy economy and in an industry (magazines, not polymer) that is in such flux, and all I could think was, “I don’t feel brave.” There are many things I do not say, or things I do not do because I’m afraid of the consequences. The thing is, entrepreneurial ventures are tenuous, and so, when one is in this position, you find yourself being so very careful not to ruffle feathers because you fear it might lose you a reader or two. But, you know what? I really dislike that self-censorship, and I have never be very good with “I should …” rules either.

Today, I want to say something about someone’s art because I think what they are doing is so exciting, but I also want to let them know that I think they should keep running with it; that they aren’t there yet. To say that may imply that it’s not good and could be taken as criticism – which some people frown upon – but, that’s not it. The promise here is exciting, but it feels like there is so much more to explore. I think a general reticence to say things like “That’s great! Now push that idea,” is doing a disservice to crafters in our community. Yes, kind and complimentary is much needed, but the occasional encouragement to keep exploring and challenging oneself is much needed as well.

So today, I’d like to say “Bravo!” to New Zealand’s Ayelet of Ayelet beads and then ask for more. We started on polymer around the same time and due to online groups we both frequented I’ve been watching her progress since the beginning of her polymer career. She has turned into an excellent and prolific caner. The majority of her work has been in flower canes and items covered in these canes, which she does beautifully, although it’s not an uncommon type of polymer product. A piece like this here makes you stop, though.

It was sometime last year that I ran into this piece of Ayelet’s on Flickr and was happily surprised at the direction her work was taking. I thought we’d suddenly see tons more of this from her, and there is more, but not a ton, if her Flickr pages are a good representation of the production level she has in this vein of work. All I know is that she is still persisting with this contemporary exploration between bunches and bunches of lovely flowers.

However, if we are not seeing more of this kind of work because maybe she’s still uncertain about pushing this direction, I wanted the opportunity to say, yes, keep it up!, and if she has done a lot more of this but is not showing it, I, for one, would be thrilled to see what else has come of this kind of exploration. Not only that, I hope this is a bit of needed encouragement for others in a similar boat to push work that is taking them far afield of their usual pieces. If they are intrigued by it, of course. I know of at least a couple other clayers who have this branching off, and they are exploring, but aren’t sharing it publicly. It’s hard to put work out that we aren’t certain about yet, but you won’t be able to get that invaluable feedback if you don’t put it out there–if not online, then at least among others who can give you good feedback.

So, maybe I wrote this today to put a little something more behind that person’s comment that I’m brave. Because I want to be brave, but some days I just don’t have it in me. Some days I feel I might. But mostly I wrote this, and gained some bravery from, hoping that we will all strive to be brave. Just making art is brave. Every step you take with it after creating it is like hero-level brave, and that no matter how good you are now, you can always push yourself, not to do better, but to explore bravely.

If Ayelet’s piece here has you intrigued, you can see more of this among a riot of colorful flower covered adornment and other items on her Flickr pages and in her Etsy shop.


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Now for Something Completely Different

RebeccaThickbroom“Something completely different” is the theme this week, or so that’s what I am aiming at. Maybe I look at way too much polymer work on a daily basis, but certain forms and applications are so well used as to be beyond common. I won’t name names, but a rather influential person in our industry turned to me in a recent conversation and said “If I see one more of those domed pendants with the hole cut out, I’m just gonna …” with the unspoken threat left hanging in its possibilities. I kind of like those domed peek-a-boo pendants, but I do have to say they are a form that has been well-represented in the community.

RThickbroomThat and a funny conversation online about whether Hollywood can come up with anything original anymore had me thinking about whether our constant and global exposure has somehow diluted originality. We see so much of certain things that we start to automatically create similar items. So, I thought I’d make it a goal this week to find things that just look nothing like anything else I’ve seen in recent years.

This amazing piece is by England’s Rebecca Thickbroom. I’m not sure why pieces like this aren’t making the wide rounds on Pinterest and Facebook. I think it’s quite stunning, and I didn’t find this online, not initially. I actually had the pleasure of seeing this in person last year in Malta where I got to meet Rebecca and take a few of my own photos of it. The insufficient and yellow light of the reception room where I snapped the shot you see on the bottom didn’t do this justice at all, hence the nice photo I acquired from Rebecca’s Facebook page.

The size of the piece is quite bold, but it’s the textures and numerous interesting objects in the piece that grab you. There appears to be some mysterious symbolism in the collection of objects framed here, and, of course, it looks like it could be a museum piece from some long-lost tribal culture. I find it very intriguing, and I can’t say I’ve seen anything like it in recent years besides other pieces from Rebecca’s portfolio. She’s quite original.

Rebecca’s work can be found in greater quantity on her Facebook page, Clectic Designs, where you can find more unusual and curious pieces to tickle your imagination.


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

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