Almost Ancient

staci louse faux ceramicThe obvious visual signs of age have been at the center of many conversations I’ve had this week. Many of us try very hard to cover up the signs of aging in ourselves because we don’t think they are considered beautiful. But I, for one, think the visual changes that come with age and being well-used can be quite beautiful. I do admit that I prefer to see these marks on inanimate objects rather than on myself, but even the soft wrinkles beneath the eyes and the laugh lines on the face have an inviting texture. They show we have lived and laughed; that we got out and lived our lives. That we have stories to tell.

I do believe that same feeling–that there are stories where we see age and change–is why we are drawn to old items and why we enjoy the aged faux looks we can achieve in polymer. This necklace here by Staci Louise is a kind of faux ceramic, but both the forms and the crackling affect make the set feel like something almost ancient. Doesn’t it make you want to hear the history of the civilization that bore these? And have a chance to ask about the significance of the beads, and where they got their color?

Luckily, the creator is not from some distant past, but is alive and well today. Staci even has a tutorial for her technique. Find it in her Etsy shop after you drop by her blog to see how she transforms white clay into these spectacular beads.

 

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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Outside Inspiration: Ruffled Organics in Felt

rudmanart felted scarfWhen talking ruffles, most likely fabric comes to mind first as a source for outside inspiration, but do you think of felt as a particularly ruffled fiber? Instead of flouncy and fluffy, felted ruffles offer substance and a more solid and open canvas for dramatic textures and colors.

This scarf shows some of the potential of using felt to create undulating edges. Felt has been making a bit of a come back in the fashion world and felt crafters are coming out big and bold with it. I thought this work by Irena Rudman would intrigue polymer artists as the composition of the work looked immediately to me like wonderful inspiration for leaf-shaped beads or the facing ends of a curious cuff bracelet.

There is something kind of Melanie West about this scarf. I can also see a thin polymer component with a center of slices taken from stacked circular extrusion canes or mokume surrounded by ruffled Skinner blends or mica dusted polymer. It got my wheels turning. Is it intriguing you?

Irena is really big on the ruffles in her work, which you can see in her Etsy shop. If you are just dying of curiosity as to how she accomplished this or simply have a budding interest in felting (which can and has often been combined with polymer pieces), Irena has a number of tutorials for scarves and collars in her shop, as well.

 

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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Richly Ruffled Bead

Ruffled+Bead+Technique shannon taborThe undulating line of a ruffle brings to mind waves and water, and in this intriguing piece, there seems to be a bit of sea-foam, too. Even though ruffled lines can have a lot of energy, they are usually soothing due to the lulling effect of the smooth up and down repetitions. This particular bead by Shannon Tabor leans towards a more energetic feel with its rich abundance of ruffling, but the blues and greens return us to a calm and contemplative place.

The very nice thing about this bead is that Shannon shares her technique for creating this lovely texture with us on her blog. It’s pretty straight forward, but the possibilities are broad. You don’t need to limit yourself to a donut shape; try this with the edge of any kind of flat or semi-flat shape. Are you up for getting ruffled this week?

 

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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Ruffled Polymer Fabric Explorations

Klio1961 horizon brooch cloth polymerThis week, I’ve had my eye on some ruffled up polymer pieces. Greece’s Eleni Tsaliki has been quite busy lately with a fabric fold and ruffle technique that includes a variety of surface treatments and bright jewel colors, as well as metallics and cutout lace. It looks like her explorations have left no fold unturned in the possible treatments these thin sheets of clay can take on.

This Horizon Brooch shows just a few of her exploratory treatments, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A quick click on this link to her Flickr pages will show you the amazing variety and beautiful sheets she’s been creating. She also has a tutorial available in her Etsy shop to help you on your way to your own avid explorations.

 

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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Combining Filigree, Embroidery and Applique

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Take a close look at this jewelry set. How many variations of impressing, winding, twisting, layering and embedding little bits of clay do you see here? I’ve gotten a different count each time; I’m giving up on trying to give it a number and have spent my time admiring and determining the variation. And the patience. The lining up of these little bits to create lines or to create dense areas of texture is very precise. The variety enlivens the limited palette, which would otherwise be relying primarily on the contrast of lights and darks for impact.

This particular image was found on Pinterest attached to a number of boards all leading to the same image link, which will not lead me to any websites where I can find more information about the artist. That is a little maddening because the name is listed right there. It even looks familiar, but I can’t search farther for the simple reason that I can’t type in those letters. So, I’m sitting at a dead-end without any more information for you. I’m hoping one of you wonderful readers can read the text and then can send me a link. I believe this was pulled off vk.com (for the English only folks on here … it’s like Facebook for Eastern Europe and happens to be the #1 most visited site in that part of the world, as well as falling into the top 50 most visited sites worldwide), so I’m hoping someone can find it for us. You know how I don’t like to avoid bringing you art simply because I can’t find its origin, and I do like correcting that.

And as a little reminder in that vein … always add the artist’s name or website to your pins, even if you are just pinning it for yourself. Anything that is pinned on a non-private board (the default for Pinning) can and usually is picked up by others, but when it’s picked up off a home page that changes (like blogs) or a page that is temporary or the link gets broken or removed, the artist is no longer linked. If you like it enough to pin it, do what you can to ensure people who pull your pins can find the person who kindly shared their work with us and inspired us in the first place.

*Update* Many thanks go out to our reader Janna who found our the website of our artist, Olesyah Kalenova: http://vk.com/olesyakalenovahandmade.

 

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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Filigree in Strings

filigree noborderOn the other end of the spectrum from yesterday’s applique work we have some ornate work employing bits of thin polymer string. Closely resembling filigree in its design, the artist here used what might have been wire or metal cut-outs if it was traditional work, and then added texture by using a couple variations of string impression for added texture. We have probably all seen this type of impressed clay snake wound into tight spirals, but these thin clay elements make it even more of a task.

The piece is a study in patience. I have worked with a lot of thin bits of polymer, and it is no small task to keep it straight and unmarred. Then to work with it so extensively as in these pieces means this is some serious work. But the outcome, especially for a first attempt as this one was announced as being, is well worth the result.

Following the links and wading through the translations, the artist here looks to be one Ekaterina Borisova, but the translation makes me question this a bit. The post was made here on LiveJournal but further work by Ekaterina led only to sketches, no other polymer. In any case, it’s a wonderful first effort that hopefully have spawned further exploration by the artist, and now maybe by some readers here!

 

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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Little Bits of Filigree and Applique

filigrina ocean sprayI am a fan of small details. I love work that has been built one tiny bit at a time, which is probably why I find myself drawn to the application of tiny bits of polymer something called polymer embroidery, applique or even filigree. I found a number of pieces on a search this weekend that I think really open up the vast possibilities of creating imagery and texture from working with small bits and thin strings of polymer.

I want to start with this lovely little pendant because I just adore how the impressed polymer bits were extended into a dynamic rush of water and plumes of ocean foam. This was created by Estonia’s Katrina who has the shop, Filigrina, on Etsy. Every detail on this was hand-tooled in a way that makes me think more of painting than sculpting. And instead of simply pressing the bits of clay to create texture from the impressions, there also looks to be some dragging and cutting in with the hand-tools to make those little bits into the imagery we see here.

Katrina also sells printable scrapbook paper images and jewelry transfer images in her Etsy shop, so stop by and take a look at all the fun stuff she has to offer.

 

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 Magnetic Connection

C4aOne of the tougher decisions I had to make when putting together the Summer 2015 issue was to cut part of what Helen Breil sent for her wonderful “Magnetic Design” technique tutorial. The article primarily focuses on the creation of pieces with interchangeable magnetic focal points using rare earth magnets, but she also generously added a few additional instructions, including how to create magnetic brooch clasps that work double-duty as a pendant bail, as well as being the basis for multi-pin pieces that can be set on clothing in different configurations. She had also included an easy option for creating a magnetic front closure, but she had sent so much great information that we simply couldn’t fit it all in. So here is a concise collage of the magnetic front clasp she created for us, and the photos that let you see how it is put together.

The quick run down is that you use cylindrical rare earth magnets, drill holes on each half of the clasp, ensuring the magnet positions will line up your two halves exactly where you want them to come together. Create holes just large enough to snugly fit the magnets and deep enough for them to sit flush with the edge of the clasp. (You can insert the magnet into the hole to see if fits and use another magnet to pull it out of the hole when it does go in flush as needed.) Apply cyanoacrylate gel glue to the magnets and place them back into the hole. Ensure the magnets are set in the ‘right’ direction–since magnets are directional, you don’t want them glued in leaving only ends that oppose each other, so snap the magnets together as they should be and apply the cyanoacrylate gel glue to one end, pressing it into its hole, and then grasp that side of the pendant, add glue to the still exposed magnet end and push it into the open hole. Release the magnets by sliding them apart and let the glue set. That’s it!

Helen is a wealth of information and fabulous ideas, not to mention a creator of many wonderful clay-centric products. Be sure to check out her website for her tutorials, books, silkscreens, and texture sheets, as well as take a peek or two at her Flickr photostream for more great ideas. And get your copy of the summer issue of The Polymer Arts for Helen’s entire brilliant article.

 

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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Colour Breakthrough – Throwing Out the Wheel

colour dipticOne of our most unusual articles in the summer issue, the one we definitely spent the most time on getting just right for you all, is Tracy Holmes’ “Color Connections”. This is a color lesson and color mixing tutorial that throws out the color wheel and works with mixing and matching in three dimensions. The exercises are easy and fun, and you end up with a reusable and expandable color mixing cube. It will teach you the basics that will allow you to eventually move onto using Tracy’s soon-to-be-available color cards that will expand your potential palette to hundreds of easily mixed and matched colors.

The thing we didn’t have a lot of room for in the article was expanding on how to use it to choose colors, not just mix them. So here is a quick visual tutorial on how using this system works for creating color palettes.

Tracy’s partner, Dan Cormier, had made a ‘blurred lines’ blended veneer. He wanted to find an accent color, so he looked through Tracy’s cards, first to find colors that were in the blend, and then to find a complement color for one of those colors. He used the codes to find the yellow that was the exact opposite of the purple. Then he mixed clay to match that color and made a sheet to dieform through the hole in the baked blend veneer. The purple become another accent within the accent at the center of the bead.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it sounds like it could be easy if you understand the system. That’s what the article helps you understand—how colors are connected, not just by mapping them on a two-dimensional wheel, but through other colors as well, which is why understanding how color are truly related takes a three-dimensional model. Go ahead and go through the steps in the article for an easy first look at this idea, as well as getting a primer on a new way to look at color that can encompass our digital, printing and artistic color mixing worlds.

Tracy is not the only one out there promoting these new base color ideas, and you are likely to see this kind of color approach coming to you from a number of arenas. Right now Tracy’s Colour Cards are the only method I know of that will allow an artist to work with this newer approach to color mixing and matching in an easy and accessible way. To be one of the first to get the new cards when they arrive, sign up for Tracy’s newsletter, so you can get on the Kickstarter program, which will be your first and best chance to pre-order your own BreakThroughColour Colour Cards and Cubes. It’s not just exclusive to Kickstarter, but there are special ‘Project Backer’ prices for supporters.

Full details about limited edition packages and early bird deals will go out first to the new BreakThroughColour mailing list, so hop on over and take a second to sign up for the BreakThroughColour mailing list. And to get your Summer 2015 issue of The Polymer Arts, go to our website at www.thepolymerarts.com.

 

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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