Halloween in Lichen

colroful lichenI have to say, my travels have wiped me out. The long couple days on the road, along with the thin air up here in Denver and my waiting for my allergies to calm down and get re-acclimated to my kitty, has left me pretty useless, so I’m going to lean on a fellow polymer artist and fungi enthusiast, Maria Belkomor, to grace us with a collection of nature’s beauty.

We’ll get started by featuring this Halloween-themed palette in lichen. It’s unbelievable that these colors and forms were created by the pairing of two types of organisms–fungi and algae. Yes, I had to go research what lichen actually is, and Wikipedia says, “A lichen is a composite organism that arises from algae or cyanobacteria (or both) living among filaments of a fungus in a symbiotic relationship.” Confirmed through multiple other sources, it does look like lichen is fungus-possessed. Which is pretty cool. And Halloween-esque. And, in this case, really beautiful.

Maria gathered this page of fungi in nature and fungi in art last November. What a beautiful and strange thing nature is. I will never stop being amazed and awed. Go be awed as well by following this link to Maria’s little fungi festival.

And have a fun and safe Halloween tomorrow.



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Out Of Hiding: The Winter 2015 Cover of The Polymer Arts

TPA Winter 15-P4 cover webFor our Winter issue, we present to you this dramatic cover with a beautiful piece by the very talented Jeffrey Lloyd Dever. As you see here, the theme for Winter is ‘Hidden’. We’ve been super excited about this issue and got started on it early in the year, actually. There are a lot of techniques and tips in this issue. We wanted to give you a lot of juicy ideas to work on over the Winter (or while escaping the heat down in the southern hemisphere) and for the New Year.

Articles will include things to create:
–Hidden Patterns: Variations in Mokume
–Hidden Composition: Creating Unity with Geometry
–Concealed Light: Polymer LED Jewelry
–Hidden in Plain Sight: Seamless Front Closures
–Secret Spaces: Polymer Box Construction
–Hiding Loose Ends: Finishing Options for Stringing

And things to ponder:
–Of Values and Intentions: The Art of Jeffrey Lloyd Dever
–Behind the Wall: Breaking Through Artistic Blocks
–The Hidden Cost of Doing Business
–Muse’s Corner: A Hidden Polymer Pioneer

… and so much more. Due out November 22nd.

I’m still on the road here, so my apologies for the brevity of this post. I’ll get more information out in our newsletter Thursday or Friday and we’ll get pre-orders going by then, as well. We’ll confirm that here on Friday, too!


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There Be Creepy Crawlies Here

Jasmyne Graybill clear plateIt’s almost Halloween and I had been considering a dark beauty theme this week, but the real world has, as it so often does, presented me with another source of inspiration for this week. It is no less frightful, though, let me tell you.

Here in California, where I spend about half my time,  we have found ourselves in a very scary house. No, really … it’s quite unsettling here. It’s not haunted exactly, although the frightening presence within the walls, unseen for years but slowly taking over, is pretty spooky stuff.  Its was revealed when this strange spongy whiteness came creeping out into a closet, taking over a stack of my dear man’s t-shirt collection and his shoe rack.  An inspector came out, looking very much like a guy from Ghostbusters with his large beeping machines and funny probes, and after running them back and forth across the suspect wall, determined that, yes, the house was possessed … by a myriad number of mold types and other fungus. So, guess what is happening suddenly while I am neck-deep in editing and layout, trying to get the next issue of The Polymer Arts together? We are being run out of our house.

So, I have my mind on mold. Which brought Jasmyne Graybill to mind. She had the honor of being the very first artist featured on this blog back in 2012. Because she creates these polymer clay textures in a context in which we see it as an unwanted growth, it appears rather disgusting to us. But look closely at this plate. If you recreated that texture on a bracelet or as a constrained band around a vase, we’d think it were quite lovely. So, it’s not the texture that is inherently repulsive, it’s just our knowledge of what it represents. Beautiful textures can be found in even the creepiest of natures organisms.

I am presently trying to see the beauty in the natural organisms that are invading the house, but I have to say, even though I do find beauty in all forms of decay, I have now come to terms with the fact that I do still prefer it stay outside and away from our apparel, at the very least.

That is my spooky-themed story right now, and as soon as I finish writing this I must get back to boxing things up so I can move operations back to Colorado tomorrow. So I’ll be on the road tomorrow and Wednesday, but by then we should be ready to reveal the Winter issue’s cover. It’s quite dramatic if we do say so ourselves. Stay tuned for that not-so-spooky installment of “The Polymer Zone”. And if you find yourself attracted by the beautiful fungal texture here, take a look at Jasmyne’s collection on her website.


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Variation on Owls in Autumn

sowasowa6You may recall a certain blog post at the beginning of the year with a clever necklace much like the one you see here but white and with a barn owl. Well, that wasn’t the only owl necklace of that kind she created. She took that and created a very lively variation on the design.

Now, I usually wouldn’t post the same type of design twice in a year, but there is something to be said about seeing how an artist stretches a great design. And it goes with our Fall color palette theme. And it’s really beautiful. So …

If you didn’t see or don’t recall the first post on the owl necklace design by Dorota Kaszczyszyn of VaniLlamaArt, you can jump back to it by clicking here before we go any farther. See how the structure is the same but she’s opened things up and moved from a minimal neutral palette to something wonderfully rich. The use of Skinner blends throughout gives a liveliness to the creature, with the illusion of light hitting what would be its shoulder wings and that blue on the body echoed on the end feathers. It’s a beautiful departure from the tight, stylized design of the first, which is equally stunning but with a different feel.

She has also recently created a metallic owl to add to her family which goes in the very opposite direction being very stylized and all silver. You can jump to this page on her blog to see all of them but do dive into the posts as well, especially the one on the piece we are looking at today as she reveals how she designed and created the smooth transition in Skinner blend beads. Click on the image to go directly there. 


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Autumn Stone

Avgust 20151 Klavdija crystal stone tehcniqueIs it just me, or do the dark colors of autumn seem so much more dramatic than any other season? I’m not knocking the spark of those first Spring flowers or the brilliance of a sunny mid-summer meadow, but the brightness and purity of those colors are beautiful and cheerful while Autumn’s palette speaks of deep emotion and, well, drama. At least to me. Life is not all bright and cheery and I think that is something we actually need. The tempered days of troubled thoughts and the rough patches we experience are what truly make us appreciate the good times. Life is for living and it’s one bumpy ride. But even the bumpy times can be beautiful.

Similarly, days like those in Autumn, with the foliage falling away, plants returning to the ground, and the days getting shorter, have their own wonderful beauty. The idea of beauty even in the process of decay has always interested me, so it’s no wonder Klavdija Kurent‘s liquid crystal stone caught my eye as I scoured for more Autumn palettes. The technique itself is gorgeous with the translucency of the shuffled layers, but also the colors in those reds, rusts, oranges and creams are so vibrant when juxtaposed. The play of this almost monochromatic palette is where the drama comes from. The many textures of this piece add to its drama and impact as well.

This image is from a promotion for a class Klavdija had last month in which she taught this liquid stone and a liquid rust technique. Hopefully she’ll teach this again in some fashion that might allow us in on her secrets. In the meantime, you can look at more drama and fun pieces on her Flickr and her blog.


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Fall into Autumn Colors

674d984339ad86f48452af95f498dba4Well, it’s finally cooling down here in California, where I’ve been bouncing around the last several weeks, and I realized that I haven’t seen any Fall-like scenes yet. In Colorado, of course, we have some wonderfully dramatic color changes in our mountains and trees, but I’ve missed that. So, mid-season and a bit past-peek for Fall colors in much of the country, I want to delve into some of the richness a Fall palette provides.

This set of earrings is a classic example of the deep greens, rich rust reds, and brilliant yellows nature shows off this time of year. I found these on Livemaster.ru in the shop that the Google translator says belongs to Nina Kotlyarevich (I don’t trust the translators, especially when it comes to putting an English version of a name up, but the address on the photo goes to Nina’s shop so we’ll assume it’s close).

Such patience she must have to apply such tiny detail using those thin snakes of clay and little dots. The resulting texture is lovely and takes the simple autumn leaf design several steps beyond the norm.

The dense texture with thin clay snakes is something Nina looks to have done a bit of. She has some amazing pieces in her shop right now including an ancient ivory looking box with swirling and finely dotted detail that will make you hunger for a closer look. Which you should do.


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Dedicated to Zen and Stones

mandala stonesThis week, we’ve looked at work that showed a couple of artists pushing themselves in form and repetition. The use of repetition can have an exciting and energized look or it can be calm and grounding. But for the artist creating it, it is often a doorway to the sometimes elusive state of what is often referred to as flow. It’s that time when you are so enthralled and engrossed by what you are doing that you completely lose track of time, of where you are, and sometimes what exactly you are doing. It’s a fantastic state to reach because it means that the work you are doing is satisfying your many sides. This kind of work is challenging enough to keep your attention, interesting enough to basically mesmerize you, but is not frustrating or tedious so you can relax and enjoy the process.

This little bit of insanity you see here is just such a process for Elspeth McLean, an Australian living in Canada and a self-proclaimed “Dotillism” artist. According to an article published on the Mother Nature Network, creating art is her form of meditation and these mandala stones are at the heart of that process for her. The joy and dedication she gets from her work is so readily apparent that the poor girl is overrun with requests for these beautiful stones.

Images of these stones went viral recently, and now Elspeth has been forced to do something rather different from most Etsy sellers–she releases the sale of her stones only on certain days and during certain hours, just a couple of times a month, with many selling instantly and all selling out, it appears, within the day. What a problem to have! The colorful and zen-like beauty of the stones can also be found in her dotillism paintings. However, there is something to the centered patterns of the mandala stones that really draws your eye and pulls at something deeply rooted in all of us. And for those of you that cane, does this not spark some ideas?

To see the short article and all the wonderful photos of her stones, go to this page on MNN.com. You can admire her illustrations and photographs of her work artfully placed in nature on her website and, of course, in her Etsy shop.



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Birds on the Brain

Stroppel bird-bowlsw1If you ever want to push yourself and test your mettle on a new design or technique, try making it over and over again. Alice Stroppel did this recently with these awesome little bird bowls. 26 times she recreated the basic design but with different canes. And, oddly enough, she thinks this may lead to her to even more bird bowls. This is what she said on her blog about them:

“I’ve been working on these bird  bowls for an exchange I’ll be taking part in. In the beginning I thought I must have lost my mind to think I would ever finish 26 bird bowls. especially since several broke apart in the oven until I figured out you can’t take the bowl out and add more things and then bake again … I really have learned so much about making bird bowls so there might be more on my table soon, or maybe even a workshop at Studio 215.” 

I’m very curious about why she couldn’t add pieces after the first cure. Maybe it was about how they were propped up or formed to start with. If she has a workshop on these then some of us might be able to find out! Speaking of which, she mentions her newest project there at the end, Studio 215.  This is an actual brick-and-mortar gallery workshop space Alice has over in Florida. I had the pleasure of hearing about it, and some other interesting ideas she has in the works, while we were at Sandy Camp together last week. Sign up to on her studio’s website to get any and all exciting news about happenings there.



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Out of the Box Quilt-ish Clay

heather Campbel quiltish

This last week’s conversations with various polymer friends, both old and new, seemed consistently to circle around new challenges and pushing our personal creative envelopes. If you saw Friday’s post, you got a peek at one artist seriously pushing herself with the result being the creation of a great new tool for polymer artists.

Then of course, we have the artists who want to push themselves in terms of what they are creating. Trying something new, leaving your comfort zone, and creating a challenge for yourself that makes you both nervous and terribly excited can be so invigorating for both your creativity and for your soul.

So, when I ran across this amazing and unusual quilt-ish piece by Heather Campbell, I just had to share it. Here Heather is working, as she puts it, “so out of the box for me … crazy fun!” It does look like fun but also a lot of work! Wonderful work, though.

It appears to be fabric-covered boards with polymer embellishments, mostly in heavily repeated elements. The large top image you see here is a detail, but you can get a better idea of the size and see the whole piece as it was when Heather took her progress images for her blog post. There, you can see her steps from the start to what you see here. It’s a feast for the eyes and a nice shot in the arm of color and creativity for a Monday.

We had the honor of getting a wonderful interview article on Heather for our Spring issue of The Polymer Arts, so do check that out if you can. Also, visit her site if you never have or haven’t recently and just wander through her galleries and blogs. Beautiful wall pieces and touching stories await you.


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