Just A Little Glitz

janpurpleglitz fossA little glitz and glamour is always welcome as we ring in the new year. There is just something about starting out feeling and looking great but that doesn’t mean you need to go crazy with the sparkle and bling. Unless that is your thing, of course. But for many of us, just a touch of pizzazz is more comfortable and easier to pull off.

The key with sparkle is contrast which, as you know by now I’m sure, is key with most designs. You need to decide just how much contrast you want in order to express your vision. A little black dress with a big showy necklace works because the dress is minimal while the necklace is energetic. A shimmery dress can do with a simple chain or solid pendant which acts as a quiet accent. But how about a nicely cut, sophisticated outfit? You don’t want the adornment to compete or overshadow the rest of the outfit, but you want some sparkle. So go for a small sprinkle of glitz to show you are in the spirit while keeping that sophisticated tone. This is edging more towards less contrast which works well when understated is the goal.

And that is what we have in this pendant and earring set by Kristie Foss. The very strong lines of the cane are upstaged by just a smattering of sparkles. It is not big or showy but it is dressed up and after a long and busy holiday season, celebratory but subdued may be just the ticket.

This little collection of New Year’s glitz (as she aptly named this blog post of hers) shows a number of similar examples to the one shown here. Enjoy the light shimmer and shine and have a joyous and safe New Year’s eve tomorrow.

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Clearly Shimmering

Helene Jeanclaude resin braceletSo, this week we recover from Christmas, get gifts returned and exchanged (if we are brave enough to stand in those long customer service lines!), and prepare for the New Year. It’s quite a shift from the family-focused holidays the rest of the season. New Year’s eve is usually for our friends more than our family and the parties or dinners out or drinks at the house are what’s on our mind about now. What to wear?! I know that becomes an overriding concern for many, so I thought I’d look for some blingy-ness that could help dress up any basic outfit. With the right jewelry, you can skip buying a new dress and just have everyone transfixed by your adornment, second only to your vivacious self, of course.

I was looking for shimmery and sparkling when I came across this lovely resin dominant bracelet. Hélène JeanClaude is a polymer artists who is big on transparency, but I am unsure just how much of this is polymer, if any. Not that it matters too terribly. The colors and reflection she is getting off the fabric texture buried in the resin and the shimmer of the colors make it quite eye-catching. You can see how, even with a lot of shadow around it, the colors and resin reflect and magnify any light that hits it. The flat space and angles of the resin help with this effect as well as distorting the pattern beneath, which adds to the variation of the blended and bleeding colors.

Hélène has been experimenting with this technique for the last two years, creating pendants and earrings with a more obvious use of polymer. If you could get your hands on either or both, that with the bracelet would be all you’d need to dress up a little black dress or even a shirt-and-jeans outfit. I know there isn’t enough time to get a hold of one of Hélène’s pieces, but maybe these can inspire some new pieces of your own you can whip up in the studio this week; bury shimmering clay treated with mica powders or foil leaf under translucent clay, liquid polymer, or resin if you have that on hand. There’s still time!

For further shimmery and translucent inspiration, you can find her other pieces using this technique and her explorations with translucent clay on her Flickr photostream and here on her blog.

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May the Angels be with You

eva thissen mother

The one thing most of us have in common on a holiday like this is family. Hopefully, we are surrounded by them or will be talking to them today. Some of us will also be missing loved ones but thinking of them fondly. I will be missing all my girls, my step-daughters and granddaughters, but they will all be together out in Kansas with lots of extended family. I will be missing my four siblings and nieces and nephews that live in Colorado and my adopted family of close friends out there. Because this year I am having a sunny Christmas in California and will be taking off shortly with my handsome better half to go spend the rest of the day with my parents, my older sister, and her family. So, I will have some family while missing others, but I am terribly grateful to have so many loved ones and more grateful still that we all get along so well!

I thought a little Eve Thissen would be a perfect accent to the day with her beautifully expressive images, portraying love and tenderness with simple lines and shapes that create tiny but unmistakable gestures. Today will be all about family for so many of us, and this is the feeling I hope you all have as you greet and hold and hug and talk and laugh with them.

Happy holidays and a very warm and merry Christmas to you, my generous and kind polymer and craft art family.

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Sneaking in a Tree

Bull's eye treesI know, I know … I said I was not going to present any iconic symbols for the season this week but, well, things pop up that I just have to share.

These are not your typical Christmas trees. The playful nature, the color, and the organic and seemingly random size and organization of the circles all together take it quite a bit beyond the usual commercial fare. This is, of course, the work of Bull’s Eye Studio in Anchorage, Alaska. With her trademark wonky bull’s eye motifs, these trees bring in the spirit of the holidays along with that handmade look and love that only original craft art can have.

She has left a little gift behind back there on her Flickr page. It’s a single process shot from her work table, but you can easily guess from this photo how these lovely motifs are created.

Don’t stop with just a gander at this particular collection I picked up for you here. Go to her Flickr page to see them large and in detail, along with many other kinds of trees, wall art, light switch plates, beads, boxes, and sleeping dogs. When you have a moment to look such things over this weekend, that is.

 

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Oh, The Place We’ll Go

AmandaKlish suitcasesI am thinking that for the rest of the year I will post pieces that somehow reflect the various aspects of this busy and, hopefully, joyful season. I don’t foresee any Christmas trees or snowmen, so you are fairly safe from the iconic imagery we are already bombarded with. No, I thought I’d see if I could find wonderful pieces that represent the other aspects of the season.

This, for instance, is something many of us face this week–packing! There is a lot of travel this time of year and you will most likely be dealing with a suitcase or two, either your own or those of your guests. So I thought these wonderfully recreated old suitcases (over Altoids tins) would be appropriate. The details on these are incredible. From the worn look of the leather to the interior lining and side pocket, it’s just a joy to look over every little detail.

The artist here is one Amanda Klish. She was an immensely talented master doll artist who also worked in a variety of other medium as the need arose. But I would say doll art was her primary focus. And yes, I am speaking in the past tense because, according to her Facebook page, Amanda has moved on, leaving the art world behind to become a nun. Wow. Is that a change in careers. She actually went to join a monastery, so she has completely disconnected from the world. It makes me a little sad to think such a talented artist will not be sharing her work with us any longer but I am always glad to hear about people taking off for new adventures, especially those that have such a strong pull that they completely change their lives. In my experience, that is usually a very good thing.

So, the suitcases fit for both our little seasonal travels or having guests visit and for the new journey of this artist, which she under took a couple of months ago. If you want to look into what she did in her short time with polymer, she has both a Pinterest board and a Facebook page. Mind you, this budding nun liked to create dolls that are absolutely anatomically correct, so if you aren’t fond of nudity you might just stay here and admire her suitcases.

 

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Aggrandizing the Broken

Anastaysia coppercrackedEarly this week I was sent a little message and share on Facebook from a regular contributor to The Polymer Arts, Sherilyn Dunn, who, upon recalling a conversation we had about scars, thought I would be interested in this quote from Billie Mobayad:

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damaged and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”

The reason Sherilyn sent that is because that is exactly how I feel. I think scars are beautiful. The cracks and damage, the chips and worn surfaces of the things around us, and on and within ourselves as well, is just telling of the richness and beauty of life. It does not mean it was always a happy life but those scars we carry are our stories, and whether we received them through tragedy or courageous adventure or something in between, they are testaments to our history.  The more scars you have, the more you really know of the world. Or so I have always thought.

Which is, I know, a large part of why I am drawn to pieces like this one from Anastasyia Arynovich. According to her LiveJournal entry, she created this while “in the delirium of influenza”. Do you see how some of the hard things we go through can result in some very beautiful things?

Of course, this also reminded me of the quote I had just been sent. We don’t assign much value to stone, but when it is cracked open and either reveals or is filled with something of high value, like gold, we see it in such a different light. The contrast of the surfaces in these stone-like beads–shiny versus matte, smooth versus rough–just accentuates the contrast in perceived value. Actually, the expectations are reversed. Don’t we usually expect gold to be smooth and stone to be rough? The thin wavy lines, suggesting water or air, bring another, fragile level of contrast as well. It makes for a wonderful piece.

Anastasyia is also an incredible caner. Take a tour of her Flickr photostream to see what I mean. It will be a delightful ‘break’ in your day.

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Takes Just a Little Twist

Nemravka flip braceletSimple ideas are often the most surprising. When I saw this bracelet as a thumbnail on my screen, I thought it was a cane or inlay, but when I went in for a larger look, I just broke into a big smile when I saw the way Petra Nemravka created this peek-a-boo color.

We have certainly seen the twisted strip in polymer before but maybe it’s the singularly bright bit of color combined with the continuous rhythmic repetition that a bangle bracelet allows that makes this feel so fresh and brilliant. The simplicity of the colors–a high contrast of black and white with highly saturated colors glimpsed between them–is not spoiled by further embellishment but is enhanced by a variation in the length and placement of the cuts. The barely-seen color is reinforced with the bracelet insides, but only the edge would regularly show when wearing it, so even that swathe of color would be doing its share of barely being revealed. I thought the idea was all around clever and well executed.

Petra is from my grandmother’s homeland in the Czech Republic. I do notice that I am often drawn to the work we see from that region and have wondered if it has anything to do with my background. But then there are pieces like this, very contemporary with a sense of design that is not regional but rather feels universal. So, I’m pretty sure there is simply a well propagated sense of good design and color in that part of the world that we are so often lucky enough to see come out in great polymer pieces. Petra is also an entrepreneur, running the online shop  Nemravka.cz along with working on her wide variety of designs as you can see on her Flickr photostream.

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A Lovely Surprise

katya bo burden pendantsI don’t know what happens online but there have been long spells lately where nothing really jumps out at me as I wander through Pinterest, Flicker, Etsy, Google images, and the many blogs and art sites I keep bookmarked to look for amazing and inspiring work. Maybe it’s just me, but then, all of sudden, pieces are jumping out of the screen to charm me into digging further. This week, I want to share a few that have done that recently but for which I haven’t devised any themes to work them into and I’m just a bit too excited to wait to share them.

These pendants made me stop, not just because they are beautifully designed, but I thought certainly that these were one of the many pieces found on Pinterest that had been mistakenly marked as polymer. Looking into the artist further, I found that Katya Bo does, in fact, make these out of polymer. Only the findings they hang from and the stones embedded in them are not. I’ve done my share of raised thin lines in polymer and they are not at all easy to keep neat and even. It takes a lot of patience and a steady hand. Katya must have those in spades because, according to process photos I found, these are not stamped or cast as they might first appear to be.

Her art deco look sometimes crosses into renaissance and other times takes a whiplash swing into space age styles, but there is always that delicate design reminiscent of enamel using faux granite clay for the base. Her pieces are gorgeously conceived, beautifully detailed, and quietly balanced in design; a combination that seems fairly rare in art jewelry these days.

I spent way more time flipping through her Flickr pages than I had when I first saw her work, then I dug deeper and found her LiveMaster shop as well as her VK.com ‘workroom’ which has the process photos that reveal that, no, those lines are not wires or formed through a more precision method, but are all formed polymer. What a lovely surprise.

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Stone by Stone, Smile by Smile

Michela Bufalini pebble housesWe are going to go outside polymer art to find a little bit of joyful sunshine to round out this week’s more whimsical focus.

You might think these are polymer when you first glance at them, and when told they are not you might think ceramics or air dry clays, perhaps, but they are none of the above. The three-dimensional components here are almost exclusively painted stone. Michela Bufalini creates what she calls ‘pebbleart’. Her page does not readily translate from the Italian it is written in and what I could translate wasn’t always that clear, but here is the one quote I pulled in English that sums up the purpose of these pieces:

“The challenge of taking an object, that is generally considered to be of little interest or value, and turning it into a work of art is what inspires me to bring life and beauty to an otherwise ignored element of nature.”

I can only imagine that, in addition, she must let the shapes of the pebbles determine the forms of her elements, so that the stones at hand help in determining what is in the work as well as the composition. And then there is the inevitable inspiration received when the pieces assembled start to suggest more specific ideas as to what the creator can do with them.

So, although the work looks like it could be polymer, it is very far removed from our process because we can create any shape and texture while these stones have built-in limitations. Limitations, however, can be a wonderful thing. And I think the joy that emanates from these fun and colorful pieces attests to that.

Add a few more smiles to your day by spending a bit of time on Michela’s website. Like I said, the text on the site doesn’t easily translate, but the joy in the imagery is a universal language.

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