Deep Mokume Shine

ukrasheniya-braslet-na-derevyannojAnother example of a simple but beautiful finish is brought to us by Tatiana Parshikova from the Kursk region of Russia. This beautifully polished mokume has an increased sense of depth, not only from the use of translucent clay but because the polish allows light to cleanly bounce in and back out, clearly defining all the beautiful layers she created here.

You can catch more of Tatiana’s beautiful work on Instagram and on her LiveMaster pages where she is known as Seventh Heaven.

I’m going to be brief today as I am traveling. Blogs for the next few weeks will be coming to you from France or, should internet be difficult to obtain, from a stash of back up posts my darling project manager Ciara will post for you so you have something pretty to look at daily. The challenges may be sporadic but I will try to post at least one a week. Now off to catch a plane! Au revoir pour le moment.

 

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Polished Consideration

Noelia Contreras C063Who doesn’t enjoy a flawless finish? A smooth and highly polished finish in polymer is particularly attractive and those of us who have tried to reach this pinnacle of skill are awed by it. I’ve seen quite a bit of nicely polished finishes lately including this beautiful set by Noelia Contreras.

This is a simple, fun, and colorful design that could hold its own without the finish, but the high polish takes it up a level, making it particularly eye catching.  The blacks look blacker and the colors appear brighter because of the clean reflection of light. This kind of finish takes a little longer than a basic sand-and-buff and is sleeker and classier than a varnish short cut, but the results are so worth it.

These polished finishes are common in Noelia’s work, as is her very particular attention to all the details of a piece. Take a few minutes to admire her skill on her Flickr pages and in her shop.

 

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: In your next piece, or with a piece you have already created but could benefit from a bit more attention, practice your flawless finishes. This will mean different things for different people as not every piece should be polished or flawless. The idea is that your piece is carefully and skillfully finished off in a fashion that matches the type of work it is. If you are going for smooth, take the time to polish it to the best of your ability. If it is rough or layered, be particular about the cuts you make, the backs, and the edges.

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Transitor Transitions

Karen and Ann Mitchell transitorsI think this piece was actually created in 2015, so although not brand new, it popped up on my screen the other day and I just had to share.

This is a necklace by Karen and Ann Mitchell, probably best known for their contribution to our advanced knowledge of liquid polymer possibilities. Exploring and trying new materials and designs is nothing new for these two ladies, but take a close look at the focal piece. Do you recognize the ‘beads’ used in the center?

If you don’t, you could just open up your computer, or any electronic device really, and you’d find these little elements in there. These electronic transistors make a perfectly blended design with the color palette of the beads, and the ladder design continues (or may have been inspired by) the staccato beat of the elements throughout this piece.

If you are not yet familiar with the work of these two fabulous ladies, you can find out more on their website here. They also have two great books out, the classic and still best source on the subjectLiquid Polymer Clayand Bead Jewelry 101

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Wander into a hardware store, thrift store, or dollar store and find a small collection of items whose colors, shapes, or textures really grab you. Take them home and create a piece based around the characteristics of your new found materials.

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Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

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Colors of Bollywood

Claire maunsell bollywoodWhen I think of Claire Maunsell’s work, I think of her lovely and very organic pods and vessels. Her matte but saturated colors along with those crackle textures and scratches have become identifying characteristics of her style. So when I saw this post in a Facebook group with this work in progress piece, I was surprised to see it was posted by Claire. The contemporary shapes and brilliant colors are a departure from her usual approach, but what a brilliant exploration it is.

Claire says this was inspired by Bollywood films, which was an easy an instant connection for me. Those Indian fabrics and decor are so luscious in color, and Claire’s interpretation is a beautiful collaboration of those colors and her penchant for heavy texture.

Although I can’t point you to the source of this image, you can see more of Claire’s beautiful work on her Flickr photostream and in her Etsy shop.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Relax and watch a movie or show where the scenery, atmosphere, or fashion has a very particular look. Find colors, textures, forms, or imagery that inspires you and design or create your next piece based on this inspiration.

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Adventures in Form

Connie clark tile June 2016Maybe it’s just me, but 2016 seems like a year of new exploration for many polymer artisans. It’s like the year of trying something new. Not that some of the artists I’ll share with you this week don’t regularly explore, but these are kind of fun and a bit surprising.

This tile, by Connie Clark, is what really got me thinking about this. She posted this on her Facebook page with these comments: “I have been wanting to branch out beyond making primarily jewelry with my polymer art work ... Working in a larger scale has had some appeal but there are some mechanics and logistics that I need to work out along the way … I have been looking at a lot of other artist’s work in various medium including ceramics, painting, mixed media, paper, fabrics, polymer and more and I’m seeing a whole lot of tremendous inspiration. I was lucky enough to see some work in person by a ceramic artist named Vicki Grant in a gallery in Asheville NC and her work was something you could spend hours marveling over. Here’s to the journey of learning and discovering something new!”

The first of her explorations are 6″x 6″ tiles, although she wants to go larger, but, since she created these at a retreat, she was restricted by the oven sizes available. She says she plans to go larger once she has it worked out. I say, yes please. I would love to see more work like this. Such great texture and added dimension having that center piece come forward to house a cluster of crystals. There are little details all over this piece so take your time taking it in.

You can see the other tiles she’s posted so far, as well as see how different this is compared to other pieces she’s done, by checking out the photos on her Facebook page.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Try a form you’ve never created in before. Take a look through books you have or search Pinterest, Flickr, Etsy, or whatever you prefer to come up with a completely new form. Have you ever created hair pins, ear cuffs, cell phone covers, coasters, bookmarks, book ends? There are a lot of possibilities.

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Outside Inspiration: Moving Scenes

carolyn weir mobileOne article in the new Summer issue that really could have used more room was the one on mobiles. You should see just my outline for it! The art of mobiles is so broad that it would be impossible to get even just a taste of all that can be done in one article, even if we took up all the pages doing it. Mobiles, like any art form, can be taken in a myriad of directions. Just as a necklace does not need to be a series of symmetrically strung beads, a mobile does not need to be just a series of the same or similar objects hanging in any predictable pattern. The elements don’t even need to hang straight down but can shoot out sideways or straight up into the air. The assembly can be organized horizontally, vertically, or in some random pattern. The only thing a mobile needs is controlled balance.

I wanted to share more than the few mobiles you see in the article, but it’s really hard to choose ones that represent all these can be. The handful in the article barely touch the pool of possibility. So if you read the article and are intrigued, start by creating the simple mobile in the tutorial. Creating the tutorial example will give you a better idea of what the art of balancing is all about, then you can go out and search for more mobiles. You will be amazed by what is out there.

Here is just one out-of-the-box idea for mobile art that combines wall art, as well. Carolyn Weir creates all kinds of mobiles in a variety of materials, but I like these moving scenes the best. The two-dimensional image changes from a specific horizontal scene to a series of abstract vertical designs as it moves. The mobile also allows her to display two of her paintings which turn into multiple scenes as the pieces move around and realign so you’d basically have a different picture moment to moment. If you’ve read the article already, can you recognize the balance points and why she hung them from these specific points? Kind of cool to know these things now, isn’t it?

Carolyn also creates the more classic Calder style mobiles, of which you can see examples in her Etsy shop. For more of these scene mobiles, take a look at all the examples on her blog. And if you want to see these and her other mobiles in motion, take a look at her videos on YouTube.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Make something that moves. Add dangling elements, something that spins, or an element that swings to your next piece. If you already create a lot of dangles and other hanging pieces, try pushing how you hang them. Try balancing in asymmetrical arrangements or attach dangles to a vertical or diagonal element instead of horizontal.

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Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

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Plethora of Patterned Plates

Arieta0074We have some incredibly beautiful work in the gallery sections this issue. We are very fortunate that we got Bonnie Bishoff and J.M. Syron to showcase their new work (and grace the cover) and are thrilled to have the latest work from Staci Smith to share with you, as well.

The surprise gem of our collection in the Summer issue of The Polymer Arts galleries, I think, is the beautifully patterned plates by Arieta Stavridou of Nicosia, Cyprus. We had an incidental conversation on Facebook about the Polymer Journeys book and in clicking through I found this photo of them. Not that applying canes to plates is new, but her pattern and color choices are just gorgeous. Placement, orientation, and pattern combinations are very intentional, intention being so important in art, especially in something like this. I loaded a large image of this plate collection so you can click on it and see the detail better.

I talk a bit more about intention in art in my editor’s letter in this issue, as well. And, of course, we have many more of Arieta’s plates to admire along with her fun teapots in the Summer issue’s gallery pages. You can also see more of her work on her Facebook pages.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create or design a piece with very intentional repeated but varied patterns. This can be several different canes, hand tooled marks, or repeated motifs. You could even do a combination of these. Combine the elements used for the pattern based on some specific concept. Any concept will do as long as it has a very intentional connection, such as analogous colors, the flowers in your garden, symbols of ancient Greece, or images that remind you of your beach vacation.

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Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

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Summer is Here! (The 2016 issue) and a Closer Look at Georg

GeorgeDinkel TV ShrineHurrah! The Summer 2016 issue went out on Saturday, so if you were waiting on a digital edition, check your inbox (or spam folder if it’s not there). We started mailing the print edition out on Thursday and the last of those (for subscribers with active accounts and pre-orders prior to Friday) will get packed and off today. We’ll do another mailing for recent orders in a couple of days, so if you haven’t subscribed, renewed, or ordered your copy, you’ll want to be sure to have this for your summer reading and plane rides to vacation destinations. Not to mention in the studio!

Because there is a lot going on in this issue, this week and maybe next we’ll be highlighting art that we just couldn’t fit in. The first article in the Summer 2016 Movement issue is an interview with the amazing Georg Dinkel. Of course, all his work involves movement, even this TV shrine that looks like a beautifully ornate shrine in classic ecclesiastical styling when closed but opens to reveal a modern Apple TV and what looks like religious portraits until you get a closer look. I had wanted to get these portraits in the article but they just wouldn’t be printable if we made them large enough to show the detail. Because at closer inspection, you see that they aren’t cardinals and priests but rather iconic TV and movie characters dressed up like them. Click on the image below to get a bigger picture and see who you can identify.

For more images and information on this and Georg’s many other intensely detailed pieces, visit his website and read the article which gives so much insight into why he creates these, how he creates and constructs them, and the interesting story about how he moved from wood to polymer in his work. Get your copy of the issue at www.thepolymerarts.com.

GeorgeDinkel TVShrine side panels

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Draw inspiration from your sources of entertainment. What TV shows, movies, books, or music are you drawn to? Choose one and create or design a piece that relates to it somehow. It can embody a concept from the source or could be worn by a character in a show or may just have colors and forms inspired by the emotions it brings up in you.

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Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

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Chaotic Tendrils

Beth Petricoin Chaos wall hanging

Let’s look at one last example of chaos, tendrils, and limited palettes. This time we join Beth Petricoin who wrote a great article on her polymer quilling in the Spring 2015 issue of The Polymer Arts. Here she actually builds it into a few layers which you don’t often see in paper quilling, the inspiration for her version of this technique.

With the randomness we have here–tendrils snaking their way into so much open space–the limited warm color palette holds the relationship between it all together. It does, of course, help that all the tendrils are anchored to a central form, but that round center’s prime function is as a focal point. When creating chaotic compositions, you would do well to provide a more solid resting point for the eyes of your viewers to gravitate to, otherwise the randomness can be overwhelming.

A focal point like this also give the viewer the opportunity to explore each section with a kind of home base to start from. The way the curls at the end of the tendrils roll back in on themselves helps redirect the viewer back to the center where they can start again in another direction if they like. It is even more impactful of a composition when the wall piece is seen straight on, but this image did a lot to show off the dimensionality of it.

Quilling is the theme of this month’s challenge through the PCAGOE (Polymer Clay Artist’s Guild of Etsy), and the entries can be found on Beth’s blog. So if you like the look of this technique, find your copy of the Spring 2015 issue (or buy one here) and check out the challenge entries for alternate clay quilling ideas. She also has lovely work in a variety of techniques in her Etsy shop.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Try some quilling! You can create an entire piece using sliced up sheets of clay to create your ribbons of clay or just use them to decorate part of a piece or, using narrow strips, as ‘leading’ in a faux enamel or stained glass piece.

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Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

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