Charming Bezels

seahorse-gems2We are going from skilled cute to the clever variety today. These  seahorses are more than just cute pendants, the sculpted creatures are cleverly arranged as bezels for various cabochon stones.

Although the form is not wholly new–stones as the backs or bellies of creatures has been done in every jewelry and most sculptural materials already–I think the way these are created to fit the form of the seahorse is pretty clever. Instead of the stone replacing an expected section of the animal, the animals are expanded to be the framework for the stones, making it a critter bezel rather than a decorative one or an animal form simply embedded with a stone. Agnieszka Wachowiak, the creator, does make other fantastical creatures in the more ’embedded stone’ manner but all of her chosen critters, from dragons to turtles to owls to these seahorses, wear their gems in a very natural looking arrangement. However, the accents and smoothly sculpted forms, as well as the cuteness level, does outshine the stones most of the time. But I like the idea and the execution is nicely done.

You can check out Agnes’ other creations in her Etsy shop  or on her Facebook page.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Integrate sculptural or two-dimensional images of animals, plants, objects or faces into a piece that would normally be abstract or decorated with pattern. Or if you do mostly sculptural work, create a sculptural piece based on its presenting or framing an object.

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A Little Bit of Cute

count-blue-animal-ringsAfter a really long and exceedingly full week, just brimming with ups and downs, I am quite in the mood for a fun and light-hearted week. How does that sound?

Cutesy craft does not get a nod to its artistry quite the way that contemporary craft usually does. But that doesn’t mean there is any less talent, skill and self-expression in it. It’s just less serious. Which is great! Life is rough enough as it is. Let’s admire work that makes us smile. Like these meticulously detailed and unquestionably adorable animal rings from our Japanese colleague Jiro Miura who sells under the moniker Count Blue. These adorable rings are a fantastic idea. Now you can take your prized polymer cuties out and about with you instead of just keeping them to yourself on a shelf at home.

Jiro does create sculptures that would just sit on a shelf but he also creates tiny earrings of his creatures. Small in size is the most common feature along with being very detailed. You can find more of his work on this translated-to-English link to his Count Blue website.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create something cute, playful, or at least not serious today but use your usual techniques. Let your child side out and enjoy creating joyful things with familiar processes.

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Leaves Dropping

b00d89c9ae2c0faa047cd0a2298469ebTo wrap up this week, we’ll look at a last echo of Fall with a little Asian flair.

This delicate imagery was created by Galina Milusenko of Ust’-Ilimsk, Russia. A simple palette of grays  are brought up to a dramatic level with the brightness of scattered red leaves. The leaves that come off the end of the pendant create a beautiful flow into the space beyond the primary canvas. I love when a piece does this, breaking the boundaries of the canvas so it becomes part of the space outside it. It just gives a piece  an extra bit of life.

I’m going to keep this short today. Its been a very busy week and there are a few things left to wrap up the Winter issue. The Winter 2016 issue, themed On the Surface, will be released December 4th. It’s a beautiful issue to finish out a great year. You can pre-order your copy or get a subscription on our website today.

If you want to see more of Galina’s work, take a look at her VK posts.

 

 

 

 

 

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In the Midst of Leaves

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So after a week of autumn color and a week of mostly translucent autumn, I am moving from Fall colors (I promise I am!) into leaves! There are tons of leaf motifs popping up out there and this beautiful bowl by the one and only Emily Squires Levine was on the top of my list for found leaf motif. (That has a ring to it!)

Emily has been branching out (pun intended … couldn’t help myself!) with some new designs this that are more of an extension of what she’s been doing than a departure. I am sure, with the In the Forest project, more trees and forest imagery will be popping up in her work and many more polymer artist’s pages as well.

I found these on Emily’s Facebook page where you can view more of her latest work. You can also stop by her website while you are off wandering through the leaves and such.

As for me, this will be a particularly busy week with the holiday, house buying paperwork (it’s like a second job!), getting the Winter issue off to the printer and, last but not least … in a non-traditional move that has more to do with logistics, health insurance, and moving residency to California before the end of the year, my beau and I will be tying the knot tomorrow, at least on paper. The official celebration is a month away but the fact that there will be no turning back after tomorrow does give one pause. Unless it’s the guy you should have married 3 decades ago. So yeah, don’t mind me this week. I may be a bit distracted.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Can we just say … get through the week, make time to relax and play, and enjoy your families. Sound good?

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Outside Inspiration: Through the Trees

michelle_mckinney_treesI’m going to end this week with something that is translucent although maybe not the way you are thinking, a piece that shies away from the fall colors, moving into Winter, as so many of us are, at least in terms of upcoming plans if not weather.

I share this work with you upon one condition (okay, maybe it’s not a condition, but it is a very strong urging) … that you visit the links I have for you for this artist. Michelle McKinney is one of those artists whose work you need to see in its many variation to really understand the scope and beauty of her vision. She works in what she calls ” hand cut translucent woven metal”. The images she creates are so delicate and yet they are generally rife with energy and, in my view, struggle.

That fact that she calls her material translucent and we see it as delicate makes for a fairly dramatic contrast with our understanding that this is metal. There is further contrast between concept and material in that images are almost all organic and yet what they are made of is industrial. More impressive though, is the undeniable beauty in her subject matter, the usually simple images that are a bit torn and twisted. I think it garners empathy for the idea of something so delicate being in such a state. It’s rather hard to put one’s finger on exactly what it is that is so striking about these but it is there without question.

You need to look at her collection of work for yourself and see if the pieces speak to you in a similar fashion. Please treat yourself to the beauty of her pieces on her Facebook page which looks to hold the largest collection of images like these trees here. But also stop over at her website to see the black and white prints she is creating with these sculptural pieces, developing a collection she calls Ghost Editions. They are eerily beautiful and not to be missed.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Design or create something whose imagery is one thing but the texture, color or embellishment would say something else. Work in conceptual and visual contrast. Don’t think too hard about it or too long. Start with a few ideas and see where the muse takes you.

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Translucent Play, in 3 parts. Pt.3

eva-haskova-braceletHere is one more day of autumnal translucent beauties. Eva Haskova actually created these last April but they seem an appropriate homage to our quickly fading Fall season.

These bracelets are fairly simple in concept but so intriguing with their gradation of luminous colors and the short open tubes that allow a glimpse of the soft white of their translucent base. The color selection, similar to the piece by Jan Montarsi we saw last week, wisely includes a touch of cool color among all the rich warm hues to balance the intensity of the palette.

Holes and spaces seem to be dominating Eva’s explorations lately. You can see the evidence of this on her Facebook page as well as admire her other work on  her Flickr photostream or her website.

 

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create something in either a completely cool palette or a wholly warm palette. Once you have most of the design planned or executed, try inserting colors of the other temperature. How does that change the feeling of the piece when you add just a little of the opposing color temperature? How about if you add a lot? Play with the contrast until you have something that speaks to you.

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Translucent Play, in 3 parts. Pt.2

melanie-west-trans-cane-pinOk … back to our regularly scheduled program here. Here is a touch more on translucents this week since I started last Monday with a  piece that was stated to be “in 3 parts” but got sidetracked the rest of the week. It’s rather hard to not complete the promised trio so here you are.

Here is a most magnificent brooch using translucents to create a visual illusion that will trip you out  almost as much as the post-election mayhem. It looks absolutely three-dimensional but also, compounded by the organic placement and directional lean of the cane’s illusion, you could swear these open pod forms are alive. This piece so wonderfully illustrates the illusory possibilities of translucent clays.

The brooch comes from the genius of Melanie West who has been playing around with familiar themes and applications but with some fantastically unexpected results. I know this will get some of your imaginations just reeling but for even more fun and mind bending beauties, take a look at Melanie’s website and her latest creations posted recently on her Facebook page.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Use directional line to create a very intentional sense of movement. Create texture or line up motifs or forms to show strong direction in whatever interests you. If you like orderly, create orderly designs but try it in different orientations to see how it feels. If you want more organic or chaotic movement, be more random. If you want soothing, try flowing line.

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Time to get Excited! Here’s the Winter 2016 Cover: On theSurface

cover-16p4-fnl-med-96-padded

This next issue gets down to a subject most every polymer clayer can get behind. Or on top of really. That being surface design. The subject is a pretty broad one so it was tough deciding just what to put in the issue but we ended up with a very exciting mix of articles. Here is just part of the list:

  • The Well Designed Surface
  • Raised Surface Coloration
  • Unique Surface Variety
  • Ink Resist Polymer Painting
  • Creating Custom Texture Sheets
  • Wall Stories: The Art of Alev Gozonar
  • Color Spotlight with Donna Kato
  • The Backside of Brooches
  • Giving Away the Shop: Pros & Cons of Freebies & Giveaways
  • … and much more.

If you need to renew or purchase a subscription, or would like to pre-order your Winter issue,  you can go to our website here.

There is much to do so I am off to get this issue together and polished for you. We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled eye candy on Monday!

 

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Positivity, Beauty and Love

berlin-9Before I talk about this gorgeous mural, I want to ask those of you reading this to bear with me on what has been a bit of hard morning here in the US as I have a small request. But don’t worry, I am not going to get political. I simply want to send out, from my little tiny corner of the world, a message of positivity. It’s a message I think we as artists are particularly capable of sending out in a myriad of effectual ways. I believe this is the only thing worth focusing on right now in what is sure to be an unforgettable time. What about it will be so unforgettable is what I hope you and I can influence.

Last night, Americans saw a shift in our belief in and an understanding of our country and what it stands for. There are a lot of angry, depressed and confused people, not just here in the States but all over the world. Everything I’ve watched and read indicates that the unexpected US presidential election results was primarily a vote against something rather than for something but it has left us in a precarious place.  For those of you despairing of the outcome, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The president is not the American people. He is just one person and we are millions. The president is not a dictator and does not have the kind of power to do many of the things Trump has said he would do. So let’s not panic or the panic itself will become part of the problem. Let’s take control of and influence what each of us has access to. And what we have access to, primarily, is our talent and each other.

As artists, writers and creatives in general, we have, collectively, a tremendous amount of influence. The creatives in our world monitor and voice our emotions. They color the atmosphere of our world. And right now, all of you, whether you are an active artist or simply a supportive admirer, can make a difference in how the US moves forward and how the world is effected.

No, we will not be able to shore up stock markets or end bigotry in any kind of immediate and dramatic way but that is not how change actually happens. Change happens in a series of infinitesimally small steps. Like an earthquake, tiny small shifts and pressures build up until the plates cannot stand it any longer and releases the pressure all at once. This is what happened yesterday. We now have the opportunity to create the right kind of change by applying the right kind of pressure in this atmosphere where people are looking for answers. We can be the pressure for positive changes.

So I want to ask everyone reading this to do a very simple thing, something that we all have the power to do and can collectively use to make truly positive changes in what has been, for a while now, a very divided and emotional time, all across the world. I want to encourage you to put out nothing but beauty, compassion, love and positive messages right now. Set aside anger, disappointment, depression and even your fears for the time being in order to do and say kind and positive things.

It is extremely important that negativity not rule the day. So use your network, your influence, your exposure and your creativity to help bolster the atmosphere of our global community. Don’t desert or admonish family or friends for supporting the other candidate or for sitting out the election. Instead support what you believe in with charitable donations, volunteering, vocal support, and your art. Create beautiful things so the world is just that much more lovely a place.

I’ll do my part now by sharing a bit of beauty. This beautiful Starling mural by artists Collin van der Sluijs and Super A is on an apartment building in Berlin. The collaborative work was created for the “One Wall Mural Project”, a project that aims to highlight the diversity of the many neighborhoods of Berlin by enabling artists to create these huge murals, thereby spreading a message of cohesion and beauty throughout the city. Take a look at this post on Colossal to see it in more detail. It is amazing.

It’s too bad we can’t all create 137 foot tall murals to be seen by thousands of people daily, sharing beauty and inspiring others along the way. But we can do our small part to contribute to a positive solution rooted in love for everyone. Will you join me?

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Select a piece of your artwork and give it to someone who could use a little more beauty today. Do this for them and for yourself. Being kind and charitable will enrich your day as well as the day of the person you gift the art too and, hopefully, that has a rippling effect through many, many people.

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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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