Fragility and Strength

saitok-frost-neckpiece-2006Although New Year’s Eve allows for all kinds of bling and shimmer to be pulled out and showed off, sometimes the most impressive statement is understatement. That’s what I think this strong but delicate piece from jewelry designer Kayo Saito is about.

I imagine this necklace it is quite large so it will show off  size wise for certain, but I think the organic shapes in semi-translucent fabrics draw the eye for its juxtaposition in the fragile look of the forms within their strong directional orientation and dense composition. Both the fragility and strength are unwavering which makes it quite a sophisticated and intriguing piece.

I know … I just posted two items in a row this week that weren’t actually polymer. But in both cases, they could easily have been polymer with the same impact. It doesn’t matter what material a piece is made from, only that it is done well and that it inspires. Right? Art is inclusive, not exclusive. Just go take a look at Kayo’s website to see more inspiring, strong and sometimes frail looking work in fabrics and metal.

I also picked this piece because I think its characteristics represents how many of us feel as we head into 2017. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. We don’t know what our leaders are going to do and we don’t know how the conflicts across the world will play out in the coming months or what it will mean for us. This has left many people feeling frail and exposed. But the issues that have arisen have also given many, many people a new sense of direction as well as a swelling sense of responsibility and need to speak out and be heard. We may feel vulnerable, we may even appear frail, but I think a lot of people today are actually strong and resilient. We have already been through some seriously trying times this past decade and we have, for the most part, bounced back. I think recent experiences show that whatever comes this new year, we can meet it with strength, ingenuity, and compassion. A bit more creativity and beauty in the world won’t hurt either.

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Soutache Sashay

soutache-lipowska

If you aren’t into a lot of bling, you can add a little energy to your outfit with some moving adornment. These soutache and tassel earrings would be mesmerizing on the dance floor this new year’s eve, or at any upcoming special occasion.

Designs in soutache are easily translated into polymer. From the spirals and loops to the integration of beads, browsing through a collection of soutache jewelry offers a lot of ideas for some fancy polymer pieces. And adding tassels like Anna Lipowska Lianne has done with her sashaying soutache would be a lovely addition when you want graceful movement in your jewelry.

Anna is also expert in adding just a dash of color or even going a little geometric. Take a look at her collections on her website and her Facebook page.

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Diamond Rivers

blanka-prochazkova-diamond-river-rocksNow that we have gotten through the heaviest of the holiday season and family members will be packing up and heading back home, its time to think of the coming year. And about New Year’s Eve! This is the time for celebrating with friends and wrapping up the year in style. It’s also the one time of year where everyone can find an event to go all blinged out to.

Even polymer, plastic based as it is, can be crafted with some serious sparkle and sophisticated bling. These rivers of crystals through frosty river rock like beads come in a full shimmer set of necklace earring and a ring. The soft round shapes keeps it from being an overly serious set of adornment but the generous sparkle will bring even a jeans and sweater outfit up several notches.

The set was created by Blanka Procházková, an artisan whose work has the marks of influence from a range of polymer artists, this set included, many of whom she has taken classes with. Her approach and designs have a slightly different angle on what others have done, showing her exploration although not her particular voice, not yet. There are definite hints though and she’d be one to keep an eye on. You can do so by jumping over to her Flickr photostream or her website.

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Dressing up the Christmas Tree

christmas-tree-dress-ribbon-runs-through-itAlthough I really want to go with a winter white holiday theme, it was hard not to go into a purely Christmas piece with amazing work like this floating across my monitor as I look for eye candy for you. But whether you do Christmas or not, it is hard not to appreciate the decorative impact of something as unique as this Christmas tree dress.

I’m not sure if this is more a tree or a gown. Maybe it could be worn although it would be quite difficult to get around in. I do know this was made for a client’s home by Legare Simpson at A Ribbon Runs Through It. Legare got into making these when, not finding anything she liked, she tried making wreath’s for herself. What she made impressed others who asked her to make them wreaths and the passion just grew from there.

She makes all kinds of wreaths but it’s her dresses and suits–created for other seasons as well–that really grab the spotlight. I wish I had time to make something so amazing for the house but maybe next year. In the meantime, enjoy her gorgeous array of tree dresses, flower suits and unique wreaths on her website.

 

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Wintery Bling

irene-b-2-wintery-blingHere’s the look of winter without the below zero temperatures so many weathered this past weekend in the mid and northern United States. Just the right amount of icy color without the icy temperatures!

The mint and pale gray greens on white in these shimmering earrings by Florida’s Irene B are about as wintry feeling as one can get without stepping out into the real thing. The greens really do it as they contrast just a bit with the pearl whites to really make these stand out not to mention that those colors are exactly what you get in freshly frozen ice and under deep, wet snow piles.

These were sold on Etsy back in 2012 and there isn’t much more on them or the artist as her shop seems to be shuttered up right now. The shop notes don’t say whether it’s closed for the season or has been for a while. The set was too beautiful to pass up even without further information but if anyone knows the scoop on this artist, write me and I’ll add it here.

In the meantime, stay warm and cozy. I am heading off into for a chilly drive across Utah today and into the gorgeous Colorado mountains. There is sure to be snow but let’s hope it is only the stuff that has already fallen and will sparkle at us from under a blue, blue sky.

 

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Adorable Holidays

jackalopeLike many of you, I will be traveling this week so I am going to keep things light and brief but stay with the feel of the upcoming season by featuring a few simple but surprising pieces.

This adorable jackalope (as we call these rabbits with antlers in the Southwest) was created in ‘velvet clay’ by Evgeny Hontor with such an endearing look. Decorating the likeness of animals with symbols and marks appears in many cultures throughout the ages with no reason to stop the tradition in modern days. We do still like to celebrate the animal spirits that capture our attention and inspire us.

Although not a reindeer, this little guy felt very wintry and celebratory so I thought it was a great way to start out a Monday. Back to wrapping things up for our little holiday trip but if you want to immerse yourself in more cuteness jump over to Evgeny’s Etsy store for more adorable and beautiful creatures.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: We’re going to take a break from challenges this week as for many of us there will be little time. But let the post inspire you as you see fit if you get yourself some studio time.

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Encouraging Stories

agozonar-encourageOur profiled artist for the Winter 2016 issue is the delightfully enigmatic and poetic Alev Gozonar whose work is far less defined by the material than by the stories she has such an overwhelming desire to tell. She works predominantly in polymer if you are looking at the last few years but she takes many detours and one may even wonder if she’ll be wandering back this way at moments.

In the article we feature and discuss her pointillistic cane wall pieces but that is only one part of this ever exploring artist. The work you see here is water-color on paper with little wire and polymer people pushing up the painted shapes to reveal the white and words behind the painting. There is an obvious metaphor of revealing the ideas behind the work but the struggle of the little guys also brings to the forefront the idea of just how hard it is to convey one’s meaning. And, if you know Alev’s work, you know there has got to be a story in this — probably something personal or close to her. In any case, the muted color palette is just beautifully harmonious each open shape just begs you to examine it. I find it an irresistibly intriguing piece and did so wish we had room to discuss some of her pieces like this. But that is both the beauty and the shortcoming of a magazine format –you only have so much time to delve into the most interesting subjects.

Think of the articles as an introduction to subjects and ideas that serendipitously fall into your lap and do go investigate the most interesting ones further. If Alev’s stories and inspiration sparks your interest, go take a look at her beautiful website, especially the section on her book which you can read online (the English is next to the Turkish so don’t let the show of foreign words turn you away).

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Pick up a magazine or scroll through Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram or whatever you have handy. Find something that really grabs you and do a bit of investigating. Keep a notepad or sketchbook nearby and start making notes on what you find inspiring. After you’ve done this, go play in the studio and let that inspiration help you start on your next project. If you detour from the inspiration, that’s fine. Just let it get you started and see where it takes you.

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Close Color Calls

lindly13Our Color Spotlight section of the Winter 2016 issue of The Polymer Arts was graced by Donna Kato, interview by Lindly Haunani. How amazing is that combination?! Donna let us in on her colored pencil experiments and her reasoning behind her approach. Although colored pencil on polymer is not new, it is always fascinating to see into the workings of an artistic mind and since this section focuses on color choices and inspiration, we got a peek at how this master choose colors for her explorations.

One piece that I was sent to consider including was this beautiful necklace you see here. We ended up focusing so much on the pencil work that there really wasn’t a place for this in the article but it certainly deserves a bit of attention. Each section of the necklace deals with one basic hue in two different values. The disparate placement offsets the regularity of each hue showcased in the same shape and the relative dark to light hue being basically the same within each color set. The delicious saturated colors don’t hurt it at all either.

The most active page to see what Donna has been up to in her own art looks to be her Facebook page although you can see some of her more honed work and learn from her wisdom by going over to check out her classes on CraftArtEdu.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Let’s play with color hue. Pick 2-3 colors–they can contrast, be analogous (next to each other on the color wheel) or simply be your favorites.  Choose two variations of each color–different saturation (how pure a hue it is), values (dark or light), or tints/shades (additions of white/black.) Now use just these to create a new piece.

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A Journey of Exploration

dcrothers-necklace-sunsetAs many of you are aware, our Winter 2016 issue, themed “On the Surface”, came out weekend before last. Despite some head-spinning challenges in our schedule, we still pulled off a an issue that readers are finding particularly inspiring. My apologies to those folks that lost entire mornings and afternoons as they read the issue cover to cover instead of getting work done or running intended errands. So glad you found it so worthwhile!

The success of this issue was in no small part due to the wonderful contributing artists who gave us so much to look at and so much to think about. Even so, our artists have a much broader range of talent than any single article can even begin to show so this week, we’ll look at what else these talented folks have been up to, starting with Debbie Crothers who gave us the article on Surprising Variety showcasing some unexpected materials to use in polymer surface design.

Debbie has been on a journey of exploration in polymer since we first met online some 8 years ago. She is always coming up with an amazingly wide range of techniques and textures. You are more likely to see her fun treated beads on her Facebook page than completed pieces but lately it’s been the other way around with some stunning results, such as this beauty using an image transfer and crackle technique to throw textural accents into the mix of smooth shapes. I have to admit that the sunset colors are what first grabbed me but then you spend some time looking over the detail and you kind of fall in love with the whole piece.

Debbie has also been a busy girl herself, showing off her brand new website this month. You can find the way to her thoughtful blog there as well as links to her classes, videos, and upcoming workshops. For a retrospective of her work, past and present, jump over to her Flickr photostream to see the interesting journey she’s been on.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Look back through whatever history of your work you have available to you. Where have you been with your work and where are you now? As we approach the new year, let this review help you shape ideas on where to go this coming year. Spend some time just making notes, a goal list or just sketching to help move you along on the next step of your journey.

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