Pile it On

kim detmers dragonfly gardenI do like to keep busy, but I have to say the last few weeks have been beyond what any normal human should do to themselves. And I do say, I am doing this to myself because I am fully capable of saying no to some things but I have a very hard time doing so! So I’ve been piling it on and have to-do lists to keep track of my to-do lists and yet, I am a pretty happy camper.

Bringing lots of parts of things together can feel like chaos but with a little organization and stepping back to see the whole picture, it can look pretty good. I’m using this concept as a way to step into the things I want to show you this week … pieces made from pieces, in layers and repetition, doing the whole gestalt thing whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Following me still?

This charming pendant is an example of bringing together a lot of little things to present a pretty nice picture. It is a series of simple cane slices put together with a bit of texture and an embellishment here and there, creating this little scene. Kim Detmers  has made a number of these dragonfly garden pins but this is the most eye-catching, I think. Whereas the others are nearly all greens and blues, keeping the range all on the cool side of the color spectrum, this one has a dragonfly with yellow-orange wings which makes it stand out and creates a strong focal point. The many diagonal lines in the composition adds to the energy and drama, but just a little. It’s still pretty idyllic which has as much to do with the calming blue and green color dominance as the subject matter.

Kim tends to keep things light and bright with a penchant for fantasy-esque themes as you can see in her Etsy shop. I don’t see any Dragonfly Gardens here but there are a few to compare by doing a Google image search.

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Crystal Breakdown

lee ann armstrong brusho crystalsThings breaking down is not always a bad thing as evidenced by Lee Ann Armstrong‘s cuffs you see here. She says these are “brusho crystals on raw polymer clay, baked and ‘sealed’ with Kato liquid clay.” She goes on to say that the crystals wouldn’t  stabilize on polymer which I believe is why she sealed it. But the lack of stability doesn’t, literally, appear to be a bad thing.

The disintegration of color would seem to come from these being a watercolor related application. The crystals’ spread of color adds to the weathered look which, regardless of the faux worn appearance, comes across as lively and rich, largely due to Lee Ann’s color choices.

She created several of these cuffs and seems to have integrated either the crystals or a related material into recent cuffs seen on her Flickr pages. But take a look at her Facebook page for the posted cuffs on this series in particular.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Find the beauty in the weathered and worn. Take a walk or go through a thrift store and note the texture, colors and stories in the things you find. Take this home with you and let it inspire a free form creation this weekend.

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Beautifully Worn Out

C Butler EgonI like things with a little wear and tear, it’s true. The reason being is that things with dents, dings, scars, and worn out spots also have stories and usually interesting ones. It’s true that you can’t ask the worn down and beat up chair you find at the thrift store who had so neglected it but one can imagine what it might have been through including how it persevered through the years to sit there before you asking to be loved.

Patina is kind of like metal’s mark of perseverance. In the face of the many elements in our world, metals will persist, reacting to salt in the air or the acidity of water by producing an alternate finish. The metal loses some of its composition in the process and eventually this will break it down but it will hold out until the last and, in the meantime, we get to admire its struggle and the beautiful reactions that result from it.

I found this little piece of lively patina on the Flickr photostream of Christina Butler. It’s polymer with metal paints and patina solutions, similar to Swelligant. The patina represents something aged but then what kind of object would have layers so bent and twisted? What story did Christina have in mind when creating this? It shows disintegration with two perfectly round and shiny spots, as if saying that regardless of what has been lost, something beautiful will always survive. Well, that’s the start of my story for it at least.

Speaking of stories … you may note that Christina has been quite inactive on Flickr and her Etsy shop has been on vacation since 2014. Sometimes our artists just fade off and we can only guess at what happened in their lives to move them away from the art we see. But in Christina’s case, we actually do know. She and her partner Jay took over daily operations at Poly Tools in 2014, a company her mother started in 1999. Not shutting down the shop tells us that she has not given up on her own art work but has a lot of focus elsewhere. Luckily, we can still catch up with her on Facebook when not detoured by the offerings over at the Poly Tools website.

 

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All Scratched Up

Katya Tryfonova scratched earringsWhat a weekend! There was lots of heavy lifting as I continued to get my new home and studio set up in California and in the background, I’m thinking about the news of yet another craft magazine closing down while here at TPA we are ramping up plans for a new periodical (see the TPA newsletter for this news and check out the links to the sale I Love 2 Craft is having on our book and back issues), all this while hoping we don’t get washed away the heavy deluge of rain here. I have to say, I’m thoroughly worn out. And yet here is a new week to greet us with much left to do!

Perhaps that is why I found myself collecting images of work with scratches and dings and wonderful worn textures. I kind of feel the same way. However, there is beauty even in the worn out and scratched up.

These simple bell forms, created by Katya Tryfonoava, are elevated, rather than diminished, by a cacophony of scratches. The lines, emphasized by what I assume is rubbed in black paint, show energy as well as give the beads texture and contrast. This is quietly balanced by consistently sized and evenly placed dots marching around the higher slopes.

Katya’s simple shapes and hand crafted texture seems to be at the heart of her desire to combine the modern with folk art. As she says in her Flickr profile, “My goal is to empower modern styles with the inner truth, the energy and wisdom of generations that are naturally embedded in the traditional art. This is what I define as a largely overlooked link between the old and new cultures, worlds, ways of life. I don’t want to simplify the contemporary art to primitive, but I want to bring to it character, spontaneity, energy, living vibrations, expression and passion, which are inherent in folk art, to fill the contemporary shapes with new meaning.”

See where her goals have taken her by perusing her wide array of exploratory pieces on her Flickr photostream.

 

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Journals: Organic Matter

gabriellepollacc organic matter journalJournal covers are very much like blank canvases, which means you can do anything you desire on them. Your medium is probably the only thing that will constrict you, but then you aren’t restricted to one medium, are you? Polymer is amazing and will always be my go to material but I wouldn’t ignore other wonderful options, especially since so many other mediums work so well with polymer.

Here is a journal cover that has no polymer on it but most of the materials used are quite familiar to polymer clayers and could be combined with it to create looks inspired by this texture rich cover. Gabrielle Pollacco uses an insanely wide array of paints, inks, powders, sprays, stencils, stamps and a few other things to create this cover. Sometimes, too many materials is like too many ingredients in a recipe … going overboard can really muck things up. But Gabrielle brings it all together here by limiting her palette and sticking with a weathered look as her thematic motif.

She seriously looks like she is having way too much fun in this video tutorial that she recorded of her full process for creating this cover. I now have a new list of products to find and try so if you watch this, you have been warned that it may result in a bit of frenetic online shopping! Also … the music she uses may get stuck in your head and have you bopping about the rest of the day. It’s not a bad thing. Just wanted to give you a head’s up so you are ready to defend yourself with the mute button if bopping is not appropriate at the time.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Create a journal cover for your goals and plans book. Try some new materials to really make it interesting. If you’ve not covered a journal or sketchbook before and find covering a pristine new book on your first try to be a bit too much pressure, create on a separate sheet of clay that can be glued to the journal later or, if you like it as is, can be a bit of inspiration to frame. A sheet of raw clay, cured between two tiles to keep it perfectly flat can be a great ‘canvas’ to work on.

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Journals: Polymer Painted

monika autumn journalNot only is today’s journal cover an inspiration for what you can do with your own decorative journal cover, it’s a beautiful example of ‘painting’ with polymer.

England’s Monika Duchowicz actually does do a bit of acrylic painting on this along with the polymer applications but it doesn’t come across as painted. I would guess most of the painting is in the moss on the stone and in the water which is beautifully rendered and in a way that polymer would not be able to emulate in such a seamless fashion. With a successful background in painting, it’s no wonder that the water and its complex reflections look so real.

Journals are a primary form for Monika, especially these painterly ones. You can view more of her journals as well as wearable art in her Etsy shop and on her website which is in Polish and English although some pages are just one or the other. You can always drop the URL of a page or parts of text into Google Translate if you come upon text that needs translating. .

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Journals: Precious Plummage

anikoPeacock journalI’m sorry we are a little late posting this week. We had a few technical and timing difficulties but we are back on track now. Speaking of which … how many of you are still on track with your new year’s resolutions or plans for 2017? It can be so exciting to come up with the plans and goals but actually getting them done can be another matter. There are a number of things you can do to help keep on track but I think, the most important thing is to write it all down. There is something about having our ideas written out in black and white that makes us feel more committed to them, that makes them concrete and real in a way that an idea just floating around in our head does not.

 

So I was thinking that having a pretty journal to write those ideas in would be highly encouraging. Not only will you want to use a beautifully decorated journal, you are also far less likely to shove it in a drawer and forget about it. Write your goals, and the steps you need to take to reach them, in a beautiful journal and leave it where it can be admired as well as remind you of its contents. Of course, I’d encourage you to create your own beautiful journal cover and so, this week, we’ll focus on journal cover inspiration.

When talking journals and polymer, it is almost obligatory to show off a journal by Aniko Kolesnikova. Here is a gorgeous peacock cover she created last year. I love that it’s not just a polymer composition attached to the front but that it flows across the entire cover, including the back and spine, so that all the sides are connected. It’s still quite functional with less decor on the back so it will lay flat and be comfortable to write in but remains beautiful from any side.

Although a profusion of scattered crystals can so easily come across as garish, the be-jeweled feathers work in this cover as the bright and abundant plumage blends with them. The beautiful labradorite is also well integrated although I have a feeling that it really pops in person as reflected light and colors would change within its layers as it is moved about.

Aniko has over a dozen views of this particular piece on her Flickr photostream so you can more closely examine all the details. Of course, you can also see her other journals there, on her website and on her Mandarin Duck Facebook page.

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Moths and Mushrooms

e3d5640082e5440468fed93892c4fa12For a last look at moths this week, I thought I’d share this work by Cheryl Lee Myers of Elemental Urchin. This is probably not polymer clay but rather two-part epoxy clay. I say that because for one, I found that she paints these all on a black base that looks very much like epoxy I’ve used and, two, she never mentions polymer.

I did wonder if her decision not to specify the type of clay she uses was because she is very much into nature and mother earth so she didn’t want to see the word polymer or epoxy in her nature-centric listings. I personally don’t see that as a problem but not everyone understands the choices we make as artists, even when us tree-huggers create in plastic and such. I have a lot of thoughts on that subject and I’ll be talking about that at this summer’s Synergy 4 in Pennsylvania which, by the way, opened registration this week so hop over to get signed up and start making your travel plans!

But regardless of the reason Cheryl doesn’t mention the type of clay she uses, the idea of recreating natural elements combined with actual natural elements is something I thought might inspire a few readers who haven’t tried it yet. She also changes up what nature has given us, much like our artists from earlier this week.

Cheryl’s textures and painted wings–see the moths wings with what look to be lily pads and stars in them?–are visually rich as is the dominant purple color palette.  The light touch of metallic powder and the shine of the stones create an alluring combination but one not quite like what we’d find in the wild but obviously it exists in this artist’s mind!

I found Cheryl’s work on Instagram but you can also take a look at her work in her Etsy shop.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Week: Find something in nature and recreate it … your way. Change or add to what nature has already done and make it your version.

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Rippling Wings

limanska mothApparently I am not the only one who likes moths! The first post this week knocked the meter off the scale and was shared, liked and viewed thousands of times. We also got our answer as to who the artist was–Darya Telegina of Balambeshka on www.vk.com. I’ve added it to the post which you can see here. (Thank you to Sherrie Brittig, Conny Brockstedt, and Natalya Aleksandrova for figuring it out and sending the links!)

So how about a few more moths this week? This beautiful fluttering thing is the creation of Iryna Limanska who makes all kinds of flora and fauna inspired wearable pieces.

The attraction here is partly the delicate colors but mostly the rippling edges of the moth wings which gives it a lively and energetic look. Those ripples are a bit of artistic license, however, as the moth she refers to in the listing–the Actias Luna moth–doesn’t ripple like this or have colored edging. I don’t think there are any moths with this kind of rippled edge to its wings, none I could find. But as artists, this is exactly what I think we should be doing–creating something not seen before.

Not that it is inartistic to recreate nature in exact detail but since we can alter what nature has already shown us, why would we not? This is where self-expression has a chance to come out in quiet but insistent ways. It is an opportunity to show others how we interpret what we see or how we’d like to see it.

Irvna does a lot of this altering nature in small ways in her work. Check out the flower petal skirts on her ballerina silhouettes and her succulent boutonnieres, all listed in her Etsy shop.

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