Simple Efforts

veru simpleSome days, you just want things simple. You know … you head off to the studio or to work and you hope for something that is not going to bend your brain or make you feel all beat up and worn out when you’re done, even if it is successful. Some days, you just want to take it easy.

You can do this in the studio any time and, regardless of your simple approach, you can still get stunning results. The funny thing is, you can set aside all the complex techniques and the tricky materials and you may still end up making something that takes you all day. I think that once we engage the creative mind, it will just keep going on its own momentum even when you were thinking that you wanted to do something quick and easy.

I think that is what Veruschka Stevens was thinking when she first sat down to create this necklace she calls Prorsum. As she says:

I generally use different techniques that vary in complexity for making our jewelry. This necklace in particular was made using the simplest technique I know. However it is equally one of the most time-consuming and very much detail-oriented as well.

You can see some great close up views of this piece as well as its inspiration and a “how I made it” video on her blog. Also stop to take a look at her interesting approach to marketing herself and her jewelry on her website here .

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All Out Pattern

LFCozzi belt necklaceOkay … so you know how I’ve been saying all week that you can’t lean on pattern alone. Well, I meant it but there is one kind of exception to that rule and that is, if you are going to do a lot of pattern, go all out with a lot of variation and then be reserved in other design elements so it doesn’t look messy. And this is what I mean by that.

Louise Fischer Cozzi focuses on pattern a lot. She will silkscreen, image transfer, etch, stamp or whatever suits to get the pattern down. I know this would have been made after she got more heavily into silkscreening but I can’t actually say whether any of it is. But that is fairly irrelevant because the idea is that you can see what using a lot of pattern, and successfully, looks like here.

There are more patterns here than I have been able to count but for all that chaos of pattern, there is this very clean collection of circles carrying it all along. Some variation in size and solid versus donut type circles mix it up some, but they are placed at regular intervals to keep everything orderly. A little order in the chaos allows the viewer to enjoy the variety without feeling lost in it. Plus this works as both a necklace and a belt so for those of us that like versatility, this piece has quite a bit going for it.

Louise does a lot of wholesale and a lot of shows so you don’t see her stuff bouncing around the internet too much. To see her latest work, just pop over to her website or check out what she is selling to us mere mortals in her shop.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Focus on pattern this weekend–bit it silkscreen, stamps, image transfers or even hand made marks. You could pick one pattern and see how many ways you can use it. It could be an accent on a bead or the background on a vase upon which you lay other elements. How does the use change how you see the pattern? Or go for an all out piece like the one here, using as many patterns as you can while keeping the design in check.

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Balancing Silkscreens

HBreil Radiating Rays silkscreenAs mentioned yesterday, silkscreen is great for adding pattern to a piece but you want to be careful that you don’t lean too heavily on the pattern to carry your design. As fun and novel as silkscreening can be for the maker, it is still just a visual texture. Something else has to come into play.

So, of course, I had to check out Helen Breil’s silkscreened pieces because I knew she’d have a fabulous example for us. This gorgeous bracelet gets energy and an interesting texture from the silkscreen but if it weren’t for the color choices of gold against a rich red and the undulating form, the pattern would not be overly interesting. But with texture, color and form combined, we have a very dramatic and energetic piece. Let’s not forget the anchor of that black focal point. Without it, all the movement and energy might be a bit much but the button in the middle gives the eye a place to rest before heading back out to take in beauty of this great combination of elements.

Of course, Helen’s shop is an excellent source of silkscreens as well as instruction on how to use them. You can find both on her website here and her Pinterest board of examples here. Also take a look at her video classes, including her new Magnetic Pendants class, all on her website.

 

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Many Faces of Silkscreen

noelia silkscreenI just realized the other day, as I was admiring a slew of silkscreen work by one Noelia Contreras, that I don’t think I’ve ever spent a week admiring this little gem of technique. So as I keep focused on fixing a couple snags that are in the way of getting the Spring issue off to the printer, let’s admire a some nice silkscreens and look at ways it can be used.

Noelia’s set seen here shows a number of applications for silkscreened clay. It works as a background, a foreground, a peek-a-boo ground (yes, I just made that up) and even to create singular objects to raise about the surface. I enjoy these pieces because they all have focal points, some more subtle than others, but it is more than just a swath of pattern. What I assume are brooches on the right side are probably my favorite designs because of the energy of their shape, just off-center focal point, and the couple of layers there that lead to a small spot of negative space. A bit of the cloth those will be set against will be framed in those negative spaces which integrates the brooch and its background. It’s a nice touch.

The silkscreen and patterns are the primary focus in these pieces, which can be a little tricky. Just using lots of pattern can make for weak design if the artist depends on it to be the sole point of interest. As much as we might like a pattern, it needs contrast and context, at the very least, to create strong design. Here there is a mix of pattern that invites the viewer to find relationships between pattern choices and enough contrast in other design choices, including those bold black outlines, to show the pieces were well thought out. You can see alternate views of most of these pieces on Noelia’s Flickrphotostream and in her website gallery.

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Scratching Through

sgraffito vaseTo finish up a stretch of blog posts on vessels, I have for you this interesting ceramic vessel done in a style easily translated into polymer. The technique is referred to as sgraffito. The beautiful texture and imagery are created by scratching into a surface that reveals a contrasting surface beneath it.

This vase is the work of Terri Kern whose choice of large bold scratches add to the illustrative and dreamy quality of her imagery. The way she has to work in ceramics makes the process all the more impressive. “Black is painted on in a small section and while it’s still wet, a carving tool is used to carve away the black to reveal the color underneath.  It normally takes as long to apply black as it does to apply all the other colors combined on any given piece.”

This is where polymer would have the advantage. Although I have only done this in small decorative swathes, it is quite easy to lay a very thin layer of clay on top of a thick contrasting color, run it through the pasta machine until the top layer is even thinner and then you can scratch or carve the raw clay. It has got to be faster than the process necessary to scratch wet glaze out on ceramic clay. You can also shape and cure the polymer layers and then scratch or carve the surface afterwards since cured polymer, especially when still warm, is quite easy to carve.

The two approaches yield a different kind of mark with soft edges in raw clay and very sharp and smooth edges in cured clay. Although I have not tried it, I imagine you could apply a very thin layer of raw clay to a cured piece and scratch the raw clay which would create a uniformly shallow mark. It would be fun to try and I have it on my to-do list!

I was thinking you could also go over the scratched areas with paint, the way you apply an antiquing effect. I got the idea while I was analyzing Terri’s work since it looks like some colors would have been laid back in after scratching. That could really add up to some beautifully complex and intriguing color.

You can also use oil paints on raw clay as shown here by Kate of Kalinkapolinka. This is actually the page through which I found Terri’s very intricate work. Want to see more from Terri? Go to her website here.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Scratch out a little something this weekend. Whether you try one of the sgraffito ideas listed here or just scratch at the clay for textural purposes, let you mind go as you doodle-scratch your way to some interesting effects and imagery.

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Following the Rooftops

NSabo Nambia bowlI so need something bright and cheery as we prepare for serious flooding level storms out here in Southern California. What a winter we are having! I wish it were snow though. Much less messy. But here we are, under cloudy skies, waiting for the deluge.

So, in looking for a couple more bowl style containers to share this week, I was delighted to find this beauty by the equally beautiful Nevenka Sabo. Her work lately has been so intensely bright and cheery. It was just the thing for a day such as this.

I love that she breaks away from the standard bowl form and cuts the lip of it to follow the roof tops of her little neighborhood. The bright blue interior and the mixed colors of the houses add to the playful look. The fully saturated colors are well matched to the illustrative look of the imagery on the pieces she creates. It’s just a wonderfully done, fun piece. If you like this, you’ll want to see the other views of it on her Flickr photostream.

Nevenka has been working with this technique for a couple of years now with really eye-catching results. She even put out a very detailed tutorial for this technique she calls Nambi. You can find it in her Etsy shop. But also take a look at her other examples of how this technique can be applied by checking out her Flickr pages and her Facebook page.

Ok, hopefully I won’t be heading to the rooftops myself this week. Hope you all stay warm and dry!

 

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A Tower of Giraffes

WJdStJorre Browsing Giraffe bowl #2I know it’s Valentine’s Day and I should be posting hearts or something but I’m guessing you’ve had plenty of that already today. So how about looking at something we are all sure to love because who can resist a tower of cute giraffes (‘tower’ is what a group of giraffes is called, so says Wikipedia) or the amazing precision of Wendy Jorre de St Jorre’s artwork?

I know I couldn’t resist these guys. This bowl just made me smile along with the usual stare of wonderment that accompanies the moment I spy a new piece by Wendy. She is so masterful in her control of her images. This is not, however, one of her canes although I did wonder for a moment. They would be insanely precise canes but she is so amazing, I wouldn’t put it past her. Instead, these are silkscreens but they are not store-bought. She made the silkscreens herself so they are completely original designs.

Her preciseness does give her some grief on occasion, although it looks effortless from here. Here are her words from her posting of the first version of her browsing giraffes:

My newest bowl, I call this one “Browsing Giraffe”. It has been quite a long haul getting this one done. I had to figure out a way to make a silkscreen veneer that would fit around a bowl. With compass and pencil I drew some circles and came up with a template that fit the bowl and also would fit on the “mini” silkscreens I have. It took a few goes to get the sizing right, but eventually I got what I thought would work and made 2 silkscreens that joined together. 3 repetitions of these fit around the bowl just right….whew! I had to wait a few days for the sun to come out so I could make the screens and then It was ready, set, go. Unfortunately the paint I was using was not quite right, so another day gone until I could buy some more, but eventually the silk-screened veneers were done. They needed cutting to shape to fit the bowl, that was tricky business, but patience won out in the end.

Although Wendy has a website, you’ll want to head to her Flickr pages or her Facebook account to keep up with her latest and greatest work.

A very happy Valentine’s Day to you all. You are all my Valentines for reading and supporting my blog and publications. I am a very lucky girl to have such wonderful readers!

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Signs of Spring … the cover of the Spring Issue, “Shape & Form”

17P1 Cover 72You may have seen this in the newsletter that went out a day or so ago but I didn’t want anyone to miss out on the beautiful art work we were so lucky to get for the cover of the upcoming Spring issue, “Shape & Form”. Due to popular demand, we decided to do a kind of “back to basics” set of themes for 2017 although I was a little worried about how that would work for people interested in contributing but as it turns out, the design categories have really got people excited and we’ve ended up with some really unique technique tutorials, interviews, and overview articles along with all the usual eye candy and tips and tricks articles you love to find in The Polymer Arts.

This lovely collection of platters you see here are the work of Angie Wiggins whom Lindly Haunani interviewed for our “Color Spotlight” section. Angie has a unique way of choosing and setting up her color palettes for the year, a process she shares in the article and the success of which we can see in the work.

The Spring issue and this intriguing interview will be out at the end of February. Print renewal notices were sent out by email this past Wednesday and we’ll be sending out digital renewal notices this coming week but if you aren’t sure about your subscription status, you can take a peek at your account here. If you don’t have an account or that page can’t answer your questions, you can find more information and the correct person to contact here.

 

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Decked Out Art Deco Bottle

Beth Petricoin art deco bottle

Here is another way to cover a bottle, this time with the careful layering of sheeted and extruded clay. Beth Petricoin leans on the clean planes and lines of machined clay to help create a well finished and precise design. Her choice of art deco for inspiration works well with the sheets and extruded snakes since the era is marked by crisp shapes and balanced patterns.

And lucky us … Beth documented her process, making it look so very easy, even though I know it had to take a lot of patient application, not to mention a lot of clay. This old liquor bottle is quite large–16″ (a little over 40 cm) tall–and she used 7+ blocks of clay to complete it. I think it would be hard to find someone who would not agree that it was an effort well worth the time and clay.

Take a look at the process on her blog here. Her polymer work can also be found in her Etsy shop and her Flickr photostream.

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