Riotous Ripples and Purple Koi

koi coverAt my new house we have a big koi pond just outside my studio door. The waterfalls on it are a most wonderful sound to work to but I had never dealt with any kind of yard garden feature before and we were left with a murky mess so it wasn’t so lovely to look at. We knew there were fish in there but we could hardly see them so we weren’t sure what we had. I did a ton of research and finally, last week, hit upon the one thing that cleared it up (it was a pea gravel filter, in case there are any pond owners out there struggling with algae bloom as well) and now I’ve been gazing at my clear water and six beautiful koi including two that are as big as a loaf of bread. They are amazing.

This purple journal cover by Wojciech Chowaniec is as amazing as the fish it glorifies. I wish I had a purple colored koi but the look on this fish reminds me of the large one in our little school. Although the purple next to the shimmering blue is half the drama, the curve and active arrangement of the fins along with the riotous ripples of the water add a lot of energy to this as well.

Did you notice that the fish is not all purple? There is actually more silver than purple and the fins look to be bronze. But it’s the purple that pops. However, like our piece yesterday, the other colors around the purple is what gives the color so much liveliness.

Creating dramatic and energetic covers in polymer is what Wojciech does. He actually tends towards the macabre and fantasy based themes but this certainly shows off his skill with both bas-relief sculpture and color. You can check his other work out in his Etsy shop.

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Majestic in Purple

JPicarelloI don’t think I have ever done a week on a specific color but that’s what we are going to do this week and purple is my choice. I don’t know if it is all the purple blooms coming out in this nice Spring weather we are having or just my penchant for it, but I’ve been seeing a lot of beautiful purple pieces popping up on Pinterest in particular. These aren’t all new pieces. It just seems that purple is on more than a few people’s minds.

It is not hard to combine other colors with purple and arrive at a beautiful and majestic combination since purple will pretty much make any palette majestic if it takes center stage. Take this nicely balanced–both in colors and in the way the shapes are hung–necklace by Julie Picarello. The purple does dominate but take a close look at the other colors she has here. Yellow is not surprise since it is purple’s complement but there is also a touch of orange, mauve and magenta. They are subtle blends so none of those stand out but they allow contrast with the purple to allow the darker color a richer feel than it would have on its own.

Julie is, of course, a master at choosing colors for her signature mokume techniques. For inspiring color combinations, take a look at more of her work on her website and Flickr pages, and check out her book, Patterns in Polymer.

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Felt Like a Dream

kukly-i-igrushki-ichchi-hranitel-gornyh-pescherWe’ll wrap up the week with this curious creature that is somehow very beautiful, sympathetic, and magical all at the same time.

This is actually a felted figure with a polymer face, and real crystals embedded in its back, created by Genriette of the Secret Jar shop on LiveMaster. Ichchi, the Keeper of the Mountain Caves she calls it which really makes you stop and wonder about the story Genriette had in mind. Luckily, she gives us the story in her listing. Mind you, this is a Google translation so it’s a little odd at points. You have to do a little interpreting of your own but it sparks the imagination nonetheless. :

“The spirit that dwelleth in the snowy mountains. But do not think that he was as cold as the furry giants. It’s not like that at all. The spirit of quiet mountains, as if the wind whisper quiet as the evening for your window, and soft, like feathers. Ichchi afternoon sitting in his cozy cave and snowflakes cut out from the clouds, and the night creeps in the world and looking at the stars. Sometimes he is, as he himself would be a Star. I would have illuminated the way people and pointed the way to the north. Once Spirit became lonely mountains, and he came to our workshop. Looking for a friend. It promises to teach climbing to the most distant peaks.” 

I really like that this artist works in a myriad of craft mediums including cold porcelain, resin, wood, wire, and wax along with felt and polymer as seen here. Obviously her medium does not define her work but rather, she uses whatever is fitting for what she wants to create. This does require building a lot of different skills but an artist with many skills is far less restricted in what they want to make.

Find more of Genriette’s interesting creatures and try to guess their materials before looking at the descriptions in her Livemaster shop or her vk.com pages.

 

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Create a piece inspired by a creature of your choosing or create a creature from your own imagination. Even if you don’t usually do this kind of thing, creating a creature will provide you with a studio mascot and more company there if you don’t already have some!

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Creatures Redesigned

AGarrod animalsI think we’ll stick with inspiring creatures this week. And what creatures are more inspiring to us than those we share our life with? Dogs, cats, birds, fish …we find something in them that we connect with so it’s not surprising that they make their way into our art.

Recently Angela Garrod posted these kindred creatures of hers on Facebook. With a beautifully stylized approach, she captures the look, and even a few good expressions of some of people’s favorite animals, and this while playing with geometric designs. The hand scratched texture keeps the geometric shapes from feeling too stiff and sterile and adds quite a bit to what would otherwise be just simple shapes and lines through which we, somehow, recognize the variety of animals. I don’t know how our brains see that but more so, it is always a wonder how cartoonists and other artists create images with just a few simple lines and shapes and know we’ll see it. The brain is just pretty darn nifty.

Angela has been up to all kinds of cool and curious geometric designs of late. You can see her explorations through her shared photos on Flickr, her Facebook page, and the gallery on her website.

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In Need of a Rainbow Coalition

DKassel rainbow coalitionNothing like a “Rainbow Coalition” to start the week off and that is what we are fortunate enough to be enjoying today with this enchanting little gather by the ever whimsical Doreen Kassel. The colors of these characters are just so juicy and combined in a most delicious way. Marks were scratched into the surface after painting to energize the forms of this little gang’s broad torsos. Although their body shapes don’t leave room for much movement everything else is in motion from the dancing gestures of the arms to the expressive facial gestures.  It is hard not to smile in their presence.

Speaking of which… I could use an energized rainbow coalition of my own as we have lost a couple of contributors for the next issue of The Polymer Arts and could use some imagination and talent to fill in the spaces. The next issue’s theme is ‘Color!’  Would you want to be a part of this delightful next issue? I could use help fleshing out a “ways to design colorful beaded necklaces” article or maybe you have a color-centric or just colorful technique tutorial such as painting with or on polymer.

We also really could use a short personal story, that may or may not have to do with color but would inspire and make people smile, for that last page, the Muse’s Corner section. Do you have any splendid ideas the readers of The Polymer Arts might want? You’ll never know unless you write us!

Please send your article ideas to me using the link on our submission page or write me directly at sbray(at)thepolymerarts.com. Avoid replying to this post if you get it by email as it won’t go to me, taking a day or two to get forwarded, and I would love to see your ideas as soon as possible!

In the meantime, for more color and smiles, take a look at what Doreen is up to on her website or follow her on Instagram.

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The Well Spotted Pendant

SAtwood pendantSo let’s finish up this week on dots and spots with one piece which happens to have many, many ways of using the decorative and often dynamic element.

Shelley Atwood isn’t shy with her details as demonstrated here. Pin-pricks give way to tiny circles which play in the background behind spots of color and details of varying shapes, not just the roundness of the dots we know and love so well. But even the leaf shapes, repeated over and over, create the same kind of effect.

Having four sections doing basically the same thing helps with the suggestion that the leaf shapes should operate as spots rather than a distinctive visual. Even with all the variation, the dots, and spots and marks, all contained within a similarly sized space, balance each other out so you are left to just enjoy the riot of color and the joy of the spot.

Shelley’s work can be found, with all its many marks and delicious details, on her website and on Flickr.

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Variation on the Dot

JZharova dotsOh, the dot. A dot is not really a shape and it doesn’t define anything for us in the way its closest relation, the singularly dimensional line, does. It is just a point in space or on a surface but it will always grab our attention. It marks a point that we feel drawn to investigate. However, when it’s gathered to create a texture or pattern, that draw it has doesn’t expand but acts more like beats in a song. So when you have lots of dots, make a song of it.

I think that is what Julia Zharova is doing here. It’s a song she likes too, so she’s created variations on it. In the top one she lets the dots be simple and smooth but backs them with a lot of organic texture. In the one below, the dots are concave and colored but the background texture is more subdued so that the dots can dance without distraction. It’s a couple of examples of variation on a similar design.

Julia seems rather fond of the dot, which is scattered throughout her beautifully composed and well finished work. Enjoy a break with Julia today with a perusal through her Livemaster shop.

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Growing Fond of Dots

DGreenberg plattersI’m going to use this to both wrap up my jabbering about the Spring issue of The Polymer Arts and as a segue into talking about a design element that seems rarely discussed … the dot. Or spot. Or point on a surface. Whatever you want to refer to it, dots or spots are an unassuming but strong design element. In polymer, we can give them dimension and form until they take on another life entirely. In Donna Greenberg‘s work, those organic gatherings of points definitely look to be alive.

We were so lucky to have another wonderful article by Donna in the latest issue, The Polymer Arts Spring 2017 – Shape and Form issue. She discusses ways to use your past work to inspire new work. I think most of us have tried going back to something we did before but her suggestions are a bit different and her examples are beautiful. She does a lot of these dot/spot barnacle-like cups in her re-formed work and in her latest vessels too.

Although the form of the ‘spots’ seen here are similar, the way they are used and gathered are not. Look at the one on top. It had an organic feel but the little cups and the spots are placed in a very orderly fashion. The rougher but lacy edge builds a balanced but dynamic tension, pulling away from the inner order. But the platter below is a purely random application with the gathered dots of different sizes flowing in a natural path through and around the piece. It’s less restricted nature also warranted the use of a brighter color, making the piece quite lively and cheerful.

I found these pieces on Donna’s Facebook page but also take a look at her barnacled beauties in the latest issue of The Polymer Arts or hop over to Donna’s website to see more of her dots and spots.

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Giving Polymer A Turn

turned acrylicI was so excited to have Carol Beal put together an article on lathe turned polymer. She demonstrates what you can do with a fairly inexpensive table top lathe to make intricate but easy polymer beads. But here is the thing that we didn’t have room for … you can make a lot more than beads on a small hobby lathe.

I searched around and found all these things being turned in polymer or a similar material like acrylic. Most would require the you cure and then turn the ‘blank’ as it is call without the functional parts attached so other than ensuring you can take the item apart to add the polymer, you have a pretty wide open field of functional and decorative art objects to explore with this technique:

  • Pens (the top turned small item in pretty much any medium
  • Bottle stoppers
  • Ice cream and coffee scoops
  • Every kind of eating utensil you can think of.
  • Key chains
  • Razor blade handles
  • Crochet hooks
  • Seam rippers
  • Perfume applicators
  • Makeup brushes
  • Ornaments
  • Hair sticks
  • T-handle corkscrews
  • Spinning tops
  • Drawer handles and pulls
  • Gauged Ear plugs
  • Wands …

… basically any smallish thing with a long handle, long body, or is stout but round can potentially be created from or decorated with lathe turned polymer. I never thought about it but I sure am now.

What you see here are lathe turned acrylic pieces I found linked with Craft Supplies USA’s YouTube pages where they have a bunch of lathe videos for wood and acrylic blanks. However, you can see how easily this could be polymer. All you would need to do is follow Carol’s easy tutorial and once you are comfortable making beads, you could branch out into whatever you like. You would need the lathe of course which can be had for something in the range of $150-$600 dollars, depending on how precise and how serious you get. You can also find these kinds of tools on Craigslist and Ebay, sold by the well-intentioned hobbyist, on the cheap. I would go for new or like-new ones though so you know it is in good shape. These are not toys! That plus a set of woodturning tools which can be had for $30 brand new and you are set to go. I could see this being very addictive!

We could only post a small sample of what Carol has turned out (couldn’t resist the pun!) in lathe turned beads but take a peek at what she has on her Flickr site and in her Etsy shop as well as searching for lathe turned crafts or lathe polymer clay on Pinterest, Flickr, Etsy, and Google images to find even more ideas!

And if you still need to get your copy of the Spring issue, jump over to our website for Carol’s article and much more.

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