Square Benders

cane benders 348x1024 - Square BendersFirst of all my apologies … this post was supposed to go out Wednesday but it got hung up over here. So here’s a surprise weekend post for you!

Okay … so now that we have gotten through the bulk of the gift-buying days, it is time to treat ourselves and spend some of that Christmas money on our creative needs. Well, that is my thought anyhow. Although I could spend a day wandering around a big box store, I really prefer to buy from the little guys, from the people who really understand why we are so passionate about what we do.

The canes on this box were made using a “Cane Bender.” These are long acrylic rods, as you see in the center image, that you can use to quickly manipulate cane designs. I’m showing the square ones (called Square Benders, actually) but the original ones are round rods of varying diameters. The comments I read about these were mainly about how much time they save in reshaping simpler canes to create these complex kaleidoscope canes and other types of patterned canes. I rarely cane and I’m really intrigued!

These, along with other curious supplies are sold by Teresa Salgado and her partner Spike Malone through their Tiny Pandora Craft Boutique shop.

While you’re peeking in on the goodies over there, I’m going to go do some more poking around for other small shops and unique goodies!

Silkscreens for Days

ezscreen 430x262 - Silkscreens for Days

Here is another great company whose products you’ll want to check out. The silkscreens seen here are from a new partner of ours, EZScreen. This mother-daughter business has been working with silkscreens for years but recently they have been researching the needs of the polymer community and now offer a line of great silkscreen designs—dozens and dozens of them—ready for you to snatch up. But what is unique about them is that the pre-made screens are not their primary product.

The central product for these ladies is actually a DIY silkscreen kit that allows you to make silkscreens of your own design or, if you prefer, they will make the screens for you, from artwork you send to them. Cool right? Now, that is my kind of thing! There is nothing like having your own signature patterns to work with because you absolutely know no one else is going to be popping up with those same patterns on their work.

I have not yet gone through the process of ordering these custom-made stencils or trying their kit but I’ll be ordering some when I get home to California next week. You can get started by going to their web page here for their DIY kits or here for the custom-made stencil information or this page for pre-made designs.

If you get our newsletter, you may already have seen the discount available there but if you missed it, just punch “PA15” into the promo code box in your cart. Go have fun! Keep in mind, they have a customer gallery on their webpage and there’s no polymer work there yet. Let’s get some up there!

 

Dragon in a Season’s Greetings

bGolin dragon candy cane 430x418 - Dragon in a Season's GreetingsAs with many of you, I will be spending the day with my family but did not want to miss chiming in to send you warm good wishes this holiday season. I am so very grateful for your support of The Polymer Arts projects, both the magazine and the blog. Without you, I would not be able to spend my days entrenched in art and creativity nor would I be able to help so many find new ways to create and be inspired, connecting talented artists to readers in the intimate way we get to in our publications.

I’d give you all a little something sweet in thanks if I could but since I can’t reach you all, I am soliciting the help of Becca Golins who creates these adorable dragons and other fantastical beasts. These big-eyed beasties so readily bring a smile to my face and so, I hope they do for you as well.

You can find more of Becca’s cute creatures on her Facebook page and her coloring books inspired by them in her Etsy shop.

Enjoy the season and the chance to be closer to the ones you love. A Merry Christmas to those celebrating and happy holidays to you all.

The Eclectic Artisans

Jolanta Bromke green butterfly 302x450 - The Eclectic ArtisansSome of the most fun I’ve been having on Instagram is how easy it is to find other great art outside of polymer. I love my Pinterest but my pages are stuffed with polymer art, which is wonderful, of course, but there is so much to be seen and inspired by outside of our community and Instagram is delivering a wonderful variety of it.

One of my favorite collector type accounts so far is “The Eclectic Artisans“, a curated showcase of all kinds of art jewelry. That is where I found this stunning piece by Poland’s Jolanta Bromke. Can you tell what the material is that makes up the green portions of the butterfly and leaves? Would you have thought it was embroidery at first glance? How clever and how beautifully done.

The idea of flight and delicacy is so nicely done in the way the components are attached at only one point, as if they will all get up and flutter off at any moment. And the variety of bright greens in the subtle texture of the embroidered threads contrasted by the smooth surfaces of the stones creates a fine balance of texture in a nearly monochrome piece.

The Eclectic Artisans is not only a curator of fantastic contemporary and innovative jewelry, but it’s also a store. And what a store! The Australian-based company showcases, at this time, Australian-based artists, with primarily clean, contemporary designs at exceptionally reasonable prices. You can peruse their shop online here and for more of Jolanta’s work, go to her Facebook page where you can also find amazing leather work that looks like porcelain in other inspiring designs.

Hopefully, I’ll be seeing quite a few of you now on Instagram (find us under “thepolymerarts” if you haven’t already, and I’ll follow you back) but in the meantime, let me wish you a happy holiday as we go into the Christmas weekend. Be safe if you are traveling and I’ll catch up with you all next week after Christmas day.

Aztec Accents

LVogel aztec accents 430x478 - Aztec AccentsMy forays all over Instagram also got me caught up on the beautifully delicate work of Lorraine Vogel. These last few years, she has really hit her stride, showing off her fine sense of color within a series of signature techniques that focus on surface design with stamped or stenciled texture.

Here she lets the color flow and layer across the surface to create an ancient look using what I think is a version of the raised surface coloration technique which she shared in a tutorial in our Winter 2016 edition of The Polymer Arts. It looks a bit more involved but if you want to try something similar, get the issue on our website.

Her techniques are easy and fun and you can get great results with just a little care. She sells additional tutorials on related techniques in her Etsy shop, along with her wares. You can also take look at the history of her work by dropping in on her Flickr photostream and, of course, her Instagram page.

Fun at the Table

stroppel painting girl table cat 1 430x432 - Fun at the TableSo, we finally got an official Instagram account up and going and my assistant and I are having a ton of fun with it. Aside from the fun we are having, there are plans for this account … we are hoping to whip up some stories and short videos with more “behind the scenes” peeks for those curious about the making of a magazine and the day to day bedlam over here at The Polymer Arts headquarters.

This planned amusement will commence in a more focused fashion after the new year, but do follow us now so I can find all of you and follow you back! I do want to keep up with what you all are up to and making as well. We hang out on Instagram at @thepolymerarts, of course.

We are not the only ones having fun there. That is where I ran into this fabulously curious and colorful piece by Alice Stroppel. Polymer wall art is really taking hold of her imagination. This is a wonderful example of the more illustrative construction wall work she’s done recently but she is also creating some very engaging pieces painting with polymer. Jump over to her corner on Instagram or visit her website where you can find out where she’ll be teaching in upcoming months.

Scarf as Necklace

scarf jewelry 430x542 - Scarf as NecklaceAs you may have immediately noticed, these scarves are not polymer. In fact, most of them are mass-produced or use mass-produced components. So why am I showing you this? Because the popularity of these kinds of bedecked scarves are not seen in the polymer community, not at least that I could find, which means there is a wide-open opportunity for some of you out there.

Just look at the two-fold use of these. Not only can you have a warm and cozy bit of beautiful fabric to dress up your day, you can have jewelry that can be seen while wearing a scarf. I have never liked having to pick between a scarf and a necklace and with this kind of merging of the two, you don’t have to.

Now, you could just stick with the single pin or charms like we saw in the last couple posts to get some fun and fancy decor on your chest but what about when you want to get a bit more flashy or formal? I just think these designs really open up a lot of possibilities for us as polymer artists. For one, how fun would it be to turn a boring basic scarf into a snazzy infinity scarf that doubles as a necklace AND gives many a bead in that stash of beautiful odds and ends, a beautiful place to hang?

Hopefully, these also give you all kinds of ideas for alternate ways to hang polymer pendants or has you thinking up new wide tube designs or all the above. It would not take long to make the components if you don’t already have them and basic scarves are cheap. I bet you have one or two in a drawer somewhere that you never wear. Just think of how you could dress them up!

I would love to be able to give attribution to each of the pieces here but I somehow managed to find all but one with a broken link or dead website. However, the designer of the Atelie42 scarf piece in the upper right does have a website but even there, most of the text seems to be image based which means it can’t be translated online. But the variation on jewelry scarves is worth a couple of minutes even for those of us who can’t read the text. Head over to the website here or this article that has a nice selection ready for you to pore over.

 

 

Versatile Pins

cat szetu shawl pin 1 430x320 - Versatile PinsIf you want to get right to it and make some wonderful all around gifts, it’s hard to go wrong with scarf pins. Or hair pins. Or shawl pins. Which are all really the same thing, aren’t they?

These pins are simply a sturdy base around a circular hole large enough to get a scarf or bundle of hair pressed into so a stick can be inserted behind or through, holding it in place. And for that, all you need is a small stack of clay sheets, and a cutter for the hole to get you started. How you decorate the surface of the clay is then wide open for you. Create a stick to match by wrapping clay around a skewer or a very stiff bit of wire and apply a similar surface treatment.

Cat Szetu just loved making pins like this one here. I say this in the past tense because I have not been able to find recent work of hers online. Perhaps she is really busy making pins. But I do like this example because the surface is decorated in a rather straightforward manner, with slivers of clay cut from a Skinner blended sheet, curling around the surface. That gradation of color and the smooth curving lines create a quiet and calm type of visual movement that, together, keeps the simple layering of clay from feeling stale.

Cat has plenty more pieces to jumpstart your own ideas. Just go to her Flickr photostream and scroll around.

 

Charming Scarves

2 good clip on scarf charms - Charming ScarvesAs we get closer to the holiday gift-giving time, fast and easy-to-make pieces that still have a high “wow” factor are likely becoming the focus in craft studios everywhere so I have a few ideas that focus on scarves. Why scarves? Well, you can give them to both men and women and can make polymer pieces to go with them also for both men and women. Although the pieces we show this week will be more like scarf jewelry with a feminine leaning, I know more masculine designs would be pretty easy to come up with. As mentioned in The Polymer Arts Winter 2017 issue’s article on men’s jewelry, more and more guys are looking for cool, decorative pieces to wear around and putting a clip or pin on a scarf to keep it in place is by no means a need that women alone have. So, yes, we are going to talk scarf accessories this week and if any of you know of well-designed men’s scarf accessories, send me a link. I couldn’t find any polymer examples online, which are the kind of pieces one is most likely looking to make.

It would be hard to talk about polymer and scarves without bringing in 2 Good Claymates. Carolyn and Dave Good have tackled the scarf from many sides and make beautiful scarf charms, clips and pins in a wide range of shapes and configurations. The success of their pieces seems to be primarily in keeping the basic construction simple but offering colorful surfaces with a variety of visual and tactile textures for interest. Then they take it up a notch by creating ways to change them by using things like button-on or clip-on charms.

I could go on but really, if you like the idea of creating simply constructed scarf jewelry, just jump over to their blog at 2GoodClaymates and just put “scarf” into the search box. That will bring up tons of ideas not to mention a lot of pretties to ooh and ah over. And if you want to get ahold of clips and those button charm thingies, you can find much of what they use to create these in their new DIY shop.

 

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