Polymer Faces

Valeria Belova Gamayun 430x604 - Polymer FacesDid you know that faces will always be the most prominent element in any work of art? Yes, our eye will always go to the face or faces in any artwork, photograph, or space that we walk into. It is ingrained in us to look at the faces of people or creatures that we see before us. Survival dictated that we look at and read those faces to assess potential danger or to otherwise understand, as best we can, their purpose for being present. So if you have a face in your work, it is going to be a focal point.

This also makes the use of faces rather dramatic so if you choose to put a face in your work, just keep in mind that it will have a very strong draw for your art and will diminish the importance of everything else that goes with it.

This lovely, intricately decorated necklace is one such example. It generally takes a while for the eye to be drawn away from the face and move around the rest of the piece. Initially, you take in everything else but the face all at once. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have all kinds of complex and busy work around the face while the face acts as a resting point. That is what Valeria Belova has done here.  The Labradorite and colorfully metallic feathers do their best to compete but the eye is always drawn back to the face.

This is actually one of her less detailed pieces but you rarely see a three-quarter view of the face in jewelry so I just had to share it. Not being straight on makes it a less dramatic presentation of a face, pushing us to think more about the possible story behind it. I don’t know that this is polymer because she talks about the technique more than the material, but it absolutely could be. If you like this, you should take a look at the rest of her work and her LiveMaster shop, where faces from all positions are intricately set in jewelry pieces.



When Simple Is Complex

amethyst studio burgundy petal cane 430x360 - When Simple Is Complex

After all that blathering to you on Wednesday, I thought I’d keep it simple today. Let’s just enjoy some relatively minimal but beautiful canes to spark some ideas for your creative time this weekend.

Spain’s Pilar Rodríguez Domínguez creates lovely, dynamic flower petal canes. The soft but dense sets of radiating lines that dominate her designs help to create a sense of complexity with relatively few elements. I chose this one because you can see how much energy is created with the just these brushed-looking lines, three oval marks, and a vibrant burgundy red.  You don’t need a lot of different stuff to create complexity and energy.

She works similarly in almost all her canes although more commonly with highly contrasting colors to create finely controlled finished flower canes. Enjoy a good eyeful of color and pattern in her Etsy shop,  and on her InstagramFacebook, and Flickr accounts.

Also, since you all couldn’t click-through to see the work of Cécile Bos last week, as she went on vacation and shuttered her shop right after I drafted the blog on her work, take this opportunity to click-through to her website now to see her delicately detailed pieces.

How to Make It Your Own

Katie Way Alices cane mapping 430x388 - How to Make It Your Own
I know I just featured Katie Way in February, but this is such a great example of taking a technique and making it your own that I didn’t want to pass by this opportunity. This seemed particularly apropos after an incident came up a week or so ago that I was consulted about involving a student submitting something to a contest that they created either in a class or based on a class. The problem was not in taking something that was learned in a class and creating from that knowledge but using the design choices that the teaching artist used. So, let’s just review what that means. In a way, it’s very simple – you can replicate technique, but you cannot use the design decisions of another artist.

I think part of the issue is that there is some confusion as to what’s is technique and what is design, so let me try to define that.

Technique is how you manipulate the material including how you apply texture, the process of forming/sculpting, the mixing or application of color treatments, the creation of mechanisms or use of materials for constructing the piece, etc. In other words, it’s about the process of creating.

Design is about the specific choices you make about how something is going to look. So, your choices about the type of texture (not how you apply it), the shapes you create (but not how you create them), the colors you choose (but not the source of the color), and the arrangement of your construction (but not the mechanisms used to put pieces together), are all design choices. If the majority of your choices are based on someone else’s examples, then you’re in danger of copying their design. Changing the color or shape is simply not enough, nor is it fair to the artist that inspired you and, equally so, it’s not fair to you and your creative growth to skip the exploration of what a piece could be by not making the design decisions yourself.

In the piece we see here, Katie Way took a class with Alice Stroppel and made a piece that is uniquely her own. You can see the influence of both artists in this work. The big, bold cane work shows Alice’s influence, but the color choices and all those bulls-eye circles are absolutely Katie. I would’ve known this was Katie’s right away, but it would’ve taken me a few moments to realize where her change in technique came from if she hadn’t made note of her influencer. And that’s really how it should be.

You can absolutely copy the work of the teaching artist in class as a way to learn. Most of them do prefer that. But when you go home, don’t make that same basic piece ever again. Have enough confidence and belief in your artistic self to work out your own designs. It is far more fulfilling to create from your own sense of aesthetic and ideas than to simply be successful with someone else’s design.

Okay, getting off my soapbox now. If you’re intrigued by Alice’s cane mapping class, go to her website to check out where she will be teaching next. And if you’ve somehow missed Katie’s work, check out her Etsy shop and her Instagram page.


The Summer Cover!

ThePolymerArts 18 P2 cover DKacz med border 430x548 - The Summer Cover!This beautiful Monday, I’m sharing with you the latest cover for the upcoming issue of The Polymer Arts, graced by the beautifully balanced jewelry of Dorata Kaszczyszyn.

Summer is soon to be here and the Summer issue – themed “Everything in Its Place” – will be here next month to help you greet the season. You can look forward to such articles as:

  • Looking for Balance with Christi Friesen (part of a new regular section by Christi, called “What Are You Looking at?”)
  • The Art of Meredith Dittmar
  • Remembering Tory Hughes
  • Spilling the Beads: a textural tutorial with Nikolina Otrzan
  • Tiny Tiles: a variation tutorial with Chris Kapono
  • Design Your Own Silkscreens
  • Translucent Silkscreen: a tutorial with Sage Bray
  • Composing Photos for Every Occasion with syndee holt
  • Making the Most of Your Time
  • Lessons from Knitting with Ginger Davis Allman
  • Colors Spotlight with Lorraine Vogel by Lindly Haunani

Renewal notices went out over the last couple weeks but if you’ve not had the chance to renew your subscription or subscribe, you’ll want to be sure to do so soon so you can be on that initial list to get the first copies fresh from the printer (or for digital readers, fresh from our server). We lock down the mailing lists in the first week of May. The release date for the summer issue is set for May 20th.

If you have questions about your subscription, you’re welcome to write us at connect@thepolymerarts.com or, if you get this by email, just hit reply. Sydney, my fabulous assistant and keeper of subscription lists, will get back to you shortly but be a little patient if it takes a day or so. She’s just getting back from a very exciting weekend … she just got married! Congrats and all the best to Sydney and Ben!

Veneers are Tops

bridget derc table3 430x878 - Veneers are TopsI had not planned on going off on a cane-focused week but here we are with more canes. I couldn’t resist sharing this fabulous tabletop created by the very exploratory Bridget Derc.

Primarily I wanted to share the process photo. Don’t you love peeking in on people’s studio tables? In the Creative Spaces themed Spring 2012 issue, we peeked into a handful of people’s studios. That was the quickest selling issue we’ve ever had which makes me think we need to do some more of that in the future. For now, we’ll peek in on Bridget,  who shows us here how she lays out her beautifully constructed canes to cover tabletops. She also tends to the size of the tables as shown in the last photo that I couldn’t resist adding because it’s just such a beautiful pattern and color palette.

She takes process shots of that white table nearly step-by-step, and not having room enough to show that here, I posted this to entice you to jump over to her Flickr photostream where you can see it all. That table and all the process photos are on her second page of Flickr photos. The one you see the process for here is on her first page. But take some time to peruse it all. Not only are her pieces lovingly finished, but you get to see how she puts it all together. Does it give you any ideas?

If you want to peek in on a few other artists, open up your spring 2012 issue of the Polymer Arts and go to the website to download a digital version at www.ThePolymerArts.com It is only available digitally but if you’re curious, go to our website and you can get an immediate download.

Tiny, Tiny Patterns

11prune cane 430x399 - Tiny, Tiny PatternsThe most common polymer veneer in the community has got to be canes. Although caning seems to exist in a category of its own, it is surface design and cane slices are veneers, albeit tiny, often of a singular image and usually repeated over and over on a piece.

Cécile Bos probably doesn’t identify as a polymer clay artist in a strict sense but she does some of the most amazing detailed canes for her small, delicate jewelry. Originally a biology researcher, she left the field to be a jewelry designer. Her focus is pattern and her primary inspiration is plants. As stated in her online biography, she creates intricate canes which are “then worked in the manner of a textile or thin layers of paper to shape [beads] or other original elements. After curing, these elements are mounted on silver 925 or bronze to form the final piece.” She also adds glass beads, ceramics, wood, metal, and cotton.

You will have to go to her website to see these small jewelry elements she creates from these tiny patterned canes. You can also follow her on Instagram.


Muted Veneer

haunani veneer brooch 430x440 - Muted VeneerIn perusing #the100dayproject on Instagram these past couple weeks, I’ve noticed that veneers are quite the thing to be experimenting with right now. Whether you call polymer sheets you work with surface design, surface treatments, or polymer veneers, it does feel like the clay surface is having a renaissance of exploration.

One of the first of these explorations that I’ve noticed in recent weeks was this piece by Lindly Haunani, which she posted on Facebook. Of course, the queen of color is going to have a showstopper based on her color choices alone, but the subtle texture and the composition of the layout of the veneers, for all the energy of the color and lines, has such a satisfying sense of calm and rightness. There is that obvious sense of intention and deftness of skill that brings refinement to such unquestionably masterful work, even in a piece the artist claims is exploration.

Explore more of Lindly’s work on her website and Facebook page.


Swirling Watercolor Clay

nevenka sabo bowl 430x405 - Swirling Watercolor ClayAlthough this is not part of #the100dayproject, Nevenka Sabo stopped to show us what she does with the sheets she has been creating on her challenge so far.

Nevenka has been working with the torn watercolor technique that Maggie Maggio created. In this small bowl, she uses these surface treatments to create vibrant color and variation within the swirling and crackled lines of the nautilus shell design. The movement and energy of this combination of line and color have made for quite the eye-catching piece as can be seen in the long list of comments about it in the post.

To keep an eye on Nevenka’s challenge and what she does with her watercolor polymer studies, follow her Instagram page. Also, don’t miss out on her tutorials found in her in her Etsy shop.

A Green Phase

planet isis greens beads 430x414 - A Green PhaseThe 100 Day Project challenge is in full swing and it is already trying the resolve of many of us. Maybe, as Cynthia Tinapple said, calling me out on my proposed challenge in her Studio Mojo newsletter this past weekend, I might be a bit ambitious, creating something in polymer and a poem every day to create a composite image for Instagram. But it’s a darn good excuse to make me create every day. Mind you, I’m usually doing it at midnight but that’s the only way I don’t find myself lost for hours at the studio table not getting magazine work done. A lot of people have been coming up with creative ways to make this challenge work for them and keep it manageable at the same time.

Planet Isis, a.k.a. Dayl Goulsbra-Jones, decided to break her challenge up by color. This first week her color was green. The bars of this Day Three collection of textured gradient green and canes are my favorite. The inner glow that this kind of gradient appears to have adds a nice bit of energy to the simple forms, while the calming effects of the green color give contrast to the busy black-and-white canes.

Dayl didn’t pick the green arbitrarily, either. She started this whole challenge by posting her “color generator” which is a bag of cute little colored beads that she dips into to pull out the color for the week. Follow her Instagram account to see her green week and her upcoming projects. You can also find more of her work on her website.

And remember, if you are doing #the100DayProject or any challenge or you just regularly post your creations, let me know. You can chime with a comment on any of our posts @thepolymerarts or on my personal page @the_sage_arts. I’d love to follow your creative journey.

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