No Words Suffice

Tory Hughes sculpture Hokkaido 2011 430x423 - No Words SufficeYesterday , our community got the sad news that one of our most influential pioneers and a most beautiful person, Tory Hughes, passed away. From the accounts I have heard, she passed peacefully. But we are stunned. Last week, Cynthia Tinapple let us all know she was ill and prayers and positive energies were sent in heaps and droves but, for all that, it was it her time, it seems.

My little family visited with her in Santa Fe just last month. She seemed fine. She told me about her plans and dreams, many involving the kind of charity and hope for others that were such a staple for how she created and taught. It is hard to imagine those plans and dreams are at an end. However, we are all so fortunate and blessed to have had her in our community, to have known her in any big or small way, in person or through her work. Tory didn’t just touch people, she changed them or at least the way they viewed the world.

There simply aren’t words that suffice to embody how so many of us feel about Tory. And so I’m going to just share this piece, that she said had always been one of her favorites and was on the cover of the Winter 2014 issue in which Irene Corman interviewed her on her view of what it is to be an artist and where that came from for her. This here is just a small sculptural piece, not created to be any particular piece of jewelry or type of decor. Just a unique, uncategorizable thing of beauty to wonder at. Like Tory. We’re so going to miss her.

To revisit her work and her words, take some time today on her website, read this lovely biography.

In other news … so you are in the know,  the Spring 2018 issue, Big & Small, will be out on February 25th. Keep an eye on your inbox that day if you are waiting on a digital copy . Print editions will have been dropped in the mail the Friday before. If you want to order a copy, get a subscription, or renew a subscription, all that can be done on our website at

The Shape of Owls

Meadow and fawn painted owls 430x370 - The Shape of OwlsI’ll wrap up this week with some adorable creatures that will just pull at your heartstrings.

Alexis is the creative soul behind Meadow and Fawn, crafting in an unspecified clay and painting the most endearing little details in her jewelry, sculpture and shadow boxes. I found the painting on these owls intriguing because it’s not just feathers and texture, there are little scenes on them or other animals. Does the artist feel that the owls embody the wisdom of all types of nature and that is why she is inclined to paint natural scenes on them? Or are their cute little bodies simply a convenient canvas?

For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know I am very big on intention and the relationship between the elements in a piece. Logically, I am not finding an obvious relationship between the owl shapes and the fox, deer and butterflies on them, but somehow it still works and how readily they sell is a testament to how strongly they must speak to people as they are so quickly snatched up. That’s what is intriguing to me. Is it that they are natural images on a natural shape alongside her soft and gentle style of sculpting and painting?

Logic does not always provide the answers, especially when it comes to the heart and art. I think we can just simply look and enjoy and snatch up our own if so driven. You can follow Alexis on Instagram or find out more about her and peruse her shop on her website.


Fuzzy Feelings

chifonie cat and kitten pin 430x563 - Fuzzy FeelingsHappy Valentine’s day to you all! Here is a little Valentines from me to all of you out there who follow and read my babbling posts and keep me going with your kind words and stories.

I don’t know if you realize this, but I only get to do this because of you all, especially those who help me keep the lights on by subscribing or buying The Polymer Arts magazine. I know that not everything in the magazine is for everyone but it is THE reason I am able to spend the time scouring the web and researching the artwork I post here. The blog is wholly a labor of love so if you appreciate this, please consider supporting the magazine and/or our advertising partners you see here as their contributions cover the maintenance and service costs, without which I could not justify doing this.

So, here is a visual image of my love and dedication to all of you. I have always adored Christine Pecaut‘s cats. They always look so happy and adoring, accented with whimsically placed canes and Dustin-inspired translucent slices. But this simple faux ceramic looking pair, momma and baby kitty, just tugs at the heartstrings even if you’re not much of a cat person.  

She actually has a whole gallery of her cats that you can see here. Cats are not, by far, the only thing she creates. Find more of her work in her Etsy shop, on Instagram, and on her blog.


Lit from the Inside

lit heart 430x270 - Lit from the InsideHere is a neat little idea for hollow pendants of all kinds and we get to stick with the heart theme started last week as well.

The translator couldn’t decide on the artist’s name but I think it is spelled out as Lena Yolka, a Russian architect who likes to play with whatever she can get her hands on, it seems. And she really likes her Dremel. So after creating the hollow hearts, she thought a few holes would make for great texture, which it does. The crowning touch, though, was adding the tiny LED inside. That certainly makes it eye-catching.

Lena hasn’t had a recent entry in her LiveJournal and I couldn’t find other links to her work but you can admire her holey work and other pieces here until I or someone else dig up more on this creative soul.

Can’t Miss Ron

RLehocky hearts 430x420 - Can't Miss RonNo technique, no cane, no scrap is safe from the creative machinations of Ron Lehocky. And apparently neither is the admiration of so many, many people inside and outside the polymer community. Ron may have a big focus on hearts and creates them in just a few shapes but he never stops exploring what he can do on his little canvases. Dropping in to see what he has created recently is always a treat and an inspiring reminder of how many little things can make a huge difference in so many people’s lives.

If for some reason you are not familiar with Ron’s crusade to help ailing children, he raises funds through the sale of his hearts for a center that aids in the ongoing education of these children’s caregivers and physicians. Here is a video where he explains how this came about as well as how to make these beautiful hearts.

Ron uses canes and mokume blocks kindly donated from artists from all over to quickly create these little masterpieces, occasionally creating his own surface treatments. In the image here, starting with the iris hearts and going clockwise, he used canes from Jayne Dwyer, Jon Stuart Anderson, and Ivy Niles. The last set shows his own surface designs using metallic powders.

If you have some special people you want gifts for this Valentine’s day, Ron’s hearts are ideal. He doesn’t create special orders as much of his work depends on what he’s been sent but any one of them would be lovely to give or own. You can find a list of the places they are sold as well as how to order them by email by going to this link.

If you want to admire his many pieces, the best places to go are his Instagram or Facebook accounts.

The Spring 2018 Cover … All Things Big & Small

18P1 Spring cover Web Full wBlog border 430x538 - The Spring 2018 Cover ... All Things Big & SmallOur upcoming Spring 2018 issue is finally coming together, I am happy to say, and it’s set to come out the last week of February!

We are very lucky to have Doreen Kassel as our Color Spotlight artist as well as the cover artist for this issue. Lindly Haunani did a wonderful job of getting Doreen’s thoughts and secrets out of her to share with you all.

Also in this issue …

  • We have an amazing article on how to plan and create lifelike miniature versions of just about anything by the prolific Stephanie Kilgast.
  • I created a tutorial and sampler article on numerous ways you can decorate and design with tiny bits of clay including clay embroidery, faux filigree, granulation, cloisonné, and a few things I don’t have a name for but all so much fun to do.
  • We’ve compiled a ton of secrets and tricks into a step by step guide to cane reduction that is not to be missed.
  • Spend time in the world of Donna Greenberg, from her days as a big interior mural artist to her big ideas in smaller polymer packages, in an in-depth interview by Anke Humpert.
  • We picked the mind of Laura Tabakman to find out how large installations art projects are started, planned and completed.
  • As requested by numerous readers, I put together an article based on my Synergy 4 presentation on how polymer art fits into an environmentally conscious world, with my research and conclusions that are probably not what you would expect.

… and much, much more.

You can start or renew your subscription or pre-order your copy on our website here.



Round the Hearts

kate way bullseye heart 430x423 - Round the HeartsAs we approach that heart-filled holiday, I find I have succumbed to collecting related polymer art and polymer hearts. I couldn’t help it this year and I can’t say why. But maybe I’ll get this all in early enough that you can appreciate these unusual hearts and heartfelt pieces before you overdose on it next week.

I am a big fan of polymer artist Katie Way. Her work has a very distinguished style full of color and energy and, as her shop name reveals, bullseye dots, spots, circles and canes.

Just because her preferred motif is round doesn’t stop her from creating all kinds of shapes with her round favorites as building blocks. Like this heart. It is a fantastic metaphor for our hearts in the real world. Love and related emotions are so complex and we love so many different people in so many different ways don’t we? Well, I hope most of us do because that is the real beauty of our connection with the people we love. It’s complex and constantly changing and whirring about inside us. The energy of this piece and the variation of her circles represents this so well.

Enjoy more of Katie’s work by going to her Etsy shop and her Instagram page.


Micro Mishap

patriksstudio sinter accident 430x573 - Micro MishapI still need to try my hand at something in PMC besides a basic bezel but it’s the unpredictability that makes me hesitate. However, with mishaps like this bit that happened to Patrik, maybe I really can just embrace it.

Patrik notes here that in the firing, not all the parts sintered properly–sintering being when the metal gets hot enough to bond but not liquefy, resulting in a partial but still strong fusing of metal parts. In precious metal clays, those parts are all the little particles suspended in the binder that allows the metal to be worked like clay. So here, not all the material fused as expected, leaving the copper with an uneven but interesting texture.

In precious metal clays, like polymer, an insufficient cure will result in less strength but it looks like all the pieces that didn’t sinter were on the surface and aren’t involved in holding the shape and structure. Which does point out that although some accidents may look cool, the item still needs to be durable and perform as intended. But if your pendant comes out warped or the clay surface gets nicked, stop and consider if the powers that be are trying to tell you to try something new.

Patrik is a designer, artist and teacher specializing in precious metal clay jewelry. You can find more of his work including some enticing tutorial videos on his website.

Beauty in Old Clay

crackle beads old clay 430x323 - Beauty in Old ClayIf you haven’t seen this technique, created about a decade ago by France’s Dominique Franceschi, you really have to try it. Like Monday’s post, this too came out of an accident, one many of us have probably experienced to some degree. It was from dry, crumbling clay, once again ruining our expectations. Well, Dominique took that experience and ran with it and what a beautiful texture arose from playing around with this stuff.

Basically, she extruded some older clay and it cracked all up and down the length of it. Instead of tossing it, she wrapped it around base beads, flattened and smoothed the clay, and ended up with these beautiful, organic looking textures. Wonderful stuff.

Her full technique was shared and translated on Parole de Pâte way back in 2006. But just because it’s an older technique doesn’t mean that it can’t be new or newly played with. Try it out and maybe you’ll even have some pleasantly unexpected outcomes by using it slightly differently such as laying it on a sheet to create surface designs that can be made into jewelry or wrapped around boxes. Or what would these cracked snakes look like and how would you use them if you tried just smoothing out the snakes alone? In any case, it would certainly be fun to play with.

Find the simple steps and a couple of options for these beads on Parole de Pâte here.

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