Break it Up!

I found this beauty in a Jewelry Making Daily email post a while back. I was intrigued by the casualness of the lines and shapes contrasted with the skilled craftsmanship and elegance of the gems. Primarily though, I was drawn by the broken frame. Who says a frame must be straight and closed? If you balance out any divergence from the expected norm with an element like the aquamarine placed in the open corner of the frame, the break seems almost necessary.

HelenDriggs via JMD

This silver-in-quartz in silver bezel setting by Helen Driggs (photo by Jim Lawson) was previously published on the cover of Lapidary Journal/Jewelry Artist in January 2010 (deservedly so) before making it into the JMD post.

So … if you have a composition that is stumping you, try ‘breaking it up!” Remember … there are no “musts” and “shoulds” in art. Only options.


Scenes & Stories

With our art, we are always telling some kind of story. But in these pieces by Estonian artist Katja, we get a literal scene from which we can draw a story. This link takes you to Katja’s LiveJournal page and her tutorial about how she makes these bracelets. It’s a fun process to see and a project all level of artists could try. The only real challenge I saw was how she made these with those long nails!


Next time you are working on a bracelet, necklace, vase or anything that allows you to work with a horizontal canvas, consider building a scene or story, even if it’s abstract. Using the scene layout as a design element can bring what might otherwise seem a random placement of shapes and color into a perceived order. And its fun!



Letting it All Stand Out

Céline Charuau’s work absolutely fascinates me.  Her forms are obviously inspired by the shapes and patterns in nature but she chooses to exaggerate or focus on one aspect and push it until it no longer resembles anything we are familiar with but does emphasis the beauty of that one characteristic.


CCelineStarSideCéline’s work has been in the magazine as an example of how to creatively copy from nature (you may have seen her beautiful feather inspired necklace in Christi Friesen’s “Filling Your Well of Creativity” article in the Winter 2011 issue of The Polymer Arts magazine).


Here is another example in this pointy petaled flower where the extensions of the flow stand so far out from the base that they almost seem menacing. Building a piece into the available space rather than letting it just sit calmly back makes the form a forceful and undeniably attention grabbing piece. If the coloring and shapes were softer, this might not feel appropriate but with the slim, pointed petals and fiery tips, the dynamic use of space works wonderfully.


Tinting Liquid Polymer Clay

There is more than one way to tint LPC! You can buy it already tinted with Kato Liquid PolyClay or you can make your own. If you make your own, you can use most any dye or paint that is NOT water-based. The most common colorant is oil paint but alcohol inks or mica powders are also used.


I also recommend cosmetic colorants … see the article in the Spring 2012 issue of The Polymer Arts magazine for cosmetic industry options for all kinds of materials. Each tint medium produces different results and requires slightly different approaches to use them successfully.


Luckily, our friends over at Craft Test Dummies did a lot of the experimenting for you. These ideas greatly expand your options if you haven’t tried them.

Scientifically Artistic Finds

Polymer borrows from every other art form and many other industries and the scientific industry is no exception. Our tissue blades for instance are for biological and physiological studies (yep, the tissue referred to is not Kleenex!)  I also know many polymer artists who use dental tools, pipettes and chemistry scales not to mention the multitudes of hardware and containers that a scientific supply source can offer. So here is one supply source for such things — American Science & Surplus — a very fun and inexpensive supply site with just a mind-boggling number of items that a polymer artist would want … or maybe, need!


Here’s just one example of what can be done with scientific hardware. Julia Sober is quite fond of incorporating microscope slides into her polymer and metal jewelry.  Here she uses cane worked polymer clay, glass microscope slides, gold-filled wire, aluminum tubing, and glass beads for this beautiful set.


You Know You are an Artist if…

No, I’m not leading into something humorous as the title might imply, just a definition for all of you who sometimes wonder “Am I actually an artist?”


If your heart and soul go into your work, if you feel like a little bit of you now lives with the people who buy your work, then yes, you are an artist.


Mudpile Mokume Gane

If you read the “Polymer Resurrection Workshop” article in the last issue of The Polymer Arts, you saw how easy it is to make successful mokume gane from scrap. I’ve been hearing from a lot of people who have been taking this scrap approach so when I ran across this tutorial by Elizabeth Campbell,, I thought I really ought to share. Here’s a resulting piece from the technique:


This is a a fun variation on the mokume gane challenge that does not require sorting the clay at all. You just use your “mud pile.”  It’s perfect for leftover canes pieces and the little bits of clay you have at the bottom of your scrap bin.

If you are getting into the Bargello technique from that same article, Elizabeth has a quick overview on creating a Skinner blend Bargello sheet as well.

Outside Inspiration: Soutache in the Extreme


Olimpia Corvino Designs FB_n

A couple weeks ago, Cynthia posted a piece on Polymer Clay Daily about faux soutache done in polymer clay by Olimpia Corvino.I had just been perusing an actually soutache artist’s site a couple days before but couldn’t find it at the time. Well, it was an Etsy store and here is the piece that drew me in and had me investigating.




This piece by Miriam Shimon is titled “Once Upon a Time” and is a Bead Dreams 2012 Finalist piece. Obviously! Well, I didn’t see the rest of the competition but this just blew me away. If you are unfamiliar with soutache, it is simply a narrow and flat decorative type of trim used with drapery or clothing, usually to hide a seam. Not dissimilar from flattened ropes of polymer (hint, hint!) As demonstrated by Olimpia, there are such possibilities in terms of borrowing form, flow, and detail, for a polymer artist to borrow from this bead and fiber art form.

And, besides,  it’s just so darn pretty to look at.

Brightening Your Morning

Coffee in the morning is such an entrenched tradition in America and elsewhere that even those of us who can’t drink caffeine anymore will still get up and make a pot of decaf for some psychological pick-me-up.

Now, what if you have that coffee (caffeinated or not) in a cup like this …



Eleni Tsaliki has a thing for bring colors and fun imagery. Using Angeli Del Rosario’s suggestions for renewing old items from the “Polymer to the Rescue” article in our present issue of The Polymer Arts magazine,  you could help save the earth and brighten your morning by repairing old mugs with cheery polymer additions.

Eleni has a whole series of pick me up mugs on her Flickr page along with other things to brighten up your Thursday.



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