Outside Influence: Oceans in clay

The ocean is a an incredible source of  inspiration for form, color and just a general sense of alienness. And who isn’t intriqued by the strange and unique?

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Melanie Ferguson is a ceramicist who focuses on the strange and unique in organically themed pieces. This is from her 2012 “Tossed Ashore” series of which there are only a couple posted on her Facebook page at this time, but I am checking back regularly awaiting any new work. She has also explored plant and pods forms where her works becomes incredibly colorful.  I get quite mesmerized by the bursting, melting and growing shapes she creates, not to mention the incredible surface texture. Her approach could so easily be translated to polymer that I keep stopping to read the description of her work to be sure she didn’t actually stray from mineral clays.

Do take some time to peruse her work. It will fill your mind with the pure beauty of nature’s forms as if you’ve never seen them before.

Unexpected Blossoms

This Thursday, with a fun but hectic couple of weeks of traveling behind me my brain is trying to get back to a calm state I work with. Something about circles is very calming–the way they loop and complete themselves without an end or a start. Perhaps that’s why discs and circles are so regularly set into quiet contemporary compositions but as seen here in work by Meisha Barbee, they can have that contemporary look and still be fun and unpredictable.

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This piece has a single element that does this. The flowers. The necklace would have worked with just the mica shift sheets filling in the space around imperfect negative circles cut into the discs echoing the imperfect silver rings. But no … she had to throw us with a blossoming of flowers on the mica sheet seams. It’s a joy and surprise to see them there.

Unfortunately, they remind me of the little flowering weeds that cropped up in the cracks of my driveway while I was gone that I must go take care of. *sigh* I guess its off with me to go contemplate so blossoms of my own.

Organizing: Turn ‘Em Upside Down

How many tiny bottles of paint, alcohol ink, glue, etc. you have taking up drawer or shelf space in the studio? If they are taking up valuable space, here is a fantastic idea from paper crafter Brianna Walling–it takes just a few magnets, some glue and an old baking sheet.

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Attach a baking sheet or other flat sheet of metal (not aluminum … it won’t take magnets) to the underside of a shelf. If you have wire shelves, drill a couple holes and use ties to attach it, otherwise some well place screws should hold it to wooden shelving. Glue magnets onto the bottom of your bottles and pop them upside down onto the sheet. It’s a bit of space in your studio not often used and it keeps your paint and ink in the top of the bottle. Nice.

Brianna wrote a blog piece about it for paper crafters: http://wecanbeaoriginal.com/blog/2011/07/beaorganized-glitter-glue/

 

Crafting with Light: Hollow Faux Glass Beads

Kathrin Neumaier of Germany has been focused on translucents for well over a year now using layered translucent clay and liquid polymer to create a glass effect. Her work has a natural feel to them, like they might be something you would find washed up on the beach. But the simple elegance of the forms also makes me think they could be something you’d pull out of long forgotten collection of odds and ends in an old relative’s attic. Regardless, they are intriguing, not only because as polymer artsits we know this effect is not easy to achieve but because the forms rely on light to create interest.

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The translucent hollow forms bounces light around and through the forms giving pieces like these simple earrings an enticing liveliness. This is the kind of thing we emphasized in The Polymer Arts’ Spring 2012 article “Design Beyond Form” where we talked about using light in the composition of your piece. Using glass (or faux glass), reflective surfaces, and shimmering texture can add that extra dimension that allows your piece to play with the light in the room–an element that changes based on the viewer’s position or, in terms of jewelry and adornment, the wearer’s movement. How cool is that?

Vote for Polymer Clay!

Recently The Crafts Report asked readers to help them chose the artwork for their upcoming October issue. And polymer has done quite well in this little competition. If you are not familiar with this magazine, you really should take a look at it, not only for business ideas but also for artistic inspiration. This comes out monthly, focusing on issues relevant to crafters of all types.

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The Crafts Report has been particularly kind to polymer clay artists. With all the many different types of crafts out there, most of which are much more established than polymer, they still regularly feature polymer art on the cover. Even though we work in a newer art material, we do, actually, comprise a huge portion of the craft artist market. So, The Crafts Report does pay attention to polymer artists and keeps our art in the lime light. Thanks Crafts Report!

Today they resume a cover contest they are conducting on Facebook. It’s down to 4 pieces, and one of them being the beautiful polymer necklace here by Loretta Lam. If you are interested in helping polymer get yet another Crafts Report cover, find The Crafts Report on Facebook and toss in your vote!

 

 

 

Test Drive CraftArtEdu

I know I put a note out in the last newsletter but I want to catch others here who may not know about CraftArtEdu.com. The idea is that instead of you having to pay for expensive classes with artists who can only come to your area once in a blue moon, you can take great, in-depth classes at a fraction of the cost and view it on your time and at your own pace.

crafteduNataliaThe classes are basically videos but far more than just something you might find on YouTube. They can be quite lengthy as the instructors lead you through every step in detail. You can post questions, browse by chapter, click through from the video page directly to suppliers for items you might need, and you have unlimited access to all this and it never expires.

There are a handful of free classes to get a taste of how they work. You can check those out on the website here.

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.

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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!

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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!

 

 

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