Creative Composition

bellou denim 430x504 - Creative CompositionAnother great contribution to the Spring issue was in our artists’ gallery. All of our artists are unique in their approach but it is Isabelle, known online as Bellou, whose designs are really standing out.

Isabelle creates bold, contemporary adornments that are polished to a glass-like shine. Her work often has a centered focal point but the balance of the components are set in asymmetric arrangements or are all shaped differently with different treatments. However, in all the disparity there is a common element that brings it together.

This is one of the pieces she sent us that we couldn’t work into the gallery pages. On the one side, there are wide, solid pieces, dense with texture, but on the other side, the space is opened with a series of cut-out shapes that have the same mica shift texture as the other side. The rest of the center piece brings in a grounding energy to the movement of lines and shapes that play across the necklace.

To see more of Bellou’s work, take a look at her shop pages here.

Reality in Miniature

SKilgast ican 430x545 - Reality in MiniatureIt’s been a week since the new Spring issue was released. Reports of print editions showing up in the mailboxes of subscribers in the western state are coming in as well as your comments. So it’s about time we squeeze in the last few bits of content that didn’t make it into our always filled-to-the-brim pages.

For instance, in the article on miniature hyper-realistic sculpting, we didn’t have room for Stephanie Kilgast to explain where her journey in tiny sculptures has taken her. If you have a copy of Polymer Journeys, you probably read a little about what she is doing with her honed skills as a miniaturist sculptor, presenting ideas about our food choices in her daily miniature veggie and fruit challenge, ending in 233 different kinds of miniature plant-based food sources. Seeing how she could present her ideas with her skills she has moved on to explore, in her words, ” celebrating the beauty of nature in a dialogue with humanity, questioning the lost balance between human activities and nature.

I love how her work shows that skills in one area can be used and transformed into something else, something more than one might expect. Her keen, observant eye and understanding of how to recreate natural textures is what has allowed her to express these abstract concepts and no-so abstract views of our world.

This has been the most commented-on article so far. Readers seem to be really diving into the exploration of the miniature and, hopefully, considering how to adapt it to their own unique work. To see more of what Stephanie does, go to her website and check out her online classes and YouTube videos.


Circling Back Around

judamani 430x555 - Circling Back AroundWith its prevalence in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism and decorative elements, the circle and symmetrical designs like mandalas are probably a natural thing to gravitate to when you live in India.  of JudaMani, is a Delhi-based artist creating contemporary east Indian jewelry with metal, stones, and polymer clay.

I’ve been watching her Instagram posts with interest as the designs feel both familiar and refreshing. There is an abundance of pattern and lively color in her work, as demonstrated by the earrings here. The busy surface design and contrast in color and shapes makes the symmetry of its circular design dynamic.

For more on Jaishree’s work, check out her website, Instagram or Facebook pages.



Circling Off-Center

Nakit up Ayahuasca 430x546 - Circling Off-Center

Because circles are so symmetrical, variation within the circular design or asymmetry in the placement of the circles can be employed to add interest and energy to a piece.

In these enticingly textured earrings, Ursa Polak includes variation in not only the placement but the color and pattern of the background, and she even changes things up between the two earrings so they aren’t an exact match. Even the circular impressions, which at first glance might appear to be the same stamp treated differently, do not have the same patterning. But because the stamps are all radiating circular patterns and the form of the beads are the same on both sides, they are easily seen as a pair.

This asymmetry in conjunction with symmetrical elements is a common theme in Ursa’s work. You can see what I mean by heading over to her Flickr photostream, Instagram page, or her DaWanda shop.




Circularly Centric

sonagrig stained glass 430x492 - Circularly Centric

Circles are one of the most basic design elements, seen throughout nature and in one of the most meaningful human features, the eyes. They have had their ups and downs in terms of popularity in art and design, however, it is unquestionable that we all have a strong affinity for them. If there is a circle on a design, it will be noticed before any other shape. Its symmetry is comforting and mildly energized due to its connection to movement as in wheels and anything round feeling like it could roll away. It has no beginning and no end which has given it a revered place in religious and spiritual designs.

The circle as the central form certainly enjoys a revered place in polymer art, old and new. What you see here is a new piece by Sona Grigoryan and a very colorful one for her at that. This pendant looks like a miniature stained glass window from a cathedral with the exception of the hole in the middle. The negative space there adds a focal point as well as making the center feel infinite in its depth. It is mandala-like as well which adds to the spiritual feel of it.

Take a look at Sona’s new and colorful designs by visiting her website, Flickr photostream, or Instagram page.




Painted Parts

leanne fergeus paintedparts 430x407 - Painted PartsToday, I would like to bring up the subject of painting polymer. Although the attitude is changing, there is still some unwritten rule out there that you really shouldn’t have to paint polymer because all the colors and possible inclusions to create variations in color and texture are already in, or can be added, to the clay. But like any material, the way polymer presents color and inclusions is quite a bit different from the way other materials will do it. And sometimes it’s a lot harder to accomplish. This is art, not some kind of skill challenge, at least not for a lot of us. I am all for challenging our skills and seeing how far we can push the clay but sometimes, you just want to have at it with some form of pigment that you can spontaneously and freely brush, dab, draw or drop onto the clay.

Take these beauties, for instance. It looks like, from the edge of the treated clay sheet in the back, that Leanne Fergeus did a bit of splashing about, in a rather linear manner, with maybe some alcohol inks on a sheet of pale colored clay.  Then she dashed either metallic inks (I got myself a selection of these from Poly Clay Play but have yet to play with them!) or metallic acrylics. And the effect is just stunning. Very painterly, kind of sunset-like but mostly it’s just a great energized and confident-feeling color palette and texture. And you could not achieve this kind of look with clay alone. The clay allows for shaping the painted surface and so is integral, just not its inherent color.

Leanne is partial to alcohol inks and does lovely loose work with them on, primarily, simply shaped pendants. You can see more of her work on Instagram and on her website.

Painterly Sticks

Patibannister fish sticks 430x449 - Painterly SticksI thought these pieces were a good reminder that adding paint to a carved or textured piece doesn’t mean antiquing or otherwise pressing paint into the recesses, something we see a lot of and for good reason. It does create a wonderful effect. But paint can be added to the raised areas as well. This will highlight (in a more dramatic fashion than the way the favored mica powders can always accomplish) the pattern or imagery, as Pati Bannister does here.

Pati calls these “Fish Sticks”. Pretty cute name to go with the fun, loose, painterly feel of these earrings. The polymer tiles are apparently very small as well—all of 1 5/8 (40mm) long so the paint is able to jazz up a tiny space quite a lot with its varied color while adding a subtle texture.

Pati uses paint quite regularly on polymer as well as creating paintings on more traditional painting surfaces. Pati also stays busy with a well-rounded online presence on Instagram, Facebook, and Flickr along with selling her work on Etsy.



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.


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