The Buenos Aires Polyptych and Our Half-Off Sale, Too!

mondongo insidepolyptych 346x450 - The Buenos Aires Polyptych and Our Half-Off Sale, Too!mondongo rgt side polyptych 350x371 - The Buenos Aires Polyptych and Our Half-Off Sale, Too!mondongo detailpolyptych 350x413 - The Buenos Aires Polyptych and Our Half-Off Sale, Too! Over the last several weeks, I have been traveling and working on moving the business but I was also lucky enough to squeeze in a little museum hopping as well as catching up with a number of artistic friends so I was seeing and talking about a lot of art. I thought that this week I’d share some of what I saw during the last few crazy weeks while I finish organizing the office and warehouse here.

This first piece, Políptico de Buenos Aires by an artist collective known as Mondongo, was found in an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I was accompanied by Christi Friesen and Anke Humpert and when we came to this piece we were initially just entranced by the images and the unusual layered build of the images which were a cross between bas-relief and painting. But then we all stopped at the same time to look at each other and ask, “Hey … is this polymer?”

The description on the wall just listed “clay” as the material but a quick examination showed that it was not ceramic so it was either polymer or another craft clay. It was not until I got home last week that I was able to research the artists and read that they use plasticine. I am not sure it is the same non-drying plasticine many of us grew up on but, yes, they appeared to create this elaborate, nearly 12-foot tall polyptych in modeling clay, using it like paint, with little daubs, thin snakes, and a smeared blending of colors.

The amount of work this must have taken was impressive but it had to be the various stories embedded in their depiction of a shantytown in Buenos Aires in the center sections as well as their own self-portraits and other images on the outside ends that stayed with us. The more we looked, the more we saw and maybe, the more we understood about their sense of frustration with their home country and how people live there.

I could go on and on about this piece but we don’t have the time here. Let me just say this … if you have not visited a museum, gone to a gallery opening, been on an artwalk, or sought out a sculpture garden in recent months, you really should. It is such a shot in the arm for your own creativity and you just never know what you’ll find!

Don’t have time to get out just yet? Well, you can find additional inspiration in the pages of The Polymer Arts magazine. Through the end of the month, hard copy editions of the magazine and the Polymer Journeys book are on sale in our Etsy shop for 1/2 OFF. Help me slim down the inventory as I set up the newly moved stock and get your hands on those precious few issues you’ve missed or want a copy of in print, not just digital for your bookshelf.


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Halloween Calls for Fun

rich-webberI love Halloween. So much of it is about imagination and creativity in how we celebrate it. I also like that there is a day we recognize what scares us and face the darker things in life because the shadows in our world are what makes us see the bright times for the blessings that they are. And Halloween is just so darn fun!

So is this guy: Rich Webber. I need to thank Anke Humpert for bringing his work to my attention. I am not sure most or any of his work is created in polymer clay but it really doesn’t matter. It’s the artist’s imagination and humor that makes the colorful clay come alive. Enjoy this collection of his playful and sometimes morbid creatures but do jump over to his Instagram page or watch some Shaun the Sheep TV shows or the movies to see his directorial work or DC’s Worlds Funnest episodes for which he was the creator.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Go enjoy the holiday. Do something fun and silly and enjoy your child side!


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Anke’s Eyes

AHumpert eyesI’m on my way home today after nearly 3 weeks in Europe. I really look forward to getting back to a regular schedule, and I will catch up will all of you who have been waiting for something from me. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the crazy pieces and wonderful people I snapped pictures of on the last night of EuroSynergy when we got dressed up for the closing dinner.

Here is the witty piece that Anke Humpert created just for this event. If you’ve been to any polymer-centric events, you know how much time we spend checking out each other’s jewelry, so Anke thought it would be fun to have a piece that stares back. It was very entertaining, as well as surprising, and caused much laughter as she made the rounds.

Anke’s work often draws from social and environmental inspiration. You can take a look at her wide range of pieces and techniques on her website.







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Summer 2016 issue Cover … Movement!

16P2 Cover v4 web newsletterWe interrupt this week’s looking at the ground for inspiration to being you the latest cover of The Polymer Arts magazine!

This issue is not out yet, and although we would usually get this out to you by the end of May, it looks like it will be the first week of June, but we are moving along as quickly as we can while still ensuring you have wonderful quality content and beautiful pages to enjoy.

So, what do we have coming up for you in a few short weeks? Some truly energizing articles! As you can see, the theme is Movement, so we have really fun and dynamic articles for you including …

… Randee Ketzel  sharing her beautiful new faux bakelite in a flowing bracelet design.

… Lisa Pavelka shares secrets on using illusion and juxtaposition for dynamic and vibrant color.

… Loretta Lam gets you thinking about how to create visual movement in your compositions.

… I’m sharing  a mulit-piece kinetic earring and pendant tutorial set as well as a tutorial on creating balanced mobiles.

… my staff is going to give you some ideas on creating dangles as well as putting together truly wonderful PDF tutorials to sell.

… Shannon Tabor talks us through looking at the big picture to move your business forward.

… Tory Hughes has a fascinating discussion with long time polymer supporter Robert Liu of Ornament magazine.

… Anke Humpert has dug up secrets and plans in her interview with the amazing Georg Dinkel.

… and much more! Sheesh. I need to catch my breath!

While I’m catching my breath and polishing your next issue, enjoy this cover with this intense wall piece by Bonnie Bishoff and J.M Syron. It’s mesmerizing and wholly moving besides being completely enthralling just trying to figure out how it was made. If you need to get your subscription up to date, you can do so on the website at I apologize, we don’t have single issue pre-sales yet, but I hope to have the site updated by next week so we can do that.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Pick up an old copy of The Polymer Arts (or any craft magazine or book) and spend some time with it on your work break, over coffee, or to wind down tonight. Our old magazines and books are a treasure trove of inspiration.  Find something you had wanted to try or find yourself wanting to try now, and do it. Make a goal of attempting of accomplishing a new technique, form, or approach by this weekend, no matter how busy you are.


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Creatures from the Deep

AHumpert deep-sea-creatures-10As artists, we think of our imagination as a major muscle, if not the primary one used when we’re creating. But how much do you stretch that muscle?

In craft art, because we also have to create steps, a process, and consider function and durability, our minds spend a lot of time in the purely logical, problems solving sections of our brain. Not that the imagination and problem solving are not connected; they absolutely are. But pure imagination is something we don’t always practice. So, here is a little something to push you to do so.

These fun bracelets are the work of the ever creative Anke Humpert. Using translucent clay in a unique design and decorating it with sea creatures she made up is just the start here.

As she explained to me, “The bracelets have a design that glows in black light! That is why they are called deep-sea creature bracelets. You would not normally notice the night side of them, only if you go to a night club or something similar. They also have a special hinge. Most of it is made with polymer only very little metal involved.”

These bracelets, as it turns out, are the centerpiece for one of the three classes she will be teaching at the Cabin Fever Clay Arts Fest next month. In describing the class for prospective students, she says, “Since we do not know much about the deep seas, we will have fun and let our imagination run wild creating plants (or even animals?) as we imagine them.” And that freedom and use of the imagination is what inspired me to share this today and create a bit of a different challenge for those following along.

By the way, I do have a Flickr page for sharing the results of the challenges I’ve been posting, only I haven’t had time to snap pics of what I’ve done, so there’s nothing on it yet really. But if any of you want to get on while I catch up over here, I would love to see what you’ve been up to. Go here to join in!

Does Anke’s class intrigue you? She is also teaching her Big Beads and fun hand tool texturing techniques. She’s joined by a slew of amazing talent including Lisa Pavelka, Maureen Carlson, Dayle Doroshow, Lindly Haunani, Doreen Kassel, Jana Lehmann, Ann and Karen Mitchell, Nan Roche, Lynne Anne Schwarzenberg, and more. There is still room in almost every class, so, if you are interested, jump in while you have your pick of classes still. You can find the classes on this PDF and registration on their webpage.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Let your imagination run wild and recreate an image, motif, shape, or a faux effect you might otherwise recreate as it is seen in nature or as we expect it to be, making your own version. A rose with black petals, a plaid cat, turquoise in pink, purple leather, a square pendant with a chunk missing in the corner, or a peace symbol with Mickey Mouse ears. Just change it up and make it your own.


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The First Polymer Pioneer?

Sigrid-Smolka-coverOn the last page of the Winter 2015 issue, we have a very, very special Muse’s Corner article. It was brought to us by Anke Humpert, who had the good fortune to connect with a polymer artist who may very well be the first published polymer pioneer, unknown to most all of us. The reason we may not recognize the cover of this book, or the author, is probably that it was written in German. Which makes sense since that is where polymer clay was invented and first produced commercially. But how have so few of us even known of dear Sigrid Smolka?

Here is the thing that so shocked Anke (and, later, myself) when she first found out. This book was published years before Nan Roche’s seminal book The New Clay. Now, we aren’t talking 3 years, or 5, or even 10. This book was published 17 years before, not too long after the clay actually hit the market. Isn’t that amazing?

All on her own, Sigrid developed techniques and processes that we will all find familiar and common today. I guess that really shouldn’t be a surprise. The clay can leads us to obvious conclusions even now. But it was just so early on and she did this all on her own and so hidden from the rest of us. But not anymore.

You can read Anke’s whole story about Sigrid Solka in the Winter issue. Get your copy ordered, if you haven’t already, so you can read this and all the other wonderful contributions your fellow polymer artists shared with you in this issue.


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Hidden Patterns in the Newly Released Winter 2015 Issue – Hidden

lehocky Propaher heart pinThe Winter issue of The Polymer Arts was released yesterday, to much fanfare and much relief from myself and the crew. Thank you so much for the many kind comments and compliments  you’ve already sent in. It’s always great to know we’ve done well for you. Digital access was sent to everyone who subscribed or pre-ordered prior to yesterday and all the print issues are in the mail or will be as of this afternoon.

If you don’t see the digital issue you expected in your inbox, check your spam folder, and if it’s not there, write Kat at and she will look into it.  If you don’t have your copy ordered or an active subscription you can do so on our website here.

I was so thrilled to have the genius of Ellen Prophater in this issue. She doesn’t post her work online, which I keep forgetting, but I’ve had the fortune of getting to see a lot of her work, both finished and in progress, at Creative Journey Studios and at events we’ve both attended, so it feels familiar to me. I thought I’d share a little Ellen that I own today while we wrap up things over here.

This is Ellen’s mokume, but it’s a Ron Lehocky heart pin (like you couldn’t guess that!) and the only reason it’s available is because it happens to be in my collection, a kindly gift from Ron. This is an example of my favorite of Ellen’s mokume methods where she uses embossing powder to create a beautiful granite-like look. She has so, so many methods and combinations for mokume, though. And we are such lucky kids that she shared nearly two dozen of her ideas in the Variations in Mokume article in the new issue. It’s not a step-by-step, but after the three sections that precede it – important secrets to great mokume, a very detailed tutorial by Angela Barenholtz on creating contour line mokume (sometimes referred to as impression mokume), and the new wild and twisted mokume Anke Humpert created a tutorial for – you’ll pretty much be ready to venture out on your own and try Ellen’s methods by recipe.

If you aren’t familiar with Ellen’s biggest creation, Creative Journey Studios, which she runs with the very kindly Sue Sutherland, do go over and take a look at all they do and have for you. They are a polymer supplier, but they also have one of the largest retail collections of filigree findings, and they are an absolute must as a place to visit on any polymer person’s bucket list as the studios house the most extensive retrospective collection of polymer art in the world. It’s amazing. If you are ever anywhere near Buford, Georgia (just north of Atlanta), you have to go there. It will knock your socks off. Or, you can make it a destination … they also do workshops all year long with some of the biggest names in the community, so take a look at their schedule and start planning!


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Do it Again

Sonya-Girodon-2-Description2The one article in the Winter 2014 issue of The Polymer Arts that seemed to greatly affect both the readers and the participants in the creation of its writing was the piece by Anke Humpert, “1,700 Pieces of Jewellery“. If you haven’t read it, you really need to. Anke developed a game based on limitation and a challenging process rather than a single challenge concept, and she invited several dozen artists to participate in her first run of it. That alone is a reason to read this; perhaps, in order to get ideas about developing more in-depth challenges for yourself or for your guild.

The thing that struck me, and I’ve had numerous comments back from readers on this and it obviously struck the artists that participated, was the step that required the participants to re-do the piece they made for the challenge. Yes … after the participating artists completed their piece, Anke asked that each of them make their piece again with changes and adjustments that came about from an evaluation of the initial piece. There was something about being given that bit of instruction, or, as I’ve been thinking of it, permission to start over and try again, that was a key illuminating moment for most of the artists. I know for myself, I plan on doing that exact thing when I get into the studio here shortly, maybe even making the same piece 3 or 4 times to see what I come up with. Many of us make just one piece, and then after that attempt move on, especially when it doesn’t work; when really, we could learn so much from trying to create a better version; to evaluate our work with a purpose; to see if we can create the improvements considered in that critique.

The image here is Sonya Girodon’s two pieces and her evaluation notes. There are more comparisons, notes and comments in the article that will get you thinking. Would you be up for challenging yourself to re-do a piece in this fashion as well?


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The Winter 2014 Cover–Boundaries

Finally, we’ve got it done! Here it is to tease you until it comes out at the end of November–the cover for the Winter 2014–Boundaries issue. We are honored to have this classic mixed-media piece by Tory Hughes grace the cover. It celebrates both the season and the theme so well.

The articles in this issue are truly amazing. I don’t know how we lucked out getting so much talent in one issue. There’s the insightful interview with Tory, a definitive technique tutorial on silkscreening by Tonja Lenderman, Joseph Barbaccia shares his process for his stunning polymer strand illustrations, Anke Humpert reveals her new global project titled 1700 Pieces and many, many more artists share their art and thoughts as co-contributors throughout this issue.

14-P4 Winter 2014 Cover borderedHere are some of the article titles for the Winter 2014 issue:

–Design: Working the Visual Edge

–Painting in Bounds: The Essentials of Silkscreening

–Frame It! Jewelry Frames & Bezels

1700 Pieces: A Project in Limitations

–Working Boundaries: Creating at Home

–Tory Hughes: Artist Without Borders

–Starting at the Edge:  Joseph Barbaccia’s Polymer Strand Illustrations

–The  Oozeq Primer

–The Best in New Hand Tools

–A Journey to the Perfect Finish

–Good Impressions: Creating a Portfolio

… and much more

Subscribe or Renew today to be sure you are in the first mailing that goes out.




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