The Eclectic Artisans

Jolanta Bromke green butterfly 302x450 - The Eclectic ArtisansSome of the most fun I’ve been having on Instagram is how easy it is to find other great art outside of polymer. I love my Pinterest but my pages are stuffed with polymer art, which is wonderful, of course, but there is so much to be seen and inspired by outside of our community and Instagram is delivering a wonderful variety of it.

One of my favorite collector type accounts so far is “The Eclectic Artisans“, a curated showcase of all kinds of art jewelry. That is where I found this stunning piece by Poland’s Jolanta Bromke. Can you tell what the material is that makes up the green portions of the butterfly and leaves? Would you have thought it was embroidery at first glance? How clever and how beautifully done.

The idea of flight and delicacy is so nicely done in the way the components are attached at only one point, as if they will all get up and flutter off at any moment. And the variety of bright greens in the subtle texture of the embroidered threads contrasted by the smooth surfaces of the stones creates a fine balance of texture in a nearly monochrome piece.

The Eclectic Artisans is not only a curator of fantastic contemporary and innovative jewelry, but it’s also a store. And what a store! The Australian-based company showcases, at this time, Australian-based artists, with primarily clean, contemporary designs at exceptionally reasonable prices. You can peruse their shop online here and for more of Jolanta’s work, go to her Facebook page where you can also find amazing leather work that looks like porcelain in other inspiring designs.

Hopefully, I’ll be seeing quite a few of you now on Instagram (find us under “thepolymerarts” if you haven’t already, and I’ll follow you back) but in the meantime, let me wish you a happy holiday as we go into the Christmas weekend. Be safe if you are traveling and I’ll catch up with you all next week after Christmas day.

Enticing and Entertaining

Bonnie Bishoff necklace 350x327 - Enticing and EntertainingIMG 0237 430x280 - Enticing and EntertainingThe art jewelry at these events is also a big draw. There is nothing quite like seeing masterful polymer work in person.

Here is a gorgeous piece by Bonnie Bishoff. She wore it to the final gala event and I just could not stop looking at the delicate forms and sunset-like colors. The picture (and the poor lighting in these places) doesn’t quite do it justice.

Another bonus to coming to these events is the local color. In this case, Sherman Oberson, a board member of the IPCA and a local Pennsylvania resident, treated a small handful of us to a tour of his insanely packed and ever-entertaining collection of flea market and thrift store finds. We did this, in part, to honor Nan Roche whose birthday it was. A huge collector of the curious and visually enticing herself, it was a perfect birthday outing for her and an immensely entertaining evening for those of us who got to tag along.

Poke around on Instagram and Facebook for more on Sherman’s place and other Synergy events.


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A Relationship of Lines

12768184_370844913085808_8932626980699712895_oI have had this in my collection to share for a few weeks, but I hadn’t been able to figure out who the artist was until today. The image came from a Facebook post … that’s all I knew. Now, I am excited to introduce a new artist! Well, an artist that is new to me, I suppose. I haven’t learned a whole lot about her or her artistic story and history just yet.

I was intrigued by the mix of surface textures and the energy of the various lines used. The surface is both impressed with a controlled and deliberate pattern, probably hand tooled, then a central bit of random cracking, then a predictable pattern of swirling copper. They are all highly energetic lines, each doing their own thing independent of the others but nested the way they are and all in a muted orange of some sort, they work together.

The use of line and its energy as well as warm muted colors are even carried into the stringing and connectors of this piece. It makes for a lot of interest and movement but with a very cohesive feel.

After searching and searching, using Google image searches and looking through Facebook for artists with the initials MB, I finally got a hit and the mystery was solved. This necklace was created by Martina Burianova. You can find her on Facebook or check out her work on her website.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create a surface texture with at least three different types of lines in it. Create cohesiveness by choosing another element or two (color, material, texture, etc) they all have in common. You can make three separate elements, each with different line qualities, then work on arranging them so they have a visual relationship that creates a balanced design, or just dive in working on one surface with line qualities intermixed.


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A Lovely Surprise

katya bo burden pendantsI don’t know what happens online but there have been long spells lately where nothing really jumps out at me as I wander through Pinterest, Flicker, Etsy, Google images, and the many blogs and art sites I keep bookmarked to look for amazing and inspiring work. Maybe it’s just me, but then, all of sudden, pieces are jumping out of the screen to charm me into digging further. This week, I want to share a few that have done that recently but for which I haven’t devised any themes to work them into and I’m just a bit too excited to wait to share them.

These pendants made me stop, not just because they are beautifully designed, but I thought certainly that these were one of the many pieces found on Pinterest that had been mistakenly marked as polymer. Looking into the artist further, I found that Katya Bo does, in fact, make these out of polymer. Only the findings they hang from and the stones embedded in them are not. I’ve done my share of raised thin lines in polymer and they are not at all easy to keep neat and even. It takes a lot of patience and a steady hand. Katya must have those in spades because, according to process photos I found, these are not stamped or cast as they might first appear to be.

Her art deco look sometimes crosses into renaissance and other times takes a whiplash swing into space age styles, but there is always that delicate design reminiscent of enamel using faux granite clay for the base. Her pieces are gorgeously conceived, beautifully detailed, and quietly balanced in design; a combination that seems fairly rare in art jewelry these days.

I spent way more time flipping through her Flickr pages than I had when I first saw her work, then I dug deeper and found her LiveMaster shop as well as her ‘workroom’ which has the process photos that reveal that, no, those lines are not wires or formed through a more precision method, but are all formed polymer. What a lovely surprise.


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Color Studies

I thought this week, we’d just look at color. Because who here doesn’t like that? For most of us it’s such a primary part of working with polymer. How can we resist with all those gorgeous colorful blocks enticing us to create something that honors our fascination with them?

And then we condition and roll, cut and punch, form and wrestle, combine and rearrange and eventually we have this finished piece that, somehow, doesn’t quite reflect what we were after. When it comes to color, even for those of us who can often combine them intuitively, study and practice is what will bring about success in taking the designs from inside our head onto our studio tables.

There are a number of ways to study color and that, I promise, are not at all dull times. What you learn can be immediately turned into beautiful creations. These pendants by Austria’s Carina are studies in complementary and tertiary colors. Now, tell me you would have not enjoyed creating something like these?



Your own personal exploration and study of color can begin (or continue) through a number of options we have available. For polymer specific color studies, there is nothing that comes close to the depth of Lindly Huanani and Maggie Maggio’s book Polymer Clay Color Inspirations. Honestly, if there was one book I’d expect to see on every serious polymer artist’s shelf, it’s this book. It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey as a polymer artist, you will learn something new and maybe even game changing for you.

If you want a quick brush up on terms and why these concepts are important (since we’ll be talking about them all week, it might be good to refamiliarize yourself with them) you can do so on websites like this one:

I’ll also share one of my favorite color pages on all the web … this is a kind of shortcut to figuring out color combinations and it’s also a little addictive. You click on a color on the color wheel and then you can run through a range of possible color combination types. I get lost in the possibilities:

So go play with color today, online at least if not in the studio. Getting lost in color sounds like a great way to start a week.

Revisiting the Masters

In a recent conversation with a couple rather big names in our community, I was asked why the community’s major blogs don’t feature the masters very often. It gave me pause. The thing is, I think we do … but part of it may be that there can be a difference in opinion as to what constitutes a master. But really what it comes down to is why we do these blogs. I know my reason is to bring inspiring ideas to you, things that will get you running into the studio or thinking about how to challenge yourself or tips that might help resolve a design issue. This requires a lot of new work and new ideas. The people we might call masters have perfected a set of techniques and/or approaches to design that most of us have become familiar with, so there is a question as to whether a reader will be very enthused by a post on something they’ve seen before. But what this question did make me consider is what we can get out of revisiting the masters.

We can become so familiar with some things that we just can’t see what there is to learn from it any more. The first time I saw Jeffrey Lloyd Dever’s work was years ago in Art Jewelry magazine. I was floored by his technique and finish (still am actually!) and tried out the tutorial in those pages. I wasn’t very successful but I did learn quite a few things along the way about back-filling and finishing. The thing is, if I worked through that same tutorial now, I would learn something different. What I was able to glean from my exploration of his work then, is not what I would glean from it now. Jeff was at Synergy and had a gallery table of his work so I was able to see his pieces close up. This time it was the color choices that I pondered. That didn’t even cross my mind years ago when I was so focused on technique.

You can see by the detail of his Racine Art Museum installation why his colors might be just a tad intriguing. But is that what intrigues you? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on where you are in your art and even where your thoughts are on this day.


The point is, we should keep revisiting the masters, even the same pieces. The best work does not have just one thing to teach us or for us to take away. Really wonderful art will have many facets that will hit us differently at various points in our lives. So, I’ve been thinking … I should make a point here and there of revisiting even the most familiar work on this blog, give us a chance to get reacquainted with it and find what is new and exciting for us because of where we are as a community today. I’d love to hear that many of you are or will do the same. If you have any great discoveries in doing this, do let me know. We can share it here.

By the way, I pulled this image of Jeff’s work from the Polymer Art Archive which is also a treasure of a source for work from our past as well as our present. It is well worth reading and visiting on a regular basis.

Art Jewelry Grant Call for Entries

I thought a few of you would be interested in this grant. With so much talent out there, polymer clay could certainly bring in some serious competition. Here are the guidelines:

There is a definite lean towards non-traditional materials or non-traditional applications of common materials such as this mix of felt, plastic and enamel by the 2006 recipeint Natalya Pinchuk.


The grant applications need to be in by September 30th!

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