Adapting Nature

terra planters waste marble 430x638 - Adapting NatureIn my search for other creative planter ideas, I came across these amazingly lovely upright planters, of sorts. The work is by sculptor Jamie North. They are made of cement, marble waste, limestone, coal ash, organic matter and various Australian plants and stand about 5 feet(165cm) high. This scale is a bit bigger than what we usually work with in polymer but the planter could be scaled down if one is so inspired.

I mean, who says that we must create large, open-mouthed vessels for plants to live in? Out in nature, they creep and poke out of just about anything that will catch a couple of grains of soil and a spot of moisture. I have only to step into the yard of my house in Colorado where high desert plants grab every open opportunity. Over here in California, they are not quite so desperate but they still perch in the oddest places. So, when making vessels, why not head out and see what kind of pockets of opportunity nature has provided that plants take advantage of as inspiration for your own vessels?

You might also look to Jamie’s work for how to translate what nature has to inspire us with. Jaime was first inspired to make these structures when considering “the way in which our native Port Jackson fig (Ficus rubiginosa) sprouts from the cracks of building mortar in Sydney.” Contrasting the straight and geometric sides with rough and tumble sides, he makes us aware of how well nature will adapt to whatever structures we throw in its path.

These were created in 2014 but since then, Jaime has made quite a number of other forms. Enjoy a trip through his projects on his website and check out this interview for more on his inspiration and ideas.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Let nature dictate a piece. Go out and explore whatever natural world and formations you have close to you. Borrow forms, textures, lines, or even observed relationships between nature and man and bring those ideas back to your studio to inspire a new piece.


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Chaos and Quilting

This necklace by Aussie artist Robyn Gordon has a quilted textile feel to the shell designs used in the pendant and beads. The beads are shaped like turret sea snail shells while the pendant is an assemblage of several shell shapes. The details on the shells have faux sewing patterns and the beads are similar to rolled fabric beads. This particular necklace is made from polymer clay and silk thread and is part of the Powerhouse Museum Collection in Sydney, Australia.


Even though Robyn’s background is primarily in drawing, painting, and mixed media work, she was drawn to polymer jewelry adornment because it provides a direct communication between maker and wearer. If you would like to know more about this artist, browse through her website or take a peek at her gallery page.


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Inspiration Coming Down the Line

We work in a very considerate community. There is much credit given to the artists who inspire us, and on Flickr and various blogs, clayers eagerly list the artists whose techniques they are practicing or who they drew their approach from.

This pendant, by Zuzana (Verundela on Flickr) of the Czech Republic, looks to be a combination of influences as well as materials. I would not call the liberal use of mica powders, embedding watch gears and wire into clay, and topping off a piece with resin unusual, but these approaches all came from somewhere else. Or at least they do not often come to us in a moment of pure, uninfluenced flash of genius. Even when we are not aware of it, other artists bring their influence to us by creative osmosis.


Here, however, we get a glimpse of the influential creative trail. Zuzana gives credit for this piece to Sabine Spiesser of Australia for the rather celestial looking faux enamel and wire work. But if you wander off into Sabine’s Flickr pages (papagodesigns), you’ll find she credits her faux cloisonne work to Eugena Topina of Maryland here in the US. Eugena’s wire bordered faux cloisonne enamel was one of the first tutorials I ever attempted to follow back in the days when I was expanding myself beyond the basics. The technique has been around for a while, but credit is still being considerately passed on. I also really like how global this influence can be … bouncing across the globe from the US to Australia to Eastern Europe. That is the wonderful thing about being an international community and a community very big on sharing and helping each other grow.


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