Cat’s out of the Bag

Nikolina Otrzan misko mirrors 430x340 - Cat's out of the BagI’m not sure how it happened but we somehow got Nikolina Otrzan to “spill the beads” on her unique, signature textures that she creates for her jewelry components. She shares not one, not two, but four different textures and even variations on those so it’s more like a dozen possible textures you can get out of completing her tutorial in this issue. It turns out, they are all pretty easy to do. They will just take some patience to do it as neatly as she does.

We were not able to fit in examples of all the ways these beads could be used. As seen here, her textured components can be artfully composed to decorate home décor and not just as beads for jewelry. Her cat seems to approve of these mirrors as well. And what a great idea. If you have a stash of flat-backed beads or components that work together, decorate a mirror, frame, or another object they can be attached to. Your spare components will have a home and you too can end up with some beautiful—as you see in the article—pet-approved décor.

Nikolina is a very thorough and detailed instructor. If, after getting into those textures in the article, you find that you want more, all you need to do is go to her Etsy shop to get another tutorial from the couple dozen she has available right now.


Moving Organic Forms

A little business first …

On Sunday, we release the Summer 2018 issue of The Polymer Arts, themed “Everything in Its Place”. You can still subscribe or pre-order the digital edition and get it Sunday morning with everyone else, or subscribe or purchase to get a print edition and we will mail those out when we get our boxes mid-week. Active print subscribers and print pre-orders will get theirs sorted through the post office today and so those should start popping up in mailboxes next week. Mind you, they might need 2-3 weeks to get to you should you live on the US East or South coast or overseas.

Andriy Mykolenko 430x420 - Moving Organic FormsNow to the artwork. I thought that today, we would move away from floral into a different kind of organic beauty. And a different medium. I figured, who doesn’t love a bit of iridescent lampwork?

These pieces were actually created about five years ago but Andriy Mykolenko still creates beautiful, long, twisted beads of glass along with other traditional and not-so-traditional lampwork forms. However, this was easily my favorite set that I could find. The gradation of color, the line of the dots, and the waving forms create so much motion and energy. And he arranged them beautifully for this photo, poised to suggest a strange but fascinating hollow flower or an alien sun.

I’ve had a renewed interest in lampwork beads of late, primarily because I think with the new Sculpey super clear liquid polymer, more exploration of faux lampwork bead forms is about due. As soon as I get this latest issue wrapped up I’m going to set aside some playtime for just that. And if faux lampwork doesn’t entice you, perhaps the shape of these beads will give you some ideas for really energetic new bead forms.

To see more of Andriy’s lampwork forms, check out his Etsy shop.


Creature Faces

myrusso 430x760 - Creature Faces

The faces that draw our attention in artwork do not have to be human. They don’t even have to be real creatures. Anything with an eye will jump out at us as a focal point. If there is an eye then we recognize the presence of another consciousness, or at least our primitive brain does, and so we have to check it out.

Artist Valeria Myrusso created this amazing bird pin, choosing to give it these big black beads for eyes that you can hardly pull away from. But please do. The work around it is beautiful, intricate, flowing, and regally dramatic with its golds and reds.

Valeria works with a lot of faces although she seems primarily focused on intricate, filigree-like work in her sculptural polymer. Go take a look at her delicately sculpted creations in the extensive gallery on her website and Instagram.

And yes, I know, I somehow picked two artists with the same first name, both from Russia, working in very similar styles this week. Initially, I wondered if they are the same person but my research says they are not. I don’t pay any attention to where the artists are from when I pick art for the posts. Most of the time I don’t know until I’ve completed the research. Either the work fits the theme and what I’d like to discuss or it doesn’t.  I can tell you that, particularly in polymer, people from the same area often create in similar styles—I imagine it is rooted in similar cultural influences.  If we are most strongly influenced by our local culture than looking outside of it would certainly give us a wider pool of inspiration which should help us develop a unique style.

Just know that I’m not partial to any one part of the world. We’re all one big community as far as I’m concerned.


The Summer Cover!

ThePolymerArts 18 P2 cover DKacz med border 430x548 - The Summer Cover!This beautiful Monday, I’m sharing with you the latest cover for the upcoming issue of The Polymer Arts, graced by the beautifully balanced jewelry of Dorata Kaszczyszyn.

Summer is soon to be here and the Summer issue – themed “Everything in Its Place” – will be here next month to help you greet the season. You can look forward to such articles as:

  • Looking for Balance with Christi Friesen (part of a new regular section by Christi, called “What Are You Looking at?”)
  • The Art of Meredith Dittmar
  • Remembering Tory Hughes
  • Spilling the Beads: a textural tutorial with Nikolina Otrzan
  • Tiny Tiles: a variation tutorial with Chris Kapono
  • Design Your Own Silkscreens
  • Translucent Silkscreen: a tutorial with Sage Bray
  • Composing Photos for Every Occasion with syndee holt
  • Making the Most of Your Time
  • Lessons from Knitting with Ginger Davis Allman
  • Colors Spotlight with Lorraine Vogel by Lindly Haunani

Renewal notices went out over the last couple weeks but if you’ve not had the chance to renew your subscription or subscribe, you’ll want to be sure to do so soon so you can be on that initial list to get the first copies fresh from the printer (or for digital readers, fresh from our server). We lock down the mailing lists in the first week of May. The release date for the summer issue is set for May 20th.

If you have questions about your subscription, you’re welcome to write us at or, if you get this by email, just hit reply. Sydney, my fabulous assistant and keeper of subscription lists, will get back to you shortly but be a little patient if it takes a day or so. She’s just getting back from a very exciting weekend … she just got married! Congrats and all the best to Sydney and Ben!

A Green Phase

planet isis greens beads 430x414 - A Green PhaseThe 100 Day Project challenge is in full swing and it is already trying the resolve of many of us. Maybe, as Cynthia Tinapple said, calling me out on my proposed challenge in her Studio Mojo newsletter this past weekend, I might be a bit ambitious, creating something in polymer and a poem every day to create a composite image for Instagram. But it’s a darn good excuse to make me create every day. Mind you, I’m usually doing it at midnight but that’s the only way I don’t find myself lost for hours at the studio table not getting magazine work done. A lot of people have been coming up with creative ways to make this challenge work for them and keep it manageable at the same time.

Planet Isis, a.k.a. Dayl Goulsbra-Jones, decided to break her challenge up by color. This first week her color was green. The bars of this Day Three collection of textured gradient green and canes are my favorite. The inner glow that this kind of gradient appears to have adds a nice bit of energy to the simple forms, while the calming effects of the green color give contrast to the busy black-and-white canes.

Dayl didn’t pick the green arbitrarily, either. She started this whole challenge by posting her “color generator” which is a bag of cute little colored beads that she dips into to pull out the color for the week. Follow her Instagram account to see her green week and her upcoming projects. You can also find more of her work on her website.

And remember, if you are doing #the100DayProject or any challenge or you just regularly post your creations, let me know. You can chime with a comment on any of our posts @thepolymerarts or on my personal page @the_sage_arts. I’d love to follow your creative journey.

Sonya Rings in the New Year

SonyaGiordan rings 430x288 - Sonya Rings in the New YearHere are a couple more interesting pieces posted in the first week of the year from the prolific Sonya GirodanRandee Ketzel sent me this before it popped up on my Flickr stream. These rings do really grab your attention. They might also grab your knitted sweater but that is beside the point.

These are an intriguing and different use of familiar techniques. The beads were inspired by classes she had with Celine Charuau, who we looked at on Wednesday, and Christine Dumont. In both cases, her instructors generally use these techniques on elements created as pendants or brooches rather than rings. Laying the beads down in a horizontal plane makes them feel a bit more placid than they would be in the about-face position of pendants and brooches.

Sonya brings back any energy lost by the change in orientation, however, by adding thin and reaching elements beneath the beads to draw the eye out and back from the body of the rings’ designs. It may make for delicate looking pieces and not everyday rings but you have to admit, they would grab your attention.

I do wonder if this announces a new direction for Sonya as I’ve not seen anything quite like this from her. Not that Sonya taking a left turn in her work is surprising. She seems to constantly be reinventing her style.  Just take a look at her body of work. Her progression can be very explosive at times and her need to explore and push design is evident everywhere. It’s an inspiring journey and you can catch it all pretty quickly by taking a visual stroll through her Flickr photostream.

Keeping Dragons A-Round

vanillamaart dragon bracelet - Keeping Dragons A-RoundI thought this week, we’d just check in with what our fellow clayers are posting this first week of the year and I found quite a few pieces of new work on Flickr.

This detailed and whimsical bracelet is by Dorota Kaszczyszyn. The individual ridges that make up the dragon’s back work so perfectly as separate beads fitted together to create the bracelet and I love how she integrated the closure into the design. The closures usually end up on top of the wrist in large bead bracelets anyways since the weight of the beads, being heavier than the clasps, spin to hang downward so why not just design for that eventuality? I thought it was a great way to finish off a well sculpted and textured set of beads that is sure to draw some attention.

This is not Dorata’s first dragon bracelet but is, thus far, my favorite. I do like the toggle clasp on some of the others versus a lobster clasp but the face on this guy is beautiful. See more of her dragons (and owls … another favorite creature of hers) on her Flickr photostream.

Ripple Away

ripple collage 201x450 - Ripple AwayFor an easy but classic set of techniques that you might want to explore, just pick up your ripple blade. Most all of us have one. They come in those beginner pack of polymer blades so they are easy to acquire if you don’t have one. The effects you can create with them go from controlled pattern to random to sculptural texture.

I just pulled out a few that caught my eye today. The top one was posted by Libby Mills back in 2012. She used stacks and played around with manipulation and how to slice them, following instruction she got from Jody Bishel both at a retreat and through a project in the book Polymer Clay: Exploring New Techniques and New Materials. She really had too much fun as you can see on Libby’s blog post from back then.

I could not find attribution for the center image but I didn’t want to skip over the sculptural aspect of this handy blade. Cutting beads and stacked edges with this blade gives us quick and interesting textures. The ripple tends to lend a fun quality as well as the instant tactile quality so it’s not for all pieces but whimsical and graphic pieces might be something to try this on.

This last one was created by Nevenka Sabo some years back. I don’t have a date as the links are broken but you can see well enough what she did. Create a bulls-eye cane with a Skinner blend laid on a white sheet of clay and roll. Cut sideways and you have some wonderful veneers with an interesting patterned center swatch. Click here to get a more detailed view.

There are tons of tutorials online for using the ripple blade so if these tickle your fancy, do try a Google search or spend some time on the many Pinterest boards featuring techniques with this tool and then head off to the studio table with a new infusion of ideas.

Scarf as Necklace

scarf jewelry 430x542 - Scarf as NecklaceAs you may have immediately noticed, these scarves are not polymer. In fact, most of them are mass-produced or use mass-produced components. So why am I showing you this? Because the popularity of these kinds of bedecked scarves are not seen in the polymer community, not at least that I could find, which means there is a wide-open opportunity for some of you out there.

Just look at the two-fold use of these. Not only can you have a warm and cozy bit of beautiful fabric to dress up your day, you can have jewelry that can be seen while wearing a scarf. I have never liked having to pick between a scarf and a necklace and with this kind of merging of the two, you don’t have to.

Now, you could just stick with the single pin or charms like we saw in the last couple posts to get some fun and fancy decor on your chest but what about when you want to get a bit more flashy or formal? I just think these designs really open up a lot of possibilities for us as polymer artists. For one, how fun would it be to turn a boring basic scarf into a snazzy infinity scarf that doubles as a necklace AND gives many a bead in that stash of beautiful odds and ends, a beautiful place to hang?

Hopefully, these also give you all kinds of ideas for alternate ways to hang polymer pendants or has you thinking up new wide tube designs or all the above. It would not take long to make the components if you don’t already have them and basic scarves are cheap. I bet you have one or two in a drawer somewhere that you never wear. Just think of how you could dress them up!

I would love to be able to give attribution to each of the pieces here but I somehow managed to find all but one with a broken link or dead website. However, the designer of the Atelie42 scarf piece in the upper right does have a website but even there, most of the text seems to be image based which means it can’t be translated online. But the variation on jewelry scarves is worth a couple of minutes even for those of us who can’t read the text. Head over to the website here or this article that has a nice selection ready for you to pore over.



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