Petrujitka blue green peek e1509917754926 - Peeking Through Layers

Peeking Through Layers

Petrujitka blue green peek 430x419 - Peeking Through LayersA lot of the peek-a-boo designs you see peer in at just one contrasting surface although there are a few out there who add in a little charm or an additional focal point. But I really like what Czech Republic’s Jitka Petrů did with this opening in her pendant’s surface.

The many overlapping layers look like they are moving back, one depth at a time and seem like we will soon see the inner surface although it stops at just giving us the tiniest of peeks. But that effect really draws your eye in. When you pull back, it even has a bit of an optical motion effect, in part because of the angling of the layers but also because of the very slight change in color value and hue which makes for a gradual transition to the center.

Jitka plays around with this peek into layers in a number of ways as you can see in her shop here.



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Exploring Points

helene jeanclaude dots 430x291 - Exploring PointsLast week I had the very fortunate opportunity to spend a couple days chatting and exploring Los Angeles with Christi Friesen and one of my oldest polymer pals, Debbie Crothers. We definitely did more talking than anything else and one of the subjects that kept coming up was exploration. Exploration of a technique or of a design element in your work can reveal much about what you personally prefer to do in your work not just what the technique or element offers.

One great way to explore is to make a lot of elements using the same technique or the same design element. In this bold neckpiece by Hélène JeanClaude there are several variations on the dot. The dot as a colored accent, as repetition defining the structure of a visual pattern, and as negative space are joined together, linked by that same color of blue and the coppery brown. The curve of the shapes, as well as the colors and the dots themselves, create a cohesive whole of these three very different explorations of the way a dot can be used.

Hélène’s work often appears to be an exploration of a particular design element or perhaps she is simply not satisfied with an element being presented in just one way. Regardless, it presents a high level of sophistication and energy to her tribal-leaning aesthetic. You can explore the fruits of her explorations on her Flickr photostream and here on her blog.



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Bevy of Blues

bevy of blue Helen Backhouse 430x416 - Bevy of BluesIn my search for popular blues, this person’s work that you see here kept popping up, only it seemed to be attached to different people all the time. As it turns out, this is an artist that sticks with making amazing beads and elements that bead artisans can then assemble rather than creating a lot of finished work herself.

Helen Backhouse is her name and her beads and elements can be found scattered throughout Etsy and on various Facebook pages. Her pieces look to be impressed clay colored primarily with mica powders and, I’d guess, some kind of patina and weathered effect techniques, perhaps dyes or paints. Her blues are straight from the back yard, reflecting the brilliant blues found in a butterfly’s or bird’s wing as well as the dusty teals and blues leaning into greens that appear in natural metal patinas. The shapes are simple, the textures organic, and the coloring coolly dramatic. That makes for really eye-catching elements.

The best place to check out her pieces is on her Facebook page where the designers that use her pieces tag her in their photos alongside the stuff she does post.


Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Explore your favorite color. Spend just a couple of minutes writing down what you like about this color, what it reminds you of, and where you notice it most often. Look back at what you wrote and see what kind of work, forms, textures or other ideas these thoughts bring up and let those guide you in the creation of new pieces.


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Light-Hearted Blue

teal waves earrings 430x415 - Light-Hearted BlueThe primary reason for blue being such a favorite is its ability to sooth our spirits. Blue is the color of peace and contentment as well as reliability and security. Those are things we all need to feel on a regular basis. So designs that include blue will give off those kinds of feelings.

I thought this simple pair of earrings by Warren and Robbin of Bali did that in spades. The sky-blue background of the drop part has rippling lines much like you would see on a peaceful body of water and what is more peaceful than sitting by a rippling pool or pond filled with the reflection of a blue sky?

I find the white sections above interesting in that the wobbly circles are energetic but reserved on their steady canvas of white. That little tick up in energy contrasts the bottom half just enough to emphasize its peacefulness plus the circles feel like they are floating, maybe on water, bringing that peaceful water idea full circle.

Robbin and Warren don’t always work in polymer but their designs are always interesting to process. Find more of their work in both natural materials and polymer on their  Flickr photostream and on their website.



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A Favorite Blue

sonaGrig blue earrings 430x513 - A Favorite BlueSo there is this article going around about the world’s favorite color. It’s a blue-green and although it is pretty, I am less than minutely moved by this seemingly momentous discovery. First of all, the result came from a poll, not some scientific study (although I was glad to read that some non-profit or government organization had not wasted oodles of funds to figure this out) and it was done by a paper company doing this as a promotion.

What I did find interesting was that it was being shared by so many. Why? It seems like the only color that matters to any of us is the one we like … in the moment. So it thought I’d do a small poll of my own and see what colors were are presently popular online. Culling several of my regular sources, I found that the most often pulled color was the same color that had previously been determined to be the most popular color in the world by a variety of past studies. Blue.

Using more of a category than a particular color like this one being talked about this month, prior studies aimed to find the favorite color from the standard six the classic color wheel is split on. A lot of people like blue. I am not, actually, one of them. I don’t dislike it, I just don’t usually gravitate to it. But this week, I will share some blue pieces that a lot of people, including myself, seem to gravitate to and, strangely, the most stand-out pieces turned out to be earrings.

This pair is an organic stunner by  Sona Grigoryan. Copper has been upstaged by a more steady version of a patina blue. Simple but curious with the copper peeking through and the two earrings unmatched but easily connected because of the dominant color and the similar shapes in that center of carved out space.

Although Sona focuses on form more than colors, her pops of dramatic color are used to great effect. Take a look at her recent work on her Flickr photostream to see what I mean.


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A Stroppel Ocean

stroppel cane Dev80

I was going to share the new Fall Cover here but have a couple of bits of information we would like to confirm before we do. Creating a magazine is all details, details, details and they are never-ending! We’ll have it on here by Monday but if you’re just too curious, we’ll send it out in our newsletter tomorrow morning. (Don’t get our newsletter yet? Sign up here–it’s the box on the left of the page–for twice monthly news, tips, eye candy and other fun chatter.)

In the meantime, who would have thought that a Stroppel cane, often used in very graphical designs, would be so reminiscent of the ocean? This beautiful collar by Mara Devescovi, which is all Stroppel cane, certainly looks like the undulating water of a crystal clean ocean as you might see it on some tropical beach. Who would have thought that random cane morphing would emulate in the way the movement of the water distorts the world beneath it. It really gets one thinking about a summer escape, I must say!

Mara goes by Dev’Art60 on Flickr where her progress in polymer art over the last decade can be followed and lots of great ideas can be found along the way.  


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A Different Kind of Happily Ever After

16260765847_497fb9958b_zSo this is the week I thought I’d try putting up some love stories and some art to go with those stories as a little homage to the upcoming Valentine’s holiday. I’m not a huge Valentine’s day person, more because of the commercialism and pressure it puts on couples but the general sentiment of the holiday … well, I think we should celebrate the love in our lives every day if we can.

I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend about this week’s blog project and was trying to explain the interesting mix of responses I got. I only got a few classic happy tearjerkers but then I got several sad but very loving stories. Half of the people who sent me stories did not not even want them posted. They just wanted to share it with me. My friend offered a couple suggestions as to why this was. She thought a lot of people might not share their story because either they don’t think its that special or because the best love story they had didn’t end with them staying together. So then the question arose, is it a love story if the people involved were no longer in love. “Well,” she said,”we both know a really good story that didn’t end with the couple staying together but its still a great story?” So I’m going to tell that first this week. This is a story about two people we used to know. We changed the names and a few details to protect the innocent  that don’t know we are writing about them.

We chose this heart off Pinterest to go with this story. It is a wonderful little piece by Betty Jo Hndershott and matches another conversation I had this week about simplicity. Simple is actually really hard to do well but this is one such example of a great success with simple things. This very solid faux ceramic heart has inside of it a wrapped up little wire heart. It has a great contrast in color, texture, size and line. When I saw it, I thought, the wire heart is like that fragile little thing inside the big love we all have, the thing we try to protect even though we can’t always keep it from harm.

So here’s the story, as best we can remember.

A Different Kind of Happily Ever After

It was James’ birthday and he was sitting at home alone. He had just moved to town after years of basically being a hermit. He felt misunderstood and had a violent childhood that had left him angry and closed off. But he wanted to change. He got online and posted a simple message on a message board:

“Songwriter/musician, new to town, just would like to have a drink and maybe see a live band with an intelligent pretty girl today because it’s my birthday. I’m smart and funny but I’m not tall or rich. Just an ordinary guy turning 31. Would you come make my night?”

He got a lot of responses like, “Ok, where do you want to meet?” But only one stood out:

“Hey songwriter/musician, new-to-town guy. Just wanted to drop in and wish you a happy birthday in case no one else does. I’m not the one to take you out for a drink though. I’m not ordinary, I’m tall for a girl, 8 years older than you, not a live music fan and I’m not much of a drinker. But know that at least one person out there is thinking of you and wishing you the best!”

James couldn’t resist. He wrote her back. They went back and forth, he giving her a hard time about not wanting to go out with a poor, short, young, ordinary guy and she coming back with funny quips about how he’d hate to hear about her crazy busy life of running charity events and trying to be an artist again. But then she stopped responding. He felt bad. Maybe his jokes went too far. But somehow even just that brief exchange made him feel better.

Valentine’s Day was a few weeks later. He decided he’d try his luck at getting out again. He read through some posts and this caught his eye:

“Anti-valentines Date—I don’t want to go on a Valentine’s date but don’t want to stay at home either. Feeling the same? Propose some wacky night out and let’s spend the night on our own terms.”

He wasn’t against Valentine’s Day but he did hate how society made you feel like some kind of loser not having someone on that day. So he wrote back. A minute late he got this:

“Lol. I don’t think you want to go out with me. You already kicked me to the curb on your birthday.”

It was that same woman he thought had stopped writing him! Apparently their last messages on his birthday didn’t make it through and they both thought the other had decided to end the conversation. He decided he wasn’t going to wait for Valentine’s. He wrote her back and said “What are you doing right now?”

A few hours later, they meet for coffee. He thought she was beautiful and she found his humor irresistibly charming. They talked and laughed for hours. They decided to have dinner the next night but that didn’t go as well. She had asked what he wanted from life and he said he just wanted something ordinary–work 9 to 5, come home, hang out with his girl and do simple things. She looked at him intensely and said, “No, you don’t.” It made him angry although he wasn’t sure why.

When they parted that night he thought he would never see her again. He was too ordinary and she was too driven for him. But he stayed awake all night thinking about it. And when he woke the next day he called her and said “Do you want to hear the story of my life.” She said yes and he told her all about it. She cried at moments and eventually told her own story. They both had been through a lot of difficult times. He dealt with it by being angry at the world; she dealt with it by constantly helping others but could never ask for help herself. They both distrusted others but in their hearts they wanted to. Their first big step came in trusting each other enough to fall in love.

Over the next four years, James self- managed his anger until it wasn’t a part of him anymore and Lynn made a point of asking people to help her out, even when she didn’t really need it. Together they both went out and met new people and grew a great new circle of friends. James started helping out at the fundraisers Lynn worked for and found out that he really liked organizing events which made him brave enough to get into working on music and other events. He was happy with his work for the first time in his life. Somewhere during that time James realized why he’d been angry that first dinner. He really didn’t want to be ordinary but he hadn’t known how to change that.

What he wanted–what they both wanted–was someone who made them more than they were on their own. For four years they did that for each other and grew personally and in their professional lives. In the end, they did not stay together. Lynn ended up traveling more than James could be happy with and James was heavily involved in the music community which he knew wasn’t Lynn’s thing. It came down to wanting lives that didn’t work well together. But that didn’t change the fact that they loved each other or that they still believed in each other. As far as we know, they still remain friends and as Lynn once said, “It may not have worked out but what we gave each other will last the rest of our lives.”

It was that line my friend and I remembered so well. So in a way, there was a happily ever after, after all.


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Keeping Elegance Simple

One of the common hallmarks of elegant art is understated design choices. In the case of this necklace by Elizabeth Kosterich we have a single predominant and austere blue color as well as simple long rectangular shapes accented by nothing more than a stop bead on the end and the shine of polished silver. It’s such a simple composition but the symmetry and simplicity contrast against the organic texture of the polymer creating all the interest it needs to draw the eye and dress up the wearer.


Elizabeth creates art jewelry in polymer clay, sterling silver, and other mediums as well. Her work is sometimes simple, sometimes visually complex but always contemporary and understated in some aspect. You can take a look at more of her approach on her website.


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A Week of Impact

We’re polishing up the next issue of The Polymer Arts, so my brain is hyper-focused on impactful art. With the limitations we have in periodicals, I never feel like we get to say everything I would like to get out to you readers, and I certainly don’t get to share all the great art I have seen that fits the theme. So, this week we’ll get in a few of those pieces that might have been great examples if we had the room, time or opportunity to contact the artist in order to include them. Now, let’s talk impact!

Impact in your art is about the degree to which you visually, conceptually or even tactilely affect the viewer or buyer of your piece. I know when I think  of the term, my mind immediately goes to high contrast and graphic work, which can be quite impactful, but that’s not the only way to strongly affect people when they see your work. If you saw Donna Greenberg’s piece on the cover image we sent out Friday, my guess is it turned your head, not because it has a lot of contrast or is graphically strong, but because the piece is so unusual and maybe also because the composition of the cover is a bit different. The impact here is about the unexpected. Impact is really just all about making people notice.

Although as I go on this week, I will feature techniques and artists that will be in the coming issue, today I just want to show you an example of a piece by Anita Lerner that I thought visually defined impact, mostly because it reminds me of a crash event or something similar. But there’s more to it than that.


There is one simple cane focal point and then a splash of aqua across a crackled gold and black background with beads matching the blue and the gold. If you look at the few elements that make up this piece, its not that complex, but it feels like it is. This is primarily due to a variety of contrasting elements that all have commonalities as well. That blue-green is in the slice, the splash, and the beads. The gold is in the slice, the crackling, and the strung beads. The colors are just blues and golds–but those two colors contrast; the smooth gradation of the cane slice contrasts with the heavy texture of the crackle; the evenly placed squares on the border of the cane contrast with the erratic radiating aqua in the splash of color; and the neatness and regularity of the strung beads contrasts with the off-kilter angles and hanging position of the pendant’s square shape. All this contrast make for a very interesting and visually active piece. That’s why it feels so complex.

Our feature article outlines the various types of contrast and how to use added contrast to increase interest and energy in a piece. We’ll hit on that at least once more this week because contrast is so incredibly important to consider in your work–not just highly varied contrast, but the choice to have only a small amount contrast as well. Your choice in contrast will alter the feel, message, or theme of a piece as much as your choice of imagery or form does.

So stay with us this week for more on these exciting subjects. Get your subscription or pre-order of the Winter issue in so you don’t miss out on getting it first. And if you enjoy Anita’s pendant, take a look at more of her work in her Etsy shop and on her website.


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