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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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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Synergy Recap in Pictures

IMG 0231 430x221 - Synergy Recap in Pictures

Marie Segal necklace and pin Synergy 4 081617 338x450 - Synergy Recap in Pictures

First of all … the new Fall issue came out over the weekend! Get your texture fix with this issue, in a big way. If you have a digital subscription and have not seen your access email, check your junk mail folder. You should also be able to access it through your account here. If you have a print subscription, those went to the post office in Idaho on Friday so they are on the way too. If you do not have an active subscription or need to get your single issue copy, go to our website at www.thepolymerarts.com.

So this week we are going to have a parade of photos from Synergy 4 to include some beautiful art and some show shots for those who didn’t go but are trying to live vicariously through the community’s representatives that did.

The absolute best thing about going to these events is the people you get to meet and chat it up with. I think I may have said that last week but it’s true! The first picture here is just a sampling of the talent that was sitting behind me at breakfast one morning. How thrilled would you be to have the opportunity to sit down with Jeff Dever and Rachel Carren and listen in on their, no doubt, very insightful conversation? Or pull up a chair and say hello to Nan Roche and Melanie West? Or hang out at the same table with Christi Friesen, Bettina Welker, and Martina Weller? And you can at these things. People here, no matter what the skill level or how long they have been involved, are happy to talk to all the attendees. It is always illuminating what one can learn from others with the same passion.

I was grateful to get to talk to so many people but I was particularly happy to have a little time to sit down with our longtime polymer master, Marie Segal. She gave a talk about the new Cernit formulation–there has been improved strength, flexibility, and clarity that looks to rival the other better-known brands which got me quite excited to try it. If you like sampling clays to see what works best in what application, jump over to her shop and get yourself some new goodies at The Clay Factory.



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Something’s in the Air

CF airplants  - Something's in the AirThis week’s theme will start with one of our more notorious creative instigator, Christi Friesen. On my end it started when my better half came back from an orchid show not with any orchids but rather with a 4 foot tall branch covered in air plants and I thought, “That is far too many air plants for that stick. I should save some from their crowded existence and make planters for them! In polymer. Of course.” However, in my world, the time between the germination of an idea and gaining the free time to implement it can be pretty vast. A few days later, I saw this photo pop up on Facebook. Apparently thoughts of air plants are, well, in the air!

Being a simple rolled cone construction with a ton of possibilities for color, texture, and embellishment, these little wall sconces of Christi’s are sure to get creative sparks flying for those of you looking for something new, easy and fun to play around with. There is plenty of room in this kind of project for your style and voice to come through. Work up something of your own like forming bowls, boxes, or tubes instead of cones and design it with your own signature colors and treatments.

Easy and fun are the signature marks of Christi’s classes and books, not to mention her community site, Christi’s Creative Neighborhood where have access to all sorts of tutorials, videos and creative ideas along with a chance to share with other like-minded clayers. Check out Christi’s happenings there, on her website and on her Facebook page.


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A Feast of Canes

ATRees mountain goatThe Spring issue is out and as usual, there is a bit of chatter on it out there in the social network world but there is an unusually high level of enthusiasm out there this issue. Is it that fabulously colorful cover? The wide variety of articles by or about amazing artists like Donna Greenberg, Christi Friesen, Wiwat Kalmpornjiwit, and Sylvie Peraud? So far the most talked about articles are the Lariat making, Donna’s inspiration from the past and Christi’s treatise on armatures which was pretty eye-opening since she picked the brains of some of the most amazing artists for which armatures are essential, namely Ellen Jewett (with that incredible opening piece!) and Adam Thomas Rees who I knew built his own animal shapes but had no idea how he did these huge things. But Christi revealed that for us.

The one thing we couldn’t do in Christi’s article was blow up some of the images so you could really see the detail of the work these artist’s do. Adam layers canes onto animal shapes in a manner reminiscent of Jon Anderson though they were developing their work around the same time so I don’t think Adam came to this idea from seeing Jon’s work although either of them may have influenced the other since. But other than canes on animal shapes, they have different approaches. Adam’s pieces are huge and his canes are large, broad patterns and often very bright. He sometimes mixes up other sculptural textures and additions to his creatures that create a feast of interesting details for the eye to roam over. The hanging matted hair like texture built up on this one creates a swath of white to give the eye a resting place below all that intense color and pattern above.

Just open Adam’s website and try not to be startled by the creature staring out at you. It’s beautiful but intense! Take some time out today and enjoy Adams colorful patterns in his galleries. And grab your copy of the Spring issue of The Polymer Arts on our website here.



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Goodies, Giveaways and Friesen on the Brain

We sort of kinda interrupt this art blog to tip you off about a chance to grab a bundle of goodies, get some special discounts and have your opinions and wishes heard! Then we’ll talk art.

072415 goodie giveawayReader’s Wish List Survey

Take a little survey and let us know what you want to see on the blog, as well as in the magazine and in our upcoming projects as we plan for the rest of 2015 into 2016. As a thank you for your time, you’ll find these discounts and a Goodie Giveaway at the end of the survey:

The Polymer Arts 10% off code for subscriptions and back issues on our website.*

–ILove2Craft.com 10% off code for your entire purchase at ILove2Craft.com (featuring Lisa Pavelka and Christi Friesen products.)*

–A chance to win one of two Goodie Boxes that will include a variety of tools and supplies from Polyform, Staedtler, Jacquard, CF Originals, and more (each valued at $40+).* **

The Fine Print:  *Discounts and entering for the Goodie Box giveaways end at midnight PDT on August 2nd, 2015. Your promo codes will pop up on a Thank You page after you submit the survey. **Due to the unpredictability of out of country shipping times and circumstances, we will substitute clays and other sensitive materials with durable items for winners living outside the US.


cf mechanical botanicalsOkay … now for some art to end our week. Summer colors and summer fun had been the theme, but I have Christi Friesen on the brain so we’re going to try to combine this all with some “Mechanical Botanicals” by CF herself.

Why so much Friesen distraction? For one, both the discount and the goodie box you can get by taking the survey can help you stock up on CF Originals goods (Have you seen the new little Swellegant Sampler kit! So cool … you can try it all! It’s not in the Goody Box, but you can grab it at ILove@Craft.com with that discount code mentioned!)

Also, I spent part of the day working on the latest article she’s whipped up for us at The Polymer Arts magazine … “Embellishments”! Boy, she can pack a lot of tips and tricks into a handful of pages! And the pictures! She is a generous contributor, I tell you.  (I know … I need to get the line-up for the Fall issue out to you all, but it’s been an interesting wrangling of content this quarter. Next week, I promise!)

The other reason everything seems to be coming up Christi is that, well Christi came up to see me on her way out of town Wednesday. We stayed up way too late and came up with way too many amazing ideas and even more questions. One of them was about how to categorize work. And even whether we should.

Take a look at these oil cans. They’re decorative. And they’re sculptural. There is polymer, but it’s at least half other materials. So is it polymer art? Mixed-media? Multi-media? For shows, books and even on blogs and in articles, we find ourselves looking for categories and labels and ways to put things into a particular box. But do we need to?

Don’t worry. We didn’t come up with the answer to the universe and everything or the definitive answers to these questions either the other night. We did decide that maybe backing off the labels and categories so we stop mentally boxing things in so often could be a good thing though. So, let’s not say that this is polymer art or mixed media or sculpture or decor. Let’s just say it’s bits of the artist that is here for all of us to enjoy. And most of the time, that should be enough.


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Delights from Racine

Christi Bead Wad no7 smI just got back from Racine late last night and have a ton of thoughts and work to share with you. I still have to go through all the photos and notes. I will say it was an invigorating weekend, as all these kind of artist gatherings are that are focused on the ideas behind the creation of art and the support of the medium in particular.

We did stop to goof off and enjoy each other’s company. However, more often, by twos or threes or by the half dozen, we’d find ourselves putting our heads together, trying to work through the various issues we face in polymer art and as craft artists in a world where the higher value and preciousness of art is primarily attributed to either two-dimensional work or work done in precious materials.

But, before we jump off the deep end this week, how about just a new delightful piece by our community’s representative of delightful and fun art, Christi Friesen. She confided that this necklace was whipped together right before the show, as we all want something new to display for these events. When asked what she called the necklace, she stalled a moment by looking out the glass doors of the guest house we stayed at on the Johnson Foundation’s Wingspread grounds to contemplate the fiery colors of the fall landscape. She then pronounced the piece as Bead Wad No. 7. I give her a look, and she said, “There isn’t a 1-6, so you know.” Yes, Christi, that was suspected.Wingspread 101814


I’ll distill more fun moments and photos to enjoy throughout the week. In the meantime, have a wonderful Monday and enjoy another photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house, Wingspread, for which the location is named.






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Stacking Up Whimsy


A good portion of the articles in our new issue are, at least in part, interviews with multiple artists so you get a well-rounded view of the ideas our contributors have brought you. One particularly insightful as well as fun article is the one exploring the idea of humor and whimsy in art. Contributor Sherilyn Dunn interviewed four amazing artists for this–Christi Friesen, Layl McDill, Doreen Kassel and Maureen Carlson. Maureen Carlson was one of the first names in polymer that I knew since her book Family and Friends in Polymer Clay was one of the first polymer books I ever bought. Along with being a talented sculptor, she has very inventive, fun and thought-provoking pieces and I wish we’d had more room to show off her playful yet seriously expressive side.

This doll for instance, is a wonderful example of mixing whimsy with a personal message. This piece is made up of stackable and mobile elements of polymer enhanced with paints and powders as well as the words and ideas you see on it. Play is evident in the movable parts and the toy like construction but there’s a bit of the serious instilled in it.  I know at one time she taught this as a workshop as a way to explore personal expression. What a fun workshop that must have been.

Don’t miss the insightful comments and observations in the “Art of Humor and Whimsy” article you’ll find in the Fall 2014 issue of The Polymer Arts. And for more fun and thought-provoking pieces, take a look at Maureen’s gallery.


If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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The Polymer Dynamo

It’s really hard to talk about polymer publications and not bring up the prolific and non-stop dynamo that is Christi Friesen. She has 8 polymer specific books published and so many articles in so many different magazines, I can’t even guess how many she’s done. I can’t even remember how many times she’s written articles or contributed to articles for us at The Polymer Arts magazine. Plus she sends out regular newsletters, has almost daily Facebook posts and keeps up a Yahoo group. You know she enjoys what she does to do so much with it!

This year Christi is traveling around the world–literally. Her travel calendar makes me tired just looking at it. But to keep her fans in the loop and to create more fun approaches to working with polymer she and her little team put together a “World Tour” project. Each leg of her travels will be documented for those following along and a project based off the location or purpose will be presented as a challenge for her armchair traveling companions. For Malta, this is the project–wire and polymer!



Get on board with Christi’s fun adventures this year–get your ‘passport,’ project instructions and get lined up for prizes by signing up on her World Tour page. She also has a number of great new products in her store so if you haven’t visited lately, you really need to stop by her online shop.

Alright … now I need to finish the last of my packing and grab the first of my three flights that will get me to Malta in, oh … 26 more hours.


If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

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