Textured Color

Ruth Issett textile - Textured ColorTo wrap up this period of bold color, I just had to draw upon my next favorite medium, fiber. Oh, the things people are doing with quilts and mixed media textiles these days are mind-blowing! The textures, colors, and energy in modern textile art rival the best paintings of our time.

This intensely colorful and richly textured piece is by one of the true masters of the medium, Ruth Issett. Ruth’s work, although it can be elegantly simple, is always vibrant and emotional. It is, however, her intensely intricate pieces that are likely to stop any admirer of the arts in their tracks. I can only imagine the time I would lose standing in front of one of her pieces like you see here.

Not only is Ruth an accomplished artist in her field, she is a well-known and prolific writer and teacher.  I know of a half-dozen books she’s published on textiles and color over the last couple decades and they are so beautiful, you don’t even need to be interested in the techniques she teaches to enjoy them, but as polymer artists, I think there is quite a bit of inspiration in those pages.

I could not find an actual website for Ruth but she’s all over the web. Here is one link with an interview, lots of images and a list of her books so you can investigate further.


Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Go bold with color! That will mean different things for each of you. Perhaps you stick with the same half dozen colors … work with colors quite opposite of those. Perhaps you work in mostly neutrals or earth tones … try something bright and heavily saturated. Just push yourself with color when you get into the studio and see where it takes you.



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Waterfalls of Color

2goodclaymates CaBezel pendants 430x430 - Waterfalls of ColorAlthough there isn’t a full rainbow of color in each individual piece here, I just had to share the work of Carolyn and Dave Good who recently posted these lovely mokume components for their fall (as in draped or like a waterfall) necklaces. These pieces use a similarly high saturation of color among them all and a lot of contrast within each piece. It makes for a great looking collection that I’d be happy to have just hanging on the wall together. Well, I might be inclined to wear them too, I’ll have to admit.

These pieces were made with some new CaBezel molds by Wendy Orlowski of our long time supporter, Shades of Clay. This series is actually called Holy CaBezels, due to the hole, of course. But maybe they can also be a bit of divine inspiration for the right person. It would be hard to say unless you bought a set and tried it out. Just saying.

The Goods always have something yummy to share on their blog so if you like having great eye candy dropped in your inbox, sign up for the 2GoodClaymates blog. And to get your set of molds, go to Shades of Clay.


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Arieta’s Colorful World

Arieta vessel 430x396 - Arieta's Colorful WorldFirst of all, my sincere apologies for the wonky email situation with posts going out last week. Took a while to resolve as it turned out to be the collision of two different services throwing our smooth-running world into chaos. (Just kidding … our world is often not running as smoothly as we’d like!) We are still trying to work out how to prevent it from happening again so if it gets silly again on any level this week, chalk it up to repairs, but I am told it really should all be fine.

Since so many of you weren’t seeing the rainbow-focused posts last week, I do urge you to jump over to the blog and read up on work by Christine Damm, Cecilia Leonini, and Heather Moore. In the meantime, I’m just going to keep at it this week with wonderful work that just isn’t afraid to use all, or nearly all, the colors in the rainbow.

This vessel is by Arieta Stavridou who a lot of people first got to know in the pages of The Polymer Arts last summer. The difference between her work then, which was absolutely stunning and dominated by intricately patterned plates created with cane slices, is amazing. She seems to be getting more and more bold with her colors and, apparently, no decor item or vessel is bound to be safe from being adorned by her hand if in reach. This image is actually from a brief video that shows it from a few different angles. It still can’t possibly do it justice and must be awe-inspiring in person.

Just take a look at what she’s been up to since she was last in our pages and on our blog by visiting Arieta on her Facebook page.

And a little aside … come join me and my fellow trouble makers for a some crazy fun, September 2nd in Los Angeles–The Triple Trouble Creative Play Day. If you are in the area for Labor Day Weekend, join Christi Friesen, Anke Humpert and myself (a very rare appearance for Sage this year! ) for 6 hours of non-stop creativity. We’ll each be teaching several of our signature techniques as well as divulging many a tip and trick. And, yes, there will be chocolate. (Sign up by August 9th and get a free Christi Friesen book and a signed copy of Polymer Journeys!)


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A Pastel Presentation

mabcreaI was hoping to find a good example a of cool white but these are not often used or they appear to be merely gray and if you are going to play with grays, richer, deeper grays seem more committed and elegant. The alternative is pastels, which can be warm or cool. Cool green leaning whites, like the palest mint color are delicious but what do they express? Cool blue whites in their palest manifestations can actually look even more brilliantly white and those with a hint of purple definitely head towards looking gray or even silver. But pastels are more definite in their expression having strong associations for us with springtime, delicacy and femininity. However, cool versus warm pastels do have different connotations.

In this piece by Cecilia Button (Mabcrea), you can easily see here how the warm colors come across compared to the cool colors. The warm ones still retain some of the energy associated with their fully saturated hues but it’s very muted while the cool colors, associated primarily with calm and relaxation, still feel that way, maybe even more so with their paleness. Juxtaposing warm and cool colors usually makes for a riotous presentation but being all things graduate to white, there is a cohesive feeling of peace and a surprising sense of simplicity event though there is really nothing simple about this piece. But simple and peaceful are meanings we closely associate with white so it’s dominance here literally colors the whole piece.

If you have not discovered Cecilia’s intense explorations of polymer, you might grab a cup of something and spend some time wandering through her her Flickr pages and her blog site.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Mix some pastels (start with white and add pinches of color, not the other way around, as you usually need a lot of white compared to colors for a pastel) and play with them using some of your favorite forms or techniques. Compare the feeling of the pastel colored pieces to how a more saturated color palette works in that same approach. How does the tint of the color change the mood or message?


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Traveling Color

nerve-tonic necklace I have one more day of running about before I can get back to business as usual. I love road trips primarily for the wide variety of things you see along the way. This trip was particularly colorful as spring starts to show itself and the wispy clouds in the sky turn sunrises and sunsets all shades of pink, peach, and violet. Then there was rain yesterday, drenching the red rocks around the new green foliage in the central California mountains. These are the kinds of things that really get you excited about playing with color.

But since I can’t go play, let’s enjoy the color play of Claudia Stern, a bit of a jet-setting person herself. Claudia is a native of Peru who studied jewelry design in Italy and now lives in Sweden. She works in textiles but commonly uses polymer to create floral additions or centerpieces for her work. She creates gorgeous and intricate purses as well as jewelry. While I finish the last leg of my traveling today, enjoy this colorful neck piece and go take a look at her colorful work on her Facebook page and her quieter metal work on her website.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Take particular note of the color you see throughout the day. What colors are you drawn to? Choose 2-3 colors or a combination you see and use it as the basis and inspiration for a new piece.


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Colour Breakthrough – Throwing Out the Wheel

colour dipticOne of our most unusual articles in the summer issue, the one we definitely spent the most time on getting just right for you all, is Tracy Holmes’ “Color Connections”. This is a color lesson and color mixing tutorial that throws out the color wheel and works with mixing and matching in three dimensions. The exercises are easy and fun, and you end up with a reusable and expandable color mixing cube. It will teach you the basics that will allow you to eventually move onto using Tracy’s soon-to-be-available color cards that will expand your potential palette to hundreds of easily mixed and matched colors.

The thing we didn’t have a lot of room for in the article was expanding on how to use it to choose colors, not just mix them. So here is a quick visual tutorial on how using this system works for creating color palettes.

Tracy’s partner, Dan Cormier, had made a ‘blurred lines’ blended veneer. He wanted to find an accent color, so he looked through Tracy’s cards, first to find colors that were in the blend, and then to find a complement color for one of those colors. He used the codes to find the yellow that was the exact opposite of the purple. Then he mixed clay to match that color and made a sheet to dieform through the hole in the baked blend veneer. The purple become another accent within the accent at the center of the bead.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it sounds like it could be easy if you understand the system. That’s what the article helps you understand—how colors are connected, not just by mapping them on a two-dimensional wheel, but through other colors as well, which is why understanding how color are truly related takes a three-dimensional model. Go ahead and go through the steps in the article for an easy first look at this idea, as well as getting a primer on a new way to look at color that can encompass our digital, printing and artistic color mixing worlds.

Tracy is not the only one out there promoting these new base color ideas, and you are likely to see this kind of color approach coming to you from a number of arenas. Right now Tracy’s Colour Cards are the only method I know of that will allow an artist to work with this newer approach to color mixing and matching in an easy and accessible way. To be one of the first to get the new cards when they arrive, sign up for Tracy’s newsletter, so you can get on the Kickstarter program, which will be your first and best chance to pre-order your own BreakThroughColour Colour Cards and Cubes. It’s not just exclusive to Kickstarter, but there are special ‘Project Backer’ prices for supporters.

Full details about limited edition packages and early bird deals will go out first to the new BreakThroughColour mailing list, so hop on over and take a second to sign up for the BreakThroughColour mailing list. And to get your Summer 2015 issue of The Polymer Arts, go to our website at www.thepolymerarts.com.


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Fondness for a Place

Joan Israel cityscape israelGinger’s pick for today is a bit of lovely wall art by  New York’s Joan Israel.  Like yesterday’s post, this polymer clay landscape scene consists of individual elements that are arranged to tell a story although I think this one is more about the artist than the town.

Although scenes and stories in polymer are most often literal imagery, the dimensionality and playfulness of the material lends itself more readily to symbolism and metaphor rather than realistic illustration. In this piece, the size of the various components relay a hierarchical importance between the images. The river, the sun, and the bird are the largest, most active and contrasting of the elements here. Light, freedom and a gentle meandering from these along with the bright and rich colors gives the viewer a sense that this is a very happy place, one the artist must be very fond of. The position of the menorah top and center helps in identifying the place if you didn’t see the title of the piece to start with. The title is “Israel” by the way, one of Joan’s favorite places, she confesses in her Flicker comments. Her love of the place does shine right through.

Bright colors and stylized imagery is Joan’s trademark from her jewelry to her covered decor to wall pieces like this. For a bright and sunny break in your day, take a look at Joan’s work on her Flickr photostream.

Ginger Davis Allman lives in Springfield, Missouri with her husband Gary, her three kids and her many craft obsessions. Subscribe to her blog and look around her website for her well-researched and in-depth posts and articles on polymer related subjects. Support her great information and research as well as treating yourself by getting yourself a tutorial or two from this talented lady.



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Evoking with Color

Our connection to nature is so strong that a set of colors alone can represent the natural and a sense of being outdoors.

Elsie Smith does a  nice job of keeping her colors simple, while still evoking a strong association with nature. The colors we identify with trees, earth, wood, and sunshine come through in the soft, brushstroke-like lines of this subtly designed pendant.



The combination of colors is what brings this sense of nature to us. But if the stripes were graphic and well-defined, or if the pendant was a square rather than a soft leaf shape, or if we had a glitzy, faceted gem instead of a water-drop-like cabochon, we’d probably lose that association almost completely. It’s a rare element in art (or in nature) that is not in some way dependent on other characteristics to carry the intention through. So although the right color palette may be key to portraying a sense of organic and natural, don’t forget that every choice you make in your artistic creations has the potential to change the message. Every choice is part of the whole.


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Let Them Make Cake

I was really debating what f aux art form to chat about today. I wanted to share a polymer art form that can teach polymer artists of all types something. Then I knew, yes–a form that probably doesn’t end up in the spotlight quite as often as it probably be should in the polymer art world … miniatures.

If you’ve not tried your hand at miniatures in polymer, you really should. First of all, it’s so much fun and anyone, any age and from any walk of life can appreciate a well done miniature. But as an artist, you learn so much about the material in the process of trying to emulate a variety of textures and colors, especially in food. From glossy sauces to fluffy cakes to the matte sheen of pastries to juicy meats … you need to get a handle on a lot of surface textures. And color! It takes skill to find the right colors to give miniatures the realism you are after. You will learn a lot about mixing clay including what colors are strong and only need a pinch, what are weak and need a boost or translucent clay to keep saturation and how to avoid muddy colors. The skills learned creating miniatures will improve your abilities with other techniques.

My favorite miniatures are cakes. Cake art is, itself, just incredible. So take the art of cake making and now make it teeny tiny. How cool! That is the other skill you learn–manipulating polymer on a very small scale. The material can be tricky when you get down to miniature sizes. But once you get it down, you can use the miniature decorative skills to accent other work. Can’t you just see the scroll work or roses on this French wedding cake on a pair of earrings, a bracelet or circling the border of a pendant?



This cake is by Rachel D. of Rachel’s Little Things. She does incredible tiny food, especially cakes. Click her link to see some more amazing miniature work.

If you want to investigate polymer miniatures more, you can just Google it (try using Google images first) but if you want to try your hand with the foods, I highly recommend the book Miniature Food Masterclass. So much fun awaits you!

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