My little contribution to the Spring issue of The Polymer Arts is an article on ways to combine paper with polymer. I did a lot of research to see if there was anything else I could share with readers beyond what I had done in the past with paper casting and collage style techniques and … wow! There are tons of ways paper can be used to kick up your work. It offers ways to make production less expensive and pieces lighter for castings and as cores for large beads, it can add interesting textures both tactile and visual, and, because it can go in the oven at polymer clay curing temperatures, it can be used over, under, inside of, and just about any way you want it with your raw clay and it all can go into the oven together.
My foray into paper and polymer came initially from looking for less expensive and less noxious ways to cast sculpted pieces I had created in polymer and wanted to duplicate. I went on to use the material as a substrate, to make light sculptural and bead cores and to make hollow beads. But the things they are doing with paper in the craft world is amazing, and looks a lot like polymer sometimes. From mokume-like carved stacks of paper to rolled beads to textured, stamped, and molded paper–the work is beautiful and a very direct source of inspiration for polymer artists. If you haven’t seen what I am talking about just google something like “paper jewelry” or “paper craft” on Google, Pinterest, Etsy or Flickr. It’s fascinating.
The other super cool thing about paper craft is that much of it is being made from recycled and upcycled paper sources. I do all my paper casting using junk mail and old newspapers and my collage work is from magazines I would otherwise just throw away. But those are not the only sources of paper we can recycle and combine with polymer pieces. This necklace by Izabela Nowak is a beautiful example of where using a paper source rather than polymer has a distinct advantage.
All those discs are cut from milk and juice cartons. Creating something like that with polymer would be intensely time-consuming and curing extremely thin polymer and keeping it flat takes a few tricks. I am not saying its impossible–I’ve done it myself–but why do that if you can get a similar effect while keeping more trash out of a landfill? And … it’s cheap or free! You gotta love that.
Izabela actually does a ton of work in paper and upcycled materials. She doesn’t often combine her polymer and paper but I find the pieces in which she doe, more interesting than the paper alone. The polymer adds solidity and texture the paper can’t and the paper offers crisp edges and smooth surfaces that are more difficult to do in polymer. So together, they make quite the pair!
Get your copy of the Spring 2016 issue of The Polymer Arts for this and other great article sure to get your creative juice flowing!
Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Search for paper craft, paper jewelry, or recycled art and find a piece you are drawn to. Don’t spend a lot of time looking. Then figure out what that one thing is that is really drawing you to that piece. Use that element … whether it’s the way the work was created (rolled, folded, molded), the form of the piece, or even the combination of colors, and use it to design or create your next piece.
Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners: