Putting Design First

wiwat new 022717One of my personal favorite articles in this issue is the interview of Wiwat Kamolpornjiwit. He has been one of my top jewelry designers since I saw his work some 9 years ago. I don’t think anyone does anything quite like what he does, not in polymer.

He really seems to approach his work from a purely construction and sculptural aspect, instead of getting into all the many ways polymer can be manipulated, putting the design first and the material second, if that. I love that. It should never matter what the material is if the design has not been well-considered. This is not to say that he doesn’t play with canes and surface design but they tend to be accents or focal points rather than the bulk of the work. This piece is actually a bit unusual for him, that I know of, as it incorporates a druzy stone moving the work into a bit more mixed media than in the past.

I believe this piece is from the collection shown at his recent American Craft Council show in Baltimore, Maryland. Cynthia also showed off his work on the Polymer Clay Daily blog a couple of weeks ago so he’s getting his share of attention right now, and for good reason. He has an interesting story so be sure to read that in the latest issue of The Polymer Arts magazine and see more of his work on his website and his Facebook page.


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The Blue Between the Buildings

SdlOritz NY sky Fimo50 tile

Silvia Ortiz de la Torre offered up her vision of a sky on this Fimo 50 World Project tile as one familiar to many people–the small patch of sky seen through a crowding of city skyscrapers. Maybe this is not the sky you most often think of when you envision sky, but for many this is a very common daily view. There is certainly something about seeing that small patch of blue hanging there beyond the reach of these immensely tall buildings that attracts the eye.

As amazing and beautiful as the man-made structures can be, I think most all of us gravitate towards the natural world more strongly. The directional lines of the buildings Silvia outlines make that focus on the sky automatic. And her choice to make that sun both glow in the blue sky and come through the form of a building in a singular burst of red color makes that both the resting point, a place our eye does not feel like it has to bounce around as it is pushed by the strong lines of the buildings, and a focal point. It’s a beautiful and expert composition.

Interested in seeing all the tiles in the Fimo 50 World Project? You can casually go through the submission that were posted on the project’s Facebook page or on Cynthia Tinapple’s Instagram page she set up for it.

Inspiration Challenge of the Day: Create or design something that contrasts man-made with natural. What elements of each are you drawn to? Or consider a favorite natural object or form and recreate it with very clean and structured lines. Or take a man-made form and make it organic looking.


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Recognizing Inspiration

DesertWalkingGownfull120I have a little something different for you this morning and I will get to this amazing piece you see here at the end. This announcement will go out on a few channels between yesterday and today so I hope not too many of you get hit over the head with this but … with the Polymer Journeys book coming out next week, we wanted to publicly announce our board’s picks for artists whose work and contribution to polymer art during the years 2014-2015 were particularly significant and inspirational and so were highlighted in the featured sections of the book.

We are certainly not saying our opinions are the end-all and be-all on this subject, but our consideration came from our own vast experience and education as well as gauging the impact and response we have seen in the polymer and craft communities. Although the creation of this book was in no way a contest, we did feel that making specific note of these artists and their work will further help us understand the direction and history of the medium in years to come. Here are our two featured categories:

Best Polymer Art of 2014-2015–these are artists and art that pushed the boundaries of what can be created with polymer. All these artists have been recognized for their masterful skills as well as the messages and vision found in their work.

Recognizing Generosity–We also wanted to recognize the generosity of the artists and the resulting programs that have become such a big part of the community. To that end, we included these amazing people as well as stories on how they have helped others.

So what is this unusual piece I have to show you here? It is a special and rather personal project created by the amazing Wendy Moore, who you see was recognized in the book under the section highlighting our charitable artists. Wendy is a primary force in the success of the Samunnat Nepal project. Bringing polymer clay to the women there gave them a joyful and colorful way to create financial independence when they so desperately needed it. She continues to return to teach and helped the project grow.

Wendy feels like Nepal is as much home to her as her native Australia. This robe of Wendy’s was actually part of processing a farewell to a part of Australia that she had to move away from. I won’t say much more on that, though, so those of you who are waiting on the book can read her short but poignant story.

If you have not pre-ordered your book but would like to, we have extended the 20% off sale until the 20th due to the delay with our printing that put the release of the book off until April 21st. Jump over to the Polymer Journeys website to take advantage of the early discount.



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New Book Cover and Very Special Pre-Sale Offer for You!

PJ2016 Cover frontWe set aside our usual art discussions today to announce the first big book project for TPA and the associated book publishing arm, Tenth Muse Publications–Polymer Journeys 2016 is just about ready for you! The release is set for April 14th.

This retrospective and peek-behind-the-scenes book is in its last phase of preparation for printing! Now that we have a publication date, we are offering you very anxious and enthusiastic folks a steep discount and a bonus to thank you for your patience and to give you the opportunity to get your copy straight off the press and into the mail!

We have an exclusive pre-sale price for just this one week. If you purchase the book on our website by March 30th,  you get 30% off the cover price of $22.95! That’s all of $15.95 plus shipping.

It is also available in a digital format, which will be $12.95, but this week you can reserve your copy for just $9.95.

But wait … there’s more! (I’ve always wanted to say that!)  I also worked out a way to reward our most enthusiastic supporters … be one of the first 250  people to pre-order a print copy and get a companion digital copy for FREE! Just put both a print and digital copy into your cart, then use this code to discount the digital copy: 1st250. (You’ll know others beat you to it if you get a note saying the discount is no longer valid.)

Want more info on what this book is? Go to the website here. In the meantime, enjoy the gorgeous cover art by Kathleen Dustin (top) and Jon Stuart Anderson (bottom).

We’ll be here if you have any questions for us. Otherwise, have a beautiful Spring and Easter weekend!



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Around the World, One Square at a Time

Fimo50World Project 4x4

Have you been keeping track of the Fimo 50 World Project? Its been so cool to watch the tiles come in, posted to the Facebook group, and circulate around the web. We’ve seen some fabulous ones the last week or so. I picked a handful of them to brighten your Monday morning. We have, top left and going clockwise, tile contributions created by Cornelia Brockstedt, Page McNall, Julie Eakes, and Martina Buriánová. How incredibly different can you get? These all started out with the same simple instructions, but the results show very individual inspirations and styles. How wonderful.

If you aren’t too familiar with this project, it is Fimo’s 50th anniversary, and to celebrate they are gathering 10cm x 10cm (4″ x 4″) polymer tiles from polymer artists around the world. Anyone can participate. The submissions will be assembled into a globe that will represent polymer around the world, in a literal and symbolic fashion. Later, the tiles will be taken off and auctioned to raise funds for two of the community’s favorite charity projects, Dr. Ron Lehocky’s Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies and the Samunnat community in Nepal.

For all the specifics, go to the FIMO 50 World Project Facebook page or to the Staedtler website. If you are in the US, Cynthia Tinapple is helping out by allowing US artists to send their tiles to her instead of to Germany, then she will pack those up and send them to Staedtler at the end of April when all tiles are due for the project. US artists can send entries to: Cynthia Tinapple, 1 Hartford Court, Worthington, OH 43085. But remember to register your entry on the website first.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Make a 4×4 tile for the Fimo 50World project or just for yourself. The canvas of a simple, open, basically two-dimensional space without the engineering of jewelry or structure needed for sculpture can be a very freeing form to work on. Just give it a try assuming it will be not be shared so you really let go.


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Perfect Pairings

Although blogs aren’t traditionally considered a form of printed material, our move into the electronic publishing age has sometimes made blogs the only reliable and up to date source for many subject matters. Cynthia Tinapple has made her name as an author through her popular Polymer Clay Daily blog which has become a standard read for any serious polymer artist. Last year, she also broke rank with the typical polymer clay project book format by presenting the  global side of our medium with a lot of background and insight alongside intriguing projects in her book Polymer Clay Global Perspectives

Of course, Cynthia is an accomplished polymer artist as well. My favorite pieces of hers are the collaborations she creates with her wood sculpting husband, Blair Davis. Their polymer trimmed wooden bowls, although reserved in their design, are so eye-catching due to the care and finish of the work as well as the contrast of materials and colors. Most of her inlay is cane work but I found this extruded swirl inlay absolutely entrancing. The swirl of the clay mimics, in a stylized manner, the waves and whorls of woodgrain making the choice an excellent design pairing.


You can find out all about Cynthia, see her work, find her book and take a look at her adventures all on her website. And of course, if you aren’t already subscribed to Polymer Clay Daily, you really need to get on that!


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Polymer Covered Clasps

A very easy way to make your findings fit into the design of your jewelry is to cover the findings with polymer. Magnetic, barrel screw, or even box clasps can be covered using the same design or colors in clay. But not only that, you can create a clasp that blends into the design by hiding the clasps in two halves of a bead or component that matches others in the piece.

A nice big round bead makes a great concealer of clasps, especially the magnetic and barrel screw types. You create two half round base beads, burying the clasps in the clay (or, since there is evidence that baking magnets can reduce their strength, bury a spacer in the clay same size as the clasp ends and glue them in after baking), then treat the half rounds with the same surface design as other round beads on your piece. Ford and Forlano have been integrating their clasps into their necklace designs for years. Here is one of their timeless big bead necklaces from 1997, with a clasp hidden in a back bead.



I do like that they didn’t even make the two halves the same, but simply versions of the same texture. It isn’t written anywhere that the halves have to match, is it? If you take some time to look through their body of work, you’ll see other finding integration solutions that might spark some ideas for you as well.

Keep in mind the beads don’t have to be round or even bead-like, as long as the clasps can be buried in the clay. For example, Cynthia Tinapple did this with faux river rock, as she demonstrates in this video tutorial. Her approach and tips can be expanded to include any kind of necklace component you would like to hide two-sided clasps in.



Synergy Presenters Announced

Synergy, the one and only keynote polymer clay community conference run by the IPCA, is set for March 2013 in Atlanta. Information on presenters and programming is starting to emerge.

Yours truly is honored to be one of the presenters and panelists. I’ll have presentations on the new idea for a central polymer clay online knowledge library with Maggie Maggio as well as a workshop on turning your love of polymer into publication opportunities. I have also been asked to be represent The Polymer Arts magazine (I’m not sure who else would have … I think my cat might feel she has a thing or two to say on the matter!) on a panel on craft publications where we’ll answer questions and, I hope, get the kind of input from you, the community, that can help direct the content we publishers will be offering you in the coming years.

The real draw though would be just the wealth of information, the insane level of creative brain waves that will infuse the conference, and the chance to meet truly huge names in our scene such as Christi Friesen, Judy Belcher, Lindly Haunani, Cynthia Tinnapple, and Jeffery Lloyd Dever — all of whom will be presenting and teaching workshops.

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