Stories in Pieces

Ctoops dragon fightingThank you for the responses on Tuesday’s mosaic. I loved reading your different views and loved the level of enthusiasm in the comments. I apologize that they took a day to show up–the mysterious ways of the internet did not let us in to approve them until late in the day. Technology often reminds me of when the kids were around four. You just never knew if or when they would cooperate. Actually, that reminds me of 14 year olds, too. But, wait … that is not our subject today!

We are going to get back to mosaics and I hope a few of you will chime in with your thoughts again. Let’s look at a completely different type from Cynthia Toops, who is just mad about micro mosaics.

Cynthia’s images often invoke a story but how important is the story to the success of the work? Do you easily find a story here, even with the disparate types of critters wedged into it? Do you not care if a story is easily drawn from this but enjoy it any ways? If so, why? Does it feel crowded to you or is the abundance of detail part of its charm?

Cynthia has a website here but her collaborative silversmithing partner, Chuck Domitrovich, keeps the best collection of their work on this Pinterest board.


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Scenes in Micro


Ginger really wanted to share a micro mosaic piece with you this week and I’ve gone back and forth on options for us. The thing is, micro mosaics in polymer were really established, and I think are still best done, by Cynthia Toops. But I’ll be breaking a rule of mine to not feature an artist that was on the blog within the last 6 months–I like to spread the love around so to speak and Cynthia was featured last month. Well, here’s to breaking rules now and then!

The image of this bracelet is actually from Chuck Domitrovich’s Flickr pages. Chuck, an accomplished metal smith, partnered with Cynthia to create this bracelet some years back. This gorgeous bangle has two scenes actually–one side with an underwater scenario on the right and a land scene on the left. They work together because of the similar color palette and the styling of the imagery. I didn’t think it was too hard to imagine how these were created but the timing issue was not something I would have expected. Here is Cynthia’s process in Chuck’s words:

“Each mosaic is made by rolling tiny Fimo/polymer threads out of each color, and then baking those threads to harden them. Then the threads are cut into small pieces and these are used as the basis for the mosaic, with each tiny cut piece of thread pushed into soft polymer lining the bezel. She only has a limited amount of time to set all the threads before the polymer clay dries out and the threads begin to curl. In some of the larger mosaics she has done, Cynthia has had to rework entire sections that have dried too fast. Each mosaic takes many, many hours, and it is not unusual for her to spend a week of working almost constantly to finish one. Once all the threads are in place the entire piece is baked once again, hardening and setting them.”

There is more detail in this bracelet at the hinges and a closer look really is needed to appreciate all that went into this. You can see great detail shots by clicking the image here or this link and then clicking the right side arrows on Chuck’s Flickr page to see them all.  And you can find more of Cynthia and Chuck’s micro mosaic collaborations in this Flickr photo album.

Our guest blogger partner, 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 purchasing a tutorial or two from this talented lady.



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Crowded Elegance

tubeNecklace1I knew it was not likely that I would get through a week about repetition and crowded aesthetics without bringing in Cynthia Toops. I tried, but of all the artists I can think of, no one really beats her degree of repetitious elements that is a portrayal  of beauty rather than something that tips into chaos or excess.

This tube necklace really drives home the idea that no matter how machined and perfect the elements, the crowded disorder of their assemblage is going to read as organic. Every element here was created with a precision tool or skill set, from the extruded tubes to the carefully chosen gradation of colors, and then to the elegant high-sided bezels the polymer tubes are packed into. It is easy to sense the care in the craftsmanship, but the precision may be hidden. You see this and still think of bunches of flowers, a meadow dense with wildflowers or the flowering of yarrow plants and the like, don’t you? It’s that very slight variation in color and height of each standing tube that sways our thoughts to the natural settings. A simple idea, but the results are complex, rich and rather intense in a quiet, elegant way.

From their amassed tubes to dense string of pods, and on to micro mosaics, Cynthia and her collaborator, Dan Adams, really crowd it in and continue to awe and delight us along the way. If you’ve never visited their website, take a a little trip through some of these beautifully packed spaces. 



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