A Table of Color

MelWest tableI finally get to start sharing some of the things I have been seeing over here in the south of France. Yes, there has been a ton of beautiful countryside and villages to see as well as amazing textures in the moss covered rocks, old cobblestone streets, aged and worn walls, and rusting and painted iron and copper hardware. I will not bore you with the trip slides but rather, let you peek in on some of what we have been doing back at the house.

I may not have explained what it is I am doing down here. I was kindly invited to join a small group of my polymer friends and colleagues to enjoy a week of beauty and creativity in the tiny village of Durfort where the lovely La Cascade art center is located. Dayle Doroshow was the driving force behind this get-together as she owns her own little slice of France down here. The rest of us rented a house down the row from her. The days are full of creative and intellectual conversation, general silliness, and French style meals.  There has also been quite a bit of work as this was a chance for many of us to more efficiently discuss collaborative projects (mostly the business related kinds) and discuss our present direction as artists and entrepreneurs.

One of the things we have been doing to support each other has been to pull out our art, one artist a day, and discuss the work as well as the artist’s thoughts and motivations. Wednesday we had the pleasure of looking at all the gorgeous colors and impeccable finishes of Melanie West, which so works with the theme this week, so I snapped a few images for you to enjoy.

No words can express how wonderful it is to see such beautifully finished work laid out all together on a single table. It’s even more impossible to describe the delightful sensation of running one’s fingers over the velvety smoothness of these surfaces. I just wanted to pet them like they were precious little cats.

Now I have to get packing here for our trek to Bordeaux tomorrow for EuroSynergy, which starts on Sunday. My plan is to share beautiful things from there with you so keep your fingers crossed that the hotel internet cooperates! Have a beautiful, colorful weekend!


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Creatures from the Deep

AHumpert deep-sea-creatures-10As artists, we think of our imagination as a major muscle, if not the primary one used when we’re creating. But how much do you stretch that muscle?

In craft art, because we also have to create steps, a process, and consider function and durability, our minds spend a lot of time in the purely logical, problems solving sections of our brain. Not that the imagination and problem solving are not connected; they absolutely are. But pure imagination is something we don’t always practice. So, here is a little something to push you to do so.

These fun bracelets are the work of the ever creative Anke Humpert. Using translucent clay in a unique design and decorating it with sea creatures she made up is just the start here.

As she explained to me, “The bracelets have a design that glows in black light! That is why they are called deep-sea creature bracelets. You would not normally notice the night side of them, only if you go to a night club or something similar. They also have a special hinge. Most of it is made with polymer only very little metal involved.”

These bracelets, as it turns out, are the centerpiece for one of the three classes she will be teaching at the Cabin Fever Clay Arts Fest next month. In describing the class for prospective students, she says, “Since we do not know much about the deep seas, we will have fun and let our imagination run wild creating plants (or even animals?) as we imagine them.” And that freedom and use of the imagination is what inspired me to share this today and create a bit of a different challenge for those following along.

By the way, I do have a Flickr page for sharing the results of the challenges I’ve been posting, only I haven’t had time to snap pics of what I’ve done, so there’s nothing on it yet really. But if any of you want to get on while I catch up over here, I would love to see what you’ve been up to. Go here to join in!

Does Anke’s class intrigue you? She is also teaching her Big Beads and fun hand tool texturing techniques. She’s joined by a slew of amazing talent including Lisa Pavelka, Maureen Carlson, Dayle Doroshow, Lindly Haunani, Doreen Kassel, Jana Lehmann, Ann and Karen Mitchell, Nan Roche, Lynne Anne Schwarzenberg, and more. There is still room in almost every class, so, if you are interested, jump in while you have your pick of classes still. You can find the classes on this PDF and registration on their webpage.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Let your imagination run wild and recreate an image, motif, shape, or a faux effect you might otherwise recreate as it is seen in nature or as we expect it to be, making your own version. A rose with black petals, a plaid cat, turquoise in pink, purple leather, a square pendant with a chunk missing in the corner, or a peace symbol with Mickey Mouse ears. Just change it up and make it your own.


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Triangulating Books

Here is a neat use of the triangle form in an unexpected place–a three-dimensional book! Triangles as 3-D forms are, yes, usually called pyramids but since we are jumping off from the most basic form, this counts, right? Besides it’s too cool not to share as soon as possible.

I found this on the Creative Journey Studios site as a sample of pieces that Dayle Doroshow will be teaching there in November. Here’s the description for the The Unfolding Pyramid class “Personal imagery, found objects and other mixed media will be combined with polymer clay to create a pyramid structure that unfolds to reveal a hidden surprise. Polymer clay techniques will include transferring photocopy imagery, carving and antiquing, making and using three dimensional clay pieces, and weathered surface treatments.” Okay, who isn’t dying to go take this class?

Aside from that wonderful opportunity, this structure is a fantastic example of taking the common form for an object–in this case a rectangle is standard for a book–and replacing it with another form to either make a statement or to push yourself creatively. Not only is the triangle form for a book uncommon but it is really a melding of a box and a book. And with Dayle’s trademark antiquing and use of ancient imagery, this unusual piece is just steeped in a sense of mysticism and mystery.

Pyramid web

For this and other Creative Journey Studios Classes, see the Creative Journey website. To see where else you can take classes with Dayle and for more of her work or to purchase her books or DVDs, visit her website and poke around for a bit!


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Shimmer From a Past Culture

Turkey’s Nihal Erpeden brings us some seasonal shine with her Ottoman series of necklaces. Although when Ottoman is mentioned, I usually think of something to put my feet up on, there is a whole rich history and culture that came out of the Ottoman Empire that we see the influence of but may not commonly associate with the Turkish conquerors or their long standing rule–from 1299-1923, well into the 20th century. That’s not so very long ago!

The interesting thing for art that comes out of the expanded rule of a single culture is the integration of other cultures into the aesthetics of the conquering society and vice versa, of course. Decorative arts from the Ottoman Empire bear the flourish and filigree common in the Turkish culture’s history but also integrated motifs from Persian, Greek, and Byzantine art over the years they ruled in those areas. That makes for a very rich and diverse source of imagery, color and design to draw inspiration from as Nihal has done here.


Both past and present cultures, espeically those we aren’t very familiar with can be a tremendous source of ideas and imagery to integrate into your own artwork. Dayle Doroshow wrote a wonderful article in the present Winter 2013 issue of The Polymer Arts on the influences of past culture with ideas on how to draw from them to give new direction and complexity to your work.

As you know, if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, I strongly encourage all artists to look outside their discipline for inspiration as it will keep your work and the community’s work fresh and ever expanding. The same goes for looking outside your own culture. When you’re feeling uninspired or think our work is getting stagnant, look outside of what you know, of what you are familiar with. Find something new that gets you excited. Our brains crave novel experiences and information. Feed your brain and you’ll feed your creativity.

For more of Nihal’s lovely work, take a look at her Etsy shop and blog site.


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The Impact of the Past on the Present

One of the articles I personally looked forward to the most out of the articles in this next issue of The Polymer Arts is on the influence of past cultures on our work. Some of the influence and connections we have are very subtle or so ubiquitous that we don’t recognize their ancient roots, like the use of swirls, hand prints, or even hearts. But then there is the more obvious imagery we connect directly with past civilizations, like runes, hieroglyphs, Celtic knots, and cave paintings. We have a strong connection to these images and symbols, some of us more than others. I thought it’d be great to explore how such influences have appeared in polymer and how they can be used by readers to tell stories and create themes in their work. I was very lucky that Dayle Doroshow was interested in putting this article together. It’s a great piece.

In the past, I have been particularly interested in Luann Udell’s work using prehistoric images and aged textures. I haven’t yet had a theme in which I thought I could share her work with you all, but here we are! It’s not colorful work, but once you spend some time looking at what she does, you’re not likely to forget it.



Does this piece intrigue you? If so, take a little time to look at the sculptures and mixed media wall hangings that Luann has posted on her website as well. I would have liked to post a wall hanging, but the small image size used in these posts was just not going to do them justice.


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