Exploring Points

helene jeanclaude dots 430x291 - Exploring PointsLast week I had the very fortunate opportunity to spend a couple days chatting and exploring Los Angeles with Christi Friesen and one of my oldest polymer pals, Debbie Crothers. We definitely did more talking than anything else and one of the subjects that kept coming up was exploration. Exploration of a technique or of a design element in your work can reveal much about what you personally prefer to do in your work not just what the technique or element offers.

One great way to explore is to make a lot of elements using the same technique or the same design element. In this bold neckpiece by Hélène JeanClaude there are several variations on the dot. The dot as a colored accent, as repetition defining the structure of a visual pattern, and as negative space are joined together, linked by that same color of blue and the coppery brown. The curve of the shapes, as well as the colors and the dots themselves, create a cohesive whole of these three very different explorations of the way a dot can be used.

Hélène’s work often appears to be an exploration of a particular design element or perhaps she is simply not satisfied with an element being presented in just one way. Regardless, it presents a high level of sophistication and energy to her tribal-leaning aesthetic. You can explore the fruits of her explorations on her Flickr photostream and here on her blog.



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Emerging Explorer

DebCrothers flowers 350x279 - Emerging ExplorerAh, some things never change. Debbie never does something just once. Instead, she does it over and over until she has extracted all the secrets and possibilities of a technique. Here is a post from March 3rd, 2012:

“My Aussie friend Debbie Crothers has been going flower crazy for the past month. This pic in particular is mesmerizing–blow it up so you can see the detail. And check out her Flickr page of pretties: http://www.flickr.com/…/…/72157629312332777/with/6874124869/”

Today Deb has technique after technique she has thoroughly explored and lucky us, she shares all over and most generously. She will be teaching in the US in October so if you can make the Clay Carnival in Las Vegas or will be in Denver in mid-October, you can enjoy her enthusiasm and joy in what she does in person. Her website will give you all the details as well as being the place to follow her and all her many adventures and experiments!



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A Journey of Exploration

dcrothers-necklace-sunsetAs many of you are aware, our Winter 2016 issue, themed “On the Surface”, came out weekend before last. Despite some head-spinning challenges in our schedule, we still pulled off a an issue that readers are finding particularly inspiring. My apologies to those folks that lost entire mornings and afternoons as they read the issue cover to cover instead of getting work done or running intended errands. So glad you found it so worthwhile!

The success of this issue was in no small part due to the wonderful contributing artists who gave us so much to look at and so much to think about. Even so, our artists have a much broader range of talent than any single article can even begin to show so this week, we’ll look at what else these talented folks have been up to, starting with Debbie Crothers who gave us the article on Surprising Variety showcasing some unexpected materials to use in polymer surface design.

Debbie has been on a journey of exploration in polymer since we first met online some 8 years ago. She is always coming up with an amazingly wide range of techniques and textures. You are more likely to see her fun treated beads on her Facebook page than completed pieces but lately it’s been the other way around with some stunning results, such as this beauty using an image transfer and crackle technique to throw textural accents into the mix of smooth shapes. I have to admit that the sunset colors are what first grabbed me but then you spend some time looking over the detail and you kind of fall in love with the whole piece.

Debbie has also been a busy girl herself, showing off her brand new website this month. You can find the way to her thoughtful blog there as well as links to her classes, videos, and upcoming workshops. For a retrospective of her work, past and present, jump over to her Flickr photostream to see the interesting journey she’s been on.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Look back through whatever history of your work you have available to you. Where have you been with your work and where are you now? As we approach the new year, let this review help you shape ideas on where to go this coming year. Spend some time just making notes, a goal list or just sketching to help move you along on the next step of your journey.


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Outside Inspiration: Burning Up and Looking Through

paper-cutout-art-fashion-dresses-edgar-artis-47__700These little unexpected beauties are brought to us by Debbie Crothers who just dropped them onto my Facebook page last week. These were created by Armenian fashion illustrator Edgar Artis who uses common objects and scenes to take some basic fashion concepts beyond the ordinary. The matches dress illustration is so simple, but between the heavily directional lines and the ‘hot’ implication of the material, it is a rather arresting image. The cut-outs, however, are simply a fantastic way to test out color and texture. Edgar was not the first to do this, so to give credit where credit is due, you’d want to also check out Shamekh Bluwi, an architect and fashion illustrator living in Jordan, who shows off the potential for women’s dresses with his very intricate cut-outs.

But besides these just being a fun bit of illustration to admire, I was thinking the cut-out-and-view-through process could be an excellent springboard or tool set to help you work out your own polymer designs. You can take sketches you have (or make copies of them) and cut out the essential mass of the design, then hold it up to various colors and textures.  I just got my pack of Tracy Holmes’ Colour Cards today and placing a cut-out over selected solid-colored cards would be so much more telling than just holding them up to a sketch. Don’t you think?

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Trace a favorite form or shape, cut it out so you have a stencil, then take it on a walk with a camera of some kind. Hold it up to various colors, textures, patterns, etc. as you go. Take photos of what you find. Go home and put those photos up on a bigger screen and save or print out the ones you really like. Now … can you create artwork from what you found in that empty space in the stencil?


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Taking the Disk Challenge

Crothers glass beadsI just had to share this because these creations by Debbie Crothers were a direct result of the pieces posted on this past Friday’s blog. Do you recall those gorgeous glass beads by Debbie Sanders? And my mental meanderings about how cool something like this would be in polymer? Well … ta-da!, Debbie took on Debbie and created polymer versions, and I have to say they are just luscious.

Our dear Deb is such an explorer. These beads are just one in many recent experiments she’s shared on her Facebook page and blog. If you are a lover of visual, organic textures, take a look at her recent “what-if” beads you see here too. I don’t know what she put on these, but they’re entrancing in their variation of color and forms. Jump over to her post on her what-if day in the studio to see more.  Crothers what if beads

Debbie also released her latest Craft Art Edu class on image transfers. There must be something out there in the ether that is pushing us towards image transfers because we also have an article on image transfer in the soon-to-be-released Fall 2015 issue of The Polymer Arts. Deb’s class uses pre-printed laser prints, waterslide images, and temporary tattoo applications while the tutorial in the upcoming TPA issue explores inkjet print transfer created on plain paper (yes, just regular old white copy paper) and photo paper. They both have their pros and cons, so you’d have to check them out to see which you might want to play with.

Pre-order your copy of the Fall 2015 issue on the website, and you can preview Debbie’s class on Craft Art Edu by just clicking on the window you find there.



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Just Add Mint

???????????????????????????????Here is an example of a love story that someone thought no one else would be much interested in. But, I can’t imagine anyone not finding this touching; if for no other reason, than to remind us of the hope we all should have. Debbie Crothers shares her amazing rough and beautiful beads and her once rough and now beautiful love story. And when you’re done brushing the tears from your eyes, go see what other luscious things this polymer explorer has been up to on her Flickr photostream.

Just Add Mint

I was 30 years old and had just come out of a terrible relationship.  Two and a half years of my life had been invested, and I was planning on marrying this man.  It certainly wasn’t the world’s best relationship.  He could be so charming when he wanted to be.  I think I held onto those moments and tried to forget all the bad times.  Huge mistake.  Two years into the relationship, I found out he turned to heroin – what!!!; how could I not have seen that; how on earth could I not know?  Believe me, I had no idea.  He was the world’s best liar and manipulator, and you know what – it was apparently, all my fault!!!  We tried to get help; we tried to fix things; we tried to make our relationship work, but there was no way it was going to.  He left town, and I was left to deal with the financial mess, the “drug people” who came looking for him and the thought that I must be a horrible person to make someone turn to drugs.  My life was shattered, and I was an emotional wreck.  The nightmares started, the stress started and the depression began.  Life was hard, but I had to keep going.

The story moves on to about six months later; still nightmares, still financial stress and definitely not looking for a partner.  I was having drinks with my sister and some friends.  Her boyfriend, Colin, had been trying to match-make me with his best mate, “Mint”, in Perth, but I sure as hell wasn’t ready to get involved with anyone – or so I thought.  Anyway the phone rang.  Colin answered it, spoke for a while, then handed the phone to me and said “Deb, there’s someone here who wants to talk to you.”  I took the phone and said “hello.” A beautiful, calm voice came on the other end and said “Hi, just wondering if you’d like to marry me?”  I was a little surprised, but stayed calm and said “sure, where shall we have our honeymoon?” To be honest, the rest of the conversation is a bit of a blur now (well, it was a long time ago), but all I remember is this beautiful voice that filled me with a sense of calm and made me feel safe.  Crazy, I know, because I didn’t even know the guy – had never even seen him before.

I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, so he arranged to come to Geraldton in a few weeks time.  We decided to have drinks again at Colin’s unit while waiting for Mint to arrive.  I remember when he walked through the door – I can still picture it now.  He said his hello’s to everyone, and then came over to me.  He smiled at me and shook my hand, and it was a moment I’ll never forget.  I was excited and nervous all at the same time.  I knew this was a good man, and I loved the way he made me feel.  We all spent the night talking and laughing, and then when everyone else had gone to bed or gone home, we still sat and talked – it was like we had known each other forever.  We met up again the next night, and that’s when we decided to have children together. We even chose the name of our first son – Red.

That was December; we moved in together the following July, got married in September and had our first son, Red, in February.

20 years on, we now have 3 beautiful children and a wonderful life together, and I still get excited every afternoon when he comes home to me.

He is my love story.


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Ink & Polymer Glazing

One of the wonderful things about polymer is that it is not ceramic; it’s not restricted by the limitations of mineral clays, the weight, the tricky kiln firing, and the uncertainty that is inherent in glazing. But the gloss and depth of those glazes can be so remarkable that, of course, we would try to imitate it in polymer!

I’ve seen quite a bit of faux ceramic glazing created with alcohol inks and liquid polymer clay. I don’t know of any other colorant that will work with LPC to give it that translucent and vibrant look. And I’ve yet to see anyone top the shimmer and depth of the work done by Debbie Crothers with her faux ceramic glazes. Look at these beads. A monochromatic, simple form, and yet just so intriguing and luscious.



It’s that texture peaking out from the clearer part of the glaze and the way the deep color is dripping over the form that makes these beads so, well, tasty! Oh … now I’m going to crave glazed berries or juicy, fruity, hard candies all day!

Debbie has been working with this effect for a few years and has it down perfectly, I think. Do hop on over to our Aussie sister’s Flickr page and take a gander at the other beads and pieces she uses this technique on. Just lovely work.

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