Pasteled and Fractaled

Troy Thompson fractal pastel jeweltones 430x736 - Pasteled and FractaledFor our last day of rich color, I thought I’d take it down a notch saturation-wise. This isn’t polymer or any kind of dimensional material but it is a fabulous fractal design and what lovely colors and light it has. Fractals have been a fascination of mine and many other artists for a while now. Their intricate patterns make inspiring textures not to mention that the color choices of these designers can be a great source of ideas for polymer work.

If you are unfamiliar with fractals, these are both a natural and math-based design where one form is repeated over and over, usually getting smaller as it progresses and even forming the same shape in the way it is laid out. Found everywhere in nature, fractals have moved into the realm of art with people developing designs based on natural formations but using math as a kind of paintbrush to help create the composition.

This stunning piece is by a gentleman who goes by Troythulu online while stating that his real name is “either Troy Loy or Troy Thompson.” Not sure why he is confused but I imagine just he wants to remain mysterious, and quirky. His fractals are amazing, though. This piece, in particular, could easily be translated into pearl clay with some mica powder painting to color tips and edges. I think it’s something worth playing with, especially if you like both shiny and colorful pieces.

See more fractals by Troy whatever-his-name-is on his Tumblr page.

Keeping Dragons A-Round

vanillamaart dragon bracelet - Keeping Dragons A-RoundI thought this week, we’d just check in with what our fellow clayers are posting this first week of the year and I found quite a few pieces of new work on Flickr.

This detailed and whimsical bracelet is by Dorota Kaszczyszyn. The individual ridges that make up the dragon’s back work so perfectly as separate beads fitted together to create the bracelet and I love how she integrated the closure into the design. The closures usually end up on top of the wrist in large bead bracelets anyways since the weight of the beads, being heavier than the clasps, spin to hang downward so why not just design for that eventuality? I thought it was a great way to finish off a well sculpted and textured set of beads that is sure to draw some attention.

This is not Dorata’s first dragon bracelet but is, thus far, my favorite. I do like the toggle clasp on some of the others versus a lobster clasp but the face on this guy is beautiful. See more of her dragons (and owls … another favorite creature of hers) on her Flickr photostream.

Silkscreens for Days

ezscreen 430x262 - Silkscreens for Days

Here is another great company whose products you’ll want to check out. The silkscreens seen here are from a new partner of ours, EZScreen. This mother-daughter business has been working with silkscreens for years but recently they have been researching the needs of the polymer community and now offer a line of great silkscreen designs—dozens and dozens of them—ready for you to snatch up. But what is unique about them is that the pre-made screens are not their primary product.

The central product for these ladies is actually a DIY silkscreen kit that allows you to make silkscreens of your own design or, if you prefer, they will make the screens for you, from artwork you send to them. Cool right? Now, that is my kind of thing! There is nothing like having your own signature patterns to work with because you absolutely know no one else is going to be popping up with those same patterns on their work.

I have not yet gone through the process of ordering these custom-made stencils or trying their kit but I’ll be ordering some when I get home to California next week. You can get started by going to their web page here for their DIY kits or here for the custom-made stencil information or this page for pre-made designs.

If you get our newsletter, you may already have seen the discount available there but if you missed it, just punch “PA15” into the promo code box in your cart. Go have fun! Keep in mind, they have a customer gallery on their webpage and there’s no polymer work there yet. Let’s get some up there!

 

Aztec Accents

LVogel aztec accents 430x478 - Aztec AccentsMy forays all over Instagram also got me caught up on the beautifully delicate work of Lorraine Vogel. These last few years, she has really hit her stride, showing off her fine sense of color within a series of signature techniques that focus on surface design with stamped or stenciled texture.

Here she lets the color flow and layer across the surface to create an ancient look using what I think is a version of the raised surface coloration technique which she shared in a tutorial in our Winter 2016 edition of The Polymer Arts. It looks a bit more involved but if you want to try something similar, get the issue on our website.

Her techniques are easy and fun and you can get great results with just a little care. She sells additional tutorials on related techniques in her Etsy shop, along with her wares. You can also take look at the history of her work by dropping in on her Flickr photostream and, of course, her Instagram page.

Scarf as Necklace

scarf jewelry 430x542 - Scarf as NecklaceAs you may have immediately noticed, these scarves are not polymer. In fact, most of them are mass-produced or use mass-produced components. So why am I showing you this? Because the popularity of these kinds of bedecked scarves are not seen in the polymer community, not at least that I could find, which means there is a wide-open opportunity for some of you out there.

Just look at the two-fold use of these. Not only can you have a warm and cozy bit of beautiful fabric to dress up your day, you can have jewelry that can be seen while wearing a scarf. I have never liked having to pick between a scarf and a necklace and with this kind of merging of the two, you don’t have to.

Now, you could just stick with the single pin or charms like we saw in the last couple posts to get some fun and fancy decor on your chest but what about when you want to get a bit more flashy or formal? I just think these designs really open up a lot of possibilities for us as polymer artists. For one, how fun would it be to turn a boring basic scarf into a snazzy infinity scarf that doubles as a necklace AND gives many a bead in that stash of beautiful odds and ends, a beautiful place to hang?

Hopefully, these also give you all kinds of ideas for alternate ways to hang polymer pendants or has you thinking up new wide tube designs or all the above. It would not take long to make the components if you don’t already have them and basic scarves are cheap. I bet you have one or two in a drawer somewhere that you never wear. Just think of how you could dress them up!

I would love to be able to give attribution to each of the pieces here but I somehow managed to find all but one with a broken link or dead website. However, the designer of the Atelie42 scarf piece in the upper right does have a website but even there, most of the text seems to be image based which means it can’t be translated online. But the variation on jewelry scarves is worth a couple of minutes even for those of us who can’t read the text. Head over to the website here or this article that has a nice selection ready for you to pore over.

 

 

A Bevy of Bezels

spirit necktar 430x433 - A Bevy of BezelsThe other thing about looking beyond the standard bezel for stones is that you are opened up to using stones and shiny bits of all kinds of shapes and sizes. It is one of the reasons we love polymer clay so much! It is so amazingly flexible.

You can see just how wonderfully it can hold onto and embellish already very interesting stones and crystals in this array of examples from Canada’s Martina Gutfreund. Not only can you get really creative with the bezels and caps, you can combine all kinds of stones, even with wildly disparate forms.

Some visual relationship between the stones should be present in deciding what stones to pair up, such as similar or complementary colors or textures. (Do you see how the most satisfying designs here are the ones with a very evident relationship between the stones?) After you have that, the clay can help you bring them together physically with all kinds of room for creative design work.

See more of Martina’s stone (and shell) setting designs in her Etsy shop and on Instagram.

 

Variation on Time

pieces clock 430x823 - Variation on TimeI spent a lot of time looking for differently constructed clocks in polymer and couldn’t find much that really illustrated the point I was hoping to make. What I wanted was to show that a clock does not have to be on a flat surface. It can be made of many parts, attached or not, and fully dimensional. As long as you have something that can house or hide the clock mechanism while holding out the hands, the rest is wide open. You can have the hour markers designated by any form and attach them with sticks or wire or be free floating–whatever suits the piece and your inclination.

These two examples are commercial designs rather than polymer art but I think they give you the basics of this idea of moving beyond the flat clock face. Not only do these kinds of clocks make for really interesting wall pieces, they give you the freedom to use pieces you may already have such as large hollow beads, faux stones, unhung pendants, small figurines, flowers, etc.

As a gift, giving a clock that has separate pieces might be best attached to something that can be hung as one piece, like a backing of Plexiglas or painted plywood. Or include instructions for a template to mark on the wall where each piece goes. There is little to no construction to deal with but you will have to make concessions in the design for how the individual pieces will be hung. Alternately, go for a design where the elements are attached like the flowers you see here.

The sky is the limit with these kinds of designs. For more ideas, try searching “DIY clocks,” which was the keyword set that brought me to these two pieces. I hope these sparks some ideas and I look forward to seeing inventive clock designs this month!

The Complexity of Time

Natalya Polekh clock 430x411 - The Complexity of Time

In my search for clock inspiration, I veered a bit off the polymer path, but then again, I kept running into pieces that I thought were polymer but were not. Of course, pieces like this splendid celestial clock by Natalya Polekh could be created in a very similar fashion with polymer. Large textured sheets and fun with alcohol inks and mica powders could produce similarly stunning results so I took a  closer look.

Natalya looks to be a well-known mixed media artist in Eastern Europe and Russia and when I say mixed, I mean all kinds of things. Her primary materials look to be various types of acrylic paint, dimensional and pearling paints, 3D gel, embossing paste, and glass and metal accents of different types. She works in texture, mosaics and layered media that is applied in such a way that knowing the materials is rather superfluous. She creates a beautiful complexity of texture and motif with shine and shimmer applied in abundance but always in a tasteful and often intriguing manner.

She does much more than clocks although she has done quite few of them. Take a look at her shop for more clock and textural ideas as well as very well priced tutorials on how she creates this work.  Her VK.com page has more images.

 

Covering Time

mira pinki krispil clock 430x412 - Covering Time

Well, it’s that season again. While everyone else is shopping, crafters and artisans like yourself are working madly away on the stock that your audience demands to make their gift giving season the best one to date. For some of us, that audience is a retail account but for many more of us, it’s the far more intimidating circle of friends and family that we fret over. What do we do this year for gifts and surprises that we haven’t already done? Asking myself this question, I came up with a couple of ideas and in researching, clocks really hit a note for me. Any clayer of any level and any specialized set of techniques can create a clock that is both personal and expressive and everyone of every age can appreciate a lovingly created handmade clock.

Cane-covered clock faces are an easy project for clayers of any skill level. You can buy old clocks at the thrift store, or inexpensive ones at the big box store, or just a clock kit from a craft or hobby store that you put into your cane-covered clay sheets. Here is a fun and colorful, slightly off from the norm, cane-covered clock face for some initial inspiration. Mira Pinki Krispil is quite fond of cane covered decor but she always takes it one step beyond.

I like this piece because of the slight off-centeredness and the imagery in the center. It is more than decorated. The image in its center is intriguing with energetic lines bouncing back and forth through intertwined imagery. It’s just a great visual piece to start with. The fact that it’s a functional clock is a bonus.

Mira creates her colorful piece in south Israel and sells her work on Etsy. You can also see more of her designs by checking in on her Flickr photostream.

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