Quality of Line

wild onion art lovers pendant 430x563 - Quality of LineI thought I’d continue to keep it simple this week and still talk a little about line, the theme of the latest issue of The Polymer Arts that came out last weekend.

This simple pendant by Yuliya Zharova uses two elements to tell a story—line and dots. The form of the people here is nothing more thank tall lines with a variation in thick and thin. The dots on the top of this line make up the heads, and the small dots and large gold one somehow become stars and a moon. It’s quite amazing how much can be shown with so little detail. But lines, in particular, can do that. It is a nice reminder of how little we really have to put down to get our viewers to see what we have to convey.

It is also a nice reminder that line has characteristics and qualities of its own. They do not always have to be even. The way the line is formed can convey imagery, as we see here, or emotion. The articles on design and the technique tutorials on using lines and dots and soutache to create emotion and texture will help fill in more on those ideas when you get to reading our latest issue.

Yuliya’s compositions are almost all some variation online and dots and are all lovely in their understated design. See more of her work in her Etsy shop, Wild Onion Art.


Words Going Round

Nikolina OtrzanTubes 430x316 - Words Going RoundOkay, let’s get serious this week. First, a bit of business for readers anxiously awaiting the new issue of The Polymer Arts. The richly packed Color themed Summer edition has had its release date confirmed! Look for digital copies to land in your mailbox on May 30th with print editions all being on the way out from the printer by that day as well.

While we wait for that exciting issue to make its way to us, I thought we’d turn our attention to a few of our more prolific artists whose work is jamming up my lists and Pinterest boards, waiting to be featured.

Nikolina Otrzan has been doing some remarkably sophisticated work with very simple shapes and surface treatments lately. Like these tubes. Tubes with dots. And on the rustic side. Simple but eye-catching in solid, matte colors, these are all about ’round’, with round tubes and round dots and nothing else to distract on the earrings.

On the necklace, there is a distraction in the form of words. Words will always be distracting. Our eyes go straight to them to try and glean their meaning. They are a focal point without having to sit on one point. I love that these are on a round surface so that there is no beginning or end to the imprinted text. There is also no one word or meaning that can be gleaned at a glance so the words are not calling out some obvious message. The necklace also, still stays in the ’round’ theme but there is a more varied energy in the texture of the text, so that it has a more intricate and energized feel to it.

Nikolina’s shop on Etsy is full of inexpensive yet in-depth tutorials on her piece and techniques. If you are looking for something different to play around with this coming week, her tutorials would be a great place to start. For more visual inspiration, take a look at her work on Flickr.



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The Well Spotted Pendant

SAtwood pendantSo let’s finish up this week on dots and spots with one piece which happens to have many, many ways of using the decorative and often dynamic element.

Shelley Atwood isn’t shy with her details as demonstrated here. Pin-pricks give way to tiny circles which play in the background behind spots of color and details of varying shapes, not just the roundness of the dots we know and love so well. But even the leaf shapes, repeated over and over, create the same kind of effect.

Having four sections doing basically the same thing helps with the suggestion that the leaf shapes should operate as spots rather than a distinctive visual. Even with all the variation, the dots, and spots and marks, all contained within a similarly sized space, balance each other out so you are left to just enjoy the riot of color and the joy of the spot.

Shelley’s work can be found, with all its many marks and delicious details, on her website and on Flickr.


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Variation on the Dot

JZharova dotsOh, the dot. A dot is not really a shape and it doesn’t define anything for us in the way its closest relation, the singularly dimensional line, does. It is just a point in space or on a surface but it will always grab our attention. It marks a point that we feel drawn to investigate. However, when it’s gathered to create a texture or pattern, that draw it has doesn’t expand but acts more like beats in a song. So when you have lots of dots, make a song of it.

I think that is what Julia Zharova is doing here. It’s a song she likes too, so she’s created variations on it. In the top one she lets the dots be simple and smooth but backs them with a lot of organic texture. In the one below, the dots are concave and colored but the background texture is more subdued so that the dots can dance without distraction. It’s a couple of examples of variation on a similar design.

Julia seems rather fond of the dot, which is scattered throughout her beautifully composed and well finished work. Enjoy a break with Julia today with a perusal through her Livemaster shop.


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Growing Fond of Dots

DGreenberg plattersI’m going to use this to both wrap up my jabbering about the Spring issue of The Polymer Arts and as a segue into talking about a design element that seems rarely discussed … the dot. Or spot. Or point on a surface. Whatever you want to refer to it, dots or spots are an unassuming but strong design element. In polymer, we can give them dimension and form until they take on another life entirely. In Donna Greenberg‘s work, those organic gatherings of points definitely look to be alive.

We were so lucky to have another wonderful article by Donna in the latest issue, The Polymer Arts Spring 2017 – Shape and Form issue. She discusses ways to use your past work to inspire new work. I think most of us have tried going back to something we did before but her suggestions are a bit different and her examples are beautiful. She does a lot of these dot/spot barnacle-like cups in her re-formed work and in her latest vessels too.

Although the form of the ‘spots’ seen here are similar, the way they are used and gathered are not. Look at the one on top. It had an organic feel but the little cups and the spots are placed in a very orderly fashion. The rougher but lacy edge builds a balanced but dynamic tension, pulling away from the inner order. But the platter below is a purely random application with the gathered dots of different sizes flowing in a natural path through and around the piece. It’s less restricted nature also warranted the use of a brighter color, making the piece quite lively and cheerful.

I found these pieces on Donna’s Facebook page but also take a look at her barnacled beauties in the latest issue of The Polymer Arts or hop over to Donna’s website to see more of her dots and spots.



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Hail Sale and Impressive Dots

Lisa stevens urchin pendants 2008Did you miss us yesterday? Sorry for the absence, but all kinds of wonderful things have been going on; they have just been keeping me buried until I couldn’t remember what day it was. For some reason I thought the last three days were all Thursday. Can you say sleep deprived?

Why is this? Well, for one, I was acting as my own administrative assistant, but only because our wonderful admin, Kat, has been off this week introducing her new baby girl to the world. Send lots of love and may the powers-that-be grant them both lots of rest!

The other thing that was overwhelming was the sale of dinged up back issues we started Thursday that was far more popular than we anticipated. I wanted to share it with you, my dear blog readers, and give you a chance to grab some yourself, but we nearly sold out in the first few hours. I had to wait until today to go through our unopened stock and find those inevitably imperfect copies so I had something to offer you. So here it is …

The Print Issue Hail Sale: Okay, hail didn’t damage these copies, mostly shipping, storing and traveling did the damage, but that’s a long name for a sale. These are ones with markings on the cover, rubbed off ink, creased corners and small tears that we won’t sell as new, but I do sell for a discount when out and about. However, they have been piling up, so we decided to make them available to you online at half price! So, these are just $5 (plus shipping). Quantities are very limited, so jump on over to my Etsy page where we’ve listed them. That way, sold out issues will drop off instead of sitting there teasing you when there aren’t any more left.

In my shop we are also selling all regular ‘perfect’ back issues for $8 plus shipping. If you are buying just one, it ends up being the same as buying from our website, but if you buy multiples, you will save by getting reduced shipping. So if you have been wanting to stock up on back issues in print and you don’t mind a few marks on the cover or a creased corner, this would be the time to do that!

And now some weekend art. Because we need pretties to cheer up our weekend. We’ve done all these dot pieces, but not outside polymer, so here are a few pieces by ceramicist Lisa Stevens. Wednesday’s post was also super popular, so I’m thinking a few of you who tried (or plan to try) that dotted tutorial, and these pieces made me think of a short cut way to do similar work–by just impressing with hand tools. You can use acrylic, mica powders or alcohol inks to color the holes or back fill with clay. Or brush on ink tinted liquid polymer to get a similar glazed ceramic look.

Lisa does a lot of these impression type treatments. If you want more pretty and inspiring impressed dot ideas, jump over to her Flickr pages.

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Connecting the Dots

I thought it would be hard finding a relevant dot related quote for our Sunday contemplation, but surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult. I am not Steve Jobs’ biggest fan, but this is very apropos for artists as well as entrepreneurs and anyone trying to create anything new in their lives.



My take on this: don’t try to predetermine how things will be. Set yourself up to be in the best position to grab opportunity and push your goals forward. Trust that things will work out and don’t worry about what has not yet happened. Oh, I am so lecturing myself here! It is pointless to worry. It’s much better to just do what seems to be the best you can do with what you have now.


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Outside Inspiration: Cosmic Dots

In searching for dot-focused art for today’s Outside Inspiration, I found that, outside of textiles and glass blowing, polymer seems to be one of the most dot-obsessed crafts. This strikes me as maybe a little odd, because it seems just as easy to create dots in the form of holes and inlay in so many other crafts. Maybe we just like to talk about our dots, and so search engines are able to gather more of them. But in any case, I did actually come across a silversmith with a great appreciation and fondness for dots — cutting holes and inlaying, as well as the applied dimensional dots we are so fond of.

Abi Cochran of SilverSpirals works with her dots in an organic and gorgeously colored manner at that.  She crafted the piece here in silver (I think silver clay, as she mentions it’s what she primarily works with), used gold for the dimensional dots, then added resin in a glass enameled fashion to compliment the focal opal in this cosmic-style pendant.


In other pieces of Abi’s, semi-precious stones become the dots that accent her work, or she uses granulation to add small grains of metal for her surface design (see the first issue of The Polymer Arts, Fall 2011 for a faux granulation technique, along with other faux metal approaches). You could spend a lovely break from work or during your downtime this evening looking through her site or checking out the close-ups of her work on her Facebook page. Just a suggestion!


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Directional Dots

Let’s move away from images with tons of dots, and look at more sparsely used yet directional dots.

On this vessel by Kate Tracton, there are only a handful of dots, but they are the primary element used throughout the various sections of this piece, and they have a lot of interesting things going on.


The ones on the side are what catch you eye first. They are dominant because of the contrast of the dark dots against the light body of the pot, but also because they are lined up in a very particular way–dots going from smaller to larger up the side of the vessel create a feeling of movement. Our eyes will always want to follow well-defined lines; and with the change in size, our eyes will follow the line in one direction–either downward as we see the hierarchy of size as a kind of arrow, or up because we see the change in size as growth. Some people might find their eye going both up and down the lines. But because the dots are repeated on the lid in several variations, as soon as we break out from the lines of dots, we’ll look at the intricacy of the lid. This kind of composition will usually have us spending some time with a piece like this which, of course, would make it an enjoyable piece to view.


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