Memories for a Lifetime


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I know I showed you a bit of the sample “Into the Forest” installation last week, but I didn’t get in this mosaic created by Julie Eakes for the exhibition that will be installed in November. I think Julie gets the prize for the most intense and biggest piece to go into the installation. I uploaded a fairly large image of this so if you click on the photo, it should open up in a browser window and you can zoom in to see all the individual canes that make up the idyllic scene.

I wish you could zoom in on the screens you see here in the main assembly room as Ellen Prophater presented her talk on mokume gane. Oh, the secrets and the great tips and tricks she gave away during this talk! This kind of thing was happening all over and made the price of this event well worth it on that basis alone. The friendships and conversations, however, they make it priceless.

If you didn’t get to make Synergy and haven’t been to any major events lately or ever, keep them in mind. Save up your pennies and plan to get that time off from work for the next big event you can possibly work into your schedule. They are each an experience you’ll keep with you all life long.


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The Past Comes to My Door

SSmolka blogSome days, I just can’t believe how insanely lucky I am to be doing what I do. A few days ago I was blessed with these gifts from Germany. These are not just any gifts. If you read the Muse’s Corner article by Anke Humpert in the Winter 2015 issue of The Polymer Arts, or read the blog post about Sigrid Smolka last November, then you know some of this story.

Anke brought to our attention what must be the very first book of polymer techniques, written in 1974, and I was ever so thrilled that we were able to share Sigrid’s story. But now, I get to actually hold the book in my hands. I am so thrilled and have been just bursting with the implications of what I have so I just had to share.

Sigrid contacted me a couple of months ago and said she wanted to send me her book and a few other things. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I thanked her profusely and patiently waited. Poor Sigrid has been having intermittent health issues so she was not able to get them off right away and eventually employed her friend Theresa to pack the intended items up for me.

Well, not only did she send the polymer book but also her book on air dry clay techniques and three of her polymer pieces from her years creating in the medium. And … she also sent prints and cards with her more recent computer paintings. Note the print on the left has a March 2016 date. Even with her ups and downs these days, she is still creating and sharing her art. I am amazed by this woman.

Since it seems too selfish to keep these to myself, I will be bringing the book and her polymer pieces with me to Eurosynergy in Bordeaux to share. I assume many people in the community are like me and would be thrilled to see pieces of our past in person. That is also why I sent Ellen Prophater and Sue Sutherland at Creative Journeys Sigrid’s contact information, so hopefully her work can be included in their amazing retrospective collection. It just wouldn’t seem complete without this earliest pioneer included.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Can you recall a piece or an artist from when you started in your present medium that greatly influenced your work? Can you recall what it was about their work that inspired you so greatly? Take that inspiring element or your sense of the artist’s work and design or create a piece that pays homage or utilizes what you got from them without copying anything they did.


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Hidden Patterns in the Newly Released Winter 2015 Issue – Hidden

lehocky Propaher heart pinThe Winter issue of The Polymer Arts was released yesterday, to much fanfare and much relief from myself and the crew. Thank you so much for the many kind comments and compliments  you’ve already sent in. It’s always great to know we’ve done well for you. Digital access was sent to everyone who subscribed or pre-ordered prior to yesterday and all the print issues are in the mail or will be as of this afternoon.

If you don’t see the digital issue you expected in your inbox, check your spam folder, and if it’s not there, write Kat at and she will look into it.  If you don’t have your copy ordered or an active subscription you can do so on our website here.

I was so thrilled to have the genius of Ellen Prophater in this issue. She doesn’t post her work online, which I keep forgetting, but I’ve had the fortune of getting to see a lot of her work, both finished and in progress, at Creative Journey Studios and at events we’ve both attended, so it feels familiar to me. I thought I’d share a little Ellen that I own today while we wrap up things over here.

This is Ellen’s mokume, but it’s a Ron Lehocky heart pin (like you couldn’t guess that!) and the only reason it’s available is because it happens to be in my collection, a kindly gift from Ron. This is an example of my favorite of Ellen’s mokume methods where she uses embossing powder to create a beautiful granite-like look. She has so, so many methods and combinations for mokume, though. And we are such lucky kids that she shared nearly two dozen of her ideas in the Variations in Mokume article in the new issue. It’s not a step-by-step, but after the three sections that precede it – important secrets to great mokume, a very detailed tutorial by Angela Barenholtz on creating contour line mokume (sometimes referred to as impression mokume), and the new wild and twisted mokume Anke Humpert created a tutorial for – you’ll pretty much be ready to venture out on your own and try Ellen’s methods by recipe.

If you aren’t familiar with Ellen’s biggest creation, Creative Journey Studios, which she runs with the very kindly Sue Sutherland, do go over and take a look at all they do and have for you. They are a polymer supplier, but they also have one of the largest retail collections of filigree findings, and they are an absolute must as a place to visit on any polymer person’s bucket list as the studios house the most extensive retrospective collection of polymer art in the world. It’s amazing. If you are ever anywhere near Buford, Georgia (just north of Atlanta), you have to go there. It will knock your socks off. Or, you can make it a destination … they also do workshops all year long with some of the biggest names in the community, so take a look at their schedule and start planning!


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Outside Influence: Ideas from Lampwork

I have meet numerous polymer artist who also work, or have worked, in glass.  There are similar approaches to designing beads in lampwork so it’s no surprise that there are ways that this bead below could inspire polymer bead makers.


This is a bead from Jennifer Cameron’s Nightmare Insomnia series. I suspect from the name that these are the result of those late night forays into the studio when new ideas grab you and don’t let you sleep. I think many of us have been there! But beside the commiserating, the inspiration of the components here are something to ponder.

First of all, the bead caps are wonderfully fun. Rather than just cover the end of the bead, Jennifer extends the bead caps into the body of the bead making it an integral part of the design. This would be a simple addition to a polymer bead design with all kinds of variations to explore. Then there is the wire mesh inclusion. It’s a large inclusion but who says inclusions need to be small and scattered? We have liquid polymer and translucents that could show off all kinds of larger non-polymer additions below the surface.

And a side note … I visited Creative Journey Studios in Buford, Georgia this week and had a wonderful lunch and visit with Ellen Prophater and Sue Sutherland. I wish I could have stayed long enough to take Christi Friesen’s workshops there this weekend. If you are close enough, do consider attending. The studio space you get to work in is an inspriation in and of itself with a huge retrospective gallery of polymer from nearly all the masters and innovators of our community. That is worth the drive down alone! Check it out here.

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