The Pattern of Nature

Sburroughs branches necklace 430x418 - The Pattern of NatureIt’s been freezing or wet or muddy or blistering hot this last week, depending on where you are in the world, but the crazy weather does not stop us from getting out and seeking inspiration in nature. Well, maybe for a day or so here and there. Nature’s patterns are the most beautiful and amazing visual and tactile textures that will ever be created and regardless of the crazy weather, they seem to be on the mind of many artists lately. So here is a week of pieces translating patterns we find in nature.

This necklace really caught my eye because it is not a version of nature’s beautifully organized or symmetrical patterns we are so often in awe of but rather it’s the chaotic fractal pattern of weather-dependent growth in the form of tree branches. The reaching arms of tree branches are a history of the climate, too complex to decipher but I think we recognize the intentional rhythm of this chaotic order nonetheless.

I can only assume that instinctual recognition was at least, in part, behind Samantha Burroughs‘ choice of pattern here. Because even though the pattern doesn’t repeat, it does look intentional while remaining natural. She does add a bit of her own organization with the consistently angled wider branches, adding a regular beat on top of the beautiful chaos. The variation in the browns also adds variety but within that limited, natural range of color.

Natural patterns are dominant in Samantha’s work as you can see in her Etsy shop. Her pieces are sold under the moniker Jessama which is a mash of her name, her sister Jessica’s and ma for her mom, as the running of the business is a collaboration between all three although Samantha is the artistic powerhouse behind the designs. She offers tutorials, technique advice, and other information through her website Jessama Tutorials.

Some Like it Rough

blanka prochazkova vintage souprava 430x285 - Some Like it RoughWhat is the attraction to texture that so many of us have? We have such a penchant for it that we find beauty in the cracked and rusted, in the uneven and worn, and generally in all that is breaking down and rough. I personally think it has something to do with our attachment to the past, to history, and to the stories these things would tell if they had actually gone through all that their condition represents.

I am a huge fan of this kind of time-worn texture and noticed that my boards and notes are filled with this kind of work right now so I’m sharing these little beauties with you. Yes, beautifully rough stuff.

This set is by Blanka Procházková. The old wood look and antiqued patterns make for a lovely vintage look with the colors still quite bright in spots and the patterns crisp but carrying a warm aged patina over it all.  The scratched surface, although probably created as faux wood, has the creator’s hand evident in the rough way it was scratched out which, along with the imperfect shapes, adds to the feel of age, primarily because nothing in the clay could be mistaken for machine-made.

A lot of these rough and organic explorations have been showing up in Blanka’s work recently, her hand quite evident and delightfully so. It’s not that she hasn’t edged this way before but there is a kind of evident freedom in her latest pieces which is lovely to see. See for yourself on her Flickr photostream.

Post note: The wood look technique was one Blanka learned from Veronica Sturdy. See the original inspiration on Veronika’s Flickr photostream.


Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners.

Neverknead 052217 - Some Like it Rough   The Great Create Sept 15 blog   businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front   Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog


Going with the Grain

Rather than another example of great faux wood effects (and there are many more!), I spent time digging up some faux wood tutorials because maybe you want to try your hand at a bit of this. I have three here for you; all have their merits and offer a slightly different approach and outcome.
clause wood tut you tubeIf you like it quick and breezy, check out this YouTube video by Italian clayer Claudia aka Polymer Claus. I like the break up of the clay that occurs in spots due to the paint mixed in with it. However, I would be itching to go at it with a needle tool to put some dimensional lines into the raw clay or with a bit of a wire brush attack after it came out of the oven. That would give it a bit more of a worn wood look, but also a very realistic look as the grain would be tactile and not just visual. But that’s me!

woodgrain eyes


For those of you who would like a more distinct grain pattern or believe you’d prefer taking a caning approach, try this photo tutorial created by a French clayer that goes by CilooMina on Flickr. This fairly traditional approach creates bold wood grain with eyes and just a little distortion for a realistic effect.


Peraud faux wood

And for the perfectionist that we all love and admire out there, Sylive Peraud has a very thorough class on Faux wood on Craft Art Edu. Sylvie is a meticulous artist and a meticulous teacher. Although I have not had the pleasure of trying out this online class, I have had a live class with her and her workmanship and tips are amazing.


So let’s get woodsy this weekend. We did just have the first day of fall so season appropriate organic polymer creations do seem in order!


Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog - Going with the Grain  The Great Create Sept 15 blog - Going with the Grain  PCW Sept 15 - Going with the Grain 

 never knead july 2015c 125 - Going with the Grain  TPA_McGuire_blog ad  Print

Wooden Canes and Turquoise Veins

Cara-Jane-Polymer-Clay-Faux-Turquoise-Ring-Polymania-2016-wmI was going to focus on mixed media this week, but I have run into a plethora of fabulous faux wood work, so I can’t resist showing some more. Where is this coming from? Is someone out there teaching a class or sharing a tutorial that I missed? Well, for whatever the reason, the trend has brought us some truly lovely faux wood like we’ve rarely seen before.

This ring by the ever-exploring Cara Jane Hayman just knocked my socks off. What a wonderful mahogany and inlaid look she achieved here. It’s dramatically paired with an almost graphical looking faux turquoise filled with a bold spiderweb veining. It’s terrifically real looking but aside from the impressive faux work, the pairing of visual textures in an uncomplicated form highlighted with a meticulous finish makes for a beautiful piece.

If you happen to be in the UK next year around, say, March 18th-20th, you absolutely will need to go to Polymania 2016 where Cara Jane will be teaching this ring as a workshop. You will also be able to take workshops with Claire Wallis, Bettina Welker and Donna Kato at this 3-day event. Check your calendars and get more information on this event and the skinny on this ring on Cara Jane’s website.

Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog - Wooden Canes and Turquoise Veins  The Great Create Sept 15 blog - Wooden Canes and Turquoise Veins  PCW Sept 15 - Wooden Canes and Turquoise Veins 

 never knead july 2015c 125 - Wooden Canes and Turquoise Veins  TPA_McGuire_blog ad  Print

A Bit of a Faux Mix

Sonya GirodonI’ve had mixed media on my mind a lot lately, so my more recent perusals online and within my collection of links have included quite a bit of polymer work integrating other mediums. Using other mediums with polymer or integrating polymer into work primarily of other mediums rather helps the work transcend its narrow category based on the material used, and it helps us as artists stretch our skill and creativity.

If you haven’t done a lot of exploring in mixed media but would like to ‘dip a toe it’, one of the easiest ways is to create connections and jewelry hanging elements with wire, metal or fiber. I have been admiring Sonya Girodon’s interesting polymer and metal pieces the last several months as she has rolled out her new work. This is really only metal and polymer. That wood you see is faux, and some gorgeously done faux wood at that! She uses ball headed rivets to hold it together (see our article in the Summer 2015 issue on how to created riveted polymer jewelry pieces), and then repeats that subtle accent with ball ended wire that comes bounding out of the polymer constructions. The ball motif is echoed in the repeated circles in the textured polymer. It’s quite a beautiful mix of materials, or what looks like a mix of several materials with a joyous little bounce from all the repeated round accents.

The metal work done here is not so very difficult and would require just a few tools you likely already have. Books on simple metal construction jewelry, mixed media and local classes on metalsmithing jewelry can get you a start down that road if you find yourself intrigued.

You can see more of Sonya’s fabulous faux wood and mixed media pieces on her Flickr photostream.


Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog - A Bit of a Faux Mix  The Great Create Sept 15 blog - A Bit of a Faux Mix  PCW Sept 15 - A Bit of a Faux Mix 

 never knead july 2015c 125 - A Bit of a Faux Mix  TPA_McGuire_blog ad  Print


Pushing Faux Organics

13809621515_68f2694fba_oAnother article in the fall issue that could have had a lot more examples in it if we had the room was about playing with faux techniques. The ideas outlined in the article are about emulating something that you find in nature, but adjusting characteristics to create something that doesn’t exist. A number of fantastic artists contributed their versions of this with examples.

Page McNall contributed an example of faux wood. A small faux log to be exact, but that is hardly the end of her beyond-natural faux examples. She is definitely one of those exploratory artists I often talk about, never really settling into one form or style, but does gorgeous work in her variety of approaches. One of her newer explorations that I just love and would have liked to have included are these this faux semi-translucent organics. This is really pushing the idea of natural faux polymer. The pieces look like they could be something in nature, but I’m pretty sure there is nothing quite like the majority of these.

To get a better view of the individual pieces here, as well as her rather fascinating work, visit her Flickr page. And for more ideas on how to play with and push faux techniques, well, see the latest issue of The Polymer Arts!


If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

14-P3 Fall-Play cover Full sm   Blog2 -2014-02Feb-2   3d star ad  Polymania Advert 125  tpa-125x125-blog

Faux Burl Bangles

I’ve been working full bore on the next issue of The Polymer Arts which is themed “Shimmer & Shine”. How to properly balance glitz for a sophisticated and beautiful piece and avoid having it just look garish is one of the issues we have when working with bright and shiny bits.

One of the things that can make glitz successful is to present it with a neutral or subdued surface. Here Liz Hall uses a peek-a-boo approach with beautiful iridescence showing through the holes of a faux burl wood overlay. This makes the brillant shimmer of colors a surprise and treat at each point that it shows through.


Liz Hall works with a lot of iridescence and gems and all very tastefully done. You can ogle many more of her gorgeous pieces on her Flickr page.


%d bloggers like this: