Organic Waves

kathy mccurry 430x620 - Organic WavesWith all the hot weather we’ve been having lately, I’ve been staying in my cool home a lot more than usual. Missing my time wandering around the property looking at all the cool and unusual plants, I found myself drawn to our organic brethren in polymer as I rummaged through images online and gathered a bouquet of curious and cool pieces that should pique the interest of many a nature lover.

Here we have quite a fantastical interpretation of nature’s forms, colors, and textures. The waves atop the petals would certainly make one want to reach out and run fingers across it, then down through the hanging strings as well. The combination of the old standard primaries is an interesting color palette choice. It gives it a carnival feel. That and the directional lines from the wavy texture and the yellow strings makes this feels like it is on the edge of some riotous dancing.

This is just one of several recent works by Kathy McCurry where she creates her own version of flowers. This looks to be the most ambitious piece so far, taking 40 hours and 8 curing sessions in the oven. As hard as these kinds of pieces can be to create, I think it’s just wonderful when an artist takes a risk, investing so much time in one piece. But what a reward we have in store for us when we spend a lot of time on one piece and have something so wonderful to show for it at the end.

You can see images of her recent work on Kathy’s Facebook page and on her website.

 

 

 

 

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Floral Lines

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Today, I thought we’d just admire the easy way that flowers can be used, like any singular element, as a way to create lines. Lines define and give direction, as well as creating energy by creating visual movement. An arrangement of many small flowers will create those lines just as would a series of beads, crystals, hand tool marks, etc. So instead of bunching flower motifs into, well, a bunch, consider how you can create lines with them to convey the kind of calm or energy you are after in the piece you are making.

Here is a beautiful set of champagne bottles created by Anastaisa of Art-Kisto4ka on Livemaster.ru.  I love the way the line of flowers twist back and forth on the first two bottles giving the compositions a flowing energy, which is further picked up and added to by the lines of pearly dots shooting off in little swirls. I included one that outlined a heart as well simply to show how the flowers can create a grounded line that easily defines a shape.

Anastasia makes the most realistic looking flowers. I have to look around to ensure they weren’t real and preserved flowers. The ones on the bottles are excellent, but it’s her larger flowers that will really blow you away. You can see more of her finished work in her shop and on her blog. She also sells her flowers as components in her supply shop on LiveMaster.

 

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Snip, Snip

There is more than one way to cut into polymer! Yesterday we looked at cutting in to reveal many layers in extruded beads, but here we have a simple yet brilliant technique that requires cutting in with scissors, but not actually cutting away and removing clay as the other examples this week have shown. Here is the snipping portion of this technique by Kazakhstan’s Budanceva Marina (also known as Aquamalinka).

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And here is an example of one of her finished pieces using the elements it creates. Wonderfully realistic clover flowers, aren’t they?

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Although this technique  is specific to creating these flowers, there is no reason why taking scissors to polymer in this manner must stop here. It’s a great texture that can be added as half dome accents, and if you snipped a little longer across the surface you could have small lengths of clay curling back on itself. I wish I had time to do some exploration and show you some possible ideas, but this week, I leave that to those of you who are inspired by this idea.

Go explore more of Budanceva’s predominantly floral work on her Livemaster shop page.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers. I personally am very thankful for having such kind and enthusiastic readers who have allowed me to make publishing and polymer a focus in my life. Now, off to enjoy family while trying not to do myself in with too much turkey and pie.

A Weekend of Collaboration

I thought today I would just talk a little bit about what I was doing this weekend (besides running about trying to find an internet connection). And besides, my group built a piece off of what was basically a glass box, so it fits the theme!

The polymer retreat at the Mammoth Cave National Park was really different in that the whole weekend was collaborative. The attendees were split into six groups, each creating a collaborative piece based on an organic theme. Most of the people here have not done anything like this–collaborating with 4 or 5 other people and creating something that represented them all in a matter of 3 days. There was a lot of fretting at the beginning, but all the projects turned out great.

There is really something special about collaborating. You are forced to relinquish control over the end result, which can be scary, frustrating, or freeing depending on the kind of person you are, but in the end, it’s quite exhilarating because what is created could never have been conceived and produced by you alone.

You also find yourself trying things you wouldn’t usually do. I know Ron Lehocky, known for his perfectly finished cane covered heart pins, had to let go and allow the work to be rough and less controlled to create moss and the bark of a tree. He even ended up making the impression of flowers on the side of our cave sculpture rather than actual flowers.

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Created by Ron Lehocky, Iris Weiss, Anita Kennerley, Ellen Prophater, Amy Nemon, and Sage Bray.

 

If you have never collaborated with another artist, I highly recommend trying it. You can discover so much about yourself and will probably have your ideas pushed in directions you never imagined. This is especially good for times when you are feeling stuck or feel like you’re getting into a rut. And if not that, at least get out and join a group of artists at a guild meeting or class so you have the chance to exchange ideas and get input on your work. It’s so amazing and invigorating.

Building out the Box

With my connection (and faith) in the internet restored, we will resume chatting about boxes and ways to expand on the popular form.

For our weekend peek at lidded containers, I saved a piece by Kim Detmers. The concept here simply stretches the way that you can use your ‘canvas’. Even though a canvas is a flat space to begin with, that doesn’t mean you need to create your work based on that kind of two-dimensional space. Consider possible ways to build up, build out, and work into the space around the vessel, not just the ‘real estate’ that is the surface of the vessel. Kim builds up on the lid, and out into the space above the container. She has also made the lid the unmistakable focal point, which is a bit unusual since it would seem that the tendency is to make the lid an accent or compliment to the body of the box. In fact, with the lid on, it may not look like a container at first, but rather more of a sculpture. And in essence, what should an artistically formed box meant for a bit more than function be but a sculpture?

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I know the concept of building into space, considering design and composition in terms of the form, and then using the space around it can sometimes be daunting to ponder. But it is great fun and quite visually impressive when something as simple as a box has been grown into a sculpture that lives in the space around the container, not just on its surface.

If you want a little more information on how to use the space surrounding your pieces, check out the article “Create With Space” in the very popular Spring 2012 issue of The Polymer Arts about this very subject. (Said issue which is just about sold out in the print format, so if you want this or the Summer 2012 issue, you might want to order them soon before we run out.)

And if you like Kim’s work, take a look at her engaging blog and her Etsy shop.

A Little Sunday Sugar

Instead of a quote this Sunday, how about a free tutorial instead? No objections out there? I thought not. First let me introduce you to the collection from which this free tutorial has been plucked, and then at the end here we’ll get to the freebie as well as news about deep discounts on The Polymer Arts magazine.

Have you ever wondered if sugar and clay mix? Well, perhaps you haven’t yet–but Iris Mishly, polymer artist and instructor extraordinaire, certainly did. That question led to her mixing talents with Sharon Peled, a master cake decorator and sugar flower artist; together they created “The Flower Academy,” a full scale polymer clay encyclopedia and tutorial.

This is not your average tutorial–it’s actually a collection covering 26 types of flowers with 29 videos and 325 pages of step-by-step instructions to help you along. The collection features more than 40 final projects including jewelry, head bands, hair pins, table centerpieces, bridal bouquets, and more. They have included some rather innovative techniques that will help you create polymer clay flowers and foliage with a very striking, lifelike appearance, like these here:

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My favorites are actually the tulips and they have some wonderful designs for men’s lapel pieces. But you’ll have to get the tutorial to see them.

The Freebie!

As promised though, Iris has set aside a free tutorial as a sample of what is in the collection. With the holidays fast approaching, the ladies thought a bit of Mistletoe creating would be in order. To get this free mistletoe tutorial and more information on the Flower Academy collection, go to Iris’s Polypedia website.

The Sale!

And if you have been looking to get the couple of issues you’ve missed of The Polymer Arts magazine, or get digital but have often thought it would be nice to have your favorite issues (or all of them!) in print, right now we are having a HUGE Print Back Issue Sale!

All back issue Singles & Packages are discounted, only through Tuesday!

 SINGLE ISSUES:

$3 off 2011 Back Issues

$2 off 2012 Back Issues

$1 off 2013 Back Issues

PACKAGE SPECIALS:

PSST! Biggest discounts EVER on International Packages

Last 4 Issues Package (Winter ’12, Spring ’13, Summer ’13, & Fall ’13) Save up to $11 on this package.

All 8 Back Issues Package (Everything from Fall 2011 – Summer 2013) Save up to $32 on this package!

Just go to the website to get your back issues at the best discounted price we’ve ever offered!

 

 

A Variety of Elements

With some work, I am drawn in simply by the way a variety of elements are put together. In this piece, Carmen Moreno Pérez uses impressions, inlay, a bit of polymer embroidery, tendrils, and nicely integrated wire work.

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Although I do like the less complicated patches of color made by the stylized tulips, the tulips themselves seem a bit out of place as all other floral elements aim to be more literal representations. A simple form like circles might have done nicely to break up the complexity without moving away from the floral pattern. But other than that, I think it all comes together quite well.

If Carmen’s Flickr photostream is representative of her time working with polymer, than she has only been creating with it for a matter of months, maybe half a year–which makes this piece all the more impressive. She is not, however, new to jewelry making. The majority of her work is beading and wire wrapping with some beautifully composed results. Take a few moments to look at her photostream. It can be rather fun and fascinating to see the progression of an artist’s growth, especially when expanding into new materials.

 

 

Extravagant Leafy Florals

You know, it seems like I post  a lot of floral, especially considering I’m not a floral kind of gal. Still, it’s hard not to appreciate the intricacy and cleverness of our community’s floral fanatics, so I do find myself pinning quite a few florals, although I also tend towards the leafy, spiky, and (surprise!) tendril infused versions.

This set by Yuliya Galuschak is a great example of what I really admire in the floral vein. However, if you look closely, there aren’t really any flowers here, at least none that I am familiar with. The floral like forms are actually leaves layered in a floral manner. They come to delicate curled points and are surrounded by wire tendrils. The pieces have all this in addition to a ton of beautiful beading and bead accents (and an obvious ton of patience).

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These pieces are probably pushing the boundary of garish, but they are so tastefully composed and limited in palette (just purples, reds, and gold) while still feeling quite colorful. The dense beading is relegated to the strand from which everything on the necklace is hung, and the bead accents look purposeful and well-chosen.

If you like this, you will really enjoy perusing Yuliya’s other tastefully extravagant pieces on her Flickr site, many of which are true florals but with a smattering of other themes, including berries, aquatics, and even abstract imagery.

 

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Floral in Fall

Working up a Fall product line doesn’t mean leaving your floral tendencies behind; the fashion designers certainly aren’t this coming year. From all I’ve read about upcoming trends, pattern in general will be a big focus and flowers, especially wispy wildflowers, daisies, and even dandelions, look to be the “in”thing. So how would you change things up from your Spring or Summer collection of blossoms?

Color will be primary in changing up for a Fall look. Although the Pantone palette for Fall has some rather bright colors, they are not pure colors or pastel. The Samba red and the Koi orange are both deeper and a step or two off their color origin, and the lighter colors are neutral more than anything; the Linden Green comes awfully close to being a kahki, and the Deep Lichen Green is more a cool gray than a green. So, can your flowers still be beautifully ornamental if toned down from their summer brilliance or if created in neutral colors? Of course!

Eva Thissen does neutral floral with a very delicate and controlled application of lines, small shapes, and contrast in color. In this case, we have a rich red heavily contrasting a neutral green (pretty much that Samba red and Linden green in the Pantone palette) with subdued blue, cream, pink, and brown flowers accenting the scene. Feminine, fetching, and definitely floral, there is the reserve and the richness associated with Fall, although I would be putting this in my jewelry rotation year round.

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Part of Eva’s distinction as a polymer artist is in her color choices. Although she is far from the only one to work heavily in the polymer embroidery technique, I find I easily recognize her work due to her color choices, not to mention the precision of application with those tiny bits of polymer and her penchant for story-like scenes. Enjoy perusing her Flickr pages and her enchanting pieces for a bit today.

 

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