Celine Crushes It

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Another artist with a bunch of new images posted recently on Flickr is  Celine Charuau. Her alien-like plant forms an interesting combination of materials and forms have taken on a sparkly and crumbled texture, maybe from crushed shells. I’ve seen a similar product used in acrylic nail art although she doesn’t list that.

Here she balances the texture polymer forms with steel leaves. Although the beads are more dimensional, I like the echo of the leaf shapes with the pod shapes. They are basically the same shapes but contrast in dimensionality and texture. It is also the quieter of the pieces she created with this intriguing new texture.

You can see the rest of this collection to date on her Flickr photostream.

The Many Faces of Glass Beads

glass beads 4 430x443 - The Many Faces of Glass BeadsTo round out this week’s quick focus on beads, I thought I’d share focal beads in another medium that is very well-known for them–glass.

Glass artists have some very particular and, literally, inflexible limitations and yet they create these extremely intricate and amazing beads. They do get to work with super clear transparency–a characteristic of their medium that they use to great advantage–which is something that is difficult to achieve in polymer, but their forms and patterns are something that, I think, could be a gold mine of inspiration and a jumping off point for ideas in polymer that go beyond the basic and common beads seen in polymer.

Here are just four examples of the intricacy and beauty in glass bead making today. Starting from top left is a bead created by Leah Nietz, top right is Lisa Fletcher, bottom left is Andrea Guarino, and bottom right is Ikuyo Yamanaka. You can click on each artist’s name to reach their shop or website to look further into what they create. You can also immerse yourself in glass focal beads by putting that very phrase into a Pinterest, Google Images, Etsy, Flickr, or even Instagram.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Choose your favorite image posting service, such as those just listed above, and enjoy the art and inspiration that comes up when you search for “focal beads”. Choose a couple of images and try to determine what you like best about the bead or beads and then figure out how to recreate those characteristics in polymer. Hopefully that leads you to some original and very fulfilling polymer bead explorations.

 

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Spring Issue Has Sprung!

collage 17P1 v1Ta da! The first issue of 2017 is coming out today (scheduled for 11am PST) and, I know I am usually extremely enthusiastic about every issue but this one has so many wildly passionate artists sharing their process and their secrets. It is really heart-warming how much these people share. There are also a lot of cool techniques and new forms to learn, not to mention a few different ways to get and stay inspired in your own creative polymer endeavors. We really hope you like it!

If you are a digital subscriber, look for it in your inbox (or check your junkmail/spam folder if it’s not there) or, if you have a print copy coming to you, they were shipped out yesterday.

If you don’t have your copy on order yet, head over to the website and get yours now. www.thepolymerarts.com

Now I am going to go play with clay. That’s how I relax after a new issue goes out! How about you?

Weekly Inspirational Challenge: Let’s make this weekend simple. Create something in a familiar, easy and uncomplicated design and set of techniques. See what design choices come to you instinctively and just enjoy the process!

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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.

Outside Inspiration: Is it a Necklace?

I had a great conversation this past week with the wonderful Mitchell sisters. We are, all three of us, very big on function. Just because something can’t funtion as the object it was created as doesn’t mean it’s not art. But if it can’t function as the type of object it is labeled as, should it actually be categorized as such?

For example, look at this ‘necklace’ … it’s huge! I don’t see it being worn comfortably or well for any length of time. So is it a necklace? Some people will say yes–it fits over the head and rests on the neck and shoulders. But what is a necklace for? It is to adorn the wearer, right? But what if no one will wear it long enough to say the person was even adorned with it? If something doesn’t really fit its function, I am for simply calling it art, usually sculptural art since sculpture doesn’t have a particular function. But if not, do we call if a failure for not fulfilling its function? I don’t know if we should go so far as to say it’s failed. let’s reserve that bit of labeling for things like bad toupees and monstrous high heels.

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I am certainly not saying this piece is a failure or not worthy of our consideration. I saved it for a reason. I like the careful consideration of every plane on this piece–the sides, top, bottom, and insides are all colored and coordinated through their saturation. And the artist, Marjorie Schick, recognizes that her work pushes the boundaries of what can be called functional. A book collection of her work was titled “Sculpture to Wear” rather than something about art jewelry or sculptural jewelry. The work is acknowledged as sculpture first, and so we can say it fulfills its primary intended ‘function’–as art to be viewed without undue expectation about how it will operate and survive as anything beyond that.

But this brings us to a notable point about our work. If you are making something that is expected to perform a particular function, it should be able to fulfill the role–it should be able to hang, stand, or move as needed, it will not come apart when used with reasonable care, it won’t harm people when it is worn or displayed, etc. Looking good is, of course, important; but if you neglect to consider how it will hold up, how it will be worn or displayed, or whether it will be comfortable enough for the wearer to keep it on for the day or even a few hours, you haven’t made a successful piece, not to mention you’ll probably disappoint someone. Creating functional art means creating the functional aspects as well as the art.

 

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A Week of Curiosities

As I research for the themed blog weeks we have each week, I quite regularly run into pieces that I would like to feature at some point because I find them surprising and unexpected, but which haven’t yet fit into any themes. So this week, I’d like to show you some of these curious and spectacular polymer pieces. These will not be typical work and may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they are all a testament to the creative and wide-ranging aesthetic that polymer draws.

Pernille Moesgaard only recently graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, but she is already doing gallery-level fine art in polymer. Her sculptural pieces are a little wild, and are much more symbolic and conceptual than representational, but you can still see the influences of actual natural forms in her work.

This piece seemed the most accessible, which is why I am featuring it first. This is all polymer clay. The detail and amount of work that must have gone into creating the texture and features is quite incredible (this piece is about 35cm/14″ to give you an idea of scale). Believe it or not, it’s one of her more simplistic pieces, if you can even use that word.

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The consistent elements in Pernille’s pieces are texture, repetition, and a gradation of color. She seems to have worked these out quite well. Her forms I have had a harder time with, being that they are often uncomfortably balanced, although I do get the sense that the discomfort was intentional. Nonetheless, they are forms that I want to keep investigating, meaning that they work on a level of curiosity, which speaks to them having some success as a whole.

Here is a collection of her work at a show earlier this year at Gallery Pi in Denmark. are some truly unexpected forms here.

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What do you think of this kind of work? Does it speak to you? Would you consider doing something so out of the ordinary? It certainly shows some of the potential for polymer, and the many textures could be used on any other kind of work, even if sculpture isn’t your thing.

 

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Movement in Form

Although I didn’t emphasize this, yesterday’s glass artist was big on form as a means of expression, and the sense of movement she conveys is rather dependent on the forms she chooses. I find this to be true with polymer artist Jana Roberts Benzon as well. She creates a sense of flowing, staccato, or ebbing visual movement by building forms that change through the space they occupy in undulating or precise steps

Jana is well known for her laser cut technique, which can create an enthralling texture as well as a visually active form. Her pendant, Zorro, shows how the laser cut texture is used to create change across the surface of the piece, giving it a lot of energy. The technique also allows her to create a very active form, building the zig-zag through the shifting of slices already needed to create the texture.

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It doesn’t hurt that there is also a progressive change in the dominance of colors from the top to the bottom. Any kind of gradual change will relay movement because that is what movement is perceived as: a series of related changes.

Enjoy more of Jana’s moving work on both her website and her Flickr pages.

 

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Focusing on the Floral Form

When we think floral, we tend to think of colorful arrangements. But a large part of the beauty of flowers and all types of nature’s decorative plants is the form they take–the slim stems, the folding leaves, the delicate thinness of a flower petal. Even colorless, they would be beautiful.

These lotus flower interpretations by Zuzana Liptáková of the Slovak Republic have such an elegant complexity to them, with a focus almost wholly on  form. I think holding back on the colors is exactly what was needed here to show off the carefully crafted, folded, and layered petals.

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When it comes to flowers, going a little wild with the color is a natural inclination, and rightly so; but sometimes, pulling back will allow us to further appreciate the beauty in the other characteristics of Mother Nature’s masterpieces.

Building Uniquely on a Form

I considered moving on to rings today but since we covered that subject so thoroughly in The Polymer Arts Winter 2012 issue (and so many of you are subscribers), I thought we ought to move on to another kind of construction consideration … home decor! This most commonly involves covering objects–vases, bottles, boxes, switchplates, clock faces, etc. Our inclination is to cover the object, keeping within the boundaries and following the shape of the form we’re covering. But why? We work with a material that can create a myriad of visual effects and be built into almost any form we can imagine. Why would we let a pre-formed object dictate so much of what we do with it?

Ariane Freisleben doesn’t actually say she covered an object in the piece below but it certainly looks like it and it beautifully demonstrates the idea of moving beyond a standard shape.

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This was created using techniques Ariane learned in a Jeffery Lloyd Dever workshop (but no pods here!) which could have been executed by layering the clay flat on a standard bottle shape. Instead she plays with the edges building them outwards and twisting them away and beyond from the expectation of  straight vertical lines that would have stopped before the neck of the vase. The result is a much more dynamic object with curves in the form that reflect the playful lines decorating the surface of the clay.

If you missed the switchplate we showcased a week ago, that is also another example of breaking out of the boundaries of an object. If you cover objects, have you ever pushed beyond the boundaries of the form and shape?

If you haven’t played with covering objects or would like to learn more including some suggestions for some more unusual objects to cover, don’t miss the covered objects article in the upcoming Summer issue of The Polymer Arts due out second half of May.

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