Finding Enlightenment

chulily chandelier 319x450 - Finding Enlightenmentchulily chandelier detail 350x450 - Finding EnlightenmentWhile in San Diego a couple weeks ago, I finally made it to the Mingei Museum which exhibits folk art, craft and design. The news of Mingei’s purchase of a number of polymer pieces a handful of years back was how I first learned about this little museum and I have been hoping to go there ever since. They did not have any polymer works out in the exhibitions when I was there but upon ascending the staircase to the upper floor, I was stopped in my tracks by a very unusual chandelier above me.

For those of you who have made it to one of the Chihuly installations popping up all over the globe these last few years, you may have already recognized the signature glass work of this master artist, Dale Chihuly. This ten-foot-tall, seven-foot-wide chandelier I saw hanging above me was a 2005 creation titled Enlightenment. The wall card for it said it has 498 pieces of clear, cream and gold blown glass.

It looks like the more opaque and colored glass was concentrated at the center so that the clear glass on the ends gives the illusion that the writhing mass is expanding, as if any solidity it has is turning to smoke, which was pretty fascinating to walk around.

The most intriguing thing to me was as beautiful as the glass work: the complex and beautifully textured shadow it cast. Just look at the wall to the right of it in the first image. The detail image shows just how complex the glass work is in each of the pieces that make up the chandelier. The detail image is where I thought some polymer inspiration might come from. A little work with pure translucent clay and veined with some tinted translucent, on a smaller scale of course, could render a similar feel, I’d think. It certainly did get me thinking.

If you have not had a chance to see these wonderful glass works of Chihuly, he certainly does have a lot of pieces installed in various places all over the world. You can see if there is an exhibition of a permanent collection or installation near you by going to his exhibition page.

 

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Found Inspiration

Chris Kapono Goldfish journalSpeaking of found objects and nostalgia (we did a bit of that on Wednesday if you missed it), here is a piece I’ve had in my folder to share for quite some time. It’s an older piece by Chris Kapono and, no, the fish is not made of polymer but rather is cloisonné while the other sea creatures are brass and the big shiny blue baubles are glass. But the rest is polymer.

I don’t know if the fish was something nostalgic for Chris, but this is a wonderful example of letting something you have held onto inspire a beautiful creation. Yes, we may call ourselves polymer artists, but that should never make us feel restricted to working with just polymer. Chris certainly could have made the fish and other items from polymer, but it would give it a different feeling even if the non-polymer objects were really closely replicated.

Yes, polymer can imitate just about anything, but that doesn’t mean it should. If you have another material that will do the job or will do it even better, don’t hesitate. Creating is not about medium loyalty, it’s about expressing yourself. In the best work, the medium almost always is secondary to the image and emotion you create.  Be loyal to your self-expression first, I say.

Inspiration Challenge of the Day: Go to your junk drawer, that box of broken jewelry,  or those tins of bits and bobs filled with things you felt you might use someday, and pull out an object you don’t need or use. Add it to something you haven’t finished yet. If the unfinished work is polymer or another craft medium, find a way to attach and integrate it. If you have an unfinished sketch or painting, you can draw it in. If you have nothing unfinished, take some artistic idea you haven’t explored yet and try to meld it with this object in any manner you please.

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Outside Inspiration: A Twist in Glass

Of course, movement in art can be achieved in any material if worked correctly. Because glass lends itself so nicely to beads, options for creating visual or actual movement in glass artwork is not that different from some of the more common options for polymer.

Joyce Roessler is  master glass artist whose work is heavily entrenched in the concept of movement. Dangles, swirls, twists, flowing lines, gradation of color and multiple joints in her pieces create very active visuals in her work. Her Grey Glass Twist Necklace uses several of these approaches to create a piece that seems almost alive.

1-grey-glass-twist-necklace

 

The twists, varying thickness as they move around each other, create much of the sense of movement; but the lines within them serve to accentuate the turning points, giving the tighter turns a sense of speed. Just look at the calm turn of the lines in the backside beads, then look at the point in the curled beads in front, where the glass curves back or comes forward–can you sense that difference in ‘speed’ visually? Pretty cool, isn’t it?

I would love to see someone wearing this, too. There are multiple joints that, due to the unevenness of the beads, would certainly shift the balance of the beads and the composition of them as the wearer moves. A very active piece indeed.

If you are intrigued by the possibilities of adding movement to your own work, you have to take a moment to look through Joyce’s gallery on her website. Her jewelry and sculpture are gorgeous and a definite source of inspiration for creating movement in art.

 

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