Fuzzy Feelings

chifonie cat and kitten pin 430x563 - Fuzzy FeelingsHappy Valentine’s day to you all! Here is a little Valentines from me to all of you out there who follow and read my babbling posts and keep me going with your kind words and stories.

I don’t know if you realize this, but I only get to do this because of you all, especially those who help me keep the lights on by subscribing or buying The Polymer Arts magazine. I know that not everything in the magazine is for everyone but it is THE reason I am able to spend the time scouring the web and researching the artwork I post here. The blog is wholly a labor of love so if you appreciate this, please consider supporting the magazine and/or our advertising partners you see here as their contributions cover the maintenance and service costs, without which I could not justify doing this.

So, here is a visual image of my love and dedication to all of you. I have always adored Christine Pecaut‘s cats. They always look so happy and adoring, accented with whimsically placed canes and Dustin-inspired translucent slices. But this simple faux ceramic looking pair, momma and baby kitty, just tugs at the heartstrings even if you’re not much of a cat person.  

She actually has a whole gallery of her cats that you can see here. Cats are not, by far, the only thing she creates. Find more of her work in her Etsy shop, on Instagram, and on her blog.

 

Lit from the Inside

lit heart 430x270 - Lit from the InsideHere is a neat little idea for hollow pendants of all kinds and we get to stick with the heart theme started last week as well.

The translator couldn’t decide on the artist’s name but I think it is spelled out as Lena Yolka, a Russian architect who likes to play with whatever she can get her hands on, it seems. And she really likes her Dremel. So after creating the hollow hearts, she thought a few holes would make for great texture, which it does. The crowning touch, though, was adding the tiny LED inside. That certainly makes it eye-catching.

Lena hasn’t had a recent entry in her LiveJournal and I couldn’t find other links to her work but you can admire her holey work and other pieces here until I or someone else dig up more on this creative soul.

Can’t Miss Ron

RLehocky hearts 430x420 - Can't Miss RonNo technique, no cane, no scrap is safe from the creative machinations of Ron Lehocky. And apparently neither is the admiration of so many, many people inside and outside the polymer community. Ron may have a big focus on hearts and creates them in just a few shapes but he never stops exploring what he can do on his little canvases. Dropping in to see what he has created recently is always a treat and an inspiring reminder of how many little things can make a huge difference in so many people’s lives.

If for some reason you are not familiar with Ron’s crusade to help ailing children, he raises funds through the sale of his hearts for a center that aids in the ongoing education of these children’s caregivers and physicians. Here is a video where he explains how this came about as well as how to make these beautiful hearts.

Ron uses canes and mokume blocks kindly donated from artists from all over to quickly create these little masterpieces, occasionally creating his own surface treatments. In the image here, starting with the iris hearts and going clockwise, he used canes from Jayne Dwyer, Jon Stuart Anderson, and Ivy Niles. The last set shows his own surface designs using metallic powders.

If you have some special people you want gifts for this Valentine’s day, Ron’s hearts are ideal. He doesn’t create special orders as much of his work depends on what he’s been sent but any one of them would be lovely to give or own. You can find a list of the places they are sold as well as how to order them by email by going to this link.

If you want to admire his many pieces, the best places to go are his Instagram or Facebook accounts.

Round the Hearts

kate way bullseye heart 430x423 - Round the HeartsAs we approach that heart-filled holiday, I find I have succumbed to collecting related polymer art and polymer hearts. I couldn’t help it this year and I can’t say why. But maybe I’ll get this all in early enough that you can appreciate these unusual hearts and heartfelt pieces before you overdose on it next week.

I am a big fan of polymer artist Katie Way. Her work has a very distinguished style full of color and energy and, as her shop name reveals, bullseye dots, spots, circles and canes.

Just because her preferred motif is round doesn’t stop her from creating all kinds of shapes with her round favorites as building blocks. Like this heart. It is a fantastic metaphor for our hearts in the real world. Love and related emotions are so complex and we love so many different people in so many different ways don’t we? Well, I hope most of us do because that is the real beauty of our connection with the people we love. It’s complex and constantly changing and whirring about inside us. The energy of this piece and the variation of her circles represents this so well.

Enjoy more of Katie’s work by going to her Etsy shop and her Instagram page.

 

Captivating Cookie Collections

Banana Bakery dallas mendhi cookies - Captivating Cookie CollectionsWe don’t often look at food as inspiration on this blog but I am starting to think maybe we should. Just look at these cookies! They are little works of art that I can’t imagine actually eating, or at least there would be great hesitation … at first. I bet they are as delicious as they are beautiful.

This tasty artisan is Frances of the Banana Bakery in Dallas. Texas. With a background is in product design, she had a good basis for developing visually appealing pastries when she started on her baking journey in 2010. Realizing that this was where her real passion lies, she left the world of product design behind and turned to focusing on the thing she loved the most–decorating sugar cookies. Her love of this art is quite apparent and her skill is mind-blowing. It’s not that other people are not doing this kind of thing but from what I’ve seen, her skill and range of application is fairly rare.

As for why this would be a polymer inspiration … I suspect it is obvious how one could create this kind of thing in polymer either with extruded strings or as design inspiration for polymer embroidery. The color combinations are wonderfully joyful and could be a source of color palette ideas.

The sad thing is, you can’t order these shipped to your house, at least not at present. It looks like she keeps exceptionally busy filling orders as it is but if you are in the Dallas area, I’d suggest making a point of seeking out the shop. In the meantime, you’ll just have to drool from a distance with a stop by Frances’ website or Facebook page.

 

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Take a piece or technique that you have recently created or worked with and make at least 5, preferably 10, or more, versions of the piece or technique. Change it up each time in some significant way to see where your muse takes you.

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A Different Kind of Happily Ever After

16260765847_497fb9958b_zSo this is the week I thought I’d try putting up some love stories and some art to go with those stories as a little homage to the upcoming Valentine’s holiday. I’m not a huge Valentine’s day person, more because of the commercialism and pressure it puts on couples but the general sentiment of the holiday … well, I think we should celebrate the love in our lives every day if we can.

I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend about this week’s blog project and was trying to explain the interesting mix of responses I got. I only got a few classic happy tearjerkers but then I got several sad but very loving stories. Half of the people who sent me stories did not not even want them posted. They just wanted to share it with me. My friend offered a couple suggestions as to why this was. She thought a lot of people might not share their story because either they don’t think its that special or because the best love story they had didn’t end with them staying together. So then the question arose, is it a love story if the people involved were no longer in love. “Well,” she said,”we both know a really good story that didn’t end with the couple staying together but its still a great story?” So I’m going to tell that first this week. This is a story about two people we used to know. We changed the names and a few details to protect the innocent  that don’t know we are writing about them.

We chose this heart off Pinterest to go with this story. It is a wonderful little piece by Betty Jo Hndershott and matches another conversation I had this week about simplicity. Simple is actually really hard to do well but this is one such example of a great success with simple things. This very solid faux ceramic heart has inside of it a wrapped up little wire heart. It has a great contrast in color, texture, size and line. When I saw it, I thought, the wire heart is like that fragile little thing inside the big love we all have, the thing we try to protect even though we can’t always keep it from harm.

So here’s the story, as best we can remember.

A Different Kind of Happily Ever After

It was James’ birthday and he was sitting at home alone. He had just moved to town after years of basically being a hermit. He felt misunderstood and had a violent childhood that had left him angry and closed off. But he wanted to change. He got online and posted a simple message on a message board:

“Songwriter/musician, new to town, just would like to have a drink and maybe see a live band with an intelligent pretty girl today because it’s my birthday. I’m smart and funny but I’m not tall or rich. Just an ordinary guy turning 31. Would you come make my night?”

He got a lot of responses like, “Ok, where do you want to meet?” But only one stood out:

“Hey songwriter/musician, new-to-town guy. Just wanted to drop in and wish you a happy birthday in case no one else does. I’m not the one to take you out for a drink though. I’m not ordinary, I’m tall for a girl, 8 years older than you, not a live music fan and I’m not much of a drinker. But know that at least one person out there is thinking of you and wishing you the best!”

James couldn’t resist. He wrote her back. They went back and forth, he giving her a hard time about not wanting to go out with a poor, short, young, ordinary guy and she coming back with funny quips about how he’d hate to hear about her crazy busy life of running charity events and trying to be an artist again. But then she stopped responding. He felt bad. Maybe his jokes went too far. But somehow even just that brief exchange made him feel better.

Valentine’s Day was a few weeks later. He decided he’d try his luck at getting out again. He read through some posts and this caught his eye:

“Anti-valentines Date—I don’t want to go on a Valentine’s date but don’t want to stay at home either. Feeling the same? Propose some wacky night out and let’s spend the night on our own terms.”

He wasn’t against Valentine’s Day but he did hate how society made you feel like some kind of loser not having someone on that day. So he wrote back. A minute late he got this:

“Lol. I don’t think you want to go out with me. You already kicked me to the curb on your birthday.”

It was that same woman he thought had stopped writing him! Apparently their last messages on his birthday didn’t make it through and they both thought the other had decided to end the conversation. He decided he wasn’t going to wait for Valentine’s. He wrote her back and said “What are you doing right now?”

A few hours later, they meet for coffee. He thought she was beautiful and she found his humor irresistibly charming. They talked and laughed for hours. They decided to have dinner the next night but that didn’t go as well. She had asked what he wanted from life and he said he just wanted something ordinary–work 9 to 5, come home, hang out with his girl and do simple things. She looked at him intensely and said, “No, you don’t.” It made him angry although he wasn’t sure why.

When they parted that night he thought he would never see her again. He was too ordinary and she was too driven for him. But he stayed awake all night thinking about it. And when he woke the next day he called her and said “Do you want to hear the story of my life.” She said yes and he told her all about it. She cried at moments and eventually told her own story. They both had been through a lot of difficult times. He dealt with it by being angry at the world; she dealt with it by constantly helping others but could never ask for help herself. They both distrusted others but in their hearts they wanted to. Their first big step came in trusting each other enough to fall in love.

Over the next four years, James self- managed his anger until it wasn’t a part of him anymore and Lynn made a point of asking people to help her out, even when she didn’t really need it. Together they both went out and met new people and grew a great new circle of friends. James started helping out at the fundraisers Lynn worked for and found out that he really liked organizing events which made him brave enough to get into working on music and other events. He was happy with his work for the first time in his life. Somewhere during that time James realized why he’d been angry that first dinner. He really didn’t want to be ordinary but he hadn’t known how to change that.

What he wanted–what they both wanted–was someone who made them more than they were on their own. For four years they did that for each other and grew personally and in their professional lives. In the end, they did not stay together. Lynn ended up traveling more than James could be happy with and James was heavily involved in the music community which he knew wasn’t Lynn’s thing. It came down to wanting lives that didn’t work well together. But that didn’t change the fact that they loved each other or that they still believed in each other. As far as we know, they still remain friends and as Lynn once said, “It may not have worked out but what we gave each other will last the rest of our lives.”

It was that line my friend and I remembered so well. So in a way, there was a happily ever after, after all.

 

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Doll to Your Heart

I know Valentine’s is really supposed to be about your sweetheart–and I do hope all of you have the chance to spend the day with the one you love the most–but I like to think of this day as a time to consider what love means and all the ways we have it in our lives. It does take many forms … there is what we feel for that one other person who knows us best, the passion we have for life and our art, the affection we have for family and friends, the devotion we have to our pets, etc. And then there is the love we get from complete strangers or we can feel for someone we don’t even know simply because of caring and empathy. We have people in our community that could use a little extra love, that are dealing with family tragedies and personal struggles among other hardships.

How about just sending out a little love & wishes today for someone who could use a little extra? Here is a touching story from Keri Joy Colestock who created this heart adorned Wall Dancer while struggling with her own pain and hurdles.

2391332596_20de86cc6f

 I began the “Wall Dancers” in February 2003. After 15 years of a being Senior Designer, I lost my “passion” for my art. I said, “No Mas!” Just when I thought I knew where my life was going, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in February 2002 and that kept me literally bed-bound. It’s been a 7-year battle. The first dolls were actually made in bed with me in my jammies! I was told by all of my doctors that “these were impossible to do” so I make them dolls every year for Xmas! ~smiling~ 

My wish is that they will make you feel happy, positive and sometimes even encouraged.That they will always put a smile on your face!

I know it does mine!

 

Hearts and Love For Others

You may have already seen the post on Polymer Clay Daily about this but its a wonderful project and I think as a community, this kind of thing is exactly what we have and can do that other crafts may not be able to manage because we have such an inexpensive and accessible art form.  I think we should really push to grow this kind of charitable and hope-filled work.

The project being talked about is the Sammunat Nepal project. It helps the women in Nepal who are in in dangerous and traumatic situations of abuse and violence through support, both short and long term but primarily through the development of skills that allow them to reestablish themselves in a new community. The creation of handcrafted items is a huge part of this. Polymer is a huge part of this. How wonderful is that?

This project is in need of a building to work out of. They have been moving around but without the stability of a permanent location, some efforts are diluted and I’m sure there are some things that simply can’t be done without it. Ron Lehocky, the maker of these wonderful hearts you see here (you may have seen his article on his Heart Project heart pins made from donated scrap clay in our Summer issue of The Polymer Arts) is really boosting the fundraising efforts for this location by offering to match donations up to $2000. Are you up for helping? It wouldn’t take much. Just click here to help (scroll down; there is a donate button on the left side down a bit.)

scrap4

 

To read more about the Sammunat Nepal project, go to http://acolourfuljourney.com/blog/

And if you can’t help in this fashion, do consider giving a little love to others who need it in any way you can this Valentine’s Week. A gift of your artwork to a friend or even near stranger (which would make it really special!) who is having a hard time right now would be a particularly wonderful way to spread the love.

 

 

 

Working on the Edge

Centering or working inside the edge or frame of a piece is a common approach for applying imagery and pattern. This will help to convey a feeling of calm and/or restraint. But what if you want something more dynamic?

purpleluggageTry working on or off the edge. It adds excitement and movement by bringing into question the boundary of the piece. In these lockets by the Philippines’ Jennifer Cruz,  the artist situates her antique looking flower canes so they sit just at the edge or break off the surface’s boundaries. It gives you the feeling of something that continues on beyond the confines of the form, that the images you see are only part of a larger picture. This translate into a feeling that there is much more to the piece than what you are seeing. Touching or running off the edge creates tension (the good, exciting kind) and draws you to examine the teetering or incomplete imagery further.

dustin_layered_fragYou don’t actually have to stop at the edge though. Playing with the boundary of a form by continuing into the outside space can also make the work more dynamic. This Layered Fragment brooch by Kathleen Dustin is a wonderful example. The internal imagery itself doesn’t run off the edge but the line does as it is visually continued with the use of wire.

How often do you work with or beyond the boundary of your pieces?

Jennifer Cruz was also featured on the lead page of the “Polymer to the Rescue” article in the present Summer 2012 issue of The Polymer Arts magazine. Go here to get your copy: www.thepolymerarts.com/Subscribe.html

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