The Shape of Polymer in Russia

russian blanketRussia is in the news a lot lately, especially out here in the States, but the conversation is not often a positive one, which can leave us with a rather uneven view of things. Personally, I think Russia is an amazingly beautiful place and I have so enjoyed the people I have met from there. My parents spent some time traveling through the country in the 90s and the photos and stories they brought home were so wonderful and memorable.

Their artistic heritage and rich culture translates beautifully to modern materials like polymer but it is not easy to find a good range of the work being done in Russia since on the internet, the difference in language keeps their pieces, listed on Russian sites and with Russian text, from popping up on  English searches. So this week, we’re going to take a look at Russian polymer work in a teeny tiny effort to rectify this.

The idea for the theme this week came from the IPCA‘s most recent International Polymer Clay publication, a digital publication sent to members every other month. When I saw this wall piece, referred to in the brief article’s title as a Russian Blanket, I just thought it would be a shame not to get this out to more people. This community project, coordinated by Svetlana Taratunina had 362 polymer participants contribute work for the completely polymer quilted map of Russia. The piece is going on tour in the country right now although no schedule was mentioned.

If you are a member of the IPCA, you should have this publication in your inbox right now (or check your spam folder). If you’re not a member, considering supporting our community’s central organization with a membership and you’ll be getting this little treasure of a publication in your inbox every other month.


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IPCA Auction … Join the Madness

2016-07-19_11.56.54 KDustinLive auctions are mad. There is such a scramble for the items up for bid because you know it’s your only chance to get that rare piece that caught your eye and you can feel that same energy from others in the room. Online auctions won’t have that same live energy but there is a scramble nonetheless! The IPCA, in an effort to include members that were not able to attend Eurosynergy this year, saved about half the donated items this year and created an online auction that you can participate in.

Have you ever dreamed of owning an original Jeffrey Lloyd Dever, a Melanie Muir, or a Bettina Welker piece? Those big names and others have donated their gorgeous work to help raise money for the IPCA projects. So it’s not only a chance to own a beautiful piece, like this unusual Kathleen Dustin necklace, but its money that goes to a cause dedicated to polymer artists. The IPCA has a lot of ambitious ideas on the drawing board but they need money to get them of the ground. So take a look at the items up for bid on the IPCA auction page.

Our contribution was a copy of Polymer Journeys signed by 25 of the contributing artists. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, this is the copy to have. Or if you have one but want one signed by so many of the artists you love, you can bid on this rare copy here. If you just can’t wait, get your copy from our website at 10% off the cover!



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Inspired Pins–Portugal

So you saw Dan’s pin that started this different version of the inspiration centered project on my previous blog (see it here.) Now he has sent me three of the resulting pins to share with you until he is back and can get the whole project up on their own website and Facebook pages.

The first is from Cristina Almeida who lives in Lisbon, Portugal. Can you see what she pulled from Dan’s work to create her own personal version?

Cristina Almeida Lisbon Portugal

Go back and look at Dan’s pin and see where they connect. Then take a gander at more of Christina’s work to better understand where her style and aesthetics meet and what she drew from Dan’s work on her Flickr page and blog site.


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Success by Working Together

My apologies for this being late today. Travel plans were a little more hectic than expected, but I am safely back in Colorado after a most energizing week. Now that the majority of the fun is over, the hard work is about to start. I’ll be going through all my notes and recordings soon, putting together a picture of what Synergy was about. There were numerous important discussions, but they were only discussion – taking action is the important step and we’ll be doing our part here at The Polymer Arts to ensure, in whatever way we can, that discussions continue and the material we love is raised to higher ground.

We did have two extremely successful fundraising efforts at the show. The primary one was for the IPCA, and a good number of well-known artists donated to the auctions. This beautiful piece was donated by Julie Picarello who was not able to attend but sent this to be auctioned to help raise funds for the IPCA’s efforts.



The IPCA auctions broke records, which is fantastic considering all of the whispering about big plans for the IPCA. On top of this generosity, individuals and the IPCA itself, as well as Ron LeHockey (each putting in $1,000; and Ron was matching funds … not the first time he’s done that!) pitched in to help raise the rest of the money needed for the Samunnat project. Not only did the group manage to meet the project’s goal, but it was actually surpassed by nearly $2,00o. Now, the women in Nepal who benefit from this can get the building they need, as well as furniture and other things that will make their lives and efforts easier and more impactful.

We’ll get out a bit more news this week along with some pretties but right now, I need to catch up on some sleep. Until then …

Higher Grounds


This quote brought two thoughts to mind. First, there has been a bit of chat on several fronts lately about criticism. It is really pointless and even unkind to give criticism that is of a purely negative nature, yet it’s not that uncommon for people to blurt such things out. If you have people like that around you, don’t listen and don’t keep them around. What you need are people that support you. They don’t always have to agree and they may not like something you’ve made but if they can tell you why and give suggestions, they are the ones that will help lift you and your work.

It also reminded me of the theme of the upcoming Synergy 3–Higher Ground. I can’t wait for this show. Being around the enthusiasm and creativity of so many dedicated polymer artists … talk about lifting one up! If you can manage it, you really should try to make it. It only happens every two years, so it will be your last chance to be among so many kindred souls for another couple years. Check out the details on the IPCA website.



An Abundance of Color

My weekend was largely spent judging entries for the IPCA’s Progress & Possibilities competition. (If you are a member, you are eligible to cast votes for the Member’s Choice portion of the competition. Check your email for you invitation to vote or go to the IPCA website to request a voting token be sent to you.) The use of color this year was either very bold or completely subdued. Going subdued can be relatively easy compared to going bold and having to judge when enough is enough.

I thought this when perusing pendants created by Cathy of Dumauvobleu. Her work is a bombardment of color as well as visual texture. But, for the most part, she does keep it from getting out of control. This pendant below is, I think, pushing that boundary but it just sits on the edge of tipping over. The well dispersed use of blues manages to hold it together and the sun like image created by the cane slice and radiating lines on the bottom right create a focal point that where your eye can rest, even if it can’t do so for very long with all that is going on.



After that, the success of a piece like this comes down to skill and finish. The inlay is well done without any noticeable spaces and the edges are blended with the use of pin prick points so even if the color and texture strikes you as a bit overboard, you can still call it a well done piece.

Make note as you look around at the work of various artists, how some can pull off a great looking piece even when the attention to finishing is obviously not a priority. Then there are pieces that may not be particularly original or dramatic but you are entranced by how well finished they are. Of course, when both design choices and finish are well done, it is a work to just drool over.

Progress & Possibilities 2012

We interrupt this week’s Outside Influence installment with an important announcement … If you have not already seen the announcement, the IPCA opened registration for entry into the Progress and Possibilities juried online exhibition. It’s one of the biggest events of its kind in our community so well worth looking into. There are categories for every level of polymer artists too.

If you are unfamiliar with this annual event, you can check out last year’s exhibition art here: Below is the winning piece for the professional category in sculpting. Fox and Grapes is a piece by Doreen Kassel (an artist who was also featured in The Polymer Art’s Fall 2012 Mentor Artist’s Gallery)


Here is the official announcement information:

“Progress & Possibilities 2012,” an online juried exhibition of polymer clay art is open to IPCA members only. The purpose of Progress & Possibilities is to encourage and acknowledge promise, innovation, and individuality in the work of individual polymer clay artists, at all stages of professional development, and to advance public awareness of and appreciation for the fine craft of polymer clay. This official online exhibition of the International Polymer Clay Association will showcase the finest work completed this year by our members throughout the world.

Go to the IPCA’s website for more info and get your work ready!

Synergy Presenters Announced

Synergy, the one and only keynote polymer clay community conference run by the IPCA, is set for March 2013 in Atlanta. Information on presenters and programming is starting to emerge.

Yours truly is honored to be one of the presenters and panelists. I’ll have presentations on the new idea for a central polymer clay online knowledge library with Maggie Maggio as well as a workshop on turning your love of polymer into publication opportunities. I have also been asked to be represent The Polymer Arts magazine (I’m not sure who else would have … I think my cat might feel she has a thing or two to say on the matter!) on a panel on craft publications where we’ll answer questions and, I hope, get the kind of input from you, the community, that can help direct the content we publishers will be offering you in the coming years.

The real draw though would be just the wealth of information, the insane level of creative brain waves that will infuse the conference, and the chance to meet truly huge names in our scene such as Christi Friesen, Judy Belcher, Lindly Haunani, Cynthia Tinnapple, and Jeffery Lloyd Dever — all of whom will be presenting and teaching workshops.

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