Into the Trees

Ivana brozkova Into the ForestLife got a little rougher this week for the Bray clan although we are a strong and resilient bunch and just get stronger for having gone through the trials put before us. Nonetheless, we need a respite too and I have been immensely grateful that I am so lucky as to have a retreat of sorts in my own backyard. Here we are surrounded by trees beyond which is a presently green open space and hills. Below we have the soft burble of the creek as it skips along and the calming, consistent splash of three little waterfalls and the fish that play in the pond just outside my studio door. I have no idea how we managed to find, much less come to live in, such a place in this part of California but I am grateful every day. Especially lately.

I was doing a check in on the Into the Forest project page on Facebook and saw Connie Clark had posted a link to an interesting article on “forest bathing“. I had never heard the term but I am very familiar with the recharging that one gets from being out among trees and in the natural world in general. That is part of the reason I thought the “Into the Forest” project would be so interesting. Have you ever noticed just how prevalent the inspiration of nature is in art, even by artists who live in densely urban settings? We have an inherent connection to nature that draws us to it. It is no less important than community and feeling that one belongs. That is what I see as the heart and purpose of a project like this–connecting to things that make us feel whole and fulfilled, including nature, community, expression and connecting with others, in this case, our fellow polymer artists and the people who will come and see this monumental project. How often do we have the opportunity to be part of something that does all that?

The image here is Ivana Brozova‘s contribution to the project which the organizers shared last week. Her pods are wonderful in her jewelry art but I can only imagine how magical they will look hanging in this fantastical forest of ours. You can see my post about her pod jewelry from last year here.

There is still time to participate in this project but the deadline of May 2nd is quickly approaching. Even if you just create some crazy polymer grass, you will have helped make this dream that much more wonderful. Polymer artists from all over the world are participating. The list thus far includes work from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and in the USA, artists living in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia have pitched in. For more information on the project, see the information listed on this FAQ page.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Get out into the trees! Just go out and soak it up, recharge, let inspiration just wash over you then go back to your work table and, without thinking too much about it, start creating pieces that translate how it made you feel or what you saw. Consider making 10 or more of certain items and send it off to the Into the Forest project.


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Collecting Varied Influences

ivana-brozova-pod-pendantsAlthough we regularly look at artwork once piece at a time, there is much to learn from looking over a collection of work, especially when the work has a lot of great variation.

We have not seen any work from Ivana Brozova recently as she was on a 10 month hiatus, traveling all over southeast Asia. I was curious to see what inspiration would come from that and although I don’t know how directly these pieces were influenced by her travels, these forms and colors certainly feel like they could come from the lush forests of Asia. They are also obviously based on things she’s done before but there is maturity in the details, especially looking at them as a group. Her material for hanging these necklaces is vastly different from one piece to the next. The treatment of the walls of the focal pod also varies as does the coloring and application of the color. The result is a series with each piece feeling quite different from the next although they are so much the same in form and construction. It gives you a good idea of some of the areas you can play with as you explore variation in your own work.

You can see how Ivana has developed variation in her past work as well as bookmark her pages to check in for future pretties on her Flickr photostream.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Play with the functional aspects of your work. If you do jewelry, try out vastly different types of findings, chains, and cords. If you do decor, try a different type of material to apply the polymer too or a completely different kind of vessel or form. If you do wall art, research unique ways to hang it that can be incorporated into it’s composition and design.


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Dots, Lines and Tendrils

Ivana pendants

** Sorry this went up half a day late. We had an error in our scheduled time. But back to regularly scheduled postings …***

We’ve talked about using lines as design elements for direction and energy before and about dots and their use as accents and to create rhythm, but I don’t think we’ve spent much time looking at what happens when you use the two together.

There are many, many beautiful examples of using line and dots as a combined design treatment, but I think these brooches by Ivana Brozova are some truly stunning recent examples I’ve run into. In this case, dots are used to create lines. Or maybe the lines are distorted until they look like strings of dots. Either way, the effect is the same—a strong, rhythmic and directional vibrancy radiating from a center that itself is alive with slow, winding lines in the form of tendrils. It makes for rather mesmerizing work.

Ivana is rather fond of lines and dots used together. You can see more great examples in some of her older work, as well as admire Ivana’s new and rather shiny pieces on her Flickr photostream.


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Your Thoughts on Lacy & A Giveaway

So, last week I was having an email conversation with the fabulous Debbie Crothers of Australia. We’re both ideas people with minds going a million miles an hour. At one point she said, “I absolutely love reading your blog. I try and do my own little analysis of the work before I read yours, and it’s always so interesting and educational reading your view on each piece.” Which was kind of funny because I’ve been trying to think of a way to encourage people to do just that–make their own decision about what is working or not in the piece before reading my thoughts. They are only my thoughts. I don’t always hit the mark, and I sometimes miss things I should have seen. But with thousands of eyes on this every day, I thought we could get a more well-rounded view of the work sometimes.

So, Debbie and I bantered back and forth about how to do that and came upon this very simple idea–I’ll present work, give you background and ask that you comment. Then we’ll publish some of the comments the next day, and I’ll add thoughts if any are needed. This way we’ll have readers chiming in like a true discussion. Sound like fun?

It also occurred to me that this is chance to work in more giveaways! I’ve started collecting items and getting some teachers and retailers on board, so we can have these interactive moments on the blog more often, spurred on by the chance to win some cool polymer related products or publications.  So … are you ready to try this out? I’ll put the participation details below.

organika7-bigHere is a piece by Ivana Brozova I picked out last week as I looked for ‘hidden’ type designs. As it so happened, I was gathering a lot of pieces that were more about being lacy or holey, so I saved them for this week. I couldn’t wait to share Ivana’s work, though. Fantastic organic textures are everywhere in explorations that she conducted at the end of last year. You can see these both on her Flickr page and her website.

What you think about the color choices here? Do you think the lace quality of the structure helps or distracts from the design? Or do other aspects strike you first?

Put your thoughts in the comments below the blog post. That means, if you are getting this by email or RSS, or reading it on the opening page of the blog, you’ll want to click on this post’s heading to get to its dedicated page. Comments can be inserted at the bottom of that page. Be sure your correct email is in your ID information, and we’ll pull an email address at the end of the week and announce the winner on Monday. I will offer the winner a few options from my stash, so there should be something exciting for everyone. This week I’ll be offering Sculpey texture rollers, bead rollers or a set of floral texture sheets from a couple different manufacturers … or a $10 certificate toward any subscription or back issue of The Polymer Arts will always be an option. It’ll be your choice.

Comment before midnight Eastern Standard Time to have a chance to see your words on the blog site.


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Wrap it Around

One of the primary reasons for using frames is to finish off the edge of a bead or element so it is functional but it doesn’t have to be purely functional. It is going to show, so why not make it a major part of the design?

Ivana Brozova has brought her frame into the design by creating a wave to the edge that comes up onto the bead’s surface. It gives the frame more surface so the analogous colors in the frame become a more substantial part of the bead and the wave in the frame plays off the aquatic theme of the necklace.


Ivana is another explorer in the ways of polymer with some wonderfully different, often edgy but always intriguing work. Take a swim through her artistic world on her Flickr photostream.


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The Infinite Colors of Nature

I grew up in California, in a coastal desert region where natural color commonly comes in muted tones. In art school, though, I was exposed to landscapes from the southwest that were painted in all kinds of bright and what I thought were unnatural colors. It wasn’t until I actually moved to New Mexico that I saw, even though I was in another desert, that the landscape paintings I witnessed were not an exaggeration. Those deep pinks and oranges, the brilliant greens and purples … they existed even there. It was then that I realized every color we know exists in nature. So thinking that a natural color palette should be restricted to earth tones is really selling nature short.

The other association with nature which is also incorrect is thinking that the natural world is all about growth and life. It is, but life is not all about growth. There is a cycle to it and part of that cycle is the mortality of all elements, the breaking down and return of things both living and inert to the earth and to their most basic components. There is such beauty in this part of the cycle–rust, cracks, crumbling, even organic decay reveals textures and colors to be appreciated.

I have to say, this kind of natural beauty is well represented in polymer. Who doesn’t love a well-done crackled surface or faux patina? Ivana Brozova from the Czech Republic has a body of work that looks to be quite heavily inspired by this side of nature. She combines crackling with some of nature’s more brilliant colors in this pendant.



If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, you should go do so. Compare this pendant, which is very similar in basic design, to the pendant from yesterday–a domed form with a single large gem for a focal point. They are both working with organic elements, but with quite divergent styles. Ivana uses a faceted gem (which, if you recall from yesterday, I said would kill off the sense of nature in that pendant) and bright colors here, but they still evoke a sense of something more organic than man-made. Chances are, if someone is asked what is represented here, I think the most common answer would be sun or sunlight. There are few things more natural than the sun, the one thing that allows nature and life to exist.

But the same goes here as with yesterday’s piece: if the surface treatment of this pendant had been some well-defined graphical pattern with perfectly straight lines or a machined look, the idea of sunlight would not have been conveyed. Cracking is a natural, organic pattern which helps keep the ray-like lines and the sparkle in the faceted gem well within our sense of natural sunlight.

Ivana has a truly lovely collection of work both similar and quite different from the piece here. For a truly special visual treat and great color inspiration, spend some time on her Flicker photostream.



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