Ronnie Kirsch clutch - In Our Clutches

In Our Clutches

Ronnie Kirsch clutch 430x286 - In Our ClutchesAt the end of this week, I will be heading off to Pittsburgh to see the opening of the Into the Forest project. I am intensely excited about that (go here if you are in the area and want to join for the opening on Friday and the talks on Saturday.) But even more exciting is that, at long last, my beau and I get to go on our honeymoon! So this week and next, I may be a bit quieter than usual but I’ve lined up some eye candy for you that my faithful little helpers will ensure you get while I am off gallivanting about.

Putting together a wardrobe for this trip got me thinking about new accessories. Although I don’t have time to make anything new for this excursion, there are the holidays to get dressed up for. So I was thinking, what kind of new polymer accessory would really wow at the next holiday soiree? Then it hit me … a polymer purse! An unusual handbag is always noted and often gets conversations started where no particular subject has yet made itself known. A polymer handbag is certain to be quite the icebreaker.

So let’s look at polymer purses this week and see if I can’t inspire a few of you to make your own. Of course, at the mention of polymer purses, many of us will raise the image of our favorite Kathleen Dustin purse in our minds but she is not, by far, the only one to create purses. She is one of the few that makes them almost exclusively out of polymer but any other variation–covered, embellished, or accented with polymer–can still be a most wonderful example of our art.

Ronnie Kirsch was making quite the fashion splash with her clay clutches in the early 2010s. Full of color and pattern, they were sold at high-end stores for a very pretty penny. She used a lot of canes but would also apply stripes of colors. This red one here would be visible from across the room. And I think that was the thing about these–they were for women who don’t mind a lot of attention.

Although I could not find news of Ronnie’s recent work, I did find her website with a gallery available if covering a nice metal clutch is sounding like a great holiday project. Just take a look here.

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!



Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

Shades of Clay  Polymer Clay TV

2Wards Polymer Clay  The Great Create  The Polymer Arts Subscription


On the Way There …

Kathleen Dustin heart 2016I’m going to be a bit brief the next few days as I will be on the road with not a lot of opportunity to research online, but I’ve found some new pretties to share and ponder while I zip about the western states.

This popped up on Kathleen Dustin‘s Facebook page the other day. Although her signature translucent layers and that integrated wire work she’s done a bit of the last few years is present, this feels very different. The conglomeration of elements looks like it could be pure stream-of-consciousness, something a bit more difficult to do with polymer than with, say, writing, but it has that spontaneous feel. It’s very different for Kathleen. I love discovering the first of a new series for an artist. Really makes you wonder where they are going to go with it.

And speaking of going … back to the last of the packing with me. I’m actually looking forward to the long hours on the road where I can’t do much of anything but think. The only problem with that is these are the times I usually come up with the best design ideas. And I can’t even sketch! Still, quiet time is really good for the creative brain. Hope you get some down time, as well!

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: See if you can get yourself some down time today. It could be while commuting to or from work, while in a doctor’s waiting room, in a long bank line, or just sitting quietly at home. Try to let your mind go and let forms and colors float through your mind. What shapes or color palettes have intrigued you lately? Don’t think too hard about them and see what comes to mind. Go to your studio or get out a sketch book and work up a design based solely on what you saw in your mind.


Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

PCTV March 2016 Blog never knead -july-2015c-125 Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog

Tavoos Blog Apr 2016 The Great Create Sept 15 blog TPA_McGuire_blog ad


New Book Cover and Very Special Pre-Sale Offer for You!

PJ2016 Cover frontWe set aside our usual art discussions today to announce the first big book project for TPA and the associated book publishing arm, Tenth Muse Publications–Polymer Journeys 2016 is just about ready for you! The release is set for April 14th.

This retrospective and peek-behind-the-scenes book is in its last phase of preparation for printing! Now that we have a publication date, we are offering you very anxious and enthusiastic folks a steep discount and a bonus to thank you for your patience and to give you the opportunity to get your copy straight off the press and into the mail!

We have an exclusive pre-sale price for just this one week. If you purchase the book on our website by March 30th,  you get 30% off the cover price of $22.95! That’s all of $15.95 plus shipping.

It is also available in a digital format, which will be $12.95, but this week you can reserve your copy for just $9.95.

But wait … there’s more! (I’ve always wanted to say that!)  I also worked out a way to reward our most enthusiastic supporters … be one of the first 250  people to pre-order a print copy and get a companion digital copy for FREE! Just put both a print and digital copy into your cart, then use this code to discount the digital copy: 1st250. (You’ll know others beat you to it if you get a note saying the discount is no longer valid.)

Want more info on what this book is? Go to the website here. In the meantime, enjoy the gorgeous cover art by Kathleen Dustin (top) and Jon Stuart Anderson (bottom).

We’ll be here if you have any questions for us. Otherwise, have a beautiful Spring and Easter weekend!



Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners:

Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog - New Book Cover and Very Special Pre-Sale Offer for You!   TPA McGuire blog ad - New Book Cover and Very Special Pre-Sale Offer for You!   The Great Create Sept 15 blog - New Book Cover and Very Special Pre-Sale Offer for You!

never knead july 2015c 125 - New Book Cover and Very Special Pre-Sale Offer for You!   PCTV March 2016 Blog   Tavoos Blog Mar 2016 - New Book Cover and Very Special Pre-Sale Offer for You!


An Accessory with Room to Play

ThermesosPurseforWeb-700x525We’re going to move from container pendants to another type of container accessory, the purse. Purses are not the easiest creations to make in polymer, but with all that open space, there is so much that could be done. And, this is one of the huge advantages of artistic container accessories–you have a lot of real estate and several sides to work with. For those of you that sell, also consider that handbags have a high price point, so all the hard work that you put into your masterpiece is more likely to be well paid for.

It would be impossible to bring this form up without mentioning the queen of polymer handbags, Kathleen Dustin. Over the last year or so she has been working in a beautiful series she calls The World Traveler, highly influenced by the amazing ceramicist Vicki Grant who I’ve featured on here a couple of times before. Kathleen’s work has a wide breadth of texture, motifs, forms and color palettes, but the approach and craftsmanship is still quite readily recognizable. She has created some very complex purses in the past, but I found this one particularly appealing because it is a bit more straightforward, and its relatively simple structure allows the treatment of the clay to really shine. I also figured, if you ever wanted to try your hand at polymer purses, you can readily see here that it can be typically purse-like but highly artistic with so much room for play.

It seems like only a handful of purses and necklaces from her recent collections have been making the rounds on the Internet, so do stop and treat yourself to a more extensive view on her website. And a happy birthday to Kathleen who, yesterday, celebrated another year on this earth and another year regaling us with her beautiful work. Keep it up for many, many more years if you would please!


If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or an issue of The Polymer Arts magazine, as well as by supporting our advertising partners.

Never Knead 125x125 april2015 - An Accessory with Room to Play   Polymer Clay Workshop 3 30 15 ad - An Accessory with Room to Play  TPA_McGuire_blog ad  TPA Blog Newsletter Ad ShadesofClay 1014 v2 - An Accessory with Room to Play  sfxpaad-diffuse

Workshops in Malta

Stopping to write a blog in the midst of all the fantastic conversations I’ve been having this first day in Malta has been a challenge so this will be a little short–we’ll let the photos speak for the most part.

I was lucky enough to have time to drop in on workshops being given by Kathleen Dustin and Melanie West. The energy in the rooms was amazing and the dazed look as the students left the day long workshops attested to some exhausting but exciting creativity going on. Melanie West’s class was “Make It Big And Organic!” and focused on the idea of process more than on the creation of any one thing. Kathleen was divulging her signature “Translucent Layering Techniques” in her packed classroom. Here are some shots of these masters at work demonstrating and sharing their pearls of wisdom. Then you get a close up view of Melanie’s ingenious necklace–a reversible pendant that is engineered with a magnet and a removable center piece.

Kathleen Dustin explaining technique during her workshop.
Kathleen Dustin explaining technique during her workshop.
Cara Jane Hayman's project in the middle of hte process in Kathleen's class.
Cara Jane Hayman’s project in the middle of the process in Kathleen’s class.


Melanie West talking color choices with her workshop attendees.
Melanie West talking color choices with her workshop attendees.
Melanie West's fabulous reversible necklace.
Melanie West’s fabulous reversible necklace.
The other side of Melanie's necklace showing the magnet design (isn't that wonderful!?)
The other side of Melanie’s necklace showing the magnet design (isn’t that wonderful!?)

I am going to leave you to enjoy these images for now. I’ll be touring Malta in the morning and posting those images on Facebook so if you don’t already follow The Polymer Arts on Facebook, you can get more EuroSynergy peeks there as well!

Wow … day one and I’m already filled to the brim with ideas to ponder and write about and create from! What will I be like come Sunday?

If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

Blog2 -2014-02Feb-5   Millefiori eggs   14P1 cover Fnl

Influencing a Master

This tribal neck piece is made from textured colored polymer, oxidized sterling silver, horse hair, and antique coral. This collection of tribal work is based on Kathleen Dustin’s familiarity with ethnic jewelry from her nine years of living overseas and her extensive travels around the world. Hand-worked texture is the overriding technique in this piece. Take a look at Kathleen’s Pinterest board to see her abstract series that uses translucent layering techniques that resemble enamel on metal. She is creating pieces that reflect how all the fragments of our lives – prosperity, pain, crises, good times – come together to make something beautiful as a whole. Her work is influenced by the work of many abstract artists as well.


Again “there’s nothing new under the sun;” this style of jewelry dates back thousands of years. The commonality in motifs of primitive indigenous cultures is apparent. Compare Vicki Grant’s work on this Pinterest board with the African Protective Amulet Man’s Necklace made with leather, silk, and pigments. If you are in need of some serious style inspiration, take a look at these tribal designs for a fresh new look at graphic influences that have stood the test of time.


If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.

Cover 13-P4 web    PCW_flower tile canes  WhimsicalBead051512

A Recognizable Voice

Today I would like to ask for your input. I want to talk about creating an unique artistic voice and I think the best way to define it is to have you, the readers, break it down together. Are you up for it?

The primary question is, what does it mean to have an artistic voice? I think the answer is in understanding what sets the well defined and easily recognized style of one artist apart from all others? Sometimes it’s the choice of form or imagery, maybe even a standard set of colors. But what if that artist does a wide range of things. Is their particular voice going to stand out if they jump from one thing to another. I think, if they are following their true selves, that voice inside that directs the inquiry and steers the fascination that motivates the artist to create can be apparent in a wide variety of work from the same person.

Take a look at the piece below. Even if you have never seen this type of work from this artist, you may be able to guess who this is. I did pick a fairly easy person to recognize.



Did you guess? You can click on the image to take you to the artist’s website if you like. But we’re going to chat a bit more about this before answering. So … this piece is not one of the more popular, widely seen pieces from this artist and is not one of her more well-known styles (perhaps … it’s hard to say that any of the phases or styles of this artist aren’t fairly well-known) but how quickly did you come to recognize the artist? I’m guessing for most of you it took almost no time. And why is that? Why, when this artist is known primarily for her translucent techniques, her imagery, her purses, do we still recognize a vegetable sculpture by her so readily?

Some of the reasons are pretty simple but they do matter … like the fact that she’s widely shown. But what else? What is is about her work, no matter what form, technique or imagery she uses, that allows us to recognize her? Are there other artists that come to mind that you know you’ll recognize right away? Why?

I would love to have as many of you chime in as possible. If you are getting this via the email delivery, you can click on the title of the post in the email to go to the blog and comment at the bottom of the post. If you need, you can reply with an email and I can post it for you. But do get in on the conversation if you have anything to add. I can have my say about why I think Kathleen Dustin here is so readily recognizable but its just my view. We are a large community with many, many different views. Let’s hear what you think.

Polymer Pioneers

One of the truly exciting things about going to an event like Synergy is getting the chance to meet the people who you admire and aspire to be. Although you may have the opportunity to meet a great polymer artist by taking a class, there is nothing like a lengthy event like this, a retreat, or a workshop to give you the opportunity to chat and hear their stories.

At Synergy, we had the opportunity to not only talk to a large number of highly talented and innovative artists, but we were also treated to their presentations and panels. One of my personal highlights was the closing banquet’s presentation with three of the most influential polymer pioneers – Nan Roche, Kathleen Dustin and Lindly Haunani. They told stories of the good old days, how they started in polymer, and how they started organizing polymer artists and the hurdles they encountered in the early days. A lot of funny personal notes and anecdotes were included as well. It was just great fun to hear of our polymer beginnings from these very important artists who were there.


I have my own personal anecdote about Nan Roche from this past week. For those of you who might not know, Nan wrote the first book on polymer clay, The New Claypublished back in 1992. That book precipitated the advent of polymer being considered a true art medium, and really pushed the public awareness of it. And today, it is still considered one of the best books on polymer for beginners. So this genius of woman comes up to me the first day of Synergy, all bubbly and kind of bouncing and says, “Oh, I just love your magazine!” I was floored and started babbling back about how much I admire her and what she has done for the polymer communtiy. I knew she subscribed (she gets both the print and digital versions of The Polymer Arts) but I thought it was just a matter of keeping track of the industry. As it turns out, Nan had to back away from doing polymer for a number of years, so she actually considers herself far less talented than many of the folks she is often grouped with, and finds The Polymer Arts inspiring. Whoa. I get some really touching compliments but a comment from someone like her … its hard to explain how much that meant to me.

As you take a closer look at the picture here, note all the pretties down in front of the presenter’s table. Those are the pieces that were auctioned off at the banquet–they include vintage pieces by Marie Segal, Jeffery Lloyd Dever and Lindly Haunani. Most of the larger events run by guilds have such auctions, giving the attendees a chance to buy some really wonderful work while supporting the organization – just another reason to make it to a retreat or other big polymer event. Check your local guild to see what they have going on and keep track of others through the IPCA newsletter, or by checking The Polymer Arts Resource list.


%d bloggers like this: