Petrujitka blue green peek e1509917754926 - Peeking Through Layers

Peeking Through Layers

Petrujitka blue green peek 430x419 - Peeking Through LayersA lot of the peek-a-boo designs you see peer in at just one contrasting surface although there are a few out there who add in a little charm or an additional focal point. But I really like what Czech Republic’s Jitka Petrů did with this opening in her pendant’s surface.

The many overlapping layers look like they are moving back, one depth at a time and seem like we will soon see the inner surface although it stops at just giving us the tiniest of peeks. But that effect really draws your eye in. When you pull back, it even has a bit of an optical motion effect, in part because of the angling of the layers but also because of the very slight change in color value and hue which makes for a gradual transition to the center.

Jitka plays around with this peek into layers in a number of ways as you can see in her shop here.



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Rough Layers

martina Burinova red spot 430x368 - Rough LayersMartina Buriánová takes rough stuff–the theme this week–in an interesting direction for polymer. This unique use of layers in a polymer pendant might remind you of the side view of a warped, long-ago drenched book. Contained within its solid although equally roughed up frame, you get a sense that these layers have been through a few trials but, safely boxed in again, will continue to hold on. The unevenness of the layers gives it a nice texture along with the kind of negative space that allows it to be a part of its environment, not just some adornment in it.

The red spot is a bit of a mystery although I see its role as a contrast, a focal point, and a kind of anchor. I think the pendant could have stood on its own as the focal point, just layers and frame with that upper negative space peeking through the layers. But nonetheless, the red circle still works, it just diminishes the importance of the layers, where I think the real story is. I am like that with movies too, though. I am often more interested in the story of a minor but well-fleshed out character than I am in the heroes and heroines.  The little, unassuming stories are the ones, I think, that really stick with us. Because most people connect with the little guy and that connection is what they will remember.

Martina is really good at rough and weathered-looking surfaces. You can find such works of hers on Facebook, on her website and on her Pinterest boards.



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Pile it On

kim detmers dragonfly gardenI do like to keep busy, but I have to say the last few weeks have been beyond what any normal human should do to themselves. And I do say, I am doing this to myself because I am fully capable of saying no to some things but I have a very hard time doing so! So I’ve been piling it on and have to-do lists to keep track of my to-do lists and yet, I am a pretty happy camper.

Bringing lots of parts of things together can feel like chaos but with a little organization and stepping back to see the whole picture, it can look pretty good. I’m using this concept as a way to step into the things I want to show you this week … pieces made from pieces, in layers and repetition, doing the whole gestalt thing whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Following me still?

This charming pendant is an example of bringing together a lot of little things to present a pretty nice picture. It is a series of simple cane slices put together with a bit of texture and an embellishment here and there, creating this little scene. Kim Detmers  has made a number of these dragonfly garden pins but this is the most eye-catching, I think. Whereas the others are nearly all greens and blues, keeping the range all on the cool side of the color spectrum, this one has a dragonfly with yellow-orange wings which makes it stand out and creates a strong focal point. The many diagonal lines in the composition adds to the energy and drama, but just a little. It’s still pretty idyllic which has as much to do with the calming blue and green color dominance as the subject matter.

Kim tends to keep things light and bright with a penchant for fantasy-esque themes as you can see in her Etsy shop. I don’t see any Dragonfly Gardens here but there are a few to compare by doing a Google image search.


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Clearly Layered

ikandi-lattice-laceThe really cool thing about translucent canes is that whatever is set behind them shows through, allowing for all kinds of possibilities with imagery and depth. The cellular cane conversation started Monday now turns to how to apply translucent canes created more for textural application than for the images embedded inside.

Ivy Niles has got this particular idea down as can be seen here in what she calls a translucent lattice lace cane. Adding the mostly opaque flower patterns into the mix allows for the canes to add their own variation in layering to whatever they are applied to so the flowers sit ‘up’ on the surface while the translucent squares frame small sections of the layer beneath. The cane slices from this could be set corner to corner for a regular and consistent pattern or, due to the outer translucent edges, can be blended seamlessly into other patterns or can be applied as accent textures on corners or edges.

Ivy has several examples of how to apply this particular cane on the listing for it on Etsy (sold long ago, I’m afraid), so you can pop over to see this here or just rummage for other ideas in her Etsy shop.  She also shows off more of her goodies on her website.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Today, accent, decorate or hand mark just the edges and corners of a piece. Let this kind of design suggest a focal point or maybe it won’t need a focal point but rather the texture may come together to create a pattern that becomes the focus and interest of the piece. Don’t judge what you’re doing. Just let yourself go and have fun.


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Revealing in the Round

Much of our layering and exposing of those layers in polymer happens on a flat surface which can then be applied to any number of forms. But take that usual work surface and put it in the round, and a you can get quite beautiful results that way too.

For you scrap clay technique connoisseurs, we have another one here for you! These beads were made by Belinda (Birnco on Flickr). There were created from extruded canes (which are a great way to use up scrap), coiled around a base core of raw clay with bits sliced off the coiled surface using a wavy blade.


I know these beads are a little dark but I do like the variety shown using this exposed coil approach. Belinda has a number of examples of these on her Flickr page, so you can jump over there and see the brighter varieties and other variations on this.

You can of course use tube, ovals, lentils or any other shape and then go at it with a straight or wavy blade to see what might be revealed. The thing is, the small round form allows for revealing layers in bits and pieces without the reshaping of the layers the way you do in mokume to get variation on what is exposed. I just thought some of you out there might like to explore a little revealing in the round. It has intriguing possibilities.
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Clearly Accidental Composition

Translucent layering is a wonderful way to add depth to a bead or, in the case of this piece below, a little polymer painting.

Roberta Warshaw isn’t too happy with this  polymer painting but I think she has accidentally ended up with a better design than she might have if she had been able to fully control the process.



Her process here includes marker ‘painting’ on the clay, layers of translucent polymer lamella (a technique using very thin translucent layers embedded with metal leaf as developed by Kathleen Dustin) and a little carving of the clay. She professes to have laid a layer of lamella the wrong direction thus losing the “golden glow”. She doesn’t say where this mistake is and I can’t see it or maybe the photograph doesn’t show it. Regardless, any misdirected layer is not affecting the end result in any negative way. And what is wrong with a glow-less layer? A little contrast between glow and no-glow could add dimension … an expanse of matte color among the glittering lamella sea. Sounds a bit dramatic but, hey, it’s true–uninterrupted shine will often have less impact than shine interrupted and contrasted with a little dull or subdued mixed in.

Her other disappointment was stated to be in her carving skills. The leaf stem on the left is wider than she intended. However, stop and imagine if the stem was as slim as the rest (see the photoshop version below). Do you see how it changes the balance and the movement in the piece?  In the one above, the heavier leaf on the left pulls the balance towards the outside and the stems going from a barely there slimness on the right to a heavy, robust leaf on the left suggests growth (which is often what we sense in a graduated scale of size … from small like a sapling to large like a full grown tree.) Between the pull to the side and the sense of growth, there is a feeling of movement, something more dynamic than the pretty but comparatively static feel of what I think she was after.



I can’t disagree with her on wanting more control with her carving. Even though I like the composition better the way it ended up, you can kind of tell the larger leaf was not intended, that the carving of it may have been worked over a couple times or was done with a heavy hand unlike the other two. Often, a large part of the beauty we perceive in a piece of art is the sense that the work done was wholly intentional and under the artist’s control.  You can have good composition, excellent color choices and an intriguing form but if it is created without skill, it is very difficult to enjoy the other aspects. Do you agree?


Layer, Cut, Roll, Repeat and … Wow

Repeating elements  can add such energy to a piece. Especially if you push the elements just a little and add some contrast to make it pop.

Here Eva Ehmeier uses her small layered and rolled elements repeated across a donut form to create a piece that almost looks alive. I don’t think it would have quite the impact if it weren’t for the little details each element has … the subtle stripes in the purple layers, the layering you can see in the sides of the elements and that yellow boldly peeking out from within the rolls. The deep texture these elements create are contrasted with a silver band following the same form. I’m not sure the texture on the silver was needed but the contrast of materials really makes the polymer stand out and adds elegance.


If you work with repeated elements a lot (or would like to) how can you add extra interest to the elements themselves? Its something to ponder.

And if you are intrigued by the possibilities of using layered edges, make sure you get a copy of our Spring issue of The Polymer Arts due out on the 18th of this month. Susan O’Neill offers a plethora of ideas on using visual and structural aspects of layering in polymer. It’s great stuff.

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