A Swirl of Set Stones

mila cypress stone swirl setting 430x556 - A Swirl of Set StonesSo, still with my mind on what unusual gifts we can create, I tried to come up with some ideas for jewelry that might be a bit unexpected but could be readily appreciated by a wide variety of giftees. Then I started stumbling upon a lot of semi-precious stone and crystal pendants and other jewelry. Stones seem to be very popular this year and although that is not a new thing for jewelry at all, some of the presentations I found are really exciting.

It was this piece by Mila of  Mila’s Heart Art on Etsy that got me thinking about moving away from basic bezels and playing around with that centered position that stones tend to be given in jewelry. I mean, yes, the stones are usually the focal point but they don’t have to be front and center. They can be part of a lovely composition like this swirling pendulum-like pendant, with the largest stone in the place of importance at the tip of the pendulum shape. The beauty of the stone doesn’t dominate here as many stone settings would, and the second stone rather blends in but this gives all parts of the piece nearly equal attention while the tendrils-and-swirl shape keeps pushing the eye to make the rounds across the varied details. It makes for a great balance in the piece as well as making it a bit difficult to stop investigating it.

I don’t know that this piece is actually polymer clay. She only mentions a “durable clay” so there is a possibility that this is epoxy clay, but nonetheless, it is a great example of where you can push the design when setting a stone in clay.

For additional inspiration of this kind see Mila’s Etsy shop, which has numerous examples.

The Complexity of Time

Natalya Polekh clock 430x411 - The Complexity of Time

In my search for clock inspiration, I veered a bit off the polymer path, but then again, I kept running into pieces that I thought were polymer but were not. Of course, pieces like this splendid celestial clock by Natalya Polekh could be created in a very similar fashion with polymer. Large textured sheets and fun with alcohol inks and mica powders could produce similarly stunning results so I took a  closer look.

Natalya looks to be a well-known mixed media artist in Eastern Europe and Russia and when I say mixed, I mean all kinds of things. Her primary materials look to be various types of acrylic paint, dimensional and pearling paints, 3D gel, embossing paste, and glass and metal accents of different types. She works in texture, mosaics and layered media that is applied in such a way that knowing the materials is rather superfluous. She creates a beautiful complexity of texture and motif with shine and shimmer applied in abundance but always in a tasteful and often intriguing manner.

She does much more than clocks although she has done quite few of them. Take a look at her shop for more clock and textural ideas as well as very well priced tutorials on how she creates this work.  Her VK.com page has more images.

 

A Past Controversy

polydogz 021712 350x273 - A Past ControversyHere is a post with some food for thought as you go through your weekend. This post was one of my most active. The discussion in the comments revolved around whether to consider this polymer art because although it is mostly polymer, the focus and all the color is painted on. I found it very interesting to hear people’s thoughts on defining polymer art and the idea of polymer purity. You can return to the original post here. There was also a follow-up post a little later that revived the conversation a bit, which you can read here.

If you want to put in your two cents, just comment at the bottom of this post at the post’s page (click the header above to be sure you are on the page) or look for the most recent post on our Facebook page.

The original post was from February 17, 2012:

I fell for the colors when I saw this brooch, then I looked at the bezel. Then at her gallery and all her really creative bezels … and the pretty colors. Artist is Susan Waddington of Polydogz.

You can find more of her work on Flickr and Etsy.

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Textured Color

Ruth Issett textile - Textured ColorTo wrap up this period of bold color, I just had to draw upon my next favorite medium, fiber. Oh, the things people are doing with quilts and mixed media textiles these days are mind-blowing! The textures, colors, and energy in modern textile art rival the best paintings of our time.

This intensely colorful and richly textured piece is by one of the true masters of the medium, Ruth Issett. Ruth’s work, although it can be elegantly simple, is always vibrant and emotional. It is, however, her intensely intricate pieces that are likely to stop any admirer of the arts in their tracks. I can only imagine the time I would lose standing in front of one of her pieces like you see here.

Not only is Ruth an accomplished artist in her field, she is a well-known and prolific writer and teacher.  I know of a half-dozen books she’s published on textiles and color over the last couple decades and they are so beautiful, you don’t even need to be interested in the techniques she teaches to enjoy them, but as polymer artists, I think there is quite a bit of inspiration in those pages.

I could not find an actual website for Ruth but she’s all over the web. Here is one link with an interview, lots of images and a list of her books so you can investigate further.

 

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Go bold with color! That will mean different things for each of you. Perhaps you stick with the same half dozen colors … work with colors quite opposite of those. Perhaps you work in mostly neutrals or earth tones … try something bright and heavily saturated. Just push yourself with color when you get into the studio and see where it takes you.

 

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Not Quite White

kchapman-pendant-tasselsIf you’ve had a chance to read through your latest Fall issue of The Polymer Arts, you may have enjoyed the Color Spotlight article on Sonya Girodon whose work also graces the cover. In the article, our writer, Lindly Haunani, brought up an interesting point about working with white. She noted that Sonya’s work is rarely pure white but is rather just a touch off from white, being mildly cool or warm in color. To illustrate this, she included an image created with pastels over a variety of lightly colored washed paper, showing how pastel colors shift depending on what off-white paper they are placed on. It brings home the idea that moving beyond pure white can add richness and change the look or mood of the colors around it and the work itself simply by choosing to go a little cool or a little warm with the white.

Here is an example of going warm. Warm means the color exists on or leans into the warm color side of the spectrum. Warm colors include red, orange and yellow (think of the colors of fire and the sun) which in an off-white include things like ecru, beige, pale pink and other whites heading towards browns. This is the palette that Australia’s Kelly Chapman chose for this particular tasseled pendant of hers. The near whites give way to a couple of variations of beige in the polymer and eventually a series of browns in the tassels. The warm whites all blend together to give the pendant a rich but serene cohesiveness.

Kelly tends to work in quieter palettes although the occasional brilliant lime green or cobalt blue shows itself but never in a loud way. I can almost imagine that she starts with the idea of white and lets the colors grow from that. I think you’ll see what I mean if you spend some time with her work in her Etsy shop.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Start with two small balls of pure white and add just a small amount of  a warm color to one and a cool color (blue, green, violet, etc) to the other.  Now sheet or roll snakes from each and make them the background or frame for a finished cabochon, cane, or other element you have on hand. Can you see how the slight variation changes the way the colored element works? Now try using an off-white next time you want white in a piece to see how it supports or enriches your design.

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Outside Inspiration: Rings and Resin

vk mastger snowglobe ring

If you are one of those clayers that, like myself, sees something cool in another material and immediately asks yourself, “How can I create that in polymer?” then the rings from this group will really get your gears going. This ring is made from wood and resin. But why not polymer and resin?

Why not, indeed. The mysterious landscape and that rising gold cloud within just snares the imagination. The group, My Secret Wood, is a team of artists that create hundreds of these one of kind rings using different woods, varying inclusions and a range of tints in their resin. I imagine these are done with molds and some very refined resin skills to eliminate large bubbles but I could see this kind of thing being very do-able with polymer as the ring base. Not that I think one should just up and copy this form. Obviously not.  And besides, polymer acts so differently than wood that the outcome would be a world away from this. But a resin cap would help protect surface effects and fragile forms that otherwise would be risky to have on the surface of a ring.

Do take some time today to wander through their gallery of available rings. It is sure to get your imagination going if not tempt you to buy your own.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Design or create an object of your choice in a way that shows an inner world. That could mean any number of things to you so don’t try to be literal but let the idea roll around in your mind and see what “inner world” means to you and see how you can transform that concept into a work of art.

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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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Into the Forest

13576637_10154283234709491_7192967860885552779_oOkay, so this might just be a week of announcements but they are exciting announcements, let me tell you.

During her general assembly presentation at Eurosynergy, Laura Tabakman spoke about her projects, many of which are huge undertakings involving installations of her work and the work of others in anything from organic floor compositions in a gallery to entire bridges yarn bombed by the whole of the local community. So it wasn’t a complete surprise that she has a very ambitious project up her sleeve right now. The difference is that this project can include you!

Laura paired up with the very organized and motivated Emily Squires Levine to work on a project inspired by their time under the aspens in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Living here, I completely get what got their creative juices flowing. I am constantly amazed by the color, variety and just stunning beauty of the mountains here. I honestly have yet to find a place in the world I think is more beautiful than the scenery here. Laura and Emily were similarly impressed and started working out an idea for a large Rocky Mountain forest inspired installation. Later on they got Julie Eakes on board and between the three of them the seeds of the “Into the Forest” project was born. And just hours before Laura’s presentation, the threesome set up a Facebook page to help facilitate what is certainly to be an immense and fascinating project.

So what is “Into the Forest”? The image here is their first assembly based on the project idea and here is their description:

“An international collaboration of polymer artists and enthusiasts inspired by the high altitude aspen groves in the Rocky Mountains, “Into the Forest” is an evolving mixed media international installation organized by collaborating artists Laura Tabakman, Emily Squires Levine and Julie Eakes. Imagine yourself in a forest. On the ground beneath a canopy of branches and leaves, unexpected life exists. Look closely, be amazed at the variety of these organic forms. Be a part of our Forest and help it flourish! Create pieces which will form its life elements. We will combine them into living colonies of varying shapes, colors and sizes. We are looking for 1000s of elements, created by our international polymer community, to inhabit our Forest.”

To get involved, request an invitation to the “Into the Forest” Facebook group. There are already over 150 polymer artists and enthusiasts that have pledged to help. I know I’m excited. Jump over to the Facebook page to get more information and follow the project on Instagram (intotheforest17).

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Here’s a simple one … join the project! Make one element a day or at least every other day, to send off to the project. I started on leaves on the weekend and ideas for lichen and other creeping color. We have until April 4th of 2017 which, making one little simple piece a day means you could have a couple hundred to contribute by April!

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Serenity and Simplicity … the new Fall Cover!

Cover 16P3 med paddingI’ve had this waiting for its final tweaks for nearly a week but, like half the Eurosynergy convention goers, I have been trying to rise up from the flu that knocked so many of us out. But I am now down to maybe 4 naps a day instead of 12 and got this done over the weekend. The flu and the loss of one of my main staff has got me behind so its nose to the grindstone for me now!

Don’t you just love the simple beauty of this neck-piece by Sonya Girodon? She is the featured artist interviewed by polymer pioneer Lindly Haunani for the Color Spotlight section of the Fall issue of The Polymer Arts. As you might know, Maggie Maggio has been the interviewer and conductor of that section of The Polymer Arts for nearly three years but now that her focus is shifting to expanding color education in grade schools, she has passed the torch onto the gracious Lindly. Lindly has taken it up with much gusto and has for you an absolutely entrancing article, highlighting Sonya’s color choices and philosophy.

Of course that is but one reason to be sure you have your copy of the next issue when it comes out at the end of August. Dan Cormier has written an absolute treasure of an article highlighting all the ways you can use scrap for easier, distortion free canes, mokume and other sliced veneer techniques along with other priceless tips and tricks from this master. Tory Hughes will help you access your creativity, Anke Humpert will show you how to make a variety of mandalas for a truly zen art experience, Julie Cleveland has all the basics on bangles for you, and I will reveal the secrets to creating great simplicity in design with exercises included to hone your skills. There is much more but we’ll chat about that later. Enjoy the sneak peek of the cover!

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Challenge your use of color. Find an artist whose work you admire but whose color palette is quite different from what you usually use. Borrow one of their color palettes and integrate it into a piece with your more commonly used techniques and forms. How does the color change the way your work appears? Does working with different colors cause you to create differently as well?

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

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