Waterfalls of Color

2goodclaymates CaBezel pendants 430x430 - Waterfalls of ColorAlthough there isn’t a full rainbow of color in each individual piece here, I just had to share the work of Carolyn and Dave Good who recently posted these lovely mokume components for their fall (as in draped or like a waterfall) necklaces. These pieces use a similarly high saturation of color among them all and a lot of contrast within each piece. It makes for a great looking collection that I’d be happy to have just hanging on the wall together. Well, I might be inclined to wear them too, I’ll have to admit.

These pieces were made with some new CaBezel molds by Wendy Orlowski of our long time supporter, Shades of Clay. This series is actually called Holy CaBezels, due to the hole, of course. But maybe they can also be a bit of divine inspiration for the right person. It would be hard to say unless you bought a set and tried it out. Just saying.

The Goods always have something yummy to share on their blog so if you like having great eye candy dropped in your inbox, sign up for the 2GoodClaymates blog. And to get your set of molds, go to Shades of Clay.

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Graphically Different

Melanie Muir triangles 430x590 - Graphically Different

I can hear you already asking, if you read my introduction to the idea of soft or almost-triangle shapes on Monday, whether these beads by the elegant hand of Melanie Muir really qualify as versions of triangles. My answer is, that is up to how you want to see it.

To me, it is both triangular in that the space it takes up is about what a triangle would cover, and based on an oval since it is also an oval cut in half. But what this points out about triangles, or any shape really, is that they are just a step away from something quite different. Soften one angle on a triangle and you have the makings of an oval in hand. Basic shapes are just a couple of steps, simple lines arranged in simple ways. More complex shapes are usually a conglomeration of basic shapes.

As an artist, keeping this in mind means you are keeping your designs open to being pushed past the basics or as far and as complex as you see fit. Not that a basic square, triangle or circle are not valuable shapes. They certainly are! But the more options you see as you create, the more likely you are to come up with something that truly reflects your personal aesthetic and what you want to express.

Melanie, who is so well known for her organic shapes and thickly framed organic mokume veneers, has really been pushing her signature techniques, heading into more graphic waters and adding in a few more techniques. I am really enjoying the directions she’s been taking and look forward to seeing what else she has in store for us in the near future.

Keep up on Melanie’s work on her website and on her Facebook page.

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Majestic in Purple

JPicarelloI don’t think I have ever done a week on a specific color but that’s what we are going to do this week and purple is my choice. I don’t know if it is all the purple blooms coming out in this nice Spring weather we are having or just my penchant for it, but I’ve been seeing a lot of beautiful purple pieces popping up on Pinterest in particular. These aren’t all new pieces. It just seems that purple is on more than a few people’s minds.

It is not hard to combine other colors with purple and arrive at a beautiful and majestic combination since purple will pretty much make any palette majestic if it takes center stage. Take this nicely balanced–both in colors and in the way the shapes are hung–necklace by Julie Picarello. The purple does dominate but take a close look at the other colors she has here. Yellow is not surprise since it is purple’s complement but there is also a touch of orange, mauve and magenta. They are subtle blends so none of those stand out but they allow contrast with the purple to allow the darker color a richer feel than it would have on its own.

Julie is, of course, a master at choosing colors for her signature mokume techniques. For inspiring color combinations, take a look at more of her work on her website and Flickr pages, and check out her book, Patterns in Polymer.

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Pushing Variation

cane-slice-plus-36-permutations-on-blackBefore we leave the realm of canes, I thought I’d toss out a little reminder and challenge (along with adding another colorful image to our week … guess I’m feeling the need for color!) to really push what you do with canes. Or if you don’t cane, consider ways you can manipulate and vary the applications you commonly use.

Carol Simmons, a master with both canes and colors, shows the many, many opportunities for beautiful and complex designs you can find in just one cane with this image of 36 kaleidoscope versions. It is absolutely amazing to see the variation. It takes a while to find where and how she switched up and cut up the canes slices to come up with these. A couple are still a mystery to me, I must admit, but it is such a delight to find each one. It’s like 36 little puzzles. It is more than just a puzzle though. Going through and finding the patterns and determining how she arranged them can do a lot for your understanding of the possibilities of manipulating pattern which you can, in turn, turn around and apply to canes, mokume, textural patterns and anything else with a sheeted surface.

The post on this was actually from about 3 years ago but it’s a timeless lesson. Jump over to Carol’s blog post to read the whole thing and get further insight on this.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: You know what this challenge will be … create variation with a cane or other surface designed sheet. How can you cut, rearrange, or manipulate the pattern to come up with other designs?

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Canes Gone Wild

olga-perova-flickr-2014While researching the translucent canes last week, I came across a lot of amazing cane pieces. Some were delicately beautiful, some extraordinarily skilled and some were just wild. This vase is a case in point.

To be honest, I am not sure what Olga Perova did to this but it completely sucked me in because the details are tremendous. I believe the work is a combination of extruder caning and extruder mokume with micro beads and maybe some post cure carving going on. Not absolutely sure but what a lot of work this must have been. A part of me wants to see the form itself more controlled–straighter upper edges and cleaner openings in the body–but then I am not sure that the feeling of complete abandon would be quite as strong and that could diminish it overall. Maybe my eyes and mind just need a place to rest that is simple and ordinary while looking at this. Of course, bedlam and a riot of color and texture may very well be Olga’s intention. In which case, she certainly did that.

To really appreciate the detail and intensity of this piece, you need to pop over to Olga’s Flickr photostream and see all the shots. Then look through the rest of what she has. You’ll see that most of her work is very well controlled but she doesn’t shy away from being experimental either.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create chaos. Work completely intuitively for at least 15 minutes. Let chaos rules the work that comes from your hands. If you are itching to put order to your chaos after 15 minutes, do so. Otherwise keep at it and see what comes of pure intuition.

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Mokume Squared

There seems to be an explosion of innovation in polymer design as of late.  Maybe as a whole we fell into a rut of creating within a fairly small circle of ideas but it seems that more and more, clayers are pushing the ideas or just going off into their own little worlds which creates some very unique design.

melanie-muir-vessel-setMelanie Muir sent me images of a new series she’s recently been working on and I have to say, it would never have occurred to me that Melanie might go in a home decor direction, not one with such a graphic look to it but it really does work well. After admiring her beautiful organic shapes and mokume patterns for so long it’s quite a shift to see the same type of mokume squared off like this but the contrast between the organic patterning and the very precise placement of squared off color makes for some lovely vessels.

I had the hardest time deciding which of the new vessels’ images to share here as she has them in different colors and mokume pattern sets as well as a series she calls ‘Coastline’ where the mokume is not framed at all but rather is blended into the background over the joint of two wide bands of color. Go see for yourself on her Facebook page here for the whole recent collection, debuting this week at the London Design Fair which starts tomorrow.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Do you work primarily in one style such as organic, graphic, tribal, floral, or something else? Take what you usually lean towards and contrast it with a style completely opposite from it. The key to contrast is making the contrast relate on some level. Melanie made her graphic versus organic relate in terms of color. You can also make the two relate through elements that have the same type of pattern, shape, size, lines or that create similar texture.

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Deep Mokume Shine

ukrasheniya-braslet-na-derevyannojAnother example of a simple but beautiful finish is brought to us by Tatiana Parshikova from the Kursk region of Russia. This beautifully polished mokume has an increased sense of depth, not only from the use of translucent clay but because the polish allows light to cleanly bounce in and back out, clearly defining all the beautiful layers she created here.

You can catch more of Tatiana’s beautiful work on Instagram and on her LiveMaster pages where she is known as Seventh Heaven.

I’m going to be brief today as I am traveling. Blogs for the next few weeks will be coming to you from France or, should internet be difficult to obtain, from a stash of back up posts my darling project manager Ciara will post for you so you have something pretty to look at daily. The challenges may be sporadic but I will try to post at least one a week. Now off to catch a plane! Au revoir pour le moment.

 

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Sophisticated Form

Melanie muir pendantLast, but certainly not least, in this two week tour of our “best of” chosen artists for the Polymer Journeys 2016 book, we have Melanie Muir who is our sole representative of Scotland in the book. I think the draw Melanie’s work has is in its clean sophistication. She is so precise and has honed her particular set of techniques to absolute perfection.

Her mokume, although organic and flowing, has a feel of precision as well.  The clean lines in her mokume come from a stamp or texture impression technique like the one you’ll find in the tutorial by Angela Barenholtz in our Winter 2015 issue of The Polymer Arts magazine.

Her large necklaces are lovely, of course, but I am partial to her pendants where the focus is on the mokume design, framed and centered so that the intricacies of the pattern grab your attention all by themselves. I love the color choices in this one, a bit autumnal using white to set up the saturation of the color. I found this little beauty while wandering around Melanie’s Facebook page.

Her precise shapes also generally come from a set of tools–her own shape templates. Because, like so many of our amazing polymer artists, Melanie applies her talents in more than one area, in this case, the creation of textures and templates. If you haven’t seen her offerings, you can find them on her site here and you can also purchase them on Etsy.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Focus on perfection. Create a small piece using a technique you’ve worked with before but maybe have not been doing for very long, and try to create the most perfect version of it. This may take a little forethought and patience to figure out how best to handle the material so it is not marred or defaced with finger prints to finish it well. You might want to take such additional steps as multiple curings or refrigerating to let the work rest between manipulations. See what you learn from examining and changing up the way you work. Can you develop more careful steps in your process or do you even want to?

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Unintentional Preciousness

forditeWhat kind of polymer is this you ask? Well, as much as it looks like a super well polished bit of polymer mokume, it is not. It is a material called Fordite. If you haven’t heard of it before, you’re now probably thinking this is a semi-precious stone, right? Well, precious it is, strangely enough, and although it was created in a process not unlike nature’s layering and compressing, it isn’t stone either. Maybe its other names will give you a hint–it’s also known as Motor Agate, Detroit Agate, or “paint rock”and was mined, not from some exotic mountain region in a little known area of the Amazon but rather, in the depths of automobile manufacturing plants. That’s right, its layered car paint. Pretty wild, huh?

This ‘stone’ is now being traded, sold, carved and set like a semi-precious stone even though it’s a manmade product. The reason it is so special is because it is an unintentional product and some of the paint in those layers are really, really old. As described on www.thenewswheel.com: “It’s created by layer upon layer of slag-like material formed from spray-painting cars by hand. Each time a new car got colored, the oversprayed paint gradually built up on the tracks and skids holding the vehicle’s frame. Those paint layers harden as the cars entered “ovens” to cure the paint on the frame. After being baked hundreds of times, this agate would become an obstruction and had to be removed by hand.”

This meddlesome byproduct was thought to initially be something the plant worker’s pocketed as a curiosity but eventually it found its way into the hands of jewelers. Although there is documented use of this as a kind of stone as much as 30 years ago, it wasn’t until artist Cindy Dempsey of Urban Relic Design was interviewed by The New York Times that it really started to get noticed. And with demand going up but supply being finite (they don’t paint cars that way anymore), it is getting really expensive. There are even people talking about hunting down and mining the sites where the waste materials of the car plants were dumped. How crazy is that?

Okay, so it’s a cool story, but what does that mean for polymer? At the very least, it means that the mokume look is appreciated and in-fashion. We won’t be able to provide the sense of history or be identifiable by car types or time periods as these pieces are, but the way people are working with this and the kind of visual textures they are getting is just one source of inspiration for your own textural explorations. Plus, it’s just a cool story!

I choose this particular piece to share because the artist integrated the drips, rather than grinding them off or using a portion with less variation. The piece was created by a seller on Etsy whose shop is called “Walk On The Moon”. I am unsure if the artists who work in fordite commonly grind the stones from the chunk of compressed paint or if they get the pieces and just decide  how best to present it. In any case, it’s pretty neat stuff for something so wholly unintentional.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Take a look at your half-finished pieces or scrap elements and look for the beauty in it that you didn’t see before. If you cut it, grind it down, drill it, add a layer, hang it in a different orientation, or do something completely unintended, can you see the wonderful thing it can become? Study or play with the piece until you find a form or treatment that makes it work.

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