The Complexity of Time

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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 page has more images.


Memories for a Lifetime


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I know I showed you a bit of the sample “Into the Forest” installation last week, but I didn’t get in this mosaic created by Julie Eakes for the exhibition that will be installed in November. I think Julie gets the prize for the most intense and biggest piece to go into the installation. I uploaded a fairly large image of this so if you click on the photo, it should open up in a browser window and you can zoom in to see all the individual canes that make up the idyllic scene.

I wish you could zoom in on the screens you see here in the main assembly room as Ellen Prophater presented her talk on mokume gane. Oh, the secrets and the great tips and tricks she gave away during this talk! This kind of thing was happening all over and made the price of this event well worth it on that basis alone. The friendships and conversations, however, they make it priceless.

If you didn’t get to make Synergy and haven’t been to any major events lately or ever, keep them in mind. Save up your pennies and plan to get that time off from work for the next big event you can possibly work into your schedule. They are each an experience you’ll keep with you all life long.


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Loveless Animals

loveless cane wall seahorse 430x989 - Loveless AnimalsLet us allow Jon Stuart Anderson’s cover piece dictate the theme this week … animals full of color and pattern. Although, unlike Jon’s bull on the cover of the upcoming Summer 2017 issue (due out end of May) is a three-dimensional sculpture, this piece is a wall mosaic by Mary Anne Loveless who just so happens to be gracing our pages as well in the gallery section of that same issue.

Even though this is a two-dimensional approach to using canes to create the shape and flow of an animal’s likeness, the mind-set is probably not dissimilar when the artists sit down to work out where the canes will go. What canes and where would they best serve the image of this animal they want to convey? Mary Anne is using mosaic and pointillism to create the form of the seahorse here while Jon uses a three-dimensional form. Does seem pretty different from that aspect but the patterns are what form the details of these animals in both cases.

I really enjoy picking out the individual canes in both cases. I am enthralled by Mary Anne’s choice of color juxtaposition in this. The aqua next to the reds and the beige and peach being the color the blues fade off to like in the chest area. It’s just beautiful.

Mary Anne really likes seahorses, as you will find upon opening her Flickr page which as of this post, is pretty much all seahorses. But she also likes fish and flowers and faeries!  But mostly she loves, and is very good at, pattern and color which you can see in full evidence on her Flickr pages and her Etsy shop.


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A Riot of Color and Emotion

AGenser tie-DyeI am going to leave you with this colorful piece today. It is a type of mosaic, one could say so it fits the theme but I chose it primarily because the colors felt right, matching the riot of emotion that this day holds for my family and I as we lay my father to rest. We celebrate life today though, rather than mourn it. That’s just how we roll.

Amy Eisenfeld Genser, on the other hand rolls paper. That is what you see here–the cross sections of many rolled piece of colored paper. It could easily be a polymer cane application though, don’t you think? Well, here are some questions to ponder over. Leave your thoughts in the comment section if you have a moment.

What emotions or reactions do you have to this piece? Are you drawn to the texture and composition as much or even more than to the color, which likely grabs you first? What design element or design related terms comes to mind first when you ask yourself why this works so well or why it doesn’t if you don’t think much of it?

If you enjoy this piece, you will probably enjoy getting lost in Amy’s website where she has work in her gallery from the last dozen or so years.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: This week, take a critical but very forgiving eye into your studio or to the photos of your work and look at some older pieces of yours. Find the ones you think were really good and ask yourself why the pieces work so well? Just focus on the good stuff today, your successes and the work that makes you happy. Then create or enjoy your weekend as you need to.


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A Collective Shine

mosaic wallThe art form with the ultimate bits-and-pieces approach has to be mosaics. With mosaics you can take any material that can be collected in chunks that are small enough to puzzle together among themselves or with other smallish chunks. That makes for a lot of possibilities. The possible forms for the application of mosaics is pretty wide open. Even opening the form is possible and breaking the frame is a possibility with mosaics.

Robin Evans‘ choice of material is primarily glass from which she creates jewelry and, apparently, some pretty amazing wall art in a mosaic style. I hesitate to call it a full mosaic as it looks like the swaths of gold, copper, and green are cracked glass or mirrors which gives the impression of a mosaic even though it’s not although it is a pretty cool look.

Then there are the actual mosaic parts which not only flow through from one panel design to the next but also move right off it and onto the wall to make their ways across. This not only connects the vertical panels but brings the piece alive with movement that breaks the frame of each one. And it’s shiny!

I couldn’t find a gallery of much of Robin’s wall art or at least not a gathering of it but you can find pieces scattered among her jewelry on her Facebook page, in her Etsy shop and on Instagram.

Weekly Inspirational Challenge: Create something beautiful from unassuming elements. This could be a great way to use old canes, extra beads, scrap clay and even cured and deserted elements. See what you have in your spare bins and boxes in your studio space and see what can be resurrected from the stuff you set aside.


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Tracking Our History

Okay … a couple little notes first …

Thank you to all of you who jumped in and pre-ordered a Polymer Journeys book. It was very heartening to see how many people are interested in this kind of book and I so hope you all enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together. If you wanted to get in on the discounted pricing that we have through the 30th, just head over to the Polymer Journeys website.

Geena mosaicFor those of you who get this by email, you may have noticed a change in the look of your emails the last time or two. We moved to a new, more stable email service for you. You now have “like” buttons, so you can share it on 252 different social networks and online sharing services (Never knew there were so many!). Not all of them will transfer the image, if that is what you want to share, but you can click the post’s title in the email and it will take you to the post where you can share the URL address instead. If you have any questions or comments about the new format, just reply to the email and let us know!

This book has raised a number of discussions about looking at work retrospectively. I wanted to create Polymer Journeys as a series as a way to document what has been going on in polymer art as well as give us a more concrete way to understand where it’s going. The internet has endlessly muddled our sense of what is happening today because if something was posted anywhere at any point since the internet went public, it could pop up on someone’s screen for the first time, and it will seem like something new.

This mosaic is an example of something that came up while I was doing some research online that I had never seen before this past week. I thought it a beautiful example of how polymer can be used as a material for a traditional art form, giving the artist a bit more latitude and ease in creating the tiles for a traditional mosaic application. However, Geena Bregar, the creator of the mosaic, posted this some 13 years ago. I had never seen it and would have been at a loss as to guess its age if it weren’t for the dating of the blog post.

Of course, the question is, does it matter if we know when something was made? In many ways, no, it doesn’t. The strongest art continues to inspire, draw admiration, or causes someone to stop and ponder years, decades, or centuries after its creation. But I think the history of an art form, an artist, or even a piece of art itself has stories that we can learn quite a bit from or at least find wonder in them. I’ve been talking about how polymer has really reached out and touched so many other forms of art and is being used in conjunction with so many materials, but pieces like this are a good reminder that this influence and creative use of polymer is nothing new.

I think, really, polymer always been that kind of material. It’s just hard to get a good perspective on when and how this reach and influence occurred. If the Polymer Journeys books do well, perhaps we’ll be able to have a clear and educational perspective alongside a great collection of beautiful work to inspire us for years to come.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Look back at your oldest pieces in whatever medium you first created original works. Do you see new and inspiring elements even now? Take an element–a form, the way you used line, a technique, or color palette and combine it with your advanced knowledge and skill in a new design.


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Scenes in Micro


Ginger really wanted to share a micro mosaic piece with you this week and I’ve gone back and forth on options for us. The thing is, micro mosaics in polymer were really established, and I think are still best done, by Cynthia Toops. But I’ll be breaking a rule of mine to not feature an artist that was on the blog within the last 6 months–I like to spread the love around so to speak and Cynthia was featured last month. Well, here’s to breaking rules now and then!

The image of this bracelet is actually from Chuck Domitrovich’s Flickr pages. Chuck, an accomplished metal smith, partnered with Cynthia to create this bracelet some years back. This gorgeous bangle has two scenes actually–one side with an underwater scenario on the right and a land scene on the left. They work together because of the similar color palette and the styling of the imagery. I didn’t think it was too hard to imagine how these were created but the timing issue was not something I would have expected. Here is Cynthia’s process in Chuck’s words:

“Each mosaic is made by rolling tiny Fimo/polymer threads out of each color, and then baking those threads to harden them. Then the threads are cut into small pieces and these are used as the basis for the mosaic, with each tiny cut piece of thread pushed into soft polymer lining the bezel. She only has a limited amount of time to set all the threads before the polymer clay dries out and the threads begin to curl. In some of the larger mosaics she has done, Cynthia has had to rework entire sections that have dried too fast. Each mosaic takes many, many hours, and it is not unusual for her to spend a week of working almost constantly to finish one. Once all the threads are in place the entire piece is baked once again, hardening and setting them.”

There is more detail in this bracelet at the hinges and a closer look really is needed to appreciate all that went into this. You can see great detail shots by clicking the image here or this link and then clicking the right side arrows on Chuck’s Flickr page to see them all.  And you can find more of Cynthia and Chuck’s micro mosaic collaborations in this Flickr photo album.

Our guest blogger partner, Ginger Davis Allman lives in Springfield, Missouri with her husband Gary, her three kids and her many craft obsessions. Subscribe to her blog and look around her website for her well-researched and in-depth posts and articles on polymer related subjects. Support her great information and research as well as treating yourself by purchasing a tutorial or two from this talented lady.



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Things Missed

One of the more difficult parts of editing a magazine is deciding not what will go in, but what won’t. For every article you see and every artist featured, there are many more ideas and pieces that are worthy of attention and examination. This week, I thought I’d present some art, artists, ideas, and references that were in my notes or folders but which didn’t make it into this issue (not that they won’t in a future issue!) or that I wish I could have explored further.

The Fall 2013 issue of The Polymer Arts prints the last of the three article series on Wall Art put together by Alice Stroppel and Suzanne Ivester. I’ll miss their in-depth investigation into this form of polymer art, but hope to get back to the subject through other avenues of discussion. I have a whole page of ideas and artists that work in wall art that we haven’t gotten to yet. Here is one such polymer wall artist that works with tiles pieces and multiple treatments. Gail Woods began exploring the possibilities of polymer clay tiles after taking a class with the very talented Laurie Mika (who is the featured artist interviewed in our Color Spotlight in this upcoming issue, by the way.)



Her wall pieces go from mosaic to bargello to puzzle style compositions like the one here. Her wall art allows her to directly explore favorite subjects such as the ocean, being out in nature, and just the favorite things in her everyday life. Enjoy looking through her eyes in her gallery here.


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Outside Inspiration: Lessons from Mosaics

As mentioned earlier this week, if you cane, especially if you are looking to make canes from images, you can learn a great deal from mosaic artists who, like polymer caners, must break down images to their essential components.

I have looked at a lot of mosaic work in my day. I love the texture of mosaics and the genius that goes into creating recognizable images within the restrictions of the material at hand. But I have never seen anything like Atsuko Laskaris’ work. Can you believe this is a glass mosaic?



The image, composition, and emotion of this piece is gorgeous along with being amazing work done in this challenging medium. Her page shows the detail of the work. It would be quite the challenge to do this in polymer but it would be possible to get such subtle changes in color that you see in the skin and hair. Now that is something to aspire to!

Atsuko’s gallery is a long page of continuous inspiration for anyone wanting to attain realistic imagery in their canes, and for anyone that just loves soaking up beautiful art work.


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