Exploring Points

helene jeanclaude dots 430x291 - Exploring PointsLast week I had the very fortunate opportunity to spend a couple days chatting and exploring Los Angeles with Christi Friesen and one of my oldest polymer pals, Debbie Crothers. We definitely did more talking than anything else and one of the subjects that kept coming up was exploration. Exploration of a technique or of a design element in your work can reveal much about what you personally prefer to do in your work not just what the technique or element offers.

One great way to explore is to make a lot of elements using the same technique or the same design element. In this bold neckpiece by Hélène JeanClaude there are several variations on the dot. The dot as a colored accent, as repetition defining the structure of a visual pattern, and as negative space are joined together, linked by that same color of blue and the coppery brown. The curve of the shapes, as well as the colors and the dots themselves, create a cohesive whole of these three very different explorations of the way a dot can be used.

Hélène’s work often appears to be an exploration of a particular design element or perhaps she is simply not satisfied with an element being presented in just one way. Regardless, it presents a high level of sophistication and energy to her tribal-leaning aesthetic. You can explore the fruits of her explorations on her Flickr photostream and here on her blog.

 

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A Many Layered Thing

jess kirkman 430x518 - A Many Layered ThingTo wrap up our week of looking at the effect of gathering a multitude of things, I thought I’d share an example that shows not just a collection of many things but also the proliferation of negative space.

This wall piece is the work of alcohol ink artist Jess Kirkman. Although the multiple layers are the physical aspect of the work, it is the many holes–the absence of material–that brings about the energy and texture of this piece. The negative space allows you to see past each layer and multiplies the colors and texture. The “cells” as Jess calls them allows for full participation of each layer in the composition. They create both shadow and light as well as density, in the texture, and airiness, with all the open negative space. It is a wildly enticing set of contrasts.

Jess has a whole series of these, scattered in among the more traditional 2-D work. But the colors and textures are all lovely to look at. Take it in on her Instagram page or her shop.

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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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Body of Work

carole monohan Kamphe 430x416 - Body of WorkLooking over a collection of work can tell you quite a bit about an artist and what intrigues them. The posts this week will give us a chance to consider, in a more complete and varied way, what an artist might be doing or be after in particular types of work.

Carole Monahan-Kampfe recently posted some rather intriguing pieces in what she refers to as her Steampunk collection but instead of jewelry, it looks like we are seeing a lot of ornaments. We are looking at Swellegant treatments (click the ad link below for more on this fascinating stuff) which make for some very yummy textures but the various shapes and variation on an ornament is what is most captivating about this work.

Although she is calling it steampunk and the influence of that aesthetic is there, many of the common motifs are, gratefully, missing and we can enjoy the exploration of the surface treatment and the manipulation of the ornament forms. I love the negative space in the ones with the floating centers and then those forms that are folding in on themselves which she calls Infinity Orbs. No standard ornament forms here either. Carole actually looks to be taking not the motifs and objects from the Steampunk arena but rather the inventive nature it is supposed to be representative of. Regardless, the choice of shapes and decorative touches are beautiful and more so in a collection like this where the various take on the elements and forms can be compared and contrasted.

The orbs at least, she lists as being made with Makin’s clay which is an air dry clay, rather than polymer but this could all be done with polymer as well of course. Carole just likes to try all kinds of things out as you can see on her Flickr photostream–another method of looking at an artist’s collection of work and over time at that. In this collection though, she seems to have really hit her stride and I hope she keeps playing with these ideas.

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Outside Inspiration: Beautiful Empty Frames

Large Agate Wing Earrings, crafted with silver and copper...SOLDYep … back to frames again today. There are just so many beautiful pieces with unique ways to incorporate frames.

Here, we have earrings by metal jewelry artist Nisa Smiley that are more than just frames. In actuality, what the open spaces frame is negative space. That negative space is filled with whatever your imagination comes up with or with the background beyond. Open metal work like this feels airy and light, which matches the wing imagery here.

Nisa works her pieces to bring elements of nature to the metal. She says “When creating a piece of jewelry, I strive to combine five elements of nature that speak most strongly to me: color, pattern, texture, organic shape, and metal. My sense of design recognizes these patterns, textures, and colors to be the ultimate complement to the human figure.” Can you discern the five elements she is working towards in this piece?

Although these frames may seem a bit delicate to create in polymer, open work and the framing of negative space is still a viable idea to work into your pieces when that airiness or space for the imagination are desired. You can see a bit more of this along with beautiful stones and colorfully treated metals in more of Nisa pieces on her website.

 

 

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Aysmmetrical Balancing Act

So, yesterday I very briefly started talking about how balance is at the center of well produced asymmetry. Here is a piece that works more toward a feeling of tension rather than being well-balanced.

In this piece, Margaret Polcawich has mixed wood and polymer clay. The strength of both materials is highlighted in the design as well as the asymmetry. The metal arm leans out to one side while the stacked shapes struggle to lean inward and in the opposite direction. There is a kind of balance in the juxtaposition of the components’ visual movement, even though that movement seems more of a struggle than an harmonious existence. But the piece is named “Temporary” and so the feeling that the balance achieved is only momentary fulfills that idea.

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This Maryland artist is not only a sculptor but also a furniture designer. She calls furniture our most accessible sculpture. She explains, “While studying sculpture in college, I began utilizing the chair as a metaphor for the human figure, and have been drawn to functional art ever since.” You can see her furniture, mixed media jewelry and polymer clay accessories, along with some great Mokume
Gane tutorials, on her website.

 

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Graphically Designed

Talk about color accenting! This bracelet plays with everything else before that cane of purple even begins to register. The wonderful shape of the beads, the contrast in value (which is all black and white are), the visual and tactile texture and the negative space where the beads cut away instead of butting against each other makes for an intriguing and dynamic bracelet.

Of course, this is a Bettina Welker bracelet, so well engineered and designed. Her graphic design background is really showing it’s best side in this lovely piece.

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Of course, Bettina is the queen of bracelets. If you haven’t gotten your copy of her lovely book Polymer Clay Bracelets, you really should, even if you don’t make a lot of bracelets. She has some wonderful tips just on working with polymer and on engineering jewelry, not to mention that the layout and photos are gorgeous.

 

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.

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Incomplete Surroundings

A frame doesn’t have to completely surround the focus of the piece or shrink back to be a barely noticed element. The framed piece we have for you today suspends the center stone between the framing elements, using negative space to enhance the design.

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As the artist, Georgia Morgan explains, “Working in polymer allows unlimited space to explore the synergy of color, pattern, and texture. My main artistic influences have been Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements, and the work that resonates the most with me combines organic elements in a geometric framework.”

Whether you’re creating your frame from polymer or some other mixed media, consider breaking away from the enclosed space and straight, balanced lines, unless your piece is about control, symmetry or otherwise needs the expected and calm of a standard frame. In other words, consider what your frame can be to help support the feeling or theme of the piece.

For more on Georgia’s often out of the box work, take a look at her website here.

 

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Organic texture, Graphic Form

Black and white is rather a standard when it comes to creating a graphic look. One can assume that was the basic idea behind Debbie Carlton’s little pieces here. I assume they are earrings–created using mokume in black and white, and what looks to be a little red underneath but then this crackling of gold and the imprecision of the square shapes bring a more organic feel to the pieces. The contrasting textures within the colors and the negative space and scale add energy to the small surface area she has to work with here.

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Debbie enjoys combining precious metal clay with colorful polymer in her pieces. She has been exploring the compatibility of these two mediums as seen in her work on her Craft Central and Flickr pages.

 

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