Bevy of Blues

bevy of blue Helen Backhouse 430x416 - Bevy of BluesIn my search for popular blues, this person’s work that you see here kept popping up, only it seemed to be attached to different people all the time. As it turns out, this is an artist that sticks with making amazing beads and elements that bead artisans can then assemble rather than creating a lot of finished work herself.

Helen Backhouse is her name and her beads and elements can be found scattered throughout Etsy and on various Facebook pages. Her pieces look to be impressed clay colored primarily with mica powders and, I’d guess, some kind of patina and weathered effect techniques, perhaps dyes or paints. Her blues are straight from the back yard, reflecting the brilliant blues found in a butterfly’s or bird’s wing as well as the dusty teals and blues leaning into greens that appear in natural metal patinas. The shapes are simple, the textures organic, and the coloring coolly dramatic. That makes for really eye-catching elements.

The best place to check out her pieces is on her Facebook page where the designers that use her pieces tag her in their photos alongside the stuff she does post.


Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Explore your favorite color. Spend just a couple of minutes writing down what you like about this color, what it reminds you of, and where you notice it most often. Look back at what you wrote and see what kind of work, forms, textures or other ideas these thoughts bring up and let those guide you in the creation of new pieces.


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Of Stamp Carving and Swellegant and Wire and Whorls

gayle Bird wire polymerDo you like to mix things up? Today we have a blog post that will give you a taste of a number of techniques you can apply to a wide range of other work. Carve your own rubber stamps, create colorful patinas on stamped polymer clay and wrap up your patina-colored pieces with wire frames full of loops and whorls.

This great mixed media approach is a result of explorations by wire artist, Gayle Bird. She seems unafraid of trying and mixing it up with all kinds of materials to create her intricate pieces. Wire is her home base material, but polymer, glass, stones and found objects play important roles in her neckpieces and rings.

Her post on these mixed media pendants can be found on her website. You won’t find a lot of very specific instructions but rather a series of ideas. For those ideas that really pique your interest, take it a   step further and seek out independent instruction for more details. If you’re looking for a how-to on carving rubber stamps with linoleum cutters, try this Stamp Carving 101 lesson here. For using Swellegant, B’sue’s Swellegant articles are some of the best. And for wire work, well, there are many, many sources for that, but you can start with some of Gayle’s tutorials or go to Pinterest and search for “wire work tutorials” to show a wide range from which to choose the approach that interests you.


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What We Build

I’m actually surprised that more urban polymer artists don’t look out their windows and want to reflect back the cityscape around them. What human beings have created is incredible. We build both functional and artistic structures all over the globe, forever changing the landscape with our huge buildings, bridges, and ports. Some may find this sad as it represents an absence of nature’s creations, but we too are from nature and our creations are still part of this world. We can’t stop the progress of civilization, but at least we can celebrate the beauty we add.

Ana Belchi celebrates the cityscape through a series of pins she created. Nature gets its say in this piece with the added patina and rust, representative of time and corrosion.

Ana Belchí 0273

Ana goes through a whole series of experiments with patina, which you can find on her blog. She is a wide-ranging polymer artist with beautiful finishes. Take a look over the pieces in her store as well.


pg collage 13-P3 Fall 2013

Outside Inspiration: Scratch the Surface

It is really amazing the number of techniques that can be used to color and texture metal. It is almost (I said almost!) as varied as it is for polymer. I have this wonderful book called The Jeweller’s Directory of Decorative Finishes with over a dozen ways to achieve coloration using chemicals for patina and oxidizing as well as enamel. But there isn’t anything like what  Lauren Pollaro does here with this  copper and silver pendant/brooch. Can you guess what she uses to color it?

Pollaro - Brooch 1

Her coloration is pretty darn simple. Nothing toxic or hard to find. She just applies acrylic paint and then alters it with what looks like rough sanding and some kind of sharp-pointy tools for more definitive scratches. Nothing overly advanced, but what a great looking treatment.

I have yet to find a surface treatment used for metal that cannot be emulated in polymer. This translation is easy enough and I personally am itching to try it out. Just bake a formed/cut piece of clay, then paint, sand, and scratch as you desire to bring out the clay color below and develop this kind of unrefined but rich finish. Then seal and you’re set. Easy peasey … and nice looking!


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