Twice the Bag

katy schmidt yellow purse 430x843 - Twice the BagI love reversible items. They give you the option of changing up your look without having to have purchased additional accoutrements. So if you are thinking about a polymer-covered clutch, why not cover each side in a different look for versatility?

Katy Schmitt did just that with two distinct looks on this oval clutch. One side uses a yellow into gray blend with reversed swaths of the graduated color, making the purse look like it is glowing from within. This side is simple, understated and yet sophisticated and eye-catching nonetheless. It would make a great accent for that little black dress or even a long pale one.

The reserve side is more pattern and energy than light and glowing. She has kept the feather-like pattern flowing to the right and downward so that even with all that pattern, it looks calm and flowing rather than frenetic. This side of the clutch looks like it would go with you on a summer day outing or to a garden party, should you ever have the occasion to attend one. The two sides make this a year-round handbag option and so twice the bag for your buck.

Reversible pieces can also be a boon to your business. That would be true especially this time of year when people are looking for that knock-out piece for the big party but are hesitant to spend too much. Create work with both a dressy and a casual side so the buyer can envision wearing it more than once, thus better justifying the purchase. And it is always kind of fun to turn a piece over at your craft booth to show them the other side. People just get a kick out that.

For more ideas on covered clutches and more of Katy’s work go to her her Flickr photostream or her website.

The Many Faces of Glass Beads

glass beads 4 430x443 - The Many Faces of Glass BeadsTo round out this week’s quick focus on beads, I thought I’d share focal beads in another medium that is very well-known for them–glass.

Glass artists have some very particular and, literally, inflexible limitations and yet they create these extremely intricate and amazing beads. They do get to work with super clear transparency–a characteristic of their medium that they use to great advantage–which is something that is difficult to achieve in polymer, but their forms and patterns are something that, I think, could be a gold mine of inspiration and a jumping off point for ideas in polymer that go beyond the basic and common beads seen in polymer.

Here are just four examples of the intricacy and beauty in glass bead making today. Starting from top left is a bead created by Leah Nietz, top right is Lisa Fletcher, bottom left is Andrea Guarino, and bottom right is Ikuyo Yamanaka. You can click on each artist’s name to reach their shop or website to look further into what they create. You can also immerse yourself in glass focal beads by putting that very phrase into a Pinterest, Google Images, Etsy, Flickr, or even Instagram.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Choose your favorite image posting service, such as those just listed above, and enjoy the art and inspiration that comes up when you search for “focal beads”. Choose a couple of images and try to determine what you like best about the bead or beads and then figure out how to recreate those characteristics in polymer. Hopefully that leads you to some original and very fulfilling polymer bead explorations.

 

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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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Variation on the Dot

JZharova dotsOh, the dot. A dot is not really a shape and it doesn’t define anything for us in the way its closest relation, the singularly dimensional line, does. It is just a point in space or on a surface but it will always grab our attention. It marks a point that we feel drawn to investigate. However, when it’s gathered to create a texture or pattern, that draw it has doesn’t expand but acts more like beats in a song. So when you have lots of dots, make a song of it.

I think that is what Julia Zharova is doing here. It’s a song she likes too, so she’s created variations on it. In the top one she lets the dots be simple and smooth but backs them with a lot of organic texture. In the one below, the dots are concave and colored but the background texture is more subdued so that the dots can dance without distraction. It’s a couple of examples of variation on a similar design.

Julia seems rather fond of the dot, which is scattered throughout her beautifully composed and well finished work. Enjoy a break with Julia today with a perusal through her Livemaster shop.

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All Out Pattern

LFCozzi belt necklaceOkay … so you know how I’ve been saying all week that you can’t lean on pattern alone. Well, I meant it but there is one kind of exception to that rule and that is, if you are going to do a lot of pattern, go all out with a lot of variation and then be reserved in other design elements so it doesn’t look messy. And this is what I mean by that.

Louise Fischer Cozzi focuses on pattern a lot. She will silkscreen, image transfer, etch, stamp or whatever suits to get the pattern down. I know this would have been made after she got more heavily into silkscreening but I can’t actually say whether any of it is. But that is fairly irrelevant because the idea is that you can see what using a lot of pattern, and successfully, looks like here.

There are more patterns here than I have been able to count but for all that chaos of pattern, there is this very clean collection of circles carrying it all along. Some variation in size and solid versus donut type circles mix it up some, but they are placed at regular intervals to keep everything orderly. A little order in the chaos allows the viewer to enjoy the variety without feeling lost in it. Plus this works as both a necklace and a belt so for those of us that like versatility, this piece has quite a bit going for it.

Louise does a lot of wholesale and a lot of shows so you don’t see her stuff bouncing around the internet too much. To see her latest work, just pop over to her website or check out what she is selling to us mere mortals in her shop.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Focus on pattern this weekend–bit it silkscreen, stamps, image transfers or even hand made marks. You could pick one pattern and see how many ways you can use it. It could be an accent on a bead or the background on a vase upon which you lay other elements. How does the use change how you see the pattern? Or go for an all out piece like the one here, using as many patterns as you can while keeping the design in check.

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Balancing Silkscreens

HBreil Radiating Rays silkscreenAs mentioned yesterday, silkscreen is great for adding pattern to a piece but you want to be careful that you don’t lean too heavily on the pattern to carry your design. As fun and novel as silkscreening can be for the maker, it is still just a visual texture. Something else has to come into play.

So, of course, I had to check out Helen Breil’s silkscreened pieces because I knew she’d have a fabulous example for us. This gorgeous bracelet gets energy and an interesting texture from the silkscreen but if it weren’t for the color choices of gold against a rich red and the undulating form, the pattern would not be overly interesting. But with texture, color and form combined, we have a very dramatic and energetic piece. Let’s not forget the anchor of that black focal point. Without it, all the movement and energy might be a bit much but the button in the middle gives the eye a place to rest before heading back out to take in beauty of this great combination of elements.

Of course, Helen’s shop is an excellent source of silkscreens as well as instruction on how to use them. You can find both on her website here and her Pinterest board of examples here. Also take a look at her video classes, including her new Magnetic Pendants class, all on her website.

 

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Layering on the Holiday Cheer

quilted-ornamentLet’s look at some slightly different ball ornaments today, ones not done in polymer but in an application that could certainly inspire polymer variations.

This beautiful collection of  ‘quilted’ ornaments were created by Angela Sofy of Angels Handmade Craft on Etsy. The layers look to be ribbons, rather than fabric, which has been carefully pinned down onto a styrofoam ball to create the mesmerizing patterns. I could imagine doing something similar with cut shapes of clay layered in carefully set patterns. I even thought I might try this following a mandala like application (see the Fall 2016 issue of The Polymer Arts for an article creating polymer mandalas.)  How fun  that would be and how relaxing during this crazy time of year.

Angela also uses decoupage to add old-time images on the other side of many of these which brings up another point … an ornament doesn’t have to be the same all the way around. Two different techniques (or three or four!)  or images can adorn parts of a piece. It’s a round blank canvas so you can do whatever you like.

Angela creates many, many wonderful versions of these along with silk flowers and folded paper decor. Take a look at her Etsy site and dig up some new ideas, if not buy a few of her beauties for yourself. She is in Romania so I am not sure how long it would take to get here but, personally I would love to get these in my mailbox any time of year!

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Try a patterned ornament or other festive decor. Cut out a bunch of shapes and then just let intuition take over and enjoy the process.

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Big Montana Skies

St James Montana sky beadsIf someone asked us to imagine a sky, what would come to mind? Many of us would likely envision a wide expanse of blue, maybe a few fluffy clouds drifting through it because the sky alone, without context and without weather is, by default, a wide swath of blue. But how often is that the sky we experience?

This last week I was in Colorado during a couple amazing storms as well as crystal clear nights. The skies out in the center of the country can be so amazingly big and dramatic. It is no wonder at all that people who live in these regions often portray or translate the impact and feel of these huge skies in their artwork. These beads, needing not much more than some simple ear wires to make a great set of earrings, were created by Jo Anne St. James. She describes these on her Etsy listing with an apt statement: “The rising moon over the Rocky Mountains in Montana “Big Sky” country is a sight to behold. So if you can’t get to “Big Sky” country let it come to you …” Or both, I say. It’s great that there is no moon but you feel its presence in the glow on the rock formations. And all those stars! Yep, that’s how it is when you are in those wide open spaces on a moonlit night.

These have been sold but Jo Anne has a whole series of sky and landscape inspired beads to share. You can enjoy the view in her Etsy shop and on her Facebook page.

 

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: What in the sky in your area really captures your eye? The colors, the forms of the clouds, the silhouette of trees against it …? Let that characteristic of your home sky inspire your next design, sketch or finished piece.

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A Different Kind of Fish

Nadine Pau fish ornamentI love art dolls. And ornaments. And I’m getting into this whole fish thing so it’s no wonder some odd but beautiful item like this fish ornament by doll and toy maker Nadine Pau caught my eye. There is an ode to steampunk here but I like that its present only in its basic forms. What would be watch gears in someone else’s piece are ornate wheels here. Instead of obvious screw heads and rivets we have simple lines with bead like accents regularly terminating them in a mostly alternate rhythm.

Then there is the face, of course. The illustrative look of the face is content and serene and that look (like it doesn’t find anything wrong with being a fish with a human face but is rather enjoying its strange existence) along with the way the face is integrated with the body using a simple wavy trim for the transition makes for a cohesive and very enjoyable creature.

Then there is the question of what this is made of because it very obviously could be made from polymer. However, I believe this is papier mache as that is the only sculpting material she lists. It is possible that the face is fabric but this can all be done with fine papier mache and paint.

If you enjoy a wonderfully wacky creature or two, do take some time to wander through her gallery which you can find on her delightful website here.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Take any direct imagery you usually use or that you admire and create highly stylized versions of it for a new piece or additions to a work in progress. If the direct imagery is simple, like a heart, you might want to make it more complex or if complex like gears, simplify it or its components so you come up with forms or imagery that is reminiscent of them but is quite different. How does using the stylized imagery change the feel of the work?

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