Circularly Centric

sonagrig stained glass 430x492 - Circularly Centric

Circles are one of the most basic design elements, seen throughout nature and in one of the most meaningful human features, the eyes. They have had their ups and downs in terms of popularity in art and design, however, it is unquestionable that we all have a strong affinity for them. If there is a circle on a design, it will be noticed before any other shape. Its symmetry is comforting and mildly energized due to its connection to movement as in wheels and anything round feeling like it could roll away. It has no beginning and no end which has given it a revered place in religious and spiritual designs.

The circle as the central form certainly enjoys a revered place in polymer art, old and new. What you see here is a new piece by Sona Grigoryan and a very colorful one for her at that. This pendant looks like a miniature stained glass window from a cathedral with the exception of the hole in the middle. The negative space there adds a focal point as well as making the center feel infinite in its depth. It is mandala-like as well which adds to the spiritual feel of it.

Take a look at Sona’s new and colorful designs by visiting her website, Flickr photostream, or Instagram page.




The Shape of Owls

Meadow and fawn painted owls 430x370 - The Shape of OwlsI’ll wrap up this week with some adorable creatures that will just pull at your heartstrings.

Alexis is the creative soul behind Meadow and Fawn, crafting in an unspecified clay and painting the most endearing little details in her jewelry, sculpture and shadow boxes. I found the painting on these owls intriguing because it’s not just feathers and texture, there are little scenes on them or other animals. Does the artist feel that the owls embody the wisdom of all types of nature and that is why she is inclined to paint natural scenes on them? Or are their cute little bodies simply a convenient canvas?

For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know I am very big on intention and the relationship between the elements in a piece. Logically, I am not finding an obvious relationship between the owl shapes and the fox, deer and butterflies on them, but somehow it still works and how readily they sell is a testament to how strongly they must speak to people as they are so quickly snatched up. That’s what is intriguing to me. Is it that they are natural images on a natural shape alongside her soft and gentle style of sculpting and painting?

Logic does not always provide the answers, especially when it comes to the heart and art. I think we can just simply look and enjoy and snatch up our own if so driven. You can follow Alexis on Instagram or find out more about her and peruse her shop on her website.


Lit from the Inside

lit heart 430x270 - Lit from the InsideHere is a neat little idea for hollow pendants of all kinds and we get to stick with the heart theme started last week as well.

The translator couldn’t decide on the artist’s name but I think it is spelled out as Lena Yolka, a Russian architect who likes to play with whatever she can get her hands on, it seems. And she really likes her Dremel. So after creating the hollow hearts, she thought a few holes would make for great texture, which it does. The crowning touch, though, was adding the tiny LED inside. That certainly makes it eye-catching.

Lena hasn’t had a recent entry in her LiveJournal and I couldn’t find other links to her work but you can admire her holey work and other pieces here until I or someone else dig up more on this creative soul.

Micro Mishap

patriksstudio sinter accident 430x573 - Micro MishapI still need to try my hand at something in PMC besides a basic bezel but it’s the unpredictability that makes me hesitate. However, with mishaps like this bit that happened to Patrik, maybe I really can just embrace it.

Patrik notes here that in the firing, not all the parts sintered properly–sintering being when the metal gets hot enough to bond but not liquefy, resulting in a partial but still strong fusing of metal parts. In precious metal clays, those parts are all the little particles suspended in the binder that allows the metal to be worked like clay. So here, not all the material fused as expected, leaving the copper with an uneven but interesting texture.

In precious metal clays, like polymer, an insufficient cure will result in less strength but it looks like all the pieces that didn’t sinter were on the surface and aren’t involved in holding the shape and structure. Which does point out that although some accidents may look cool, the item still needs to be durable and perform as intended. But if your pendant comes out warped or the clay surface gets nicked, stop and consider if the powers that be are trying to tell you to try something new.

Patrik is a designer, artist and teacher specializing in precious metal clay jewelry. You can find more of his work including some enticing tutorial videos on his website.

Happy Accidents

CMcGee torn mosaic 430x430 - Happy AccidentsAlthough they are not always pretty, not at first, happy accidents can lead to wonderful techniques and inspiring design. I keep bumping into pieces recently that came from just such incidents, such as this ripped mosaic technique Cindi McGee happened upon.

This feels like the beginning of a foray into this approach to mosaics for Cindi and I am hoping we’ll see more of what she does with this. I think if larger pieces or more intricate pieces were created, you could have some really amazing visual textures not to mention using up lots of scrap clay!

Have you had any happy accidents lately? I find with polymer that nearly every accident is an opportunity to not just learn about how the material and one’s approach works but to find more techniques and effects. Take a close look at the present Winter cover of The Polymer Arts and Emily Squires Levine’s vase. Do you see the “accident” it had? It got scorched in the oven but you hardly notice because it makes for a natural coloring of the organic color palette. Not that I recommend trying to burn your polymer (burning polymer gives off toxic fumes) but before you get upset that something didn’t work as you wanted it to, ask if it is just leading you down a new path with new ideas.

You can find more of Cindi’s adventurous work through her blog pages and her Instagram account.

Scarf as Necklace

scarf jewelry 430x542 - Scarf as NecklaceAs you may have immediately noticed, these scarves are not polymer. In fact, most of them are mass-produced or use mass-produced components. So why am I showing you this? Because the popularity of these kinds of bedecked scarves are not seen in the polymer community, not at least that I could find, which means there is a wide-open opportunity for some of you out there.

Just look at the two-fold use of these. Not only can you have a warm and cozy bit of beautiful fabric to dress up your day, you can have jewelry that can be seen while wearing a scarf. I have never liked having to pick between a scarf and a necklace and with this kind of merging of the two, you don’t have to.

Now, you could just stick with the single pin or charms like we saw in the last couple posts to get some fun and fancy decor on your chest but what about when you want to get a bit more flashy or formal? I just think these designs really open up a lot of possibilities for us as polymer artists. For one, how fun would it be to turn a boring basic scarf into a snazzy infinity scarf that doubles as a necklace AND gives many a bead in that stash of beautiful odds and ends, a beautiful place to hang?

Hopefully, these also give you all kinds of ideas for alternate ways to hang polymer pendants or has you thinking up new wide tube designs or all the above. It would not take long to make the components if you don’t already have them and basic scarves are cheap. I bet you have one or two in a drawer somewhere that you never wear. Just think of how you could dress them up!

I would love to be able to give attribution to each of the pieces here but I somehow managed to find all but one with a broken link or dead website. However, the designer of the Atelie42 scarf piece in the upper right does have a website but even there, most of the text seems to be image based which means it can’t be translated online. But the variation on jewelry scarves is worth a couple of minutes even for those of us who can’t read the text. Head over to the website here or this article that has a nice selection ready for you to pore over.



A Bevy of Bezels

spirit necktar 430x433 - A Bevy of BezelsThe other thing about looking beyond the standard bezel for stones is that you are opened up to using stones and shiny bits of all kinds of shapes and sizes. It is one of the reasons we love polymer clay so much! It is so amazingly flexible.

You can see just how wonderfully it can hold onto and embellish already very interesting stones and crystals in this array of examples from Canada’s Martina Gutfreund. Not only can you get really creative with the bezels and caps, you can combine all kinds of stones, even with wildly disparate forms.

Some visual relationship between the stones should be present in deciding what stones to pair up, such as similar or complementary colors or textures. (Do you see how the most satisfying designs here are the ones with a very evident relationship between the stones?) After you have that, the clay can help you bring them together physically with all kinds of room for creative design work.

See more of Martina’s stone (and shell) setting designs in her Etsy shop and on Instagram.


Detail Rich Reflections

alkhymeia wrapped crystals 430x418 - Detail Rich Reflections

Still exploring the idea of setting stones in unusual ways, I have another stone setting here that rivals the stones themselves for attention.

Daniela D’Uva  creates wonderfully complex and dreamlike settings for her stones and, as shown in this piece, doesn’t stop at showcasing just one bright and shiny focal point but uses several at once. However, the crystals are hard to focus on with such colorful translucent leaves and petals surrounding them. The classic combination of purple and green is so rich and vibrant that the stones only show well because of their reflective quality. The multitude of detail, from the translucent canes to the winding tendrils to the tiny microbeads, add to a feeling of richness. The flow of the tendrils and the way the leaves point over and across the crystals keeps the eye moving.

The approach and the effect are not so different from yesterday’s piece but this one does stick with a stone-centered composition. It’s the asymmetry of the cane placement along with the tendrils and pointing leaves that give it so much energy and life.

Enjoy more of Daniela’s work on Flickr and on her Facebook page.


A Swirl of Set Stones

mila cypress stone swirl setting 430x556 - A Swirl of Set StonesSo, still with my mind on what unusual gifts we can create, I tried to come up with some ideas for jewelry that might be a bit unexpected but could be readily appreciated by a wide variety of giftees. Then I started stumbling upon a lot of semi-precious stone and crystal pendants and other jewelry. Stones seem to be very popular this year and although that is not a new thing for jewelry at all, some of the presentations I found are really exciting.

It was this piece by Mila of  Mila’s Heart Art on Etsy that got me thinking about moving away from basic bezels and playing around with that centered position that stones tend to be given in jewelry. I mean, yes, the stones are usually the focal point but they don’t have to be front and center. They can be part of a lovely composition like this swirling pendulum-like pendant, with the largest stone in the place of importance at the tip of the pendulum shape. The beauty of the stone doesn’t dominate here as many stone settings would, and the second stone rather blends in but this gives all parts of the piece nearly equal attention while the tendrils-and-swirl shape keeps pushing the eye to make the rounds across the varied details. It makes for a great balance in the piece as well as making it a bit difficult to stop investigating it.

I don’t know that this piece is actually polymer clay. She only mentions a “durable clay” so there is a possibility that this is epoxy clay, but nonetheless, it is a great example of where you can push the design when setting a stone in clay.

For additional inspiration of this kind see Mila’s Etsy shop, which has numerous examples.

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