Ronnie Kirsch clutch - In Our Clutches

In Our Clutches

Ronnie Kirsch clutch 430x286 - In Our ClutchesAt the end of this week, I will be heading off to Pittsburgh to see the opening of the Into the Forest project. I am intensely excited about that (go here if you are in the area and want to join for the opening on Friday and the talks on Saturday.) But even more exciting is that, at long last, my beau and I get to go on our honeymoon! So this week and next, I may be a bit quieter than usual but I’ve lined up some eye candy for you that my faithful little helpers will ensure you get while I am off gallivanting about.

Putting together a wardrobe for this trip got me thinking about new accessories. Although I don’t have time to make anything new for this excursion, there are the holidays to get dressed up for. So I was thinking, what kind of new polymer accessory would really wow at the next holiday soiree? Then it hit me … a polymer purse! An unusual handbag is always noted and often gets conversations started where no particular subject has yet made itself known. A polymer handbag is certain to be quite the icebreaker.

So let’s look at polymer purses this week and see if I can’t inspire a few of you to make your own. Of course, at the mention of polymer purses, many of us will raise the image of our favorite Kathleen Dustin purse in our minds but she is not, by far, the only one to create purses. She is one of the few that makes them almost exclusively out of polymer but any other variation–covered, embellished, or accented with polymer–can still be a most wonderful example of our art.

Ronnie Kirsch was making quite the fashion splash with her clay clutches in the early 2010s. Full of color and pattern, they were sold at high-end stores for a very pretty penny. She used a lot of canes but would also apply stripes of colors. This red one here would be visible from across the room. And I think that was the thing about these–they were for women who don’t mind a lot of attention.

Although I could not find news of Ronnie’s recent work, I did find her website with a gallery available if covering a nice metal clutch is sounding like a great holiday project. Just take a look here.

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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Plethora of Patterned Plates

Arieta0074We have some incredibly beautiful work in the gallery sections this issue. We are very fortunate that we got Bonnie Bishoff and J.M. Syron to showcase their new work (and grace the cover) and are thrilled to have the latest work from Staci Smith to share with you, as well.

The surprise gem of our collection in the Summer issue of The Polymer Arts galleries, I think, is the beautifully patterned plates by Arieta Stavridou of Nicosia, Cyprus. We had an incidental conversation on Facebook about the Polymer Journeys book and in clicking through I found this photo of them. Not that applying canes to plates is new, but her pattern and color choices are just gorgeous. Placement, orientation, and pattern combinations are very intentional, intention being so important in art, especially in something like this. I loaded a large image of this plate collection so you can click on it and see the detail better.

I talk a bit more about intention in art in my editor’s letter in this issue, as well. And, of course, we have many more of Arieta’s plates to admire along with her fun teapots in the Summer issue’s gallery pages. You can also see more of her work on her Facebook pages.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create or design a piece with very intentional repeated but varied patterns. This can be several different canes, hand tooled marks, or repeated motifs. You could even do a combination of these. Combine the elements used for the pattern based on some specific concept. Any concept will do as long as it has a very intentional connection, such as analogous colors, the flowers in your garden, symbols of ancient Greece, or images that remind you of your beach vacation.


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Teeny Tiny Surprises

julia butterflies collectedThis week is going to be full of little surprises, I decided. And nothing starts off a week of little surprises like the absolute smallest butterflies ever. They are not made of polymer, of course. Right? Well, actually, they are!

Julia Cissell of God’s Flying Flowers on Etsy takes miniatures to a whole new, well, height I guess you’d have to say. Butterflies are small enough in our own world so who would ever think of making them to Dollhouse scale? Well, apparently Julia did. And wow are they amazing. The detail is incredible, down to the nylon little legs and antennae! Oh my goodness … she must have amazing eyesight and really fantastic magnifying glasses to work under. And no, they are not painted. They are canes. Beautiful and incredibly detailed, they would be amazing at 10 times the size.

You can look over her collection, all slack-jawed with amazement, in her Etsy store. Also stop by Linda’s Art Spot where I found this story about Julia and her teeny tiny art pieces.  You can see an example of her canes there and some other ways she presents her little treasures.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Change the scale of your work. If you usually work small, create or design something 5-10x as large as you usually work. If you work big, make the smallest, most delicate piece you can. How does changing the scale affect how you design?


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Birds on the Brain

Stroppel bird-bowlsw1If you ever want to push yourself and test your mettle on a new design or technique, try making it over and over again. Alice Stroppel did this recently with these awesome little bird bowls. 26 times she recreated the basic design but with different canes. And, oddly enough, she thinks this may lead to her to even more bird bowls. This is what she said on her blog about them:

“I’ve been working on these bird  bowls for an exchange I’ll be taking part in. In the beginning I thought I must have lost my mind to think I would ever finish 26 bird bowls. especially since several broke apart in the oven until I figured out you can’t take the bowl out and add more things and then bake again … I really have learned so much about making bird bowls so there might be more on my table soon, or maybe even a workshop at Studio 215.” 

I’m very curious about why she couldn’t add pieces after the first cure. Maybe it was about how they were propped up or formed to start with. If she has a workshop on these then some of us might be able to find out! Speaking of which, she mentions her newest project there at the end, Studio 215.  This is an actual brick-and-mortar gallery workshop space Alice has over in Florida. I had the pleasure of hearing about it, and some other interesting ideas she has in the works, while we were at Sandy Camp together last week. Sign up to on her studio’s website to get any and all exciting news about happenings there.



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Dots and Lines Juxtaposed

img_8304This Friday I’d like to leave you with a little something to try out this weekend. I still have a myriad of examples showing the combination of dots and lines, and we may just pull out a few more for next week, but for now, how about we just have some fun? France’s Marie-Charlotte Chaillon shares this versatile tutorial for juxtaposing dots and lines in a piece of jewelry, although it could easily be transferred to home decor or other decorative art. I like that the ‘dots’ here aren’t your basic option. The cane that will make the stacked dots is rather nice on its own for accents or mosaic work. It looks rather like an interesting twist on the pixellated retro cane. The white seems to be key as the gradation gives it a bit of an inner glow. Any color palette that appeals to you would do, but the graphic nature does show off bright contrasts quite nicely.

Marie-Charlotte is pretty generous with the cane-centric tutorials, so if that is where your creative meanderings are on right now, head over to her blog or her Pinterest board specifically dedicated to her tutorials and have yourself a blast!

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A Bit of Wow Caning

claire wallis caneclaire wallis cane frameHow about we go from intriguing to just ‘wow!’ today? I don’t know what theme this might fall under, but I had to stop and share this regardless of theme.

I was rather floored by the sight of these beauties when they popped up on my Flickr feed yesterday. These brooches were created by Claire Wallis. Not only are they a beautiful likeness of this bird of prey, but the cane has a striking painterly quality to it. Not being a very accomplished caner myself I may be more often amazed than many by what the talented cane clayers do in our community, but even so, I can’t imagine many of you aren’t at least just a tad impressed.

She’s even given us a peek at her work in progress with this work table shot here. I brought that up on my big screen and got lost in the pattern of the chest feathers. There’s just a beautiful flow to it that would be lovely in any medium.

Claire did a wonderful rooster cane last year that was pretty amazing too, but I think this particular image really shows off her approach with amazing results. She’s been creating wonderful bird canes for a while it seems, but these last too, and this one in particular are just, wow! I can’t wait to see what else she does in canes this year.

You can see more of Claire’s canes and other beautiful creations on her Flickr site.


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Shift and Illustrated

Jeanette kandray depthHere are a couple interesting examples of creating depth using polymer. I thought it was particularly interesting that they are the same forms created by the same artist, who obviously has some interest in the subject.

On the left we have some seriously mashed mica shift with a great organic look, while on the right we have a pure illustration created with a shadow cane. I love some dramatic mica shift, but I have to say the shadow cane is the the one that really draws you in. Take a closer look at Jeanette Kandray’s cane on her Flickr page. Those paving stone-like formations seem to get deeper the more you look at them. Well, maybe a lack of sleep helps with the illusion, but I’m sure well rested, it’s still pretty impressive.

Speaking of sleep deprivation, I’m going to get back to my never ending To Do list in hopes of getting some sleep tonight. I’ll leave you to ogle these and the many other projects on Jeanette’s Flickr photostream and her website. And if you like that cane, lucky us … Jeanette has a tutorial of it available on her Etsy site.


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A Non-Caner’s Cane

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Is it just me or are the patterns in these beads particularly mesmerizing? I am not much of a caner, as I have professed before, but there are times when I wish I was more accomplished at it. When I saw these beads on Pinterest not long ago I thought the cane was a pretty cool one that had a lot of potential for visual textures, back sides, borders, etc. Then I clicked through to the link and saw how easy it was. Even I could do that!

Petra Nemravka, the force behind the Czech Republic’s shop and website created a very nicely photographed and easy to follow tutorial for this cane including rainbow variations.  If you can make a jelly roll cane, you can create this little beauty which could be great for caners and non-caners alike.


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