Finding Enlightenment

chulily chandelier 319x450 - Finding Enlightenmentchulily chandelier detail 350x450 - Finding EnlightenmentWhile in San Diego a couple weeks ago, I finally made it to the Mingei Museum which exhibits folk art, craft and design. The news of Mingei’s purchase of a number of polymer pieces a handful of years back was how I first learned about this little museum and I have been hoping to go there ever since. They did not have any polymer works out in the exhibitions when I was there but upon ascending the staircase to the upper floor, I was stopped in my tracks by a very unusual chandelier above me.

For those of you who have made it to one of the Chihuly installations popping up all over the globe these last few years, you may have already recognized the signature glass work of this master artist, Dale Chihuly. This ten-foot-tall, seven-foot-wide chandelier I saw hanging above me was a 2005 creation titled Enlightenment. The wall card for it said it has 498 pieces of clear, cream and gold blown glass.

It looks like the more opaque and colored glass was concentrated at the center so that the clear glass on the ends gives the illusion that the writhing mass is expanding, as if any solidity it has is turning to smoke, which was pretty fascinating to walk around.

The most intriguing thing to me was as beautiful as the glass work: the complex and beautifully textured shadow it cast. Just look at the wall to the right of it in the first image. The detail image shows just how complex the glass work is in each of the pieces that make up the chandelier. The detail image is where I thought some polymer inspiration might come from. A little work with pure translucent clay and veined with some tinted translucent, on a smaller scale of course, could render a similar feel, I’d think. It certainly did get me thinking.

If you have not had a chance to see these wonderful glass works of Chihuly, he certainly does have a lot of pieces installed in various places all over the world. You can see if there is an exhibition of a permanent collection or installation near you by going to his exhibition page.



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Tenderly Organic

viola leather 430x700 - Tenderly OrganicWe are going through the final stages of emptying the family home this weekend and I must rush off to get working on that but wanted to leave you with one more organic and unusual piece to contemplate.

I suppose you can’t really say that this composition is so unusual. The side focal thing in necklaces is nothing new but can you tell that the flowers in leaves are neither real nor made of anything like polymer? These are actually created from leather which is certainly part of why it has such a soft look to it, one that might be hard–although not impossible–for polymer to recreate.

The leather work is so realistic, however, and the palette restricted to a very realistic leaf green and pale peach makes for a beautiful and tender look. I was thinking this even before I saw that  Viola of the Viola Wizard shop on Live Master named it “Tender Age.” Just seems very fitting for the stroll down memory lane that will sure to be a large part of my weekend.

So off to join the family. But you can enjoy more of Viola’s work in her Live Master shop.


Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Give yourself permission to make something personally meaningful, something that you put time and effort into that has nothing to do with making a sale, creating the perfect gift, or impressing others. Make it knowing no one else will see it and the only person you are trying to impress is yourself.  See where your personal passion takes you.


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Captivating Cookie Collections

Banana Bakery dallas mendhi cookies - Captivating Cookie CollectionsWe don’t often look at food as inspiration on this blog but I am starting to think maybe we should. Just look at these cookies! They are little works of art that I can’t imagine actually eating, or at least there would be great hesitation … at first. I bet they are as delicious as they are beautiful.

This tasty artisan is Frances of the Banana Bakery in Dallas. Texas. With a background is in product design, she had a good basis for developing visually appealing pastries when she started on her baking journey in 2010. Realizing that this was where her real passion lies, she left the world of product design behind and turned to focusing on the thing she loved the most–decorating sugar cookies. Her love of this art is quite apparent and her skill is mind-blowing. It’s not that other people are not doing this kind of thing but from what I’ve seen, her skill and range of application is fairly rare.

As for why this would be a polymer inspiration … I suspect it is obvious how one could create this kind of thing in polymer either with extruded strings or as design inspiration for polymer embroidery. The color combinations are wonderfully joyful and could be a source of color palette ideas.

The sad thing is, you can’t order these shipped to your house, at least not at present. It looks like she keeps exceptionally busy filling orders as it is but if you are in the Dallas area, I’d suggest making a point of seeking out the shop. In the meantime, you’ll just have to drool from a distance with a stop by Frances’ website or Facebook page.


Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Take a piece or technique that you have recently created or worked with and make at least 5, preferably 10, or more, versions of the piece or technique. Change it up each time in some significant way to see where your muse takes you.


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Adventures in Form

Connie clark tile June 2016Maybe it’s just me, but 2016 seems like a year of new exploration for many polymer artisans. It’s like the year of trying something new. Not that some of the artists I’ll share with you this week don’t regularly explore, but these are kind of fun and a bit surprising.

This tile, by Connie Clark, is what really got me thinking about this. She posted this on her Facebook page with these comments: “I have been wanting to branch out beyond making primarily jewelry with my polymer art work ... Working in a larger scale has had some appeal but there are some mechanics and logistics that I need to work out along the way … I have been looking at a lot of other artist’s work in various medium including ceramics, painting, mixed media, paper, fabrics, polymer and more and I’m seeing a whole lot of tremendous inspiration. I was lucky enough to see some work in person by a ceramic artist named Vicki Grant in a gallery in Asheville NC and her work was something you could spend hours marveling over. Here’s to the journey of learning and discovering something new!”

The first of her explorations are 6″x 6″ tiles, although she wants to go larger, but, since she created these at a retreat, she was restricted by the oven sizes available. She says she plans to go larger once she has it worked out. I say, yes please. I would love to see more work like this. Such great texture and added dimension having that center piece come forward to house a cluster of crystals. There are little details all over this piece so take your time taking it in.

You can see the other tiles she’s posted so far, as well as see how different this is compared to other pieces she’s done, by checking out the photos on her Facebook page.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Try a form you’ve never created in before. Take a look through books you have or search Pinterest, Flickr, Etsy, or whatever you prefer to come up with a completely new form. Have you ever created hair pins, ear cuffs, cell phone covers, coasters, bookmarks, book ends? There are a lot of possibilities.


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The Collaborative Path

collaboration-necklace-carol-and-rebecca-view-2-9-inA last idea to push you into new territory this year would be to try a collaboration; you could work with another artist and share the process of creation. You could have equal say in all the elements of a piece, or you could each work independently on components that are brought together later. One of you could start a piece, and the other can finish it. You can collaborate with other polymer artists, artists in other mediums, including two-dimensional art forms (any 2-D image can be used as a transfer or as a background for instance).

So who do you know that you might want to work with? It’s kind of a scary prospect, isn’t it? I have collaborations in mind with a couple people this year, and I’m almost too scared to ask! But I know it will push me to get into the studio when I would otherwise let the magazine take over and it will push me to think in ways I haven’t before.

Here is a collaboration between Carol Simmons and Rebecca Watkins from 2013. Can you see what each of them contributed? And isn’t is wonderful how cohesive it is? You can read up on their project in the post Carol has on her blog.

So what do you think? Are you going to push yourself and try something completely different this year? If you do, let me know. Send photos, and we’ll look at sharing them as they come up!


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Jumping into Spring

I know it’s still the middle of winter but there are definitely a lot of thoughts of Spring being bandied about. I caught sight of these little flowers by Etsy’s MyCraftGarden in Bangkok and thought they would be a delightful way to start the week. Who doesn’t like flowers on a Monday?


These 2″x 4″ (5 x10 cm)  flower baskets wouldn’t take up a lot of desk space but what a nice way to brighten up a work area. For more day brightening flowers, miniature blooming bonsai, and colorful baskets of mini fruits and vegetables take a look at MyCraftGarden’s Etsy’s shop.


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Outside Inspiration: Texture in Textiles

My first love in crafts was in fiber arts. Weaving, dying, hand-stitched art-to-wear and mixed textiles wall pieces were all part of my early portfolio and exploration of craft art forms. These materials still fascinate me and polymer design ideas often include mixing fiber or drawing inspiration from the art form.

The textures and use of mixed media in today’s fiber arts often remind me of approaches to polymer. Rich, organic texture and intense color are signatures of many of today’s textile artists making the craft a fantastic source for polymer inspiration. This is a wall piece by Helen Suzanne, a texture maniac whose work I get lost in, just checking out all of the techniques and materials used in these pieces.


If you ever have a chance to see fiber art in person, in a gallery that specializes in the craft or a museum that has a collection or a curated show, make seeing it a priority. As with polymer, you get so much more out of the work when seen in person.  One can’t help but be wowed by the intensity of the work you see in the details of these pieces. Yeah, the patience of a fiber artist who does work like Helen here just blows my mind. Maybe you can catch the traveling Fiber Art International exhibition, in California right now, or when it moves to  South Carolina and Massachusetts in the coming year. Take a look at the FAI website and gallery sections to see just where fiber arts are today.


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