Aztec Accents

LVogel aztec accents 430x478 - Aztec AccentsMy forays all over Instagram also got me caught up on the beautifully delicate work of Lorraine Vogel. These last few years, she has really hit her stride, showing off her fine sense of color within a series of signature techniques that focus on surface design with stamped or stenciled texture.

Here she lets the color flow and layer across the surface to create an ancient look using what I think is a version of the raised surface coloration technique which she shared in a tutorial in our Winter 2016 edition of The Polymer Arts. It looks a bit more involved but if you want to try something similar, get the issue on our website.

Her techniques are easy and fun and you can get great results with just a little care. She sells additional tutorials on related techniques in her Etsy shop, along with her wares. You can also take look at the history of her work by dropping in on her Flickr photostream and, of course, her Instagram page.

Heading Into the Forest

I am heading Into the Forest in November! The huge installation project put together by Laura Tabakman, Julie Eakes and Emily Squires Levine will be a monumental event for the polymer art community and I, for one, can’t imagine missing this. It is being installed into a gallery in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania with a gallery opening and party on November 10th followed by a Saturday forum on related topics. Coming down off the high I got being around so many amazing folks at Synergy in August, I am looking forward to a little creative recharge in November along with getting to see the work of 300+ polymer artists, all in one huge piece of global art.

So first … if you are interested in attending as well, you can jump over to the website and get all the details right here. I would love to see you and meet you there!

Alina deer floral 350x341 - Heading Into the Forest

The anticipation of this event has put me in the mood for forest-inspired work. Of course. So I rooted around the internet and found some amazing stuff to share with you this week. Here you see a very curious and delicately beautiful pendant inspired by both the flora and the fauna of the forest. The artist, Alina Sanina, started working in clay eight years ago as a curious teen but now, with a degree in art education behind her, she continues to sculpt and create a wide range of fantastical but rather realistic pieces.

I found this piece to be an eye-catcher at first glance because of its contrast between a skull, representing death, and the green and floral details of Spring foliage that top it off. But if you examine it for a minute, you’ll notice that the skull is not all a skull. The deer has live-looking eyes and fully fleshed-out ears. The contrast of life and death is within the deer head, not just the skull and vegetation here. It looks to me like a little representation of the cycle of life in a forest setting.

I have long been interested in societal views of life and death and how different cultures and even individuals work out how to handle the fact that these complete opposite states co-exist and are an understood, if not readily accepted, part of the cycle of life. I don’t know if that is what Alina had in mind when creating this but there are definitely metaphors on those subjects that one can discuss in regards to this little piece.

Whether you turn away or are intrigued by such difficult subject matter, I think you will want to see more of the beautiful work Alina creates. You can do so in her Etsy shop and on Instagram.


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Alluring Interpretation

joyce jrb piece 350x330 - Alluring InterpretationGoing sculptural in a jewelry direction, this piece really caught my eye back when and I never forgot it. There is something very alluring and even a bit Georgia O’Keefe about this piece. Here is the original post in which I was promoting the popular Summer 2012 – Recycle and Reuse issue:

With our focus on finishing the next issue (Recycle & Reuse theme with TONS of ideas for using scrap clay, canes, old pieces & parts, etc.) I’ve been attracted to work with this theme. This piece from the mysterious Joyce (JVL on Flickr) uses scrap from a prior class and a broken glass bead. It feels so alive, like a strange new anemone. Some things just come together, even better for not being planned.

As is turned out, the mysterious Joyce was Joyce Ramdan who created this piece during a class with Jana Roberts Benzon back then. Joyce seems to have wandered off into other crafts since then but has several examples of her reinterpretation of the technique, all of them quite beautiful, as you can see here on her Flickr. photostream.



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Shining off Canes

Jana Roberts Benzon shine pendantI am still in the midst of traveling, although I am feeling a little giddy on the overdose of art I took in the last day and a half as a we wandered about Paris waiting to take our bus down to Toulouse last night. I’m going to share one more beautifully polished piece, then next week I will be settled in the south of France and we’ll see what I find among the polymer pals and the little villages we’ll be exploring.

In the meantime, enjoy a simple but perfectly polished pendant by the amazing Jana Roberts Benzon. I picked this one for two reasons … one, it really displays how well cane shows when the surface is so well finished. Also, this image comes from a page with a tutorial for making this impressive little piece. So there’s a little project for you to do this weekend to practice that challenge I posed Monday to work on perfecting the finish in your work. The beauty and impact of a beautiful finish will make the effort well worthwhile!

If you’re wondering what Jana has been up to lately, take a look at her website and her Flickr photostream as well as checking out her classes on CraftEdu, her own DVDs, and her workshop schedule. She is definitely a great person to learn from.

Passez un bon week-end!



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Stitching it All Together

tanya mayorova stitches pendantSome days we are drawn to things primarily because they seem to reflect our state of mind, our emotions, or the thoughts that are taking up the majority of our time. I think that is the case today. So, what does this pendant have to say about where my thoughts are at?

We are wrapping up the Summer issue which has been taking far longer than usual to get all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. When things do not go as planned, you find ways and tear things down and put them back together until they fit and then you hope you did a good job and that it will all hold. That’s been my past week so it’s no wonder I am drawn to a mosaic piece with what looks like random stitching.

This pendant by Tanya Mayorova has some gorgeous textures and colors and once you stop thinking about the metal wire stitching, you can just get lost in what each little square encompasses. This is also a bit like my mind right now. Lots of things going on, in their separate little boxes in my brain, each with their draw and their importance. I don’t know if these were all scrap pieces or if any were particularly made for this but it’s a great idea to put together pieces of your other work into one. The piece would represent that set of work, where your color palettes lean, and what textures and techniques you have been working on. It would be a three dimensional snap shot of your recent work.

More beautifully stitched together polymer can be found on Tanya’s Flickr photostream, her Live Journal pages, and her Live Master shop


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create the conglomerate piece, a snapshot of your recent work, as described above, in whatever form most appeals to you.


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A Relationship of Lines

12768184_370844913085808_8932626980699712895_oI have had this in my collection to share for a few weeks, but I hadn’t been able to figure out who the artist was until today. The image came from a Facebook post … that’s all I knew. Now, I am excited to introduce a new artist! Well, an artist that is new to me, I suppose. I haven’t learned a whole lot about her or her artistic story and history just yet.

I was intrigued by the mix of surface textures and the energy of the various lines used. The surface is both impressed with a controlled and deliberate pattern, probably hand tooled, then a central bit of random cracking, then a predictable pattern of swirling copper. They are all highly energetic lines, each doing their own thing independent of the others but nested the way they are and all in a muted orange of some sort, they work together.

The use of line and its energy as well as warm muted colors are even carried into the stringing and connectors of this piece. It makes for a lot of interest and movement but with a very cohesive feel.

After searching and searching, using Google image searches and looking through Facebook for artists with the initials MB, I finally got a hit and the mystery was solved. This necklace was created by Martina Burianova. You can find her on Facebook or check out her work on her website.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create a surface texture with at least three different types of lines in it. Create cohesiveness by choosing another element or two (color, material, texture, etc) they all have in common. You can make three separate elements, each with different line qualities, then work on arranging them so they have a visual relationship that creates a balanced design, or just dive in working on one surface with line qualities intermixed.


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Filling in the Story

alisa Maskaeva growing heartWell, you know there is a story in this piece. Question is, what exactly is the story? Well, I think this is definitely one of those pieces where the viewer provides the story. Alisa Maskaeva, for some reason, created a heart made to look like it is living wood, or maybe it is supposed to be a tree growing from a heart or a wooden heart giving way to new growth? It could be any of these things. The message is not clear-cut. And it doesn’t need to be, does it? But putting two disparate things together, well, like Wednesday post, it makes you think. Our minds want to find the connection, a connection for ourselves or to determine what the artist might have been trying to say.

I think that is an important thing to remember when creating. Although it’s wonderful when a work can visually convey a very particular message, it is also valid, and often even preferable, to give the viewer the ability to fill in the message or the story according to what they will see or get out of the work. I think your goal as an artist then is to simply embody a feeling, a sentiment, or just part of a story in your work, and leave all that room for the viewer to fill in the blanks, or not. A piece of art can simply make someone smile while it may make others think. That is the thing about visual arts … it is hard to direct the viewer to our thoughts and observations specifically through our work but then it does allow them to contribute to the art, at least for themselves, in a way you could not have anticipated or planned.

Alisa does not have a lot of things out there online, but if you want to keep track of her upcoming items, favorite her Etsy shop or follow her page on Facebook.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Use a random word generator (like this one here) and have it choose two words for you. You can have it generate up to 5 different sets but make yourself pick one of those five. You can also open a dictionary and, with eyes closed, pick out a work on two different pages you randomly open to. Create or design a piece with these two different words. Your mind will make a connection in concept or with a story. Let that direct what you create.


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Subdued Passion

kejka sperky SadaI know it will be hard to top Monday’s piece. The energy in that sculpture was unreal. But intensity of that kind is not the only thing that visually defines passion. How about that low but long burning fire many of us have? It may be a passion for art or for our family or friends. It might be how we feel getting out in nature or the desire for adventure. It is not crazy but it is always there and that kind of passion, that persistent, ever present emotion, is sustaining and keeps us focused on the things that are good in our lives and good for ourselves.

So, to represent that slow burning passion, I picked this mellow yet fiery caned earring and pendant set. There is not the chaos of movement we saw Monday but you can still feel the energy. The Czech Republic’s Kejka creates the energy through both the purely warm color palette and the tapered but parallel and highly directional lines. The gradation from dark on the outside to light in the middle on the pendant also gives it a glow.

Kejka made a series of these flame-like canes in various colors. Take a look at the purple and blue one as well on her Facebook page.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create or sketch in a completely warm color palette. That means from reds to oranges to yellows. Try either creating a subdued feel with your design for these highly energetic colors or see how insanely energetic you can make it.


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Further Shaping Complexity

40-polymer-clay-tutorial-mixed-mediaIf you read Wednesday’s post, and especially if you took on the challenge, you might very easily find the connection between what you see here and what I talked about then. This is a great example of a repeated shape creating complexity. In this case, the repeated shape is actually a circle and most of the circles here are created with jump rings. As a way to create complex faux enamel with the wire boundary lines, this use of jump rings is pretty darn clever.

The piece and short tutorial are by Muchi at Muchi Creaciones.  Something like this would have been a perfect exercise for Wednesday’s challenge. No, it looks nothing like Bettina’s stacked shapes, but it is built on that same set of ‘rules’, and in these challenges I really hope you will use the rules as the most skeletal frame to build off.

Here the repeated shape has a fair amount of variation to it which creates a cohesive as well as interesting piece. There are three types of circles (the pendant shape itself, the jump rings, and the crystals) but in different sizes and colors and yet they all look like they belong together. See, using the same shape over and over could get a little mundane, but on the other hand changing up every element in a piece makes it feel chaotic. If you have one strong, repeated element, it won’t matter how much variation there is between them as there is a common characteristic and therefore we see them as related. As long as we find a relationship between elements, we feel there is some level of order and intention. Intention-less art is simply not interesting. And although you can make something chaotic, it should be obviously intentional if you want people to have an interest in it

If you want to check out the brief instructions to making this type of faux enamel, hop on over to Muchi’s blog post here then stay to check out her other clever little tutorials and creations.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Take a single, simple shape or form and create at least 10 different variations, making them as different from one another as you can imagine. Don’t think about what you will make from them, just create the elements. Once you have your 10 or more pieces complete, put them together in one piece or create a series from them. Don’t forget, you can share what you come up with while participating in these challenges on the Flickr page!


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