In the Russia Pages

Polymer clay of RussiaWhile doing my research this week on Russian polymer, I finally  got to see what their polymer magazine looks like. I knew there was one out there but it’s really hard to search for “Russian Polymer Clay magazine” when you don’t have the corresponding keys to type Полимерная глина on your keyboard. The title you see says “Polymer Clay” and in the pink says “in Russia”, at least that is what Google told me. But it took me a while to figure that out since I couldn’t copy it from the image. In other words, there are barriers to us seeing the full range of what the world is doing in polymer because language can get in the way. But some of us are determined … or just plain obsessed with seeing everything people are doing with this wonderful medium!

This cover piece is by Maria Vidova. I feel pretty sure it is not 100% polymer clay but I can’t read it to find out–not yet at least. It is a beautifully laid out piece with the green of the succulents being repeated in the green stones. With both plant and gems being important focal points, having the same green color presents the plants and stones as equally precious objects of beauty, which I have to agree with.

Those succulents look perfectly real, don’t they? Well, their perfection comes from silicone molds and she uses liquid polymer to give it that partially translucent look. The molds look to be of her making and she sells them on her Creative Molds website. You’ll need Google Translate to navigate (if you use the Chrome browser, it usually does this automatically for you) or you can write them for instructions at info@creative-molds.ru.

Now, how about getting our hands on a copy of this beautifully presented magazine? Well, I’m going to! And since they do have this available in a digital format, all of us non-Russian speaking folks should be able to copy out the text and get some kind of translation on Google. But you know you want it for the art, even if it will be a bit more challenging to read.

You can get issues of Polymer Clay in Russia in digital or print on the polymerclay-guild-ru site.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Find work from a region of the world you are not familiar with–and it doesn’t have to be polymer, it could be any medium–and pick out the elements that you like as a source of inspiration for a new piece. Don’t copy what you see; just take the time to determine what makes it work and why you like it then take that knowledge and create an inspired piece of your own.

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Sutazhnuyu

Anastasia Astafieva soutache purseSo, what else are our Russian colleagues up to besides quilting large polymer maps of their country? A lot actually. I got rather lost, pulling on the little threads I found when I went in search of more on the Russian blanket project. There is so much lovely work out there but in the end, I spent so much time on ‘s blog, Handmadeblog.ru, that I just had to share some of her work.

Anastasia works polymer in a number of ways–from jewelry to decor to figurines and dolls–but I was particularly taken by her work in polymer soutache. Just look at all the detail in this soutche’d purse. The color palette has a reserved energy that keeps the whole thing from feeling like its going overboard between the intricate whorls and the large glass ‘gems’. Just that touch of brown clay and the tan beads brings the lovely variations of blues and cyans a little contrast and allows us to see the soutache in defined sections.

She’s made quite a few of these purses along with coordinating necklaces and even some earrings. You can see her collection which she calls “Sutazhnuyu” (Google pronounces it in Russian as “sue-tash-nah” … cool sounding word!) on this blog post.

Anastasia does more than just blog about her work. She reports on events and even did a video documentary on what she is calling the “grandmother” of polymer, Kathe Kruse (it shows up as Keti Kruze on the translation) a famous German dollmaker whose company looks to have used polymer back in the late 50s and early 60s to make dolls. She even has a photo of what is probably one of the very first polymer clay kits. You can find that post and video here. Now if Google can only figure out how to translate audio on the fly!

 

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The Shape of Polymer in Russia

russian blanketRussia is in the news a lot lately, especially out here in the States, but the conversation is not often a positive one, which can leave us with a rather uneven view of things. Personally, I think Russia is an amazingly beautiful place and I have so enjoyed the people I have met from there. My parents spent some time traveling through the country in the 90s and the photos and stories they brought home were so wonderful and memorable.

Their artistic heritage and rich culture translates beautifully to modern materials like polymer but it is not easy to find a good range of the work being done in Russia since on the internet, the difference in language keeps their pieces, listed on Russian sites and with Russian text, from popping up on  English searches. So this week, we’re going to take a look at Russian polymer work in a teeny tiny effort to rectify this.

The idea for the theme this week came from the IPCA‘s most recent International Polymer Clay publication, a digital publication sent to members every other month. When I saw this wall piece, referred to in the brief article’s title as a Russian Blanket, I just thought it would be a shame not to get this out to more people. This community project, coordinated by Svetlana Taratunina had 362 polymer participants contribute work for the completely polymer quilted map of Russia. The piece is going on tour in the country right now although no schedule was mentioned.

If you are a member of the IPCA, you should have this publication in your inbox right now (or check your spam folder). If you’re not a member, considering supporting our community’s central organization with a membership and you’ll be getting this little treasure of a publication in your inbox every other month.

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Deep Mokume Shine

ukrasheniya-braslet-na-derevyannojAnother example of a simple but beautiful finish is brought to us by Tatiana Parshikova from the Kursk region of Russia. This beautifully polished mokume has an increased sense of depth, not only from the use of translucent clay but because the polish allows light to cleanly bounce in and back out, clearly defining all the beautiful layers she created here.

You can catch more of Tatiana’s beautiful work on Instagram and on her LiveMaster pages where she is known as Seventh Heaven.

I’m going to be brief today as I am traveling. Blogs for the next few weeks will be coming to you from France or, should internet be difficult to obtain, from a stash of back up posts my darling project manager Ciara will post for you so you have something pretty to look at daily. The challenges may be sporadic but I will try to post at least one a week. Now off to catch a plane! Au revoir pour le moment.

 

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It’s All in the Details

Russian artist Natalia Lemeshchenko makes these monochromatic color scheme jewelry sets with intricate patterns that look a lot like hand embroidered fabrics. The details are so exact and executed to perfection; I can only imagine how much time and patience it takes to do this quality of work…not to mention keen eyesight and a very steady hand! If you like embroidery or needlework, or if you have ever wanted to try your hand it at, you might try some polymer designs inspired by these fabric techniques.

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To see more of Natalia’s work, check out her gallery pages. There are close-ups of some more embroidery inspired designs, as well as blogs and such.

 

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The Electroformed Form

I can’t tell you how excited I am to have an article on electroforming with polymer in the next issue. Electroforming is the process of using electrical current to adhere metal (copper in this case) to designated areas on a form. I have been dying to try this technique for years now, but the expense and seeming complexity has had me delay diving in. However, this article has convinced me that the process doesn’t have to be terribly expensive, and it’s pretty simple, too. What was even more exciting about this article was that it was written by a Russian artist, Elena Aleshina, with next to no English  fluency, and me with no Russian language knowledge at all! It kept hitting me how cool and crazy the world is that I can ‘talk’  with this artist from Russia without help of a third person. We did hire a translator to translate her Russian-written article, but it’s really neat to get emails in Cyrillic. Such pretty script it is. I don’t know, maybe my nerd side is showing too much, but new technology is just so cool sometimes!

I’m saving Elena’s electroforming work for the article, but I also wanted to show you the American artist that first got me fascinated with the prospect some years back, Cassy Muronaka. She actually wrote up a ten part blog on the subject back in early 2011. Here are some of the pieces she posted in the process:

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Now tell me you’re not the least bit interested in knowing how the process works and you would never want to try it. Cassy’s process is slightly different than Elena’s so if you do have a keen interest, I would suggest reading Cassy’s blog posts as well as Elena’s article when the issue comes out later this month. Between the two of them, you just might find the right options to get yourself started on this amazing technique. Then tell me when you’re set up so I can come play too, because chances are you’ll have a set-up ready to go long before I find the spare time to do so.

Russian Floral

I don’t know what it is that makes three-dimensional floral work in polymer so popular in Eastern Europe, but there is a lot of it … and most is done breathtakingly well!

Irina Dzhalilova, known more commonly on the Web as Zafirka, hails from Yekaterinburg, Russia and creates the most amazing polymer flowers. I read through a couple different pages I found this necklace on just to make sure that these flowers really were polymer. They are quite amazing.

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Irina’s work leans towards romantic vintage, often using natural stones, crystals, pearls, and glass beads in addition to polymer. She found polymer in 2009 and left her bank job in 2011 to become a full-time creative. She generously shares quite a few of her amazing her techniques and tips on her website so do take a moment to jump over there and see what she has to offer.

 

(To translate pages you find in the links this week, copy the web address for the page and paste into the translation box at http://translate.google.com/ or use Google Chrome as your web browser as it automatically offers to translate pages for you into your native language. Go here for more information on this cool toolbar.)

 

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