A Plethora of Petals

jana benzon rose petals 430x408 - A Plethora of PetalsHave you seen what Jana Roberts Benson has been up to lately? She has been creating these entrancing, super textural and rich pieces with layered petals and other highly dense collections of elements. They’re absolutely amazing.

This is the first piece I saw, jumping out at me from my Facebook one day last month, but there have been so many more posted since. It is a bit hard to describe why these are so alluring. I think, for one, you just really want to reach out and touch them and it’s a touch frustrating that you can’t, right? Secondly, for us artists, we look at this and can only imagine how much work must go into them. Or you might wonder what kind of trick she has up her sleeve to complete so many of these in what seems like a short period of time. The colors are deep and rich, matching the richness of the density of elements she puts together in these pieces.

I’m going to stop attempting to tell you about these and just have you jump over to her Facebook page to see what she’s been up to. It’s not like any of her work you’ve seen before and I, for one, am really excited to see where this is taking her.

Faces Within

Mary Hager scarab beetle 430x452 - Faces WithinHere is the other thing about faces—it doesn’t have to be a whole face to draw our attention. As mentioned on Wednesday, there just needs to be an eye.

You are drawn to the eyes on this interestingly sculpted scarab beetle, aren’t you? I don’t know about you but it took me half a second to realize these big, bright eyes are part of two halves of a face, one that would be whole if the wings were closed. And this isn’t some clever composition by the artist. This is something nature actually does.

Circling back to Monday’s explanation about why we are drawn to faces, eyes and faces on the back of various insects are also based in survival. Any potential predators looking at the face they see on the back of these insects may think they are being looked at and surmise that this may be the face of a much larger creature.

In artwork,  like with this beetle sculpture by Mary Hager, these distracting faces make for delightful little discoveries within the sculpture. Mary works in wood, paper, air-dry clay, wire, beads, fabric, and paint to create her colorful creations. And these are not jewelry. These are good-sized sculptures, maybe one and a half to two feet high (45-60cm).

To see more and read about her process, go to her website here.

Creepy Cool Street Texture

cityzencane 430x355 - Creepy Cool Street Texture

This surprising piece here was part of a street art exhibition from the curious mind of Cityzenkane. I am used to seeing very colorful and shiny work from him, some of which you can still see in parts of this street installation, but the predominantly black forms make the texture and shapes far more important and impressive when the shimmer and color are not distracting from his sculptural work.

I feel like Cityzenkane worked primarily with polymer in the beginning but then turned to other clays and resins that can be worked in larger forms, creating molds of his polymer sculptures in order to realize his amazing Giger-esque outdoor compositions. I could be wrong and these polymer-to-cast pieces could be what he has done all along. Either way, his uncured sculptures, ruined once cast, start with polymer and eventually work their way out into the streets of urban areas, mostly in the UK and Europe.

It’s really hard to show what this is like in one image so I encourage you to take a look at the YouTube video he has about his process and the event. You can also take a closer look at his range of work on Instagram and this website, and his progress through time on Flickr.



Street Totems

travis suda totems - Street TotemsTravis Suda is not a polymer-specific artist, really, nor does he readily identify as a sculptural artist. He is actually a graffiti artist who took part in an art show in which these totems were displayed. It sounds like he has created a series of such pieces but I could not find them online anywhere so we have only these two to enjoy. And to be truthful, I am not absolutely sure these are polymer but they certainly look like it.

This work reflects the influences of the indigenous Northwestern Amercian people’s totem poles as well as the imagery of the native peoples of the Southwest. He is not, however, pulling directly or even emulating the imagery and forms from these regions but rather, he is trying to embody the attitude and purpose for which these figures were formed in their culture. For instance, as Travis himself says regarding the Hopi Kachina, “Often these Kachinas were said to contain the spirits of certain deities, natural forces or animals and these acted as a conduit of communication with the unseen world. I’ve made each one of these sculptures with the same spiritual intention.”

He also creates new and captivating textures with the undulating lines and forms that are fitted together like some challenging new puzzle. If you find Travis’ sculpture intriguing, you might like his street art too. You can find his shared images on his Facebook page and Flickr page.

Alien Texture

MARIANA KOPYLOVA 430x563 - Alien TextureThis week I’m going to have us wander off into the weirdly wonderful. The weird part comes from what and where I have been finding these treasures while the wonderful is about the amazing texture on this sculptural pieces.

Maryana Kopylova sculpts the most fantastical alien animals that, unlike how I imagine encounters with real aliens would go, do anything but drive you away. Some have adorable, huge eyes while others are hauntingly beautiful in their unfamiliar forms and appendages. I think we can say that this creature here is both cute and beautiful, sporting an array of alluring tactile textures. The big baby blues don’t hurt either.

Maryana sculpts and then paints her pieces with carefully matched-up colors softly applied in a gradation of natural tones. The highly textured surfaces and variation of color give this creature of her imagination a realistic, natural look. So even though much of the color could have come from the clay, the natural feel would have been very hard to accomplish.

Mariana parades her alien dolls on her Instagram page and on Facebook.




Reality in Miniature

SKilgast ican 430x545 - Reality in MiniatureIt’s been a week since the new Spring issue was released. Reports of print editions showing up in the mailboxes of subscribers in the western state are coming in as well as your comments. So it’s about time we squeeze in the last few bits of content that didn’t make it into our always filled-to-the-brim pages.

For instance, in the article on miniature hyper-realistic sculpting, we didn’t have room for Stephanie Kilgast to explain where her journey in tiny sculptures has taken her. If you have a copy of Polymer Journeys, you probably read a little about what she is doing with her honed skills as a miniaturist sculptor, presenting ideas about our food choices in her daily miniature veggie and fruit challenge, ending in 233 different kinds of miniature plant-based food sources. Seeing how she could present her ideas with her skills she has moved on to explore, in her words, ” celebrating the beauty of nature in a dialogue with humanity, questioning the lost balance between human activities and nature.

I love how her work shows that skills in one area can be used and transformed into something else, something more than one might expect. Her keen, observant eye and understanding of how to recreate natural textures is what has allowed her to express these abstract concepts and no-so abstract views of our world.

This has been the most commented-on article so far. Readers seem to be really diving into the exploration of the miniature and, hopefully, considering how to adapt it to their own unique work. To see more of what Stephanie does, go to her website and check out her online classes and YouTube videos.


Walking Through the Forest

First of all, my apologies for my unsuccessful attempts to post while traveling. My original plan was to have posts all set before I left but technical issues and the need for a last-minute change of service threw that plan out the window. And getting decent internet at hotels is nothing one can depend on! But I will make it up to you this month, I promise.

Now that almost all of you have seen the myriad of photos from the Into the Forest installation that attendees to the opening and talk posted this past week, I invite you to spend some time virtually walking through it. This is a walkthrough of the gallery and installation, from stepping through the front door to wandering from tree to tree, wall to wall, and corner to corner. I apologize that I am no expert videographer and trying to fluidly skirt around the artwork and step unobtrusively through the attendees created a few moments of spinning and diving that might leave some sensitive individuals momentarily dizzy. But all in all, I am thrilled to have captured some of the feel of walking through our polymer forest that night.

In other news … the latest issue of The Polymer Arts, Winter 2017 – Line, has arrived! Digital issues were sent in the wee hours (3 am EST) on Saturday so if you are expecting a digital copy and haven’t seen it, check your spam/junk folder as that is where the errant access emails often land. If you need help, write my assistant Sydney at connect(at)thepolymerarts.com or, if you get this by email, just respond to this email.

Print editions were at the post office as of Thursday so if you are expecting one in print, depending on how far you are from northern Idaho, you will be seeing the new issue in your mailbox in 5-15 business days from then.

If you need to start or renew a subscription or buy the single issue, you can do so at www.thepolymerarts.com/Subscribe.html

A Spooky Peek

forbidden forest kael mijoy 430x426 - A Spooky PeekBeing that tomorrow is Halloween, I could not help but get in one last spooky bit of polymer creativity. The thing that makes something truly scary is the stuff you can’t see, or so I have always felt. The bogeyman under the bed, the creature in the closet, the shape of some beast in the bushes … just the hint that something is there allows our imagination to run wild. And in the dark and the shadows, our imagination comes up with some pretty scary stuff!

So, seeing the pair of eyes staring out from the forest in this polymer illustration by , what are you thinking is in there? You know I was thinking those eyes need to be glow in the dark and then I would so want this to be a light switch plate because how freaky would that be in a shadowy room to have to reach into that to get the light on and banish the very fears it invokes? Can you hear your inner voice saying, “Don’t do it! You’ve seen this seen in the movies and someone always loses a hand!”

Okay … enough with trying to spook you all. Especially since I think I am very much spooking myself in the process. But isn’t it neat how our imaginations can add so much to what we look at? And isn’t it great that polymer clay allows us to create any such thing our imagination comes up with?

For those of you who celebrate this holiday in which we face and often embrace our fears, have a very safe and happy Halloween.



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tpa 125x125 sept2017 - A Spooky Peek    The Great Create Sept 15 blog   businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front   Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog


Snakes in the Shadows

ellenjewett snake 430x509 - Snakes in the Shadows‘Tis the time to think creepy and ghoulish … if you’re into that kind of thing. And, yep, I am! I love Halloween, in large part because it is that one time of year the majority of our society looks at the darker side of life and has an appreciation for it, even embracing the scary and dark. I have always believed that you can find as much beauty in the dark and frightening things as you can in the sunshine. Mind you, I do love my sunshine, but I am very much drawn to the beauty of the night. So let’s greet the season with some dark beauty to set the mood.

And if anyone can pull off not just dark and beautiful but also elegant and enthralling, it would be the likes of Ellen Jewett. Her work, created in a variety of craft clays and hand painted, spins and swirls and teems with life but not just the life of the animal that the sculpture is centered on. Many of her sculptures also include other smaller signs of life, from insects to birds to flora that seem to be as alive as the creatures themselves. Her coloring fades from one shade to another, often giving the illusion of shadow and thus a bit of mystery.

The snake of this piece is accompanied by crows and wreathed in a vine of that hovers between death and life, black in places and blooming tiny white flowers in others. You can see by her detail shot on her website that photos are just not going to do it justice. There are shimmering greens and blues with dashes of copper among them as well as silvery and maroon scales along its length. And I’m just gleaning that from the photos. I can only imagine how intriguing this is in person.

Looking through Ellen’s galleries is always a treat. Treat yourself to a bit of that today by heading over to her website. 


Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners.

tpa 125x125 sept2017 - Snakes in the Shadows    The Great Create Sept 15 blog   businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front   Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog


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