Celine Crushes It

Ccharuau leaves steel 430x562 - Celine Crushes It

Another artist with a bunch of new images posted recently on Flickr is  Celine Charuau. Her alien-like plant forms an interesting combination of materials and forms have taken on a sparkly and crumbled texture, maybe from crushed shells. I’ve seen a similar product used in acrylic nail art although she doesn’t list that.

Here she balances the texture polymer forms with steel leaves. Although the beads are more dimensional, I like the echo of the leaf shapes with the pod shapes. They are basically the same shapes but contrast in dimensionality and texture. It is also the quieter of the pieces she created with this intriguing new texture.

You can see the rest of this collection to date on her Flickr photostream.

Graphically Different

Melanie Muir triangles 430x590 - Graphically Different

I can hear you already asking, if you read my introduction to the idea of soft or almost-triangle shapes on Monday, whether these beads by the elegant hand of Melanie Muir really qualify as versions of triangles. My answer is, that is up to how you want to see it.

To me, it is both triangular in that the space it takes up is about what a triangle would cover, and based on an oval since it is also an oval cut in half. But what this points out about triangles, or any shape really, is that they are just a step away from something quite different. Soften one angle on a triangle and you have the makings of an oval in hand. Basic shapes are just a couple of steps, simple lines arranged in simple ways. More complex shapes are usually a conglomeration of basic shapes.

As an artist, keeping this in mind means you are keeping your designs open to being pushed past the basics or as far and as complex as you see fit. Not that a basic square, triangle or circle are not valuable shapes. They certainly are! But the more options you see as you create, the more likely you are to come up with something that truly reflects your personal aesthetic and what you want to express.

Melanie, who is so well known for her organic shapes and thickly framed organic mokume veneers, has really been pushing her signature techniques, heading into more graphic waters and adding in a few more techniques. I am really enjoying the directions she’s been taking and look forward to seeing what else she has in store for us in the near future.

Keep up on Melanie’s work on her website and on her Facebook page.


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Variation on Triangles

Laura Orihuela triangles collar 430x283 - Variation on TrianglesAs with most weeks, my themes present themselves from the collection of images I set aside just for this blog. I collect them without a specific idea in mind, just grabbing things that I feel have something we can learn from. Right now, I have a lot of almost-triangle pieces. Straight triangles are the shapes most representative of strength. It is the strongest basic structural shape in nature and in man-made construction since the three sides support each other in an immovable way. But the straight sides are also severe in their simplicity, so in craft art, we see a lot of softening of the basic triangle. We’ll explore the way it is used in craft this week.

This first piece makes use of the various ways the surface of a soft triangle can be treated. The blogger and artisan, Laura Orihuela of Spain’s SuperCrafty blog created this last year. Using African influences for the cane pattern you see here, she applied it with her own design ideas and touches so you end up with a contemporary piece where the influence is subtle and refreshing.

And lucky us, she filmed the creation of these five beads so you can see her process. Find the video on her Super Crafty site as well as on her YouTube channel where you can find a slew of video tutorials on polymer and other materials.


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Body of Work

carole monohan Kamphe 430x416 - Body of WorkLooking over a collection of work can tell you quite a bit about an artist and what intrigues them. The posts this week will give us a chance to consider, in a more complete and varied way, what an artist might be doing or be after in particular types of work.

Carole Monahan-Kampfe recently posted some rather intriguing pieces in what she refers to as her Steampunk collection but instead of jewelry, it looks like we are seeing a lot of ornaments. We are looking at Swellegant treatments (click the ad link below for more on this fascinating stuff) which make for some very yummy textures but the various shapes and variation on an ornament is what is most captivating about this work.

Although she is calling it steampunk and the influence of that aesthetic is there, many of the common motifs are, gratefully, missing and we can enjoy the exploration of the surface treatment and the manipulation of the ornament forms. I love the negative space in the ones with the floating centers and then those forms that are folding in on themselves which she calls Infinity Orbs. No standard ornament forms here either. Carole actually looks to be taking not the motifs and objects from the Steampunk arena but rather the inventive nature it is supposed to be representative of. Regardless, the choice of shapes and decorative touches are beautiful and more so in a collection like this where the various take on the elements and forms can be compared and contrasted.

The orbs at least, she lists as being made with Makin’s clay which is an air dry clay, rather than polymer but this could all be done with polymer as well of course. Carole just likes to try all kinds of things out as you can see on her Flickr photostream–another method of looking at an artist’s collection of work and over time at that. In this collection though, she seems to have really hit her stride and I hope she keeps playing with these ideas.


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Ordinarily Wonderful

creasanscess green shapeletI very much enjoyed the comments and the interaction of last week. Maybe we’ll do that once a week or every other. Getting you to think about art is definitely one of my high goals!

So let’s ponder a few together this week. I find it curious that some pieces, even though very much like other pieces we see, will just strike you as working so much better than similar work. Like this set by Cécile Bouesnard. It is quietly striking although the shape is a common one these days and the composition of shape and focal point is what one might expect.  But the coloring and the marks keep it from becoming just ordinary. So why is that?

Success is not always easy to define, primarily because the success of a piece is really due to the sum of its parts. Key elements will often shine but if everything else didn’t work with it or support it as needed, those key elements would not have the same impact. So what is it here that is working? I think everything supports the overall feel. The soft shift of a rich green to that mellow yellow and the lime green snuck into the middle of it (did you even notice it was there?) gives the surface a glowing effect. The softness of the coloring contrasts with the perfectly trimmed shapes but those black marks, like the careless placement of a messy bottle contrasts with both the soft coloring and the clean shapes. These subtle but consistent contrasts make for an interesting and fulfilling piece to look upon.

That is my take on why this works. If you have other ideas, please add them to the comment section at the end of this post. In the meantime, you can see what else Cécile created with a similar combination of elements in varied compositions and colors on this post of her blog.



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Spring Issue Has Sprung!

collage 17P1 v1Ta da! The first issue of 2017 is coming out today (scheduled for 11am PST) and, I know I am usually extremely enthusiastic about every issue but this one has so many wildly passionate artists sharing their process and their secrets. It is really heart-warming how much these people share. There are also a lot of cool techniques and new forms to learn, not to mention a few different ways to get and stay inspired in your own creative polymer endeavors. We really hope you like it!

If you are a digital subscriber, look for it in your inbox (or check your junkmail/spam folder if it’s not there) or, if you have a print copy coming to you, they were shipped out yesterday.

If you don’t have your copy on order yet, head over to the website and get yours now. www.thepolymerarts.com

Now I am going to go play with clay. That’s how I relax after a new issue goes out! How about you?

Weekly Inspirational Challenge: Let’s make this weekend simple. Create something in a familiar, easy and uncomplicated design and set of techniques. See what design choices come to you instinctively and just enjoy the process!


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Libby’s Curious Pin

Color, texture, and shape are hallmarks of Libby Mill‘s work, as so beautifully illustrated in this curious beaded pin. Polymer clay allows her to explore the textured and smooth, patterned and plain surfaces. This pin has a very organic feel to it and the elongated shape and beaded texture brings it to life in a fluid, animated way.


Libby likes to work in polymer clay and sterling silver. See more of her work on her Flickr pages, including lots of bangles, beads, necklaces, earrings, and mixed media pieces, and visit her blog to share in discussions about balancing your creative life with a busy family life.


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For Your Wish List

If you’ve ever done any scrapbooking, you may be familiar with the Cricut machine, which cuts out complex shapes loaded into the machine’s little onboard computer. It really saves on the aching hands that comes with trying to make small, intricate cuts in paper. Did you know, though, that you can use it to cut polymer too?  Jenny Barnett Rohrs explored this idea on Craft Test Dummies a couple years ago. I’ve been wanting a machine ever since.


Although this post  made the rounds back when it was posted, I thought it was worth revisiting. Not only can you cut polymer shapes, you can also cut on a variety of other materials to create templates, stencils, and shapes for impressing in your clay. So if the family is complaining that you’re impossible to shop for because you have everything, maybe you can get this on that list. Unless, of course, you do have everything, including this!

If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription to The Polymer Arts magazine, or buy the latest issue. We also encourage you to support our wonderful advertising partners!

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Defining the Box

Today’s thought on boxes is pretty simple: a box does not have to be square. It doesn’t even have to have straight sides or be flat on the bottom. A box is basically a container used to hold or store things and has a lid. That’s a pretty wide open definition, which is great for an artist.

Here is a version of a box that may be taking a bow to the square, but there certainly aren’t any straight sides. Do you agree that it is still a box?


Maureen Thomas is the maker of this box. She created a whole series of these pinched edge boxes a few years back, all lovely in their texture and variety of generally subdued but delicious colors. You can check out the boxes and more her Flickr page. 

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