The Disk Cubed

disks cubed Silvia Oritz de la Torre 430x295 - The Disk CubedLet’s move on from the ‘ordinary’ disk necklace and really push what these could be. First of all, who says they need to be round? Or strung on their center sitting neatly one on top of the other? Well, no one, that’s who.

Silvia Ortiz de la Torre goes completely off the disk reservation by squaring off the standard disk necklace element and taking full control of their positioning. This necklace is getting so far from a disk that I bet some of you are thinking it’s not a disk necklace at all. And maybe not but the stacking and repetition of form is the same and this is a good example of where an idea might start with some common or basic design and really veer off in very exciting directions, ending in a place barely recognizable from where it started. I don’t know that Silvia started with the idea of disks but she could have. And so can you start from a well used (or over-used) form or basic design and end up somewhere quite different. The thing is, it would have been hard to get to that cool and very original design without that common or basic starting point.

This piece is several years old but Silvia still loves disks and stacking but she is taking things in a very different direction these days. See how she has journeyed from pieces like this to her big intricate disks display in her Flickr photostream and her Etsy shop.


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The Blue Between the Buildings

SdlOritz NY sky Fimo50 tile

Silvia Ortiz de la Torre offered up her vision of a sky on this Fimo 50 World Project tile as one familiar to many people–the small patch of sky seen through a crowding of city skyscrapers. Maybe this is not the sky you most often think of when you envision sky, but for many this is a very common daily view. There is certainly something about seeing that small patch of blue hanging there beyond the reach of these immensely tall buildings that attracts the eye.

As amazing and beautiful as the man-made structures can be, I think most all of us gravitate towards the natural world more strongly. The directional lines of the buildings Silvia outlines make that focus on the sky automatic. And her choice to make that sun both glow in the blue sky and come through the form of a building in a singular burst of red color makes that both the resting point, a place our eye does not feel like it has to bounce around as it is pushed by the strong lines of the buildings, and a focal point. It’s a beautiful and expert composition.

Interested in seeing all the tiles in the Fimo 50 World Project? You can casually go through the submission that were posted on the project’s Facebook page or on Cynthia Tinapple’s Instagram page she set up for it.

Inspiration Challenge of the Day: Create or design something that contrasts man-made with natural. What elements of each are you drawn to? Or consider a favorite natural object or form and recreate it with very clean and structured lines. Or take a man-made form and make it organic looking.


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Material Suggestions

Silvia Ortiz de la Torree Paisajes agrestes012116If you read Friday’s post about the fashion illustrators who used what we see around us every day to design their images of women’s clothing, then you might see the connecting thread to this week’s theme. I thought we’d explore the idea of the outcome of a technique suggesting the form and imagery of art work.

Crackle techniques and approaches to treating cracked clay have been rather popular the last few years, but they have been primarily used as surface texture in abstract and contemporary jewelry. I can almost see Silvia Ortiz de la Torre looking down at a conditioned sheet (you know how they get those cracked up edges after running it through the pasta machine) or one she created using a cracked clay technique, and with the sheets edge sitting horizontal on the work table, she saw the suggestion of a landscape. Or perhaps she saw crackle work created by other artists and she saw the landscape come out of those pieces. However it came to her, I think we are looking at an example of inspiration coming from the look of the material.

Just as we might look up at the sky and see animals in the clouds, we do also see imagery in what we are creating, unbidden and often unexpected, but it’s there. It’s hard for our minds not to try to create imagery in what it sees. The question is, do you let it guide your work? It is neither right or wrong to explore the imagery you see in the scraps before you or in the treated surface of the clay. It’s just another way to let the material guide what you create.

Silvia is definitely a texture enthusiast. These pieces are actually quite a departure from her bold and highly saturated colors. but the exploration of texture is certainly alive here. You can see more of her textural explorations and other ‘material suggestions’ on her Flickr photostream.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Take a look at something you worked on but didn’t complete or pull out some scrap and start playing with it. Don’t try too hard, just turn it this way and that and ask yourself what you see in it. Do you see faces, animals, objects, places, or patterns you hadn’t seen before? Find something intriguing and let it lead you in a little playtime or into working towards a finished piece.


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The Summer 2014 Issue: Let There Be Light

The Summer 2014 issue is just about done. It is presently due to be released the first week of June. Here we have a sneak preview of the cover with a bright, reflective necklace by Silvia Ortiz de la Torre:

14-P2 Summer-Light Rgt Cover MEd


You can look forward to a ton of great, in-depth articles–

  • Designing with Light in Mind
  • Creating the Illusion of Light
  • Luminous Landscapes Technique
  • Luscious Liquid Clay Glazes
  • Putting Sealants to the Test
  • Lighten up: Taking the Weight out of Big Beads
  • Controlling Photographic Light
  • Grabbing the Internet Spotlight
  • The Mobile Polymer Studio
  • The Clay Report: What’s new, what’s best, what’s out there.
  • They Love Me Not: Creating Success from Failures
  • … and more!

We just sent out renewal notices so if you got that, don’t hold off renewing any longer. The mailing list for you to get the issue when it is first mailed out will be put together this coming week so renew and get it first!

We’ll resume our exploration of cellular formations in the next post today!


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The Landscape of Space

Landscapes aren’t just about land. Or maybe I should use the term only when talking of land, and should rise to the suggested use of such terms as waterscapes, skyscapes, and moonscapes for other varieties of terrain. But what about vast stretches of scenery for which we don’t have a term? The necklace below is a “scape” of some sort. Maybe a spacescape?

Silvia Ortiz de la Torre always amazes with her ingenious designs and fearless colors. The fitted design of these hanging beads steps just outside of what she commonly does. Silvia is a master of the dramatically sophisticated through highly saturated color and heavy repetition, but here she’s gone a little darker in color and has added all kinds of variation, while still keeping it anchored through the repetition of the mirrored base shapes arranged around that “A”-like center bead.



There is less of a connection between the pieces here than the dragon-scape you saw yesterday, but they are all still related and make up an appropriate scene with the randomness of points we see in the stars.

Enjoy a bit of time on Silvia’s Flickr photostream or her Etsy site for a nice blast of color this Tuesday.

Revealing Polymer

Polymer is a very different craft material for a number of reasons. Of course, the biggest advantage to polymer is undoubtedly its versatility. I mean, it has versatility within its versatile possibilities. What other material allows you to create forms embedded with interior imagery? Of course you will assume that I am talking about caning, which I am — sort of. Caning is just one way of working with polymer that can’t be done as easily or with such versatility with other craft materials. It’s our ability to layer and build with polymer from the inside of a form out, to reshape and manipulate it not just on the surface but within the interior of the forms we work with that gives us so many possibilities.

This layering and building allows for hidden imagery and visual texture that we can fully control. How cool is that? I though this week, we’d look at the various ways polymer can be used to bury and then reveal our visions planted within them.

This bracelet by Silvia Ortiz de la Torre is what got me thinking about this particular aspect of polymer.


This piece is caning of a sort … at least in the initial build with the polymer. But instead of caning used to create a surface design, the cane is formed into cones with an outside layer developed to be a primary element and the cane cross-section showing as a revealed interior. This use of a cane celebrates its three-dimensionality. It’s not that we don’t realize that the images we make from canes come from a roll that the image follows all the way through its length; but the end product of a cane is usually as a two-dimensional surface design. The depth of the imagery is not a consideration when used this way.

Seeing the design in a cross section makes one consider how deep the design must go. It made me think just how much actual depth polymer often has and how really cool it is that we can use this to create visual textures and patterns, both planned and unexpected, for the work we make. So this week, we’ll just have fun checking out the different ways our fellow clayers reveal this particularly versatile aspect of polymer art.


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The Pro Look of Bold and Brilliant

It must be the mid-winter blues that keeps drawing me to the dramatically colored this week. I know whenever I am in need of an injection of bright and colorful and I can always count on Silvia Ortiz de la Torre. She is never shy and always experimenting with color, form and texture and how they work together.

Here is her latest post on her Flickr page. It’s a piece that almost shocks you into looking closer. The colors are so vibrant and the textures used make the whole piece seem alive.



You have to stop and wonder how something so colorful, created with fun little balls of wound polymer string and puffy pillows beads still comes across as being more sophisticated than silly. There is something in the boldness that exudes that professional level intent. I could see this on runway models or rich movie stars wandering Rodeo Drive. It’s kind of crazy. So crazy you have to envy Silvia’s talent. And maybe even aspire to be that bold and confident someday yourself.

Are you looking to increase the professional impact of your work? We’ve an article in the upcoming Spring Issue of The Polymer Arts magazine on just that subject. Don’t miss out on the issue. Pre-order it or get your subscription here today: 

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