Something to Hold Onto

Cecilia Botton toggleIt’s official. I’ve decided that holes are not something to be filled but rather, they are for holding things or for us to hold onto. We make quite a few holes in our craft work but when we have a hole in our lives, we try to fill it up. Why? Why can they not be something that we utilize and gain from?

For today’s metaphor on loss, I give you the work of Cecilia Botton, who simply and beautifully, shows us the usefulness of a hole.  The empty space gives us a place through which we can hold things, like this lovely textured toggle pendant does, as well as being a serene and steady focal point. The rough texture and scattered color in this brilliant turquoise to cobalt blue  is enough to carry the simple design and bring our attention to center.

Cecilia uses holes for both design and function in quite a bit of her work. She what she has been up to lately on her Flickr photostream.

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Standard in Stripes

Julia Peker stripe bracelet earringsSo many artists spend an inordinately large amount of time looking for the next really cool and totally different thing that will get them all kinds of attention and make their work stand out. But here is the thing … nothing is really new anymore. It’s just a variation of something that was done before. Thinking and creating with this in mind can be so freeing. It allows you to just create what you love or what you want to express.

And some days you just want to be simple, clean and use some no-fuss forms and applications. Nothing wrong with that. Go for it. You can see how a basic striped composition on a bangle shape and a couple of lentil earrings did for Julia Peker‘s approach. Choosing an array of both visual and tactile textures gives this variation within the limitations of a palette of subdued and tinted cool colors. Nothing crazy or new design wise, but it pulls off a tasteful and understated elegance that most anyone can appreciate.

Julia takes notes from a lot of other polymer artists as can be seen in her work so I suspect she is still working on her voice but I think I see it emerging. Her postings look to be relegated to Instagram for the moment but I would be interested to see how her work develops. We’ll keep an eye out!ow

 

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Simple Efforts

veru simpleSome days, you just want things simple. You know … you head off to the studio or to work and you hope for something that is not going to bend your brain or make you feel all beat up and worn out when you’re done, even if it is successful. Some days, you just want to take it easy.

You can do this in the studio any time and, regardless of your simple approach, you can still get stunning results. The funny thing is, you can set aside all the complex techniques and the tricky materials and you may still end up making something that takes you all day. I think that once we engage the creative mind, it will just keep going on its own momentum even when you were thinking that you wanted to do something quick and easy.

I think that is what Veruschka Stevens was thinking when she first sat down to create this necklace she calls Prorsum. As she says:

I generally use different techniques that vary in complexity for making our jewelry. This necklace in particular was made using the simplest technique I know. However it is equally one of the most time-consuming and very much detail-oriented as well.

You can see some great close up views of this piece as well as its inspiration and a “how I made it” video on her blog. Also stop to take a look at her interesting approach to marketing herself and her jewelry on her website here .

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All Scratched Up

Katya Tryfonova scratched earringsWhat a weekend! There was lots of heavy lifting as I continued to get my new home and studio set up in California and in the background, I’m thinking about the news of yet another craft magazine closing down while here at TPA we are ramping up plans for a new periodical (see the TPA newsletter for this news and check out the links to the sale I Love 2 Craft is having on our book and back issues), all this while hoping we don’t get washed away the heavy deluge of rain here. I have to say, I’m thoroughly worn out. And yet here is a new week to greet us with much left to do!

Perhaps that is why I found myself collecting images of work with scratches and dings and wonderful worn textures. I kind of feel the same way. However, there is beauty even in the worn out and scratched up.

These simple bell forms, created by Katya Tryfonoava, are elevated, rather than diminished, by a cacophony of scratches. The lines, emphasized by what I assume is rubbed in black paint, show energy as well as give the beads texture and contrast. This is quietly balanced by consistently sized and evenly placed dots marching around the higher slopes.

Katya’s simple shapes and hand crafted texture seems to be at the heart of her desire to combine the modern with folk art. As she says in her Flickr profile, “My goal is to empower modern styles with the inner truth, the energy and wisdom of generations that are naturally embedded in the traditional art. This is what I define as a largely overlooked link between the old and new cultures, worlds, ways of life. I don’t want to simplify the contemporary art to primitive, but I want to bring to it character, spontaneity, energy, living vibrations, expression and passion, which are inherent in folk art, to fill the contemporary shapes with new meaning.”

See where her goals have taken her by perusing her wide array of exploratory pieces on her Flickr photostream.

 

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Outside Inspiration: Through the Trees

michelle_mckinney_treesI’m going to end this week with something that is translucent although maybe not the way you are thinking, a piece that shies away from the fall colors, moving into Winter, as so many of us are, at least in terms of upcoming plans if not weather.

I share this work with you upon one condition (okay, maybe it’s not a condition, but it is a very strong urging) … that you visit the links I have for you for this artist. Michelle McKinney is one of those artists whose work you need to see in its many variation to really understand the scope and beauty of her vision. She works in what she calls ” hand cut translucent woven metal”. The images she creates are so delicate and yet they are generally rife with energy and, in my view, struggle.

That fact that she calls her material translucent and we see it as delicate makes for a fairly dramatic contrast with our understanding that this is metal. There is further contrast between concept and material in that images are almost all organic and yet what they are made of is industrial. More impressive though, is the undeniable beauty in her subject matter, the usually simple images that are a bit torn and twisted. I think it garners empathy for the idea of something so delicate being in such a state. It’s rather hard to put one’s finger on exactly what it is that is so striking about these but it is there without question.

You need to look at her collection of work for yourself and see if the pieces speak to you in a similar fashion. Please treat yourself to the beauty of her pieces on her Facebook page which looks to hold the largest collection of images like these trees here. But also stop over at her website to see the black and white prints she is creating with these sculptural pieces, developing a collection she calls Ghost Editions. They are eerily beautiful and not to be missed.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Design or create something whose imagery is one thing but the texture, color or embellishment would say something else. Work in conceptual and visual contrast. Don’t think too hard about it or too long. Start with a few ideas and see where the muse takes you.

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Simple Grace

aliceballard-leaves-and-podWhen putting together the Simplicity article, we contemplated showing a few non-polymer pieces because there are just so many beautiful designs in other materials that could be inspirational to polymer artists but alas, there was only so much room and much to discuss.

Alice Ballard was a top pick on my list for this because her work shows simplicity that somehow doesn’t appear simple. These ceramic leaves and pod are not super minimalistic but the white center piece is definitely about the essence of the form and image. The colored leaves feel like they are the color and impression of the center piece, taken out and set aside, as if saying the form is first and the color is secondary. It’s the pod set in the middle that brings both a focus to the trio and a bit of mystery. Why is it there? This is not a common arrangement, not in nature, but it does feel natural. For all that this is minimal in form and color, there is a lot to explore.

I find the last statement to be true of the best of simplified design and Alice’s work in particular. Grab a cup of something comforting and take some time out for a visual stroll through her beautiful gallery of work on her website.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create in white alone. Focus on the essence of some object or image that catches your eye and think about the form before creating it. What can you remove aside from color and still make it recognizable? After you decide that, what else can you do without? Ask this until you have in your mind that essential form of it. Then create that in clay.

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Taking a Simple Step

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREMy aim today was to bring up something to encourage you to create a simple piece; to make something with a minimum of detail, but that still has eye-catching impact. There are a lot of options. You could look at anything we posted this week, and after finding the element that most intrigues you, create something of your own. You could also look through the links for the artists featured and find other pieces that speak to you.

If you like the idea of attempting a simple piece, but would like some direction, there are many tutorials out there that could get you on your way. I found this one by Gretchen Amberg on the Sculpey website. Simple graduated color and bead size brings enough variation to carry the simple composition. A careful finish would be key to making an elegant piece. This tutorial uses Sculpey’s new hollow bead tray, but you could use light bulbs and various cutter sizes to accomplish the size difference and still retain the volume of the bead forms.

In any case, I hope this week’s theme has inspired you to try your hand at simplicity, even if it doesn’t seem to be your style. There are great lessons to be learned by reducing a design to very simple elements.

 

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Outside Inspiration: Challenged by Simplicity

3343252940_2108b7476e_oIt would seem that successful, simple compositions would be fairly easy to achieve, but I have found that in order to be successful with simple creations is many times more difficult than with complex ones. When the elements are few and spare, every single choice made counts in a big way. This is how I see the challenge in the work of Jon Ryan. His work is gorgeous, but rarely even approaches complexity.

This carved scale aluminum brooch of his epitomizes this. There is really only one color, and that is slightly graduated. There is one texture in the scales, and the form is balanced. That is all that is here, and yet, you can recognize the genius of the design and the bold beauty of it, even if you don’t have any idea why that is so apparent. The genius is in being reserved while choosing elements that make the brooch feel alive. Scales are, of course, an element of reptiles, so there is a hint of a living creature. The slight change in the tint of the color makes the blue glow, so it gives off a sense of soft light and energy. Also, the form curves just enough on either end to introduce  movement. These choices along with an impeccable finish is what makes this feel so masterly. I have a hard time imagining how I would go about creating something anywhere near as elegant with such minimalism. I find it quite amazing.

Jon’s body of work is all about simplicity. And, lucky for us, there is an easily recognized correlation to be seen between his metal work and working in polymer. Take even just  a few seconds to look at his Flickr portfolio album to see what I mean. If you are intrigued by his work, you can read more about his process on his blog.

 

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A Few Floating

71db4c11fb3712c11cfe74a6969e741dSimplicity often works best when presented in an unexpected manner. A necklace of leaves is nothing unexpected. A necklace of three leaves floating, however, is.

This interesting neck-piece is the creation of Delphine Roche de Montgrand of Paris, France. There is grace in the simple triad composition, the slight variation of the leaf sizes and the way they are arranged. But, we are halted by the way they float around the neck, and then, I think, we linger because of the rich color and the naturally attractive fan shape that makes ginkgo leaves so popular. To add anything else here would ruin the quiet feel of an autumn morning so succinctly replicated here. Do you agree?

Delphine works primarily in replications of nature with a little splash of illusion thrown in here and there. You can read more on her blog through Google translate if you don’t speak French.

 

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