Ripple Away

ripple collage 201x450 - Ripple AwayFor an easy but classic set of techniques that you might want to explore, just pick up your ripple blade. Most all of us have one. They come in those beginner pack of polymer blades so they are easy to acquire if you don’t have one. The effects you can create with them go from controlled pattern to random to sculptural texture.

I just pulled out a few that caught my eye today. The top one was posted by Libby Mills back in 2012. She used stacks and played around with manipulation and how to slice them, following instruction she got from Jody Bishel both at a retreat and through a project in the book Polymer Clay: Exploring New Techniques and New Materials. She really had too much fun as you can see on Libby’s blog post from back then.

I could not find attribution for the center image but I didn’t want to skip over the sculptural aspect of this handy blade. Cutting beads and stacked edges with this blade gives us quick and interesting textures. The ripple tends to lend a fun quality as well as the instant tactile quality so it’s not for all pieces but whimsical and graphic pieces might be something to try this on.

This last one was created by Nevenka Sabo some years back. I don’t have a date as the links are broken but you can see well enough what she did. Create a bulls-eye cane with a Skinner blend laid on a white sheet of clay and roll. Cut sideways and you have some wonderful veneers with an interesting patterned center swatch. Click here to get a more detailed view.

There are tons of tutorials online for using the ripple blade so if these tickle your fancy, do try a Google search or spend some time on the many Pinterest boards featuring techniques with this tool and then head off to the studio table with a new infusion of ideas.

Disk Arrangements

farraguas skinner disc 430x550 - Disk ArrangementsDisc beads are fantastic for the complexity they can create just by sheer numbers. They also pull the design away from any one bead and put the focus on how they work together. Employing Skinner blends to create the series of well-arranged colors on this necklace, Spain’s Carmen Morente del Monte, develops a rather striking look with the common stacked disk necklace design as the basis for her composition.

It is not that we haven’t seen quite a few Skinner disc arrangements but this one is rather intriguing with its wide array of colors that still somehow conveys a sense of quiet coherence. I believe that is primarily due to the muted, natural tone of the colors. Their thick spacers subtly echo the surrounding color while their variations trail off to long stacks of warm grays. I think the choice of gray rather than black or white or simply more of the colorful blends for the back half of the bead string is actually what makes this piece work so well. The gray creates a kind of neutral background for the colors to contrast with but the contrast is a gentle one which is also echoed at points in the front beads where the blends go to gray.

I was just having a conversation this weekend about how people steer away from anything well used believing their work won’t be appreciated unless it’s wholly original but how far from the truth that is. Doing something really, really well, even when it has elements seen many times before, is a far bigger and more difficult accomplishment than striving for something purely original. I think this necklace is just such an example.

You can find more of Carmen’s well thought out pieces in her Etsy shop and her Pinterest boards.


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Rings Working in Pairs

Here is a fun and cool concept … two different rings worn together as a set. This set is by artist Lourdes López. She uses these same components in a necklace as well. Why not?  There really aren’t very many components you can’t turn into a ring. With tandem rings like this, there is a changing relationship between the two pieces as the wearer moves their fingers. Even though there is a quite a difference between the patterned half circle and the wide space of graduated color on the other side, their proximity and mirrored shapes connect them and increases the simple beauty of each half far more than than if they stood alone.


Lourdes likes to play with metals, resin and other mixed media as well as polymer clay. See more of Lourdes’ work and the way she plays with her designs on her Flickr pages.


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