Growing Fond of Dots

DGreenberg plattersI’m going to use this to both wrap up my jabbering about the Spring issue of The Polymer Arts and as a segue into talking about a design element that seems rarely discussed … the dot. Or spot. Or point on a surface. Whatever you want to refer to it, dots or spots are an unassuming but strong design element. In polymer, we can give them dimension and form until they take on another life entirely. In Donna Greenberg‘s work, those organic gatherings of points definitely look to be alive.

We were so lucky to have another wonderful article by Donna in the latest issue, The Polymer Arts Spring 2017 – Shape and Form issue. She discusses ways to use your past work to inspire new work. I think most of us have tried going back to something we did before but her suggestions are a bit different and her examples are beautiful. She does a lot of these dot/spot barnacle-like cups in her re-formed work and in her latest vessels too.

Although the form of the ‘spots’ seen here are similar, the way they are used and gathered are not. Look at the one on top. It had an organic feel but the little cups and the spots are placed in a very orderly fashion. The rougher but lacy edge builds a balanced but dynamic tension, pulling away from the inner order. But the platter below is a purely random application with the gathered dots of different sizes flowing in a natural path through and around the piece. It’s less restricted nature also warranted the use of a brighter color, making the piece quite lively and cheerful.

I found these pieces on Donna’s Facebook page but also take a look at her barnacled beauties in the latest issue of The Polymer Arts or hop over to Donna’s website to see more of her dots and spots.

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An Abundance of Dimensional, Tentacled Dots

I wanted to do a post focused on dimensional dots and their variety; but in my search, I found this bit of beautiful insanity and just had to share it. It’s one kind of dimensional dot, but there are so many!

I have a bit of a soft spot for polymer artists who work what we call the “con” circuit–known to muggles as those weird Sci-Fi/Fantasy conventions. That is the arena in which my polymer art sales actually got started. These shows can be wonderfully weird, it’s true,  but they also gather some of the most vibrant and active artistic imaginations on the planet. Even after my art went in another direction, I still participated in a few of these shows each year just to be surrounded by the tremendous talent and intellect as well as discuss the state of art in general; as with polymer, the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror art genres are other areas that struggle to be appreciated as true, fine art. Not that the genre arts aren’t appreciated–DragonCon, which occurs every Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, had about 65,000 attendees last year, and Comic Con had to cap their show at 130,000 last year. And these people buy a lot of art! I would sell out or come awfully close at the shows I attended. It’s a fantastic market if you create genre art. But that is a conversation for another day or another magazine article.

Back to this crazy use of dimensional dots … this set of tentacled wonders by Kaity O’Shea was sold at the most recent Comic Con. Talk about a lot of dimensional dotting! I’m amazed at the patience it must have taken to create this, not to mention I’ve been wondering how she held up the forms so nicely while baking!

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I’m pretty sure she created the tentacles in three sections, with the center swirl latching onto the twining tentacle masses on either side. Can you imagine trying to give someone a hug with this on? You do have to admire the engineering here, even if tentacles are not your thing.

You can see more of Kaity’s cephalopod inspired dimensional dotting on her Deviant Art page and in her Etsy shop.

 

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Outside Inspiration: Cosmic Dots

In searching for dot-focused art for today’s Outside Inspiration, I found that, outside of textiles and glass blowing, polymer seems to be one of the most dot-obsessed crafts. This strikes me as maybe a little odd, because it seems just as easy to create dots in the form of holes and inlay in so many other crafts. Maybe we just like to talk about our dots, and so search engines are able to gather more of them. But in any case, I did actually come across a silversmith with a great appreciation and fondness for dots — cutting holes and inlaying, as well as the applied dimensional dots we are so fond of.

Abi Cochran of SilverSpirals works with her dots in an organic and gorgeously colored manner at that.  She crafted the piece here in silver (I think silver clay, as she mentions it’s what she primarily works with), used gold for the dimensional dots, then added resin in a glass enameled fashion to compliment the focal opal in this cosmic-style pendant.

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In other pieces of Abi’s, semi-precious stones become the dots that accent her work, or she uses granulation to add small grains of metal for her surface design (see the first issue of The Polymer Arts, Fall 2011 for a faux granulation technique, along with other faux metal approaches). You could spend a lovely break from work or during your downtime this evening looking through her site or checking out the close-ups of her work on her Facebook page. Just a suggestion!

 

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Dots on the Wrist

Debra DeWolff is all about the dot. Whether it’s in her felted beads or her bead inlaid polymer bangles like you see here, small spots of color or shine dominate her work. This bracelet uses both a congregation of dots in the form of beads to create the color in her flowers as well as having the very enduring polka dot gracing the inside of the bangle to peek out as it moves about the wearer’s wrist.

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Debra creates a lot of fun and still very polished and cosmopolitan dotted  jewelry.  Take a moment to look through her blog and gallery if you are finding yourself dot inspired this week!

 

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Directional Dots

Let’s move away from images with tons of dots, and look at more sparsely used yet directional dots.

On this vessel by Kate Tracton, there are only a handful of dots, but they are the primary element used throughout the various sections of this piece, and they have a lot of interesting things going on.

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The ones on the side are what catch you eye first. They are dominant because of the contrast of the dark dots against the light body of the pot, but also because they are lined up in a very particular way–dots going from smaller to larger up the side of the vessel create a feeling of movement. Our eyes will always want to follow well-defined lines; and with the change in size, our eyes will follow the line in one direction–either downward as we see the hierarchy of size as a kind of arrow, or up because we see the change in size as growth. Some people might find their eye going both up and down the lines. But because the dots are repeated on the lid in several variations, as soon as we break out from the lines of dots, we’ll look at the intricacy of the lid. This kind of composition will usually have us spending some time with a piece like this which, of course, would make it an enjoyable piece to view.

 

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Classy, Shiny Dots

I know when I hear “dots” I usually think of something fun, and maybe even silly; but dots can also be quite refined and stunning. This pendant by Etsy’s Noneoftheabove is definitely both. Using polymer dots to develop a gradation of color and accented with just a couple rings of crystals, this pendant is quite bright and shimmering. The combination of elements gives the impression at first that the polymer dots could be crystals themselves. Can you figure out why?

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Our perception of shine comes from a contrast of bright against dark. If you look at the crystals themselves, you’ll see that the most “sparkly” ones have a facet reflecting bright white or blue, and a dark contrasting facet or ring of dark color at their base.  When you to illustrate a glint in the eye in a painting, you add a white spot on the dark pupil or iris. When you photograph a glass object, you need the reflection of something dark to show its form against all the white light that it will reflect. The same basic principle is shown here; the light, yellow-colored clay with spots of black peeking through, the light pink against the dark red gem, and the actual crystals together make it so that, at a glance, we perceive shine across the whole collection of dots. Kinda neat, huh?

Our mysterious Canandian Noneoftheabove artist makes a whole variety of these pendants with insane precision. Peruse her Etsy page for more shiny collections of dots and just lots of  “oh” and “ah” moments.

 

The Modest and Versatile Dot

This week I was thinking of doing something simple and essential while I wrap up the release of the Fall issue, and I thought dots fit the ticket nicely. Dots are such a basic element, and so common in surface design; but when used well, they make pieces anything but common. So let’s examine dots!

Dots–those small, circular, solid-colored surface accents or indentations–are used as focal points, for random surface decoration, to develop perceived line and movement, and, especially with a three-dimensional material like ours, to create intricate and rich textures.  Here is a sampling of the way dots are used by just one jewelry artist in this display of necklaces by Israel’s Elinor Yamin, who quite favors polka dots, beads as dots, directional lines of dots, and dots as focal points for her primarily floral work.

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So as we head into our dotty week, think on how you use dots, and we’ll stretch the idea of just how dots can be used to make rich, sophisticated polymer art.

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