Cat’s out of the Bag

Nikolina Otrzan misko mirrors 430x340 - Cat's out of the BagI’m not sure how it happened but we somehow got Nikolina Otrzan to “spill the beads” on her unique, signature textures that she creates for her jewelry components. She shares not one, not two, but four different textures and even variations on those so it’s more like a dozen possible textures you can get out of completing her tutorial in this issue. It turns out, they are all pretty easy to do. They will just take some patience to do it as neatly as she does.

We were not able to fit in examples of all the ways these beads could be used. As seen here, her textured components can be artfully composed to decorate home décor and not just as beads for jewelry. Her cat seems to approve of these mirrors as well. And what a great idea. If you have a stash of flat-backed beads or components that work together, decorate a mirror, frame, or another object they can be attached to. Your spare components will have a home and you too can end up with some beautiful—as you see in the article—pet-approved décor.

Nikolina is a very thorough and detailed instructor. If, after getting into those textures in the article, you find that you want more, all you need to do is go to her Etsy shop to get another tutorial from the couple dozen she has available right now.


A Plethora of Petals

jana benzon rose petals 430x408 - A Plethora of PetalsHave you seen what Jana Roberts Benson has been up to lately? She has been creating these entrancing, super textural and rich pieces with layered petals and other highly dense collections of elements. They’re absolutely amazing.

This is the first piece I saw, jumping out at me from my Facebook one day last month, but there have been so many more posted since. It is a bit hard to describe why these are so alluring. I think, for one, you just really want to reach out and touch them and it’s a touch frustrating that you can’t, right? Secondly, for us artists, we look at this and can only imagine how much work must go into them. Or you might wonder what kind of trick she has up her sleeve to complete so many of these in what seems like a short period of time. The colors are deep and rich, matching the richness of the density of elements she puts together in these pieces.

I’m going to stop attempting to tell you about these and just have you jump over to her Facebook page to see what she’s been up to. It’s not like any of her work you’ve seen before and I, for one, am really excited to see where this is taking her.

Muted Veneer

haunani veneer brooch 430x440 - Muted VeneerIn perusing #the100dayproject on Instagram these past couple weeks, I’ve noticed that veneers are quite the thing to be experimenting with right now. Whether you call polymer sheets you work with surface design, surface treatments, or polymer veneers, it does feel like the clay surface is having a renaissance of exploration.

One of the first of these explorations that I’ve noticed in recent weeks was this piece by Lindly Haunani, which she posted on Facebook. Of course, the queen of color is going to have a showstopper based on her color choices alone, but the subtle texture and the composition of the layout of the veneers, for all the energy of the color and lines, has such a satisfying sense of calm and rightness. There is that obvious sense of intention and deftness of skill that brings refinement to such unquestionably masterful work, even in a piece the artist claims is exploration.

Explore more of Lindly’s work on her website and Facebook page.


An Orderly Spring

Mervat Radwan 430x410 - An Orderly SpringFirst … we are doing a bit of Spring cleaning ourselves this week with our big Annual Damage Sale. Our stack of imperfect, slightly dinged up, but perfectly read-able issues and books are available on Etsy as of today. Just $4 for imperfect magazines and $10 for imperfect copies of Polymer Journeys! And we took off up to 35% on our other back issues (discount good through April 3rd). We do this only through my Etsy shop–it’s a first come kind of thing, so hurry. Half of the imperfect issues will sell out today if tradition holds.

Part of spring cleaning is spring organizing, right? Well, maybe this piece will inspire your organized side. Mervat Radwan put some of her organizational talents into this well-arranged pattern of brilliant color and tantalizing texture a few years back but I only recently spied it on Instagram. The simple shortened bib style of the necklace allows us to focus on the intricate patterning and color but as a clayer, you can’t help but admire the carefully consistent and skilled placement.

I imagine she laid out this pattern before starting—how else do you get such even lines and spacing? My recent exploration of techniques for tiny bits of clay has made me come to appreciate this type of work even more than I did before. You can read about my adventures and learn a number of techniques, like you see in Mervat’s work, in our latest magazine, the Spring 2018 – Big and Small issue, which you can get on our website here:

I was not able to dig up a lot of information about Mervat, quite likely because I can’t search her Arabic text online. The image came to me through the Polymer Clay Tribe Instagram account. I also found this Google plus page and this YouTube video in which Mervat is interviewed on TV, but if anyone has more information I will add it to the posts. Just write in the comments or reply to the blog email if you get that.


Creepy Cool Street Texture

cityzencane 430x355 - Creepy Cool Street Texture

This surprising piece here was part of a street art exhibition from the curious mind of Cityzenkane. I am used to seeing very colorful and shiny work from him, some of which you can still see in parts of this street installation, but the predominantly black forms make the texture and shapes far more important and impressive when the shimmer and color are not distracting from his sculptural work.

I feel like Cityzenkane worked primarily with polymer in the beginning but then turned to other clays and resins that can be worked in larger forms, creating molds of his polymer sculptures in order to realize his amazing Giger-esque outdoor compositions. I could be wrong and these polymer-to-cast pieces could be what he has done all along. Either way, his uncured sculptures, ruined once cast, start with polymer and eventually work their way out into the streets of urban areas, mostly in the UK and Europe.

It’s really hard to show what this is like in one image so I encourage you to take a look at the YouTube video he has about his process and the event. You can also take a closer look at his range of work on Instagram and this website, and his progress through time on Flickr.



Street Totems

travis suda totems - Street TotemsTravis Suda is not a polymer-specific artist, really, nor does he readily identify as a sculptural artist. He is actually a graffiti artist who took part in an art show in which these totems were displayed. It sounds like he has created a series of such pieces but I could not find them online anywhere so we have only these two to enjoy. And to be truthful, I am not absolutely sure these are polymer but they certainly look like it.

This work reflects the influences of the indigenous Northwestern Amercian people’s totem poles as well as the imagery of the native peoples of the Southwest. He is not, however, pulling directly or even emulating the imagery and forms from these regions but rather, he is trying to embody the attitude and purpose for which these figures were formed in their culture. For instance, as Travis himself says regarding the Hopi Kachina, “Often these Kachinas were said to contain the spirits of certain deities, natural forces or animals and these acted as a conduit of communication with the unseen world. I’ve made each one of these sculptures with the same spiritual intention.”

He also creates new and captivating textures with the undulating lines and forms that are fitted together like some challenging new puzzle. If you find Travis’ sculpture intriguing, you might like his street art too. You can find his shared images on his Facebook page and Flickr page.

Alien Texture

MARIANA KOPYLOVA 430x563 - Alien TextureThis week I’m going to have us wander off into the weirdly wonderful. The weird part comes from what and where I have been finding these treasures while the wonderful is about the amazing texture on this sculptural pieces.

Maryana Kopylova sculpts the most fantastical alien animals that, unlike how I imagine encounters with real aliens would go, do anything but drive you away. Some have adorable, huge eyes while others are hauntingly beautiful in their unfamiliar forms and appendages. I think we can say that this creature here is both cute and beautiful, sporting an array of alluring tactile textures. The big baby blues don’t hurt either.

Maryana sculpts and then paints her pieces with carefully matched-up colors softly applied in a gradation of natural tones. The highly textured surfaces and variation of color give this creature of her imagination a realistic, natural look. So even though much of the color could have come from the clay, the natural feel would have been very hard to accomplish.

Mariana parades her alien dolls on her Instagram page and on Facebook.




Colors of the Subtropics

gen williamson subtropical 430x542 - Colors of the Subtropics

Creating variations on a theme is one very good way to really understand and perfect a design, plus you often end up with a lot of work to sell!

This set was one I was actually going to talk about the week before last, as another example of how to work paint into polymer in a way that polymer alone can’t accomplish. Yes, Genevieve Williamson uses an antiquing process but instead of just trying to give the work an antique look, the technique really feels like it is more about softening the colors and bringing out the scratched up surfaces that are her signature texture.

The look is a bit grungy but definitely sophisticated. The effect transcends the materials used so that the look is all about the color and style and what they are made of is of no consequence. The quiet affinity Genevieve shows for the organic is rather remarkable in that all that her shapes are primarily geometric, however loosely cut and carved. Her colors are usually more subdued as well but these subtropical colors are a pleasant departure, still keeping all her signature marks and shapes but giving the work a sunny and fun look and creating variation within her own style as well as this line of subtropic earrings.

Genevieve’s style is unique as is how much she shares about her life and process online. If you read her blog, you do really feel like you know and understand where her work is coming from. It’s a pleasure to read her posts, however few and far between they are. You can find those posts and a gallery of her work on her website as well as work for sale in her Etsy shop.

Creative Composition

bellou denim 430x504 - Creative CompositionAnother great contribution to the Spring issue was in our artists’ gallery. All of our artists are unique in their approach but it is Isabelle, known online as Bellou, whose designs are really standing out.

Isabelle creates bold, contemporary adornments that are polished to a glass-like shine. Her work often has a centered focal point but the balance of the components are set in asymmetric arrangements or are all shaped differently with different treatments. However, in all the disparity there is a common element that brings it together.

This is one of the pieces she sent us that we couldn’t work into the gallery pages. On the one side, there are wide, solid pieces, dense with texture, but on the other side, the space is opened with a series of cut-out shapes that have the same mica shift texture as the other side. The rest of the center piece brings in a grounding energy to the movement of lines and shapes that play across the necklace.

To see more of Bellou’s work, take a look at her shop pages here.

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