Enticing and Entertaining

Bonnie Bishoff necklace 350x327 - Enticing and EntertainingIMG 0237 430x280 - Enticing and EntertainingThe art jewelry at these events is also a big draw. There is nothing quite like seeing masterful polymer work in person.

Here is a gorgeous piece by Bonnie Bishoff. She wore it to the final gala event and I just could not stop looking at the delicate forms and sunset-like colors. The picture (and the poor lighting in these places) doesn’t quite do it justice.

Another bonus to coming to these events is the local color. In this case, Sherman Oberson, a board member of the IPCA and a local Pennsylvania resident, treated a small handful of us to a tour of his insanely packed and ever-entertaining collection of flea market and thrift store finds. We did this, in part, to honor Nan Roche whose birthday it was. A huge collector of the curious and visually enticing herself, it was a perfect birthday outing for her and an immensely entertaining evening for those of us who got to tag along.

Poke around on Instagram and Facebook for more on Sherman’s place and other Synergy events.

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A Choir of Angels

barb McGuire faces 3 2017 430x386 - A Choir of AngelsExploring technique and design doesn’t ever end, or at least I don’t think it should. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working with a material, there is always more to learn. Barbara McGuire is a true and long standing polymer pioneer who may often return to signature techniques but she keeps expanding on what she has done, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in big leaps.

This collection of beads is one of her subtler explorations. Barbara has been making face canes for ages but she keeps changing up what she does with them. The angelic looking collection here gets its ethereal feel from the use of translucent wings and background cane slices. Past variations were commonly surrounded by opaque slices and balanced or radial backgrounds. The more freeform application here adds to the otherworldly feel of these little angels.

Barbara posts most of her recent work on her Facebook page while her products and news can usually be found on her website.

 

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Body of Work

carole monohan Kamphe 430x416 - Body of WorkLooking over a collection of work can tell you quite a bit about an artist and what intrigues them. The posts this week will give us a chance to consider, in a more complete and varied way, what an artist might be doing or be after in particular types of work.

Carole Monahan-Kampfe recently posted some rather intriguing pieces in what she refers to as her Steampunk collection but instead of jewelry, it looks like we are seeing a lot of ornaments. We are looking at Swellegant treatments (click the ad link below for more on this fascinating stuff) which make for some very yummy textures but the various shapes and variation on an ornament is what is most captivating about this work.

Although she is calling it steampunk and the influence of that aesthetic is there, many of the common motifs are, gratefully, missing and we can enjoy the exploration of the surface treatment and the manipulation of the ornament forms. I love the negative space in the ones with the floating centers and then those forms that are folding in on themselves which she calls Infinity Orbs. No standard ornament forms here either. Carole actually looks to be taking not the motifs and objects from the Steampunk arena but rather the inventive nature it is supposed to be representative of. Regardless, the choice of shapes and decorative touches are beautiful and more so in a collection like this where the various take on the elements and forms can be compared and contrasted.

The orbs at least, she lists as being made with Makin’s clay which is an air dry clay, rather than polymer but this could all be done with polymer as well of course. Carole just likes to try all kinds of things out as you can see on her Flickr photostream–another method of looking at an artist’s collection of work and over time at that. In this collection though, she seems to have really hit her stride and I hope she keeps playing with these ideas.

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Working on the Inside

margit boehmer disk necklace 430x377 - Working on the InsideAnother way to push the disk element in strung jewelry design is to create designs on those inside surfaces. This might push you to design the disks in such a way as to open up space between them so that the work on the inside could be seen. That might present a bit of a challenge but it will likely present some interesting options for added accents and forms.

Margit Bohmer did just that. Her solution to show off the intricate and highly colorful faces of her disks was to slightly dome them and have them stacked in pairs with the concave sides in, allowing an angled view to all the beautiful color and textures she worked into them. It looks like quite a bit of work too. I just love seeing this kind of dedication and commitment to a piece. Each bead face is different and could stand on its own but all together, they create an engrossing piece that will probably take the owner years to become familiar with all its varied surfaces.

A riot of color and texture is a signature of Margit’s and she never leaves us wanting for more of either. See her latest work on her Flickr photostream.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Choose a basic or commonly used design and push it. By sketching, planning, or just playing with your materials, change the form or the way this basic design is constructed as far as you can until you come up with something that intrigues and excites you then create your own original work from the ideas you came up with.

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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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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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The Many Faces of Glass Beads

glass beads 4 430x443 - The Many Faces of Glass BeadsTo round out this week’s quick focus on beads, I thought I’d share focal beads in another medium that is very well-known for them–glass.

Glass artists have some very particular and, literally, inflexible limitations and yet they create these extremely intricate and amazing beads. They do get to work with super clear transparency–a characteristic of their medium that they use to great advantage–which is something that is difficult to achieve in polymer, but their forms and patterns are something that, I think, could be a gold mine of inspiration and a jumping off point for ideas in polymer that go beyond the basic and common beads seen in polymer.

Here are just four examples of the intricacy and beauty in glass bead making today. Starting from top left is a bead created by Leah Nietz, top right is Lisa Fletcher, bottom left is Andrea Guarino, and bottom right is Ikuyo Yamanaka. You can click on each artist’s name to reach their shop or website to look further into what they create. You can also immerse yourself in glass focal beads by putting that very phrase into a Pinterest, Google Images, Etsy, Flickr, or even Instagram.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Choose your favorite image posting service, such as those just listed above, and enjoy the art and inspiration that comes up when you search for “focal beads”. Choose a couple of images and try to determine what you like best about the bead or beads and then figure out how to recreate those characteristics in polymer. Hopefully that leads you to some original and very fulfilling polymer bead explorations.

 

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A Bead Cubed

sshriver cubed - A Bead CubedHow about just a little bead beauty from the consistently wonderful Sarah Shriver today while I amble down the road?

Six canes constructed into a cube that is both turned on its side and has had its corner’s tweaked makes for a beautiful simple bead design. Just those two changes to the upright and steady cube has created movement due to its relative instability, facing the world with but one point down, and direction since the slight sweep of the sides slides our eye out to the point of the cube corners and beyond. And let’s not forget the lovely lines of the canes themselves that add to both the movement and directing of the viewers eyes beyond the constrains of the cube.

Apparently, Sarah will be teaching this Celtic cane on the Alaska Polymer Clay Cruise, the “Clayditarod” coming up next month. I was not able to discern if spaces are left for what is certain to be an amazing polymer adventure but you can check out the details and query as needed on the cruise website here. And for more splendid Sarah Shriver work, jump over to her website here.

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Bead Break

ikandiclay 430x257 - Bead BreakThis will be a simple, and hopefully simply delightful, week as I am traveling or in the midst of preparing to travel and will have to be brief. But I have had the idea of the ‘bead’ on my mind. That sounds pretty basic, I know, but for art jewelry, the bead–be it a simple, plain spacer or an extravagant focal piece–is the most common single element created and thus, has a pretty highly esteemed place in the world of adornment. So let’s take a closer look at some very well-considered and lovingly created beads.

These beauties are cane constructed by the ever clever Ivy Niles of iKandi Clay. Canes takes their place on center stage as well as energetically running around the circumference for an intricate and rather mesmerizing look.

If you are partial to either a well-done cane or intricate, take a break to look through Ivy’s her Etsy shop and her website.

 

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