Variation on Time

pieces clock 430x823 - Variation on TimeI spent a lot of time looking for differently constructed clocks in polymer and couldn’t find much that really illustrated the point I was hoping to make. What I wanted was to show that a clock does not have to be on a flat surface. It can be made of many parts, attached or not, and fully dimensional. As long as you have something that can house or hide the clock mechanism while holding out the hands, the rest is wide open. You can have the hour markers designated by any form and attach them with sticks or wire or be free floating–whatever suits the piece and your inclination.

These two examples are commercial designs rather than polymer art but I think they give you the basics of this idea of moving beyond the flat clock face. Not only do these kinds of clocks make for really interesting wall pieces, they give you the freedom to use pieces you may already have such as large hollow beads, faux stones, unhung pendants, small figurines, flowers, etc.

As a gift, giving a clock that has separate pieces might be best attached to something that can be hung as one piece, like a backing of Plexiglas or painted plywood. Or include instructions for a template to mark on the wall where each piece goes. There is little to no construction to deal with but you will have to make concessions in the design for how the individual pieces will be hung. Alternately, go for a design where the elements are attached like the flowers you see here.

The sky is the limit with these kinds of designs. For more ideas, try searching “DIY clocks,” which was the keyword set that brought me to these two pieces. I hope these sparks some ideas and I look forward to seeing inventive clock designs this month!

Following the Rooftops

NSabo Nambia bowlI so need something bright and cheery as we prepare for serious flooding level storms out here in Southern California. What a winter we are having! I wish it were snow though. Much less messy. But here we are, under cloudy skies, waiting for the deluge.

So, in looking for a couple more bowl style containers to share this week, I was delighted to find this beauty by the equally beautiful Nevenka Sabo. Her work lately has been so intensely bright and cheery. It was just the thing for a day such as this.

I love that she breaks away from the standard bowl form and cuts the lip of it to follow the roof tops of her little neighborhood. The bright blue interior and the mixed colors of the houses add to the playful look. The fully saturated colors are well matched to the illustrative look of the imagery on the pieces she creates. It’s just a wonderfully done, fun piece. If you like this, you’ll want to see the other views of it on her Flickr photostream.

Nevenka has been working with this technique for a couple of years now with really eye-catching results. She even put out a very detailed tutorial for this technique she calls Nambi. You can find it in her Etsy shop. But also take a look at her other examples of how this technique can be applied by checking out her Flickr pages and her Facebook page.

Ok, hopefully I won’t be heading to the rooftops myself this week. Hope you all stay warm and dry!

 

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Journals: Organic Matter

gabriellepollacc organic matter journalJournal covers are very much like blank canvases, which means you can do anything you desire on them. Your medium is probably the only thing that will constrict you, but then you aren’t restricted to one medium, are you? Polymer is amazing and will always be my go to material but I wouldn’t ignore other wonderful options, especially since so many other mediums work so well with polymer.

Here is a journal cover that has no polymer on it but most of the materials used are quite familiar to polymer clayers and could be combined with it to create looks inspired by this texture rich cover. Gabrielle Pollacco uses an insanely wide array of paints, inks, powders, sprays, stencils, stamps and a few other things to create this cover. Sometimes, too many materials is like too many ingredients in a recipe … going overboard can really muck things up. But Gabrielle brings it all together here by limiting her palette and sticking with a weathered look as her thematic motif.

She seriously looks like she is having way too much fun in this video tutorial that she recorded of her full process for creating this cover. I now have a new list of products to find and try so if you watch this, you have been warned that it may result in a bit of frenetic online shopping! Also … the music she uses may get stuck in your head and have you bopping about the rest of the day. It’s not a bad thing. Just wanted to give you a head’s up so you are ready to defend yourself with the mute button if bopping is not appropriate at the time.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Create a journal cover for your goals and plans book. Try some new materials to really make it interesting. If you’ve not covered a journal or sketchbook before and find covering a pristine new book on your first try to be a bit too much pressure, create on a separate sheet of clay that can be glued to the journal later or, if you like it as is, can be a bit of inspiration to frame. A sheet of raw clay, cured between two tiles to keep it perfectly flat can be a great ‘canvas’ to work on.

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Way Beyond Translucent Canes

agnes-shell-bead-tutIt’s been a while since I shared something you could actually sit in the studio and try so although this isn’t exactly within the theme of the week, it’s related enough and could be a really cool and fun thing to try this weekend if you are looking for something new and have a bit of translucent clay on hand.

They are related to translucent canes because they are translucent and the technique came from pushing caning. As the artist Agnes Dettai says on the Flickr post for this technique, “I have to thank Christine Dumont again; the idea for these came from the work on reinventing caning that we did for the course ‘Becoming a better artist.'”

It’s great to see how pushing yourself in a completely different direction, way beyond what you think something is or should be, can result in something so radically different. The shells are little gems all by themselves but there is much more than can be done with this. She uses Play-Doh to create a temporary base to wrap the translucent clay around but as she notes, the clay leaves a bit of stain from the color of the Play-Doh. Although this may not have been intended initially, it gives a lovely, vibrant and still very translucent color to the polymer. A great incidental discovery within a successful exploration.

You can see what else Agnes does with her playdoh hollows and what exploration she has done with this idea on her Flickr photostream and can find detailed notes on the technique on this blog post of hers. Get the complete steps for these shells by clicking the photo to get to the Flickr photo they are on and then go the next image left for the finishing steps.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Try out Agnes’ technique with translucent clay or just try using water-soluble clay (Play-Doh) as a form for hollow or open forms. Where can you take this idea?

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A Ring to Start With

ring tutorialHave you ever made a polymer ring? It’s not one of the more common polymer jewelry forms but it sure is fun and they are becoming more and more popular. They can be a bit intimidating since they need to be durable and they need to be sized. When creating ones to sell, you have to either make a wide range of sizes or you have to stick with just a selection of the most popular and then maybe offer custom-made ones. In any case, rings can be a touch tricky but I think once you’ve made one, they are kind of addictive.

So to start your addiction, you might want to try out this simple but elegantly styled ring using the online tutorial on the Craftliners blog. These simple but pretty little rings get their style from the special effects clay in the Glamour and Nature line of clays from Cernit. You can get granite and other faux effects by mixing your own clay with inclusions or just start with solid colors.

The Craftliner blog is posted in support of the online wholesale hobby and craft suppliers Craftlines. Although the shop is wholesale, the blog is for everyone and has a lot of great little gems in a variety of mediums. You can check out what they have to offer from the blog home page.

For more specific polymer ring ideas and how to make them, take a look at your copy of the Winter 2012 of The Polymer Arts or get your copy here.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Make a simple wrapped ring. Give yourself all of 30 minutes to condition, roll, cut, and form the ring. The time limit will keep you from over thinking it. Just make one and don’t worry about the outcome, just enjoy the experience. Then once you have that one under your belt, let your imagination run wild and make more!

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Outside Inspiration: Moving Scenes

carolyn weir mobileOne article in the new Summer issue that really could have used more room was the one on mobiles. You should see just my outline for it! The art of mobiles is so broad that it would be impossible to get even just a taste of all that can be done in one article, even if we took up all the pages doing it. Mobiles, like any art form, can be taken in a myriad of directions. Just as a necklace does not need to be a series of symmetrically strung beads, a mobile does not need to be just a series of the same or similar objects hanging in any predictable pattern. The elements don’t even need to hang straight down but can shoot out sideways or straight up into the air. The assembly can be organized horizontally, vertically, or in some random pattern. The only thing a mobile needs is controlled balance.

I wanted to share more than the few mobiles you see in the article, but it’s really hard to choose ones that represent all these can be. The handful in the article barely touch the pool of possibility. So if you read the article and are intrigued, start by creating the simple mobile in the tutorial. Creating the tutorial example will give you a better idea of what the art of balancing is all about, then you can go out and search for more mobiles. You will be amazed by what is out there.

Here is just one out-of-the-box idea for mobile art that combines wall art, as well. Carolyn Weir creates all kinds of mobiles in a variety of materials, but I like these moving scenes the best. The two-dimensional image changes from a specific horizontal scene to a series of abstract vertical designs as it moves. The mobile also allows her to display two of her paintings which turn into multiple scenes as the pieces move around and realign so you’d basically have a different picture moment to moment. If you’ve read the article already, can you recognize the balance points and why she hung them from these specific points? Kind of cool to know these things now, isn’t it?

Carolyn also creates the more classic Calder style mobiles, of which you can see examples in her Etsy shop. For more of these scene mobiles, take a look at all the examples on her blog. And if you want to see these and her other mobiles in motion, take a look at her videos on YouTube.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Make something that moves. Add dangling elements, something that spins, or an element that swings to your next piece. If you already create a lot of dangles and other hanging pieces, try pushing how you hang them. Try balancing in asymmetrical arrangements or attach dangles to a vertical or diagonal element instead of horizontal.

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A Glimmer of Hope. And Jewelry Furniture.

Donna GreenbergLast month was a very long month. So much was going on only now can I see the light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope, a spark of optimism that all of our special projects will be wrapping up. So in honor of those glimmers and lights, how about a few slightly blingy things this week?

We’ll start with some new Donna Greenberg earrings. Seeing a new piece of hers always brightens my day. And I do love those cool jewel tone shimmers. These are not overly complicated but I am very much for simplicity right now. The shiny side kind of hangs out there like a beacon of some kind.

But I also wanted to share this because look … she made her own stand, or jewelry show furniture, as she calls it. How fun and fabulous is that?

See what else Donna has been up to on her Facebook page, where I found these, and her website.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create your own style of displays for your work, something completely different from what Donna made. Displays can be artistic, but be careful with heavy patterns and colors brighter than your work. You want your work to stand out, not your stands. Search online for DIY display ideas to help you out. These kinds of projects are prefect for dipping into your scrap bin. You can paint or powder mud colored clay displays to bring them back to life.

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The Past Comes to My Door

SSmolka blogSome days, I just can’t believe how insanely lucky I am to be doing what I do. A few days ago I was blessed with these gifts from Germany. These are not just any gifts. If you read the Muse’s Corner article by Anke Humpert in the Winter 2015 issue of The Polymer Arts, or read the blog post about Sigrid Smolka last November, then you know some of this story.

Anke brought to our attention what must be the very first book of polymer techniques, written in 1974, and I was ever so thrilled that we were able to share Sigrid’s story. But now, I get to actually hold the book in my hands. I am so thrilled and have been just bursting with the implications of what I have so I just had to share.

Sigrid contacted me a couple of months ago and said she wanted to send me her book and a few other things. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I thanked her profusely and patiently waited. Poor Sigrid has been having intermittent health issues so she was not able to get them off right away and eventually employed her friend Theresa to pack the intended items up for me.

Well, not only did she send the polymer book but also her book on air dry clay techniques and three of her polymer pieces from her years creating in the medium. And … she also sent prints and cards with her more recent computer paintings. Note the print on the left has a March 2016 date. Even with her ups and downs these days, she is still creating and sharing her art. I am amazed by this woman.

Since it seems too selfish to keep these to myself, I will be bringing the book and her polymer pieces with me to Eurosynergy in Bordeaux to share. I assume many people in the community are like me and would be thrilled to see pieces of our past in person. That is also why I sent Ellen Prophater and Sue Sutherland at Creative Journeys Sigrid’s contact information, so hopefully her work can be included in their amazing retrospective collection. It just wouldn’t seem complete without this earliest pioneer included.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Can you recall a piece or an artist from when you started in your present medium that greatly influenced your work? Can you recall what it was about their work that inspired you so greatly? Take that inspiring element or your sense of the artist’s work and design or create a piece that pays homage or utilizes what you got from them without copying anything they did.

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Looking Back for Inspiration

A quick note on the Polymer Journey 2016 book … we’ve been able to extend the introductory sale through Friday, so if you haven’t reserved your copy or were waiting for payday, this is your chance!  Go to the website today before the price goes up this weekend.

TLilin deco butterflieshere are timeless techniques as well as timeless art. This easy but impressive looking technique, painting with mica powders on molded clay, was posted by Lilin in 2008. This particular construction harkens back to the art deco style with the enameled look of the butterfly wings against the stylized faces. It gives them an antique air. Lilin credits Donna Kato as her inspiration although she doesn’t say if that was from a book or class. But she gives her own brief instructions and tips, enough for you to get some ideas and run with a new design of your own.

The instructions for these are on this blog post. Lilin hasn’t posted since 2009 and I couldn’t find any reference to her moving her work to somewhere else. I am always curious how an artist progresses. It’s both encouraging and fascinating to see people improve their skills and to see what directions they chose. So I am curious. If anyone knows what Lilin is up to now, let me know and I’ll post an update here.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Find a new way to apply an old technique. Look through your older project books, back issues of magazines, or your favorite tutorial sites and find something you haven’t done in a while or never tried and use it with your present forms and color palettes. What do you do differently today that you didn’t when the tutorial was published or when you first used it? It’s interesting to see how your approach has shifted.

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