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!

Something’s in the Air

CF airplants  - Something's in the AirThis week’s theme will start with one of our more notorious creative instigator, Christi Friesen. On my end it started when my better half came back from an orchid show not with any orchids but rather with a 4 foot tall branch covered in air plants and I thought, “That is far too many air plants for that stick. I should save some from their crowded existence and make planters for them! In polymer. Of course.” However, in my world, the time between the germination of an idea and gaining the free time to implement it can be pretty vast. A few days later, I saw this photo pop up on Facebook. Apparently thoughts of air plants are, well, in the air!

Being a simple rolled cone construction with a ton of possibilities for color, texture, and embellishment, these little wall sconces of Christi’s are sure to get creative sparks flying for those of you looking for something new, easy and fun to play around with. There is plenty of room in this kind of project for your style and voice to come through. Work up something of your own like forming bowls, boxes, or tubes instead of cones and design it with your own signature colors and treatments.

Easy and fun are the signature marks of Christi’s classes and books, not to mention her community site, Christi’s Creative Neighborhood where have access to all sorts of tutorials, videos and creative ideas along with a chance to share with other like-minded clayers. Check out Christi’s happenings there, on her website and on her Facebook page.


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Dramatic Blends

MNewberg - Dramatic BlendsOne of my personal favorite articles in the new Summer issue is the “Blended Beauty” article on creating dramatic color and light in canes, written by Meg Newberg. I have been trying to get a really good article for our caning enthusiasts but for some reason, it’s been a struggle getting anything submitted beyond specific cane patterns. Which are cool, yes, but not quite in line with the technique driven and skill building objective of The Polymer Arts

This article, however, is amazing. Meg gives concise and clear instruction on how to create the type of clay blends that give her canes that beautiful inner glow and dramatic color. But these ingenious Skinner type blends are for more than just caners, as you’ll see when you read it.

Meg’s focus on canes has allowed her deep and intense exploration into what can be done with canes. If you want to work on your caning skills or just want to create more interesting and colorful Skinner blends, read the article but also consider signing up for Meg’s monthly tutorial subscription (the mandala cane you see on the bottom here is this month’s tutorial) or buy one of her tutorials posted in her Etsy shop.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Let’s recharge this weekend! Sit back with a favorite beverage and take in your latest copy of The Polymer Arts or another magazine or book and let you mind process the art and ideas you find. Keep a sketchbook nearby to record any “ah-ha!” moments and if you feel charged up when done, go to the studio and have some casual play time, exploring what inspired you.


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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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Close Color Calls

lindly13Our Color Spotlight section of the Winter 2016 issue of The Polymer Arts was graced by Donna Kato, interview by Lindly Haunani. How amazing is that combination?! Donna let us in on her colored pencil experiments and her reasoning behind her approach. Although colored pencil on polymer is not new, it is always fascinating to see into the workings of an artistic mind and since this section focuses on color choices and inspiration, we got a peek at how this master choose colors for her explorations.

One piece that I was sent to consider including was this beautiful necklace you see here. We ended up focusing so much on the pencil work that there really wasn’t a place for this in the article but it certainly deserves a bit of attention. Each section of the necklace deals with one basic hue in two different values. The disparate placement offsets the regularity of each hue showcased in the same shape and the relative dark to light hue being basically the same within each color set. The delicious saturated colors don’t hurt it at all either.

The most active page to see what Donna has been up to in her own art looks to be her Facebook page although you can see some of her more honed work and learn from her wisdom by going over to check out her classes on CraftArtEdu.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Let’s play with color hue. Pick 2-3 colors–they can contrast, be analogous (next to each other on the color wheel) or simply be your favorites.  Choose two variations of each color–different saturation (how pure a hue it is), values (dark or light), or tints/shades (additions of white/black.) Now use just these to create a new piece.


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On the Ball Beauty

gold-butterfly-ornamnet2Things are finally starting to settle down here in Sage land although it is always a whirlwind. Even so, I do like to stop and put up a touch of holiday cheer but I like things to be a bit beyond the norm. I have quite a few of the standard glass ornaments in my box that are really asking to be spruced up. But how to do it? I thought maybe we could get a few clever ideas from the very talented sorts out in the polymer world, and I certainly did!

I know black ornaments are probably not what you think of when think ornaments but just look at this beauty! The black background makes the colors of the cane slices just pop with such glamorous results. The ornament is by caning extraordinaire Meg Newberg. She actually created this a couple Christmases ago but left us with some instruction on how to get this effect. Find all the links to what she has for you on her blog post from that time. Then pop over to her home page for even more cool cane ornaments. She has a ton of ideas for these things. And check out her Etsy shop for a slew of cane tutorials.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Grab a basic holiday decoration and do something completely unexpected with it. Use unusual but festive colors, add texture where there usually isn’t and in general, put your kind of beauty on it. Celebrate with your style.


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Damage Sale, and Cellular Caning


As many of you may know, we started our annual Damage Sale yesterday. This is when we sell copies of our publications that are not in perfect condition for half the base cover price–that’s $5 a copy for the magazine! We also put a stock of ‘perfect’ magazines and the book on sale from 15%-30% off alongside them. Not all publications are available as ‘imperfect copies’ and some have already sold out but there are about 10 different issues still available as of writing this so pop over to my Etsy store where we conduct this once a year sale, and stock up on the cheap! (Shipping is additional but we use the Etsy site because we can best calculate shipping for you there and can easily refund on shipping when we find we have a less expensive option.)

Now onto clay considerations …

Playing with translucent clay and canes, especially those with cells of some sort, has been quite a popular direction for many caners, and one that draws attention from many admirers. I went a’wandering this weekend to see what has been going on in the world of caning and noticed the trend in recent tutorials and in images posted and pinned out in cyberspace. I’ve been enjoying the look because although an experienced clayer would recognize it as caning, it’s not what first comes to mind.

The texture, energy, and illusion of depth is what hits you in pieces like this water cane bracelet by the very talented Claire Wallis. Not only that, the translucent cell opens itself to a variety of cane applications. Here Claire took the cane and created a radiating pattern to get that splashed look. The bracelet was a perfect choice for it too, giving the splash imagery a central form from which to radiate–the wearer’s arm! I can only imagine how striking it must be when worn.

You can learn to create this water cane plus a beautiful lightening cane by grabbing Claire’s dual tutorial on CraftArtEdu. For more on her application of this and some of her other mind-blowing canes, check out her Flickr photostream.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Whether you predominantly work in canes, veneers or sculptural elements (or something else completely), try laying your favorite surface application out in a repeated but energetic pattern. You can take Claire’s radiating pattern from a central point as your inspirational source, or find a pattern out in nature, in city structures, or on decorative art and use the pattern you find there as inspiration for a new way of applying and composing your elements.


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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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Original, Dimensional Mokume Texture

Anna Anpilogova diy textureSo, I came across this great little idea that I had seen some time ago but never got around to trying. Although the impression method of creating mokume patterns is pretty accessible with manufactured stamps and texture sheets, it would be a grand thing if we had some options so those standard patterns and stamps aren’t the only ones we see out there. This is one easy way to create a unique pattern—three-dimensional paint!

Anna Anpilogova shows us an example of a pattern she created using glass liner paint. Her simple explanation for this easy but dramatic DIY texture sheet can be found on her Flickr page:

You need some transparent film and liner for glass/ceramics. Just put the film over the desired pattern and trace it with the liner. Let dry, and then repeat tracing one or two times to increase the depth of the texture. Works well for mokume gane technique, just don’t forget to sprinkle it with water before applying to clay, as it tends to stick.

Some paints you can try would include Pebeo’s Outliner, Jacquard’s Luminere 3D, DecoArts 3D Enamels or even some heavy-body acrylic paints and borrowing a narrow tip applicator from something else or putting it in a squeeze bottle.

Anna is a big texture artist. If you are looking for a texture inspiration, take a look at her collection of work on her Flickr photostream and LiveJournal pages.


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