Cute Day in Italy

We’re back to Western Europe today with something lighthearted and fun. Over in Italy, Dorothée Vantorre creates these unusual but irresistibly cute creatures, along with other stylized creatures, graphic jewelry, and further adorable manifestations of her imagination.



Dorothee is getting all kinds of attention in the fashion world, as evidenced by the magazine pages she’s posted on her Flickr site. I just keep going back to the pink-lidded, sleepy, weeble-wooble-like faces. I might have some kind of affinity for hem and their tired but content looks. Have fun perusing her Flickr photostream and her website this weekend.


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Cracking Up in Spain

Today we visit Spain. This is one area of Western Europe that truly does revel in heavily saturated color, and tends towards more contemporary design. Miryam Garcia is not an exception to this impression I have. She’s done a lot of exploring over the last few years, not unlike the first two artists we looked at this week. She goes back and forth on the color palettes, working  in naturally-inspired muted tones or limited palettes for a time, then suddenly bursting into color. I think her color sense, especially when she pushes the brightness, really shines. This recent brooch is a great example.

garcia pin


Contrast is a consistent and well-used theme here. With blue backing both its tertiary yellow and complementary orange, rough and uneven crackle interrupted by smooth domes, and large, squarish shapes giving up the focal interest to the round accents, we have quite a bit to draw our eye and hold our interest.

Miryam has created a few pieces that tend towards this very thorough design but I think this is definitely her best work yet. If you are interested in looking through the visual history of yet another interesting and exploratory artist this week, take a look at both her Flickr stream and her blog.


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Into the Woods in Germany

Much of the lore surrounding the mythical beings of the forest that we are familiar with today, such as faeries and elves, comes to us from Western Europe. The German lore is particularly colorful, influencing many accomplished artists and writers in Europe through the ages and certainly today. You may not presently believe in faeries and elves; but perhaps after peeking in on the work of Germany’s Tatjana Raum, you will wonder if she didn’t find inspiration and models for her pieces in some secret part of a deep Germanic forest. The amazing detail and wonderful expressions on these two creatures made me halt when I saw it.  These are so realistic-looking for beings that are not supposed to exist.

fairie Raum


Expressive faces are Tatjana’s specialty. Besides her figures and art dolls, she has these amazing pieces where she blends a face into a piece of old wood, as if she magically coaxed the spirit of the wood to emerge and reveal itself. Although this piece is less about the expression than the connection the artist is making between the wood and the personification of its spirit, it’s still quite emotive and definitely inspires wonder.

Woodfairie Raum

Take yourself off into another realm with a little visit to Tatjana’s gallery pages.


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Further Experimentation in the Netherlands

Here is another artist who, like our gal from yesterday, looks to be working out her own artistic voice through a lot of varied exploration. The progress seen in her photos on Flickr does show both a natural affinity for the material as well as the kind of growth that, at this point, hints at some of the directions she might take.

This ring, one of her latest postings, looks like the work of a long-time polymer artist. It is very well finished, and combines contrasting textures with a simple but effective color palette of subdued blues and gold accents.


In her notes on this photo, Lillian says “This is not what I had in mind when I sat down at my clay table. Needs further experimentation.” I found this statement a little surprising, since I would be immensely proud of this myself. But of course, not creating as intended means you are looking at something that falls short of your expectations in that regard. However, the unexpected is often times a good indication of where your creativity wants to flow, and it’s probably worth exploring.

You can see more of Lillian’s experimentation and progress on her Flickr page.


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Coming into One’s Own in Western Europe

This week, I thought we’d counter the theme we did on Eastern Europe a number of weeks ago by doing a sampling of Western Europe. To get a sense of this region’s tendencies, we’ll be visiting European artists from this other side of the continent, all of whom I have not yet talked about on the blog.

The Western side of the continent has a dominant edginess and a lot of experimentation with form. There wasn’t nearly so much of the floral and dominance of bright color that we saw in Eastern Europe; instead, rather subdued or limited color combinations and stylized organic or graphic forms and textures were more common in the work I sampled. I couldn’t begin to answer why this might be, but I find it interesting that although we are a very global community, certain characteristics can be found dominant in given regions.

So this week we’ll start in France with artist Sonya Girodon, a relative newcomer to polymer but an absolute natural with it. In her prior work, you could see the strong influence of other polymer artists; but the work posted most recently is really quite unique. She does credit Christine Dumont’s “Ways to Wow” course conducted on Voila for her breakthrough and Donna Greenberg’s work as her design inspiration, but the end result is all Sonya’s own.

Sonya Alone


I so love what she says in her profile text on Flickr that I decided to quote it whole here:

“My new Hobby started in November 2011 with a set of Fimo bought for my daughter. I quickly realized that polymer clay is the medium I’ve always dreamt of. What a feeling when the brain shuts down and inspiration overflows into the fingers, hours fly by in seconds, and wonder is created out of nothing.”

Very poetic. And so very, very familiar: a sense of letting go, of letting the process of creation guide the work. That state is what I always think of as the goal when getting into the studio. Not so much the making of a particular thing, but getting to that point where you are working in a flow state and the clay translates who you are and what you want to say as you work. For me, the works that comes out of those kinds of sessions are the most satisfying and true to who I am.

If you are interested on reading more about getting into that very creative  state of mind, we touch on that in the Flow article in last year’s Fall 2012 issue of The Polymer Arts magazine. I also recommend a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. But in the meantime, do explore more of Sonya’s work on her Flickr pages. She’s only been at this a couple years, but she has had amazing growth in her work during that time. I find it fascinating to see the progress of someone’s growing artistry and you can definitely see Sonya’s here, going from her older photos to the above piece, her latest work. It looks like she has really come into her own this past summer. She is definitely someone to watch.


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