Polymer chains by Carlton

Chains have gone through a transformation lately. The links are big and uneven. Shapes have changed. Sizes may be mixed and matched within a piece.

This Big Linx chain from London’s Debbie Carlton illustrates the point in polymer.

Debbie’s also a fan of the big bangle and you can see her work best on her Flickr gallery. The bangles were inspired by a workshop Debbie took with Seth Savarick.

If you like polymer chains, you’ll want to revisit Wendy Malinow’s version. And, come to think of it, there’s an ancient version I created in my archives. Guess I’ve been hooked on chains for a while. Escape your chains this weekend.

Power’s Art Bead Scene collaborations

The goal of Heather Powers’s Art Bead Scene daily blog is to unite bead artists and jewelry designers who use art beads in their work. (Here’s Heather’s personal blog.)

The collaborations of the Art Bead Scene’s wire, metal, glass and polymer artists result in trendy, nostalgic assemblages of friends’ work and scavenged beads from the past.

Heather’s Humblebeads gallery on Flickr tracks how Heather’s polymer beads have been used by 23 of her fellow designers over the last couple of years (like this necklace from Lorelei Eurto that uses Heather’s work as a focal bead).

Most of the members of her group concentrate on one medium and when it’s time to create a wearable piece, they happily pick and choose the components from a wide array of baubles.

Other artists who work with polymer on the Art Bead Scene roster of editors include Cindy Gimbrone and Lynn Davis (hope I didn’t miss anyone). Warning: the links lead you to lovely sites that may suck up your afternoon.

Fabi’s fabulous combinations

To polymer artists, there’s nothing more appealing than a neat pile of coordinated canes. Show us the resulting bouquet of flowers and you’ve got our attention. These lovelies are from Madrid’s Fabi (fperezajates).

A few minutes on her Flickr site will reveal how she’s combined polymer with felt, crochet, books and wood. She even shares a mini-tutorial about turning a nail brush into a letter holder.

I admire Fabi’s experimentation with household items and decorative accessories.

Moving beyond bowls and frames, she embellishes drawers and makes sewing tool holders. Keep your eye on Fabi’s work.

Mika’s mosaics

This polymer wall art from Laurie Mika not only looks good with my site’s color scheme (always a consideration), it also reminds me to think in three dimensions on a similar project I’m working on for my new porch.

Thumbing through her site made me feel like I’d just taken a quick class. Her tiles are colorful and richly layered with a confident looseness and freedom

In creating her “Urban Icons” she uses a variety of overlapping techniques – mosaic design, painting, rubber stamping, collage, embossing, beading, and embedding just about anything into polymer clay.

She’s posted a growing list of workshops and you can also refer to her Mixed Media Mosaics book for more instruction on her lusciously embellished techniques.

Muronaka explains the polymer snowball

Cassy Muronaka’s post about her treasures from the recent Grove and Grove sale grabbed me in the first sentence, “Polymer clay was a snowball that really began rolling down the hill in the early 1990s, picking up very fine artists along the way.”

Cassy describes the Grove’s step-blend process and tells why it remains important. She shares pictures of the face canes that were their trademark and says that, “After spending a couple of weeks mooning over these exquisite Grove and Grove face canes, I may have to take another crack at it.”

Monday is a good day to mull over her thought that, “I find it ironic that after all these years, I am getting starting to get new ideas from some of the very old things they produced.” Here are some more pictures from their sale.

Apfelbaum’s cachet

Polly Apfelbaum creates hybrid works that exist in an ambivalent space between painting, sculpture, and installation. For her latest show in New York she fashions small, smooth, brightly patterned panels she calls Feelies from unbaked polymer.

Studiowork showcases an improvisational studio practice and engages an exchange about the dimensionality of clay and its potential for abstraction.

Considered one of the most original artists working today, Apfelbaum pushes painting past its traditional forms, off the wall, and into pop culture. Her work is in the collections of many major museurms. Often arranged on the floor, Apfelbaum’s forms are usually comprised of intricate, nearly psychedelic layers of dyed fabric.

A New York Times review says of this exhibit, “There is a cuteness factor here, but it is quickly overruled by the blazing colors, assorted stripes, dots, checks, swirls and grids and abstract intelligence evident in the 200-plus examples.”

Steven Ford, who sent us the link says he’s followed Apfelbaum for years and admits that, “The work in this current exhibit is crude by most polymer clay artists’ standards but it’s fun to see what she finds consistent with her other work.” The polymer community has worked toward being considered a serious art medium and Apfelbaum’s exhibit may be one more step toward the cachet we’ve been seeking. The show runs through August 13.

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  • I'm Cynthia Tinapple, an artist, curator, and leader in the polymer clay community for over 20 years.

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