Gossamer gills from translucent polymer

These polymer color chips scattered around Seth Savarick’s work area look like beach glass or Italian ice. They’re what Seth calls his “gossamer gills” and to create shapes he stacks paper-thin multicolor layers of the baked translucent clay.

It’s hard to explain (especially late at night). Here are a few pictures of his collaboration with Robert Dancik who created the metal boat shapes that Seth is filling with his glass-like gills. His almost micro-mosaic technique is alluring. I find myself wondering about the possibility of faux beach glass. Anybody tried?

You can catch up with Seth at Arrowmont this fall where he’ll be teaching the inro techniques he’s most known for.

Smokin’ extrusions

You may find it hard to believe but Sarah Shriver has never extruded polymer. Today I introduced her to the wonders of extrusion with a stainless steel extruder, adaptor and variable speed drill. Sarah shows her delight at her discovery.

She marveled and promptly included her results on one of the beads in the project she and Dayle Doroshow are working on. (Only one side on the bead is covered in this picture.)

You’d be surprised at how many of these polymer experts haven’t experimented with techniques outside their own. This week has provided them with an opportunity to be novices without embarrassing themselves.

Outer Banks, inner limits

It may not look like much but these polymer pebbles (mine) and lichen focal bead (Lindly’s) represent a stretch for both of us and a leap into new territory. Our team experiments may or may not work but we trust each other and egg each other on.

Judy Belcher and Tammy Honaman engineered this week at a sumptuous off-season Outer Banks, North Carolina beach rental as a way to force artists who were comfortable with each other into a situation where they would play and push and tolerate some discomfort.

At the end of the project, after the discards and false starts, some new directions will emerge from the collaborations. They’re hoping that you will be interested in reading their upcoming book about what happens during processes like this.

It’s cold and gray outside but we’re warm and colorful. Here’s a toast to you readers from the group at dinner tonight. Thanks for following along. We’ll see what happens.

Moving out of your zone

These cane slice polymer earrings from Sandra McCaw looked lovely on Sandra. Quick pictures taken on a paper plate don’t do them justice but if you go to her site you’ll see more of these beauties.

The five-slice rectangles are bordered by a fine strip of clay topped with gold leaf. The findings are handmade and have the most delicate hammered hooks.

On another note, it’s oddly refreshing to watch this group of polymer clay experts struggle and make rejects and failures as they collaborate in search of new ideas. Amid the piles of not-so-greats, you can spot strange new successes. More about that with pictures as the week progresses.

Telltale polymer

This polymer-covered sugar spoon with its cautionary warning caught my eye at breakfast.

Judy Belcher explained that when Leslie Blackford was a house guest, she stirred her morning coffee with the sugar spoon and returned it to the sugar bowl…in violation of house rules. Judy’s husband brought the breach of etiquette to Leslie’s attention.

To atone for her gaffe, Leslie sent the Belchers a special spoon immortalizing the occasion so that others wouldn’t make the same mistake. It’s a charming, funny story and it certainly is effective.

Do you have polymer art that tells a tale or makes you smile? That can be one of the best uses of our art. More silly stories from the road on Monday. Have a great weekend and mind your manners.

Faux birch

Wendy Malinow was decked out in polymer finery when we met up. On one arm she wore her signature antler bracelet paired with an early pebble bracelet by me (yea!) and topped off with a new birch bangle with skull, teeth and bone dangles. She has long arms! Organic with a strange, delightful twist.

The branches look separate but form one incredibly realistic stack. She admits that the piece took at least four bakings with a metal armature under the main branch to provide stability. The textures fool both the eye and the touch.

These pictures were taken late at night in the kitchen. I added a couple more here and here to give you the full effect. Check out her bracelet of thorns on her Etsy shop too.

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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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