Tips and Tricks

Polymer Cloisonné

Tennessee’s Jai Johnson has developed an interesting twist on cloisonne which she plans to pursue in 2006. She talks about her plans and has the best pictures on her blog.

Jai first created the setting with genuine gold leaf on the edges. Then she built a network of "cloisons" (cells or compartments) by forming 14K gold filled bezel wire into a pattern for the center of the pendant. Each "cell" was then painted using tinted polymer, filled gradually until she obtained the shading and coloring she wanted, with multiple firings between layers.

Web Presence

It would be great if there were more polymer clay artists’ web sites on the net. I can list a number of fine artists who are techno-adverse and shy away from the complexity and expense of maintaining a web presence.

Artspan.com seems to offer a simple, well-designed, inexpensive package. One of the local guild members recently signed up and I stumbled on it through her.

In real life I’m a webmaster so I hesitate to take work away from your local web designer. But if you want a painless and inexpensive way to get in the game, this might be just the ticket.

Seeing Colors

Polymer Clay artists are all about color and color tricks. Here’s a site that’s all about optical illusions and visual phenomena.

For this illusion, follow the movement of the rotating pink dot. You will only see one color, pink. If you stare at the black + in the center, the moving dot turns to green. Now, concentrate on the black + in the center of the picture. After a short period of time, all the pink dots will slowly disappear, and you will only see a green dot rotating.

There really is no green dot, and the pink ones really don’t disappear. We don’t always see what we think we see.

Ombre

In our recent color workshop we learned the word "ombre" which the dictionary describes as "having colors or tones that shade into each other — used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark." Maggie wanted us to keep running our blends through the pasta machine to reach ombre.

It’s related to the word "umbra" from the Latin for shadow…think umbrella. We thought that it had to do with "hombre"….not.

So if you want to sound erudite, talk about your blend’s hombre. It’s a noun and an adjective. I’m still trying to use it properly.

More than one way to Skinner…

What is a "Skinny Skinner" you ask? Lots of polymer artists attribute this variation on the Skinner blend to Dorothy Greynolds (shown here at a 2004 Columbus, Ohio workshop). Instead of the typical triangle blends, narrow rectangular bands of color totalling the width of the pasta rollers are laid side-by-side (look on the table in the picture).

Folding and rolling them through the pasta machine gives you a marvelous blend. In Santa Fe, Lindly and Maggie showed us how to refine and control this blend further. One trick is to keep the very light and very dark bands quite narrow, allowing stronger colors to prevail.

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

    On this blog I showcase the best polymer clay art online to inspire and encourage you. I also send out weekend extras in the premium newsletter, StudioMojo.

    You can find my book, Polymer Clay Global Perspectives, on Amazon.


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