Tips and Tricks

Magnet Magic

I usually stay away from the techniques and products side of polymer clay art but this tip was just too good to miss. The clank of the pasta machine handle hitting the floor is a familiar (and annoying) one.

Thanks to Debbie Woznick of Denver's Mile High Guild you may never hear that sound again. All you need is one of those strong magnets which come in the same diameter as the handle. Put the magnet on the end of the handle and insert it into the machine.

The magnet may fight you a bit as you approach the machine but with a little coaxing, it works. Supergluing the magnet to the handle is probably a good idea. I love a simple, elegant solution. Thanks, Debbie.

New Twist

There's nothing more fascinating to me than seeing a new twist on an old theme. And this technique by Colorado's Karen Sexton has it in spades. Here's a polymer bead based on the old paper roll-up bead (take a long skinny triangle of clay and roll it up).

What Karen's done next is to stamp the bead, flattening it somewhat. The resulting bead has wonderful shape and texture. Karen's an officer of the Denver guild but doesn't have much of a web presence. I'll badger her to get one up so that you can see more of her colorful and finely crafted works.

Kaleidoscopes

Sarah Shriver is directly responsible for many of the kaleidoscope cane freaks out there. Sarah makes it look disceptively easy and few artists reach her level of balance between chaos and control in their work.

As entertainment and practice for those who can't get enough of repeating patterns, I recommend you go to this site and play for a while. Have a great weekend. I'll be on vacation next week and the site will be on auto pilot with some fun posts.

Recycling

Julia Sober recycles. From automotive fuses to computer parts, Julia sees beauty and utility in the most mundane materials and incorporates them into her polymer clay work.

Scrapbooking staples become bails. Grommets embellish bead holes. Julia's shapes are as playful and unexpected as her hardware. Pieces move. Messages appear and disappear.

Combining her talent for color with her ability to assemble Julia Sober comes up with some exciting and winning combinations (including her "best of show" in the recent NPCG show).

Diva Jewelry

Techniques that are such fun to create often become mind-numbingly boring. Take those square extrusions. A professor of fluid dynamics bought a bowl of mine that was inlaid with square extrusions. He excitedly explained the physics of how the colors merged and formed. I was fascinated. After a while, however, they all look the same.

Some artists take these techniques to another level. These "Klimt pins" photos from Donna Kato illustrate the point. She takes a simple technique, renders it in unexpected colors and then pushes it further. In this case, she gave the pieces interesting shapes, added pearls and accented one with a textured layer.

It's that second effort that makes these pieces different from the rest. We must learn to obey that inner voice that says, "Take it farther…keep going"

The Ronna Weltman article in ArtJewelry Magazine was nicely written (I just got my copy) and I loved Steven Ford saying that polymer clay jewelry is "diva jewelry." He's right, of course (his new site is working a bit better today). These colors and styles are not for the shy or faint of heart.

Lentil Overload

Just when I think I've looked at every lentil bead on the web, I'm drawn back to some spectacular variations. Valerie Aharoni's lentils are something to behold. I can't really tell how they're done. Is it Gwen Gibson's image transfer technique? Is it some sort of rubber stamp trick? Whatever, it's terrific.

And I love the bursting lentils in the necklace at the right that Gwen Gibson created some years back.

All these beads were shaped over a form and were not created using the familiar bicone bead process. I have this old picture of Carol Shelton's beads which illustrates the technique. Two circles were cut out and formed over a large ball bearing. After baking, the two halves were glued together and rebaked making a very lightweight bead.

Some interesting variations on the theme.

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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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