Tips and Tricks

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.

Backfilling


I saw pictures from a Carol Blackburn demo given at the San Diego guild’s 2005 Sandy Camp and I couldn’t figure out how this technique was being accomplished.

(To see the demo pix, go to the Sandy Camp pictures and scroll down to her demo.)

Carol’s secret is backfilling. She cuts into raw clay with cutters or blades, bakes and then backfills into the baked clay. Or she makes impressions in the raw clay, bakes and backfills. It’s a simple technique that Carol has taken to a whole new level.

A British guild member, Carol first arrived at Sandy Camp in 2004 when she couldn’t return her airline tickets purchased for the canceled national show that year. She’s been coming back ever since. Carol makes great tassels as well…but that’s for another day.

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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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