Whalen’s works combine art, craft, culture

California artist, Benji Whalen’s polymer clay works overlap art and craft and popular culture. His clay and fabric sculptures are absurd piles of human beings in fights with body parts sticking out. Optimism and pessimism, faith and dejection, humor and sadness are simultaneously present.

Whalen grew up among artists in a Vermont commune where he was exposed to an "art as sustenance" philosophy that still informs his identity as an artist. This "Hippie Totem" piece amuses me as I take off on a road trip to visit my free-spirited children.

The storm sirens are blaring, too loud for me to think. I’ll leave you to check out Whalen’s work on your own here and here. Thanks to Susan Lomuto for the link.

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Balian’s polymer clay saints

Marsha Balian is an Oakland, CA mixed media artist who only recently added polymer clay to her toolbox. This sculpture, called "Objects Smaller Than They Appear, the Patron Saint of Hindsight" combines a doll’s torso, polymer clay head, arms and legs, acrylic paint and varnish, copper wire. raffia, beads, fabric scrap on a wood base.

Her series of sculptures, reminiscent of the wooden saints seen in South America, are called "Household Saints of Dubious Virtue".

Balin shifted from painting to sculpture when she needed a portable media that would allow her to be closer to her husband who was ill. The humor she found in her art helped her through difficult times that she recounts here. She describes her art as an expression of affection for the quirkiness that is part of our everyday lives.

Thanks to Susan Rose for the link to this artist who’s new to our scene.

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LoopyBoopy sculptures

It’s time to check back in with LoopyBoopy, the Louisiana artist who sculpts wonderfully creepy polymer clay kids with marbles for eyes. Each is accompanied by a poignant story.

Colleen (no last name) says of her eerie sculptures, "I think people connect to their little tragedies personally and are perhaps drawn to them for this reason."

There’s a great interview with her on Win Crafty. "Most of my kids and their little stories come directly to me from my daughter’s daily wonderment, fears, nightmares and dreams." she says.

You can see more of Colleen’s work on Etsy, Trunkt and Flickr.

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Leslie Blackford and Ira Glass – Keep making art

I’m allowing myself an existential moment. And Leslie Blackford’s polymer clay figure says it all (the mask flips up to reveal a much less benign character).

I’m doing a little self-talk about how to be a studio artist. Who knew the prospect would panic me? Here’s a great little video piece by Ira Glass. It’s not my usual Friday fare but this is special.

I love the idea of closing the gap between your good taste and the quality of the work you produce. Have a special weekend.

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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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