Hall and Malinow are Saul Bell finalists

Polymer artists Liz Hall and Wendy Wallin Malinow are starting their year on a high note. Both have been named finalists in Rio Grande’s prestigious 2010 Saul Bell design competition. Liz’s entry (pictured here) is a silver and metal clay belt buckle inlaid with polymer clay. Congrats to them both.

If we’re to improve as polymer clay artists, each of us needs to catch a glimpse of our art at its best.

Look through what you created in 2009 and pick out the best piece. It might not be a complete piece, maybe it’s only one bead. What makes it special? What triggered your creativity? Who helped you? How does it make you feel? Can you bring more of this into your 2010 life?

It’s been a great year. And for that I thank all of you, my wonderful readers. You’ve given me more than you know. I’m humbled and grateful. Happy new year!

Eakes’ extruded mosaic

Julie Eakes combined four pounds of extruded polymer clay into one remarkable 5.5″ by 8″ by 2″ mosaic face cane. Calculating colors and preparing each cane is a painstaking task that took Julie three weeks.

Julie says her inspiration came from those photo mosaics that are made up of other little pictures. She adds that, “My brother worked with Chuck Close years ago and I was lucky enough to meet him then. I have a painting that my brother did of me using dots. I have the picture my brother did (which was inspired by Chuck) so maybe subconsciously I was inspired by Chuck.”

Julie is letting the cane rest while she considers her next step. Should she reduce it? How small should she go? It will be fascinating to watch.

Tinapple’s clean slate

Integrating my polymer clay skills with my Photoshop expertise was on my 2009 list of resolutions and I’m happy to have made progress toward this goal with this vase which is my entry for the Synergy exhibit.

This 10.5″ x 8″ cherry vase was turned by my husband. I added polymer clay transfers of old photos of the women in my family. Maureen Carlson’s story necklace got me thinking about telling stories with my art.

The turning point in my experimentations was discovering Valerie Aharoni’s baking parchment paper technique for transfers. I used sepia here to make the photos a uniform tone but colors transfer well too. I fired the polymer with a paint stripper gun.

I promised to put more of my own work on the blog in 2009, didn’t I? The sound you hear is my scratching two goals off my list. I’m ending this decade with a clean slate. Read more in this interview I did with Eni Oken (ClayLessons).

Young’s snowflake cutouts

Camille Young (CamilleArt) usually creates polymer clay figures and toys but she ventures out to stretch other muscles from time to time. Recently she fashioned charming snowflake ornaments using only four or five small cookie cutters and rounds of polymer clay stacked on top one another.

Zoom in to see how Camille turned the cutters various ways, generating more angles and patterns. Paint, texturing and a few seed beads make these simple techniques intriguing and complex.

Christmas may be over but it never hurts to keep an eye out for successful ideas. And snowflakes will be with us for a few months.

During this year-end week I’ll be trying to put some perspective on the past year and start envisioning the next. I’m excited to see what’s ahead.

Lehocky’s giving heart

It’s the season for giving and Ron Lehocky’s polymer clay work reminds us of what a commitment to giving can accomplish.

As of September 30, Ron reached his goal of 10,000 polymer pins made to support the Louisville Cerebral Palsy KIDS Center. He met his goal in four years, a year ahead of schedule. This year Ron was awarded a prestigious Bell Award for his volunteer work and community involvement.

Since he still has lots of clay, he’s moved the goal to twice the original and he’s already at 11,250 with over $100,000 raised for his cause. Ron has acquired impressive skills as he built his stockpile of hearts and he can quickly demo any technique or trick that you can imagine.

May the joys of giving surround you. Wishing you all the happiest of holidays!

Apostolescu’s freestyle toys

Matei Apostolescu’s profusion of polymer toys and models make him look like Romania’s modern day Santa Claus. His fleet of race cars, jets, submarines and weapons delight the kid in all of us.

He uses simple clay shapes to build complex machines which he textures and paints. Keep clicking on his 152 toys to see the whole range.

Matei’s paintings and illustrations on his DeviantArt site help acquaint you with his aesthetic. His illustrations and his clay art have a 1960’s “Peter Max meets the digital age” sensibility.

Matei is known as one of the hottest freestyle artists in the world of illustration and says of his process, “I try to explore as much as I can. It is a fusion of different media: drawing, vector, photography, manipulation, sometimes even clay modeling. To me, inspiration is about having the courage to explore the world, and especially yourself and the processes that take place in your own mind.”

Susan Lomuto (DailyArtMuse) ran into Matei’s work and sent the link along.

Yuli-Ya’s polymer abundance

If you’d like to be dripping with jewels for a holiday event, take a look the polymer clay necklaces from Ukraine’s Julia (Yuli-Ya).

She subscribes to the “more is more” philosophy of jewelry design. Her wire and bead, polymer and crystal creations wrap the wearer’s neck in elegant abundance.

Julia branches out from her organic line and fashions complex Indian and Egyptian pieces in polymer as well. Her Flickr pages are full of diva gems. Thanks to Dee Wilder who sent the link along.

Lehman’s festive pens

Jana Lehmann doesn’t have her Christmas cards in the mail yet. She got sidetracked making these festive polymer pens! These nicely shaped wooden ballpoints were begging for holiday decoration.

Her rationale is that,”Filling in a form, writing a shopping list, signing a contract – all these can be special events now.”

On her new website Jana shares pictures of her little corner workspace. You can take a closer look at her collection on her Flickr pages. Enjoy and have a weekend filled with special events.