Polymer chains by Carlton

Chains have gone through a transformation lately. The links are big and uneven. Shapes have changed. Sizes may be mixed and matched within a piece.

This Big Linx chain from London’s Debbie Carlton illustrates the point in polymer.

Debbie’s also a fan of the big bangle and you can see her work best on her Flickr gallery. The bangles were inspired by a workshop Debbie took with Seth Savarick.

If you like polymer chains, you’ll want to revisit Wendy Malinow’s version. And, come to think of it, there’s an ancient version I created in my archives. Guess I’ve been hooked on chains for a while. Escape your chains this weekend.

Power’s Art Bead Scene collaborations

The goal of Heather Powers’s Art Bead Scene daily blog is to unite bead artists and jewelry designers who use art beads in their work. (Here’s Heather’s personal blog.)

The collaborations of the Art Bead Scene’s wire, metal, glass and polymer artists result in trendy, nostalgic assemblages of friends’ work and scavenged beads from the past.

Heather’s Humblebeads gallery on Flickr tracks how Heather’s polymer beads have been used by 23 of her fellow designers over the last couple of years (like this necklace from Lorelei Eurto that uses Heather’s work as a focal bead).

Most of the members of her group concentrate on one medium and when it’s time to create a wearable piece, they happily pick and choose the components from a wide array of baubles.

Other artists who work with polymer on the Art Bead Scene roster of editors include Cindy Gimbrone and Lynn Davis (hope I didn’t miss anyone). Warning: the links lead you to lovely sites that may suck up your afternoon.

Fabi’s fabulous combinations

To polymer artists, there’s nothing more appealing than a neat pile of coordinated canes. Show us the resulting bouquet of flowers and you’ve got our attention. These lovelies are from Madrid’s Fabi (fperezajates).

A few minutes on her Flickr site will reveal how she’s combined polymer with felt, crochet, books and wood. She even shares a mini-tutorial about turning a nail brush into a letter holder.

I admire Fabi’s experimentation with household items and decorative accessories.

Moving beyond bowls and frames, she embellishes drawers and makes sewing tool holders. Keep your eye on Fabi’s work.

Mika’s mosaics

This polymer wall art from Laurie Mika not only looks good with my site’s color scheme (always a consideration), it also reminds me to think in three dimensions on a similar project I’m working on for my new porch.

Thumbing through her site made me feel like I’d just taken a quick class. Her tiles are colorful and richly layered with a confident looseness and freedom

In creating her “Urban Icons” she uses a variety of overlapping techniques – mosaic design, painting, rubber stamping, collage, embossing, beading, and embedding just about anything into polymer clay.

She’s posted a growing list of workshops and you can also refer to her Mixed Media Mosaics book for more instruction on her lusciously embellished techniques.

Muronaka explains the polymer snowball

Cassy Muronaka’s post about her treasures from the recent Grove and Grove sale grabbed me in the first sentence, “Polymer clay was a snowball that really began rolling down the hill in the early 1990s, picking up very fine artists along the way.”

Cassy describes the Grove’s step-blend process and tells why it remains important. She shares pictures of the face canes that were their trademark and says that, “After spending a couple of weeks mooning over these exquisite Grove and Grove face canes, I may have to take another crack at it.”

Monday is a good day to mull over her thought that, “I find it ironic that after all these years, I am getting starting to get new ideas from some of the very old things they produced.” Here are some more pictures from their sale.

Apfelbaum’s cachet

Polly Apfelbaum creates hybrid works that exist in an ambivalent space between painting, sculpture, and installation. For her latest show in New York she fashions small, smooth, brightly patterned panels she calls Feelies from unbaked polymer.

Studiowork showcases an improvisational studio practice and engages an exchange about the dimensionality of clay and its potential for abstraction.

Considered one of the most original artists working today, Apfelbaum pushes painting past its traditional forms, off the wall, and into pop culture. Her work is in the collections of many major museurms. Often arranged on the floor, Apfelbaum’s forms are usually comprised of intricate, nearly psychedelic layers of dyed fabric.

A New York Times review says of this exhibit, “There is a cuteness factor here, but it is quickly overruled by the blazing colors, assorted stripes, dots, checks, swirls and grids and abstract intelligence evident in the 200-plus examples.”

Steven Ford, who sent us the link says he’s followed Apfelbaum for years and admits that, “The work in this current exhibit is crude by most polymer clay artists’ standards but it’s fun to see what she finds consistent with her other work.” The polymer community has worked toward being considered a serious art medium and Apfelbaum’s exhibit may be one more step toward the cachet we’ve been seeking. The show runs through August 13.

Technology and polymer

Several readers have recommended the polymer Jiggly Wiggly Robots by Florida’s M. Held who is an illustrator as well. I’m tickled that she converts her robots into fabric at Spoonflower and creates illustrations for stock image sites. She also offers a clever tip for reducing fingerprints on polymer. (Christie Wright and others sent the link along.)

And as long as we’re talking clever technology, take a look at Betsy Baker’s online Lookbook. It’s a catalog of her latest work that she uploaded free through Issuu.com. Read how she did it here. Nice marketing!

Bangle bender

Bangles are everywhere! Corliss Rose (2RosesJewelry) recently stitched up a fabulous polymer patchwork bracelet. She took the quiltmaking that she learned from her grandmother and brought it to polymer. The Roses experiment with all kinds of materials and it’s great when polymer pops up in their work.

The Roses studio led me to Lauren Abrams brass-based bangle covered with polymer that’s been deliciously striped with alcohol inks.

Lauren led me to the source of this bangle craze, Melanie West. I watched Melanie make one of her lovely biobangles this year and it’s been on my mind ever since.

She’s developed great new techniques and I had no idea that I could refresh my memory with an inexpensive online tutorial. (The brass bangle tutorial is not currently listed but I’m guessing Melanie will put it back up.) Off to the studio!

Garden inspiration from Vee

Veruschka Stevens' bounty necklace from polymer clay

Veruschka Stevens was moved to created this wearable polymer garden after watching Michele Obama on tv gardening and surrounded by children.

“This necklace is very much inspired by the gorgeous garden in the White House and the wonderful health and joy that a garden – no matter how small or large – can bring into everyone’s heart, mind and body,” she explained. Here’s a collage of her inspiration and her results.

Gourley’s Core Sample exhibit

Gorley's polymer core samples

Next Thursday marks the opening of Rachel Gourley’s Core Sample show at the Craft Council of BC in Vancouver. Her colorful collection of self-supporting hollow polymer tubes stand 30″ tall looking like modern totems.

Rachel’s first explorations for this exhibit began when she developed back problems. Awaiting treatment, she would intently study the diagrams of the human spine in the offices of doctors and physiotherapists. Since then Rachel says, “I have thought a lot about the spinal column and how the body supports itself.”

Initially she titled the exhibition Vertical Vertebrae but she realized that the scope of her work had expanded beyond the human spinal column. She found herself investigating the structural core of organic forms and began to see parallels between spines, trees and columns in their ability to support a larger mass.

You can see more of Rachel’s exploration with natural forms in earlier PCDaily posts here and here. The show runs through September 5.

Giveaway winner and your suggestions

Jan Montarsi was the winner of the Friday book giveaway. Thanks to Jan and the more than 500 of you who took time to fill out the survey I can more accurately read the pulse of the PCD community. The number of responses bowled me over and your enthusiasm was a hoot. Thanks for all the suggestions and the compliments. You’ve helped greatly.