How does she do it?

Debra DeWolff has revived her blog and just set up an image page full of juicy polymer work that will capture your attention.

Debra works with felt saying that, “There’s a very pleasurable tactile quality to felt and I enjoy juxtaposing the soft fuzziness of felt with the smoothness of the clay. Her recent work also includes metalwork.

A closeup look at this mosaic bangle will have you scratching your head to figure out how she embeds seed beads in blended clay colors so precisely.

Red, white and blue polymer

In a nice turnabout, our tribute to Memorial Day comes from Pavla Cepelikova from Prague, Czech Republic. Applying foil with a USA flag image onto polymer, she cut strips and applied them to this heart pendant and added faux grout.

This new twist looks like a variation on the polymer mosaic technique first developed by Amy Helm. She cut strips, assembled and scored them to achieve the mosaic look without having to place each tile individually. (This technique was published recently. Does anybody know which book it appeared in? I need a refresher.)

Enjoy Pavla’s Flickr pages while we wave our red, white and blue.

Note: Amy Helms’ mosaic technique is explained in Polymer Clay Mixed Media Jewelry by Shirley Rufener.

About face in polymer

Inveterate polymer experimenter Dee Wilder created these new story beads using Maureen Carlson’s new small face bead molds. Here’s the back of Dee’s creations. She made not only beads but a series of rings as well.

These somber looking faces can be embellished and manipulated to make their story serious or silly or something in between.

One of Maureen’s original beads totems stares at me from the kitchen window sill. Now I can make more to poke up out of the garden. I was thinking of whipping up these plant stakes in polymer too. (I’d much rather do that than spread mulch!) Enjoy your weekend in the garden or the studio.

Classic Hyde faux fabrics

This black angel from Washington’s Susan Hyde is dressed for summer in her signature bright polymer ikat fabric. On Susan’s Etsy shop you can admire the construction (she photographs the backs) and design of these simple, stunning pieces. Her faux-fabric tutorial is a classic.

While her web site shows more, Susan’s Etsy site allows us to stay in touch with her most recent work and I was happy to stumble on it from Kathy Weaver’s Pinterest board.

Yep, I’m on Pinterest too. It’s quickly become my virtual sketchbook. Careful, it’s addictive.

Happy clash – trendsetting with polymer

Yesterday Laurie Prophater blogged about the Happy Clash trend (combining multiple patterns) that the Wall Street Journal says is occurring in fashion.

Laurie works in the decorating biz and she shares her insider’s view of fashion and design as it relates to polymer. Her links are a rich source of information.

As I continued my daily research, the next site that popped up contained this bright polymer mix from Madrid’s Silvia Ortiz de la Torre. The necklace screams, “Happy Clash!” Isn’t it fun to see polymer artists setting trends?

Look closely at Silvia’s beads and you’ll see that some have a very rough finish that’s also a popular technique. Roughing the surface changes the polymer’s plastic feel to something more pleasing to the touch, gives the beads a softer appearance, and adds another element to the riot!

Making your own polymer history

Elise Winters sent PCDaily this FAQ about October’s exhibit and activities at the Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin. Elise clears up questions and tells the backstory behind this fall’s exciting debut of polymer work in museum collections.

A few recent PCD posts have skimmed polymer history. If you want a more in-depth look, you simply must visit the PolymerArtArchive site for a comprehensive look.

This Pier Voulkos early caned neckpiece from 1989 is part of the museum collection. Pier introduced polymer artists to the use of telephone wire in jewelry construction.

IPCA Retreat

A field trip to the RAM is an option during the July 13-16 international guild retreat at the Hilton Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, Illinois outside Chicago.

At this retreat clay enthusiasts at every level come together in a relaxed learning atmosphere. The retreat is held in conjunction with the Metal Clay World Conference. Check out the events on Facebook and on the registration page.

A spirited approach to polymer

Washington’s Fanita Brandeis is another overlooked name in polymer history. Fanita opened the first bead shop in Washington, Sunshine Bead Co., starting in 1967. Ronna Weltman and Doris Coroch sent me links to Fanita but somehow I missed her page.

Recently a picture of her studio bead table on Flickr caught my eye and made me want to reach out and run my hand over her stash of polymer goodies.

Fanita prefers her art with some imperfections and I kept finding references to her “queen of collage” status. Her beads are not the result of any special tricks or techniques. They exude a spirited approach toward color and life.

Polymer family history

Marie Segal’s newest polymer switchplate is humorously entitled, If the Borgias had switchplates. She was inspired by the current television series that chronicles the lavish and scandalous saga of the 15th century crime family, the Borgias.

Marie has a bit of her own family history that you should know about. She is widely credited as the person who first introduced the pasta machine as the tool of choice for polymer artists in 1983. She and husband Howard have operated the Clay Factory in California since 1980 and here’s the 1988 picture to prove it.

Marie keeps on giving, most recently with a comprehensive 12-part free tutorial on replicating traditional African beads in polymer. The tutorials are sprinkled throughout her warm, chatty blog. Here are the direct links (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12).

Many thanks from all of us, Marie.

Facing face canes

Julie Eakes‘ latest polymer face cane started out from her pop art drawing. She chronicles her caning successes and misteps on her blog. Reading along is both instructional and entertaining as she remedies her mistakes.

To the left is a finished piece from the pop art cane. The pendant has a domed surface that you miss in this picture but which adds to its smooth sultriness (achieved with olive oil, I believe).

Julie doesn’t sell much of her work, preferring to experiment, teach and share her art and her humor. Her new book just out is “Clay Classics Inspired by Zentangle.”

Ancient dolls, modern bottles

These Ancient Luminous Art Dolls from Texas’ Tricia Dewey transform modern glass bottles into icons from ancient cultures.We looked at Tricia’s luminous polymer beads some months back and now she’s incorporating the technique into her sculpture.

She reveals that, “Growing up with my mother and grandmother as artists, I did not personally begin working artistically until my mother’s death in 2002.” Polymer clay and digital imagery were her first explorations with later ventures into encaustic wax. You can track the zigs and zags of her explorations on her Flickr site.

Ponsawan blends

Ponsawan Silapiruti offers yet another variation on the Skinner blend which she uses to create her free Mini Roses tutorial.

Based on overlapping rectangles of clay, this method is good for those of you who, like me, have trouble cutting triangles. Ponsawan has a gift for simplifying that makes every trick look easy.