Polymer and ceramic

Some polymer artists aren’t content to just wear polymer, they have to live with it. New York’s Joan Israel and Germany’s Mareike Scharmer are two who surround themselves with color. They revel in bright patterns in quirky flavors.

Joan is partial to bottles and paintings. Give her a shapely bottle and she’ll give you back a masterpiece. This encrusted small ceramic pot is a current example.

Recently Mareike Scharmer has been adding polymer slices to vessels too. She’s added wildly colored canes to a mailbox, her toilet seat, a lampshade and a bunch of ceramic vessels. And she jumped into the granny square craze! Mareike designs interiors aimed at sparking children’s imaginations.

Hang on to your hat as you cruise through Joan and Mareika’s Flickr sites. These artists embrace color and believe that more is better.

Crocheted polymer

Polymer artists keep telling me how important play is to their art. In interviews for my book and video chats for StudioMojo, the topic surfaces repeatedly. I squirm a bit because I know I don’t often play in the studio. I fixed that today. No deadlines or pressure! Just fun with clay.

The granny squares that keep popping up online (see Lisa Clarke’s post) intrigued me. I bought this sweater to try to get over my new obsession. Rather than invest in yarn and crochet lessons, I decided to try making the squares in polymer.

An inexpensive online tutorial from Meg Newberg headed me in the right direction. My handy, dandy extruder set up made the process easy.

The patterns improved with each cane as I improvised and experimented. While this afghan bead won’t keep me warm at night, it warms my heart to have played today…and to have shared it with you.

Monday mind-benders

When you take a close look at this new Encrusted polymer bracelet from Jana Roberts Benzon are you as mesmerized as I am? The colorful texture is sumptuous and mystifying. How could you possibly make such a multi-dimensional pixel-like construction? It’s a Monday mystery.

Jana admits, “Honestly, when I finished it, I was just like dang, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”  More pix on Flickr and Facebook. Jana’s teaching in Philadelphia in April.

Polymer-covered pasta machine handle

Can a pasta machine handle survive the heat of the oven? Lisa Pavelka tested hers and the answer was yes. The next step, of course, was to cover it with a base layer of scrap clay and start adding cane slices.

She’ll never lose her handle in a class! Lisa’s theory is that you make better art with artistic tools.


Beach property

A bit of sunshine and the UK’s Pippa Chandler is already envisioning a hamlet of beach hut beads.

Her tiny polymer cottages measure 2cm high x 1cm wide with caned doors and windows and textures accentuated with acrylic paint.

With the kids back in school and the house quiet, Pippa’s muse hid for a while. Read her blog to see how she coaxed inspiration out of hiding for this little seaside adventure.

Travel tips

Travel to Australia via France! Isa07 (no real name) revisits a trip to Australia with this Melbourne necklace. She reproduced the colors as she remembered them. Then she built canes and stacks of mokume gane which she combined into a series.

The playful, carefree juxtaposition of the beads take you on a wonderful trip. Travel sensitizes your eye to the color and patterns of a place. These Australian beads from a French perspective seem right on target.

Fast-forward polymer

Adam Thomas Rees’ video of his cane-covered polymer foxes gives you a look at how he creates his sculptures (he fires the bases first) and may make you consider working on a turntable (it looks so efficient).

This Utah artist doesn’t reveal how long it took him to shoot these fast forward videos. You’ll be surprised at how he conditions clay and this episode gives you some idea of the size of his original canes. Additional clips on his YouTube page show other animal sculptures in process.

You may want to set aside some time to dig deeper into these links that were sent in by Iris Mishly.

Revived polymer

Rebekah Payne gave up on these polymer earrings. She figured she had nothing to lose and baked the sad, scooped out green beads. Then she let them sit around for a while. She layered them with paint and added dots. They started to look better. She hung crystals in the hollows and topped the beads with some wire wrapping. Rebekah calls them her Happy Returns earrings.

This story of persistence and patience is a good one to start the week. Get the full scoop on her blog and scroll through her Etsy offerings. Don’t you have ugly ducklings waiting to become swans?

Who is Dixie103?

These new polymer buttons and barettes based on American crewel needlework patterns are intriguing. The cane work is lovely, the colors and cutout shapes are soothing. She adds texture to simulate fabric.

Do you know who Flickr’s Dixie103 is? Julie is the only name she lists on her “nopeitsnotpainted” page. She doesn’t google well and she’s shy about her personal information. Deb Ross sent the link and had no clues to the artist’s identity.

We end the week enjoying a mystery artist. Have an intriguing weekend.

Chalks and inks

Virginia dentist, Page McNall rolled out a sheet of ecru polymer and added a few scrap clay pieces made using Maggie Maggio’s watercolor technique.

Then she colored the flat surface with alcohol inks and liquid chalks, textured it and embedded Mykonos ceramic beads for accent. She calls the resulting polymer assemblage Currents.

From this flat sheet, Page cut out pleasing shapes that became brooches and pendants. These two she calls Faux Stone Dentates (tooth-like, of course).

Her soft painterly chalks and inks are deftly applied. Page’s beautiful results may have you heading back to your inks to try again.