Polymer as canvas

Florida’s Christina Cassidy (Chevre Feuille) gazes out her window and draws what she sees on polymer (fired first, I assume) with India ink.

This Fleabit Grey Horse Pendant is drawn with India ink on glitter-speckled clay. The background was ink-washed.

Christina explains that, “Working with India and many colored inks, colored pencil, watercolors or different colored clays, I sculpt, draw, or etch my ideas on the surface of each piece.” She adds a sealing finish as the last layer.

Christina worked with horses for many years and they remain her muses. Have an inspired weekend.

Maori polymer

New Zealand’s Marisa McLuckie sent in the link to her Piko Art Aotearoa. Polymer’s a perfect medium for recreating the koru, one of her country’s national icons and an integral symbol in Maori carving and tattoos.

Marisa’s strong unfurling frond designs are turned into unusual pendants, dreadlock beads, and hairpins that symbolize life, growth and strength. Enjoy this new work on her site.

Pasta machines worldwide

You can help standardize measurements across borders and brands of pasta machines by measuring how thick or thin your clay comes out and then filling out a quick survey. Adding your answers can help set a standard that works worldwide. The numbers will be tallied next week. It’s easy! Add your results. Thanks!

Round five

Dayle Doroshow’s Rounds are playful accumulations of layers and cane slices and they remind me of the playtimes that Dayle and I have had together. These pieces began as companion pins for her fabric collages.

She added center pieces but abandoned that idea when someone said they resembled breasts. She set the work aside.

Over time the designs were revived with more slices and fiddling. They seemed to play nicely with each other. Notice the stamped scrap beads she uses as spacers in the resulting necklace.

Dayle practices what she preaches in our Creative Sparks book (now available as a download). She shares many tricks for stalking your muse and for teasing each project to a happy conclusion.

Remover of obstacles

Doreen Gay Kassel’s polymer triptych shows Lord Ganesh, one of the major Hindu deities. Doreen creates her “Remover of Obstacles” with bright colors and with all his mythological trappings. Maybe you have a few obstacles that need removing today.

Most of Doreen’s characters (here from dogs to dinosaurs) are built over round forms and sold as ornaments.

See her complete cast of characters on her Etsy shop , Facebook and on Flickr.

She says, “My creatures & stories have grown out of my many years of children’s book illustration and have taken off, almost on their own!”

Ugly molds for beautiful pendants

Pennsylvania outdoor girl Lynn Lunger (UnaOdd) offers the processes she’s developed for making the deep molds that form her signature Rustic Nature Polymer Pendants.

Her free tutorial shows you the tools you’ll need to make what she calls her ugly molds. It details every step with photographs.

Spring blossoms and budding plants take on new life. See where she finds inspiration and examine more of her finished work on her Flickr page.

You may prefer to bypass mold-making and shop for one of the pendants on her Etsy site. Either way we owe Lynn a big thank you for her generosity in sharing her tips and tricks with us. Nice to start the week with a cool freebie.

Polymer bowls and tiles

It’s been a while since we’ve visited polymer bowl (and tile) maker Emily Squires Levine from Philadelphia.

Emily’s bowls usually include a thread of solid color among the cane slices to lead your eye along and to give the pieces a touch of whimsy. This 11″ tall pot includes a shock of grass along its rim.

Emily has also developed a way of arranging cane slices on a flat square and then coating the assemblage with resin to create accent tiles that can be used in kitchens.

These 3D accents with their smooth rounded edges beg to be examined closely. Oh, and don’t miss her egg collection.

Jeannie Havel (pcPolyzine) decided she needed to toot Emily’s horn and sent in the link. Thanks! Remember to find a deck of cards and measure some clay this weekend.

What’s in the cards?

Measuring Thickness on Pasta Machines

You can help create a Standard Thickness Guide for the polymer community by reading the measuring instructions and filling out an easy survey form by March 31, 2012.  All participants will be entered in a drawing for two prizes.

Let’s do it

Don’t you think it’s time we establish a standard way to refer to the thickness of sheets of clay? A few months ago Sage published an article in The Polymer Arts magazine that suggested a playing card method. Then independently on her blog Maggie proposed a metric stacking method that makes it easier to get metric measurements by stacking sheets to be measured by a ruler. Both methods generated many comments. The common theme was “let’s do it!”

Two methods

Developing a standard is not an easy task. We aren’t working with precision tools or a precision material. Thicknesses produced on pasta machines aren’t consistent even between the same models.  Polymer itself can increase in thickness after being rolled, bouncing back a small percentage when left to rest.

However, we’ve found in the variety of machines we tested that they can all produce sheet thicknesses that measure between 1 mm to 2.5 mm.  We’d like to recommend that teachers and writers keep references to sheet thickness in this common range. That way students and readers will be able to duplicate their instructions on whatever pasta machine they own.

Measuring sheet thickness in mm is fairly precise, but requires access to calipers or time to go through Maggie’s stacking method.  Knowing there isn’t usually time and rarely a caliper in a classroom, we tested the fast and easy playing card system and found the common range to be 3-8 cards.

To confirm our findings, we would love to get results from polymer artists from all over the world. You can help us finalize a Standard Thickness Guide by taking a few minutes to measure your machine and fill out an online poll.

As a thank you to those who pitch in, we will put you in a drawing for one of two items–A $20 gift certificate towards copies or a subscription to The Polymer Arts magazine or a copy of Maggie and Lindly Haunani’s book Color Inspirations.

PCDaily will publish the results of the poll and share the final version of our Pasta Machine Thickness Guide in an upcoming guest post. Thank you for helping.

Polymer at CraftBoston

If you can’t travel to the east coast this weekend, allow your fingers to virtually roam through the CraftBoston show to see some very cool polymer like these Karen Noyes cane slice bowls and this birch and polymer chest from J.M. Syron & Bonnie Bishoff.

Artists in these prestigious shows are often too busy to update their own websites with new pictures and you have to visit their shows to discover their most current works. (Click the images to see more.)

Be sure to drop by the booths of Louise Fischer Cozzi, Ford and Forlano, Mary Filapek & Lou Ann Townsend.Let me know if you bump into anyone else. Note that Kathleen Dustin was last spring’s best in show winner!

LOL cat polymer

Sometimes cats are the best answer. LOL polymer cat bookmarks from Pati Bannister in this case. Pati says that she started making these for fun when her time to play was limited.

That’s often when you hit on success…not from the technique you learned or the trick you discovered…but from an open, playful mindset. It’s a big world out there and you may chose from many paths. I’m on my way home from vacation and feeling silly.

Polymer craze


Ariane Freisleben Rebecca Geoffrey Page McNall

This month polymer pieces from Italy’s Ariane Freisleben (Magic Toscana), Canada’s Rebecca Geoffrey, and Virginia’s Page McNall show some new variations on crackling and crazing over polymer patterns. Previously crazing came from a layer of heavy paint that cracked to show the underneath color in the crevices. The results looked good but had limited application.

Newer methods allow artists to show dark cracks while revealing the caned, inked, printed or blended designs underneath. Ariane and Rebecca both mention Tina Holden’s tutorial as their starting point and Page is probably using something similar. Some clever new twists are taking hold and I see a craze craze starting.