Polymer connections


Susan Waddington of Polydogz does many things well. What I found myself stuck on as I cruised through her galleries was her ingenious bails for pendants, some from years past, some new.


Integrating polymer bails into pendant design is quite a trick and Susan’s mastered it. She’s fond of using a paper-bead type construction which she camoflages with decorative coverings as in the shield shape with textured folded circle shown here. Layers of patterns form connections that fit seamlessly into her collages of polymer pattern.

You can see more examples on a sister site here and on Etsy here.

Abstract polymer from Kathleen Dustin

How lovely to end the week with Kathleen Dustin’s Layered Fragment brooch. Kathleen explains, almost apologizes, that her focus is changing from narrative and representational to abstract.

“It seems to me that truly abstract work probably most reflects our humanness because it is based on spirit and what we do not see or know. Narrative or representational work is based on what we see and know. It has been a true challenge for me to make work not based on what I see or know,” she says.

Though her focus may change, her reliance on ways of translucent layering that she developed remains. Breath-taking washes of color pull you in as scribbles of metal float in and out of the frame. This new direction forces other changes and she asks for your suggestions here.

Polymer with magnets

Niche Award winner Melanie West enjoys the challenge of a new design and she’s engineered some clever solutions with her new polymer Ball and Star necklace shown here. A magnet secures the ball next to the star and acts as a clasp on this piece which is strung on buna cord (and check out what looks like buna rings over the cording).

She tried a similar solution using memory wire and found it too bouncy in her test drives. Melanie shares more of her design process along with some of her successes and failures in this post.

Innie/outie polymer

Massachusetts’ Roberta Warshaw creates her designs from a number of small stamps in a collection that she shows off here. Lately she’s inverted those assembled designs, creating an even more interesting effect as shown on the Faux Verdigris pendant here.

“I actually like the way they look better than the original impressed stampings. they have so much more depth this way. They feel much more like a small painting to me,” she says. See them all here and here.

When you don’t know which end is up, try making an “innie” an “outie.”

Bobble head polymer

Renner's Bobble Heads

Texas’ Lisa Renner finds her seeds of inspiration in pods. This mixed media artist will be teaching a polymer pod head doll class in July at the Austin All Dolls Are Art conference. It’s based on an article she wrote for the Autumn 2011 Art Doll Quarterly magazine.

A second class will feature these polymer bobble head dolls with abstract pillow bead bodies. They bob and weave on their wire supports.

Renners Bird Peeps

The Bird Peeps are from another mixed media class. Check out her galleries to see all the textures and artforms she mixes into what she calls her visual poetry.

Energy like bubbles

Moeller-Smith pendants

A little texture, a little mokume gane, some shape and a whole lot of spring color make these pendants by Warren and Robbin Moeller-Smith into a bunch of fun. There’s more on Flickr.

Their textured bronze bails fold over the top edges to create perfect companions for polymer pendants. These artists/sailors create on a floating studio in the South Pacific.

In the tagline for their Artistic Energy series of pendants they ask, “Where does it come from? Like bubbles on the sea –sometimes there, sometimes not.” Where will your artistic energy come from this week?

Sharing a language

Pasta Machine

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Worldwide Pasta Machine Survey.  Now we can recommend labeling pasta machines with a thickness guide that will help set a shared standard.

After analyzing the survey results we have four key findings:

  1. As we suspected there are huge differences not just from one model to the next but also from machines of the same model.
  2. The Imperia has the smallest range (in one case just 1 mm – 2.1 mm!) and the Dream Machine has the largest range (.5 mm – 3.4 mm)
  3. The common range is between 1 mm and 2.5 mm.
  4. Absolute precision is not possible due to differences in the way each artist measured their clay and machine, the types and age of clay, the variations in thickness of playing cards and the shifting of the rollers over time.

Pasta Machine Thickness Guide

The survey results were used to create this simple chart that can be used as a more consistent way to talk about thickness regardless of the brand of the pasta machine or the number of settings.

Note that the actual thickness of playing cards does not necessarily equal the millimeter equivalent. The stacked cards will commonly be a bit thinner than the clay that comes out of the machine at the equivalent setting but should be within .25mm. This is due to the cards not filling the space precisely as well as expansion of the clay as it rests after being rolled through.

Not every project needs precision in measuring thickness, and not every artist wants to work with this degree of accuracy. But for those who do, establishing a standard will provide a guideline for teachers and writers to use when preparing instructions for students who would like to duplicate steps as closely as possible.

How to label your pasta machine

The instructions include a chart you can fill in and then cut out to tape to your pasta machine. It only takes about 15 minutes to measure and label your pasta machine. The more machines that are labeled, the more we can shift to sharing a common language about thickness.

Requesting feedback

We believe it’s important to include the worldwide polymer community in the process of developing this kind of standard. Please let us know your thoughts by continuing to comment here on PCD.

Next Guest Article: Some Recommendations for Teachers and Writers

A flowering career

An afternoon of pulling weeds among the forget-me-nots and lilacs made my eyes drift to these earrings by Zuleykha McMillan on Etsy. Bountiful and bright cane slices are formed into bell shapes.

Zu talked about working with a new baby on her lap and I was drawn into her tale. Her mother came for a visit and showed Zu how to keep her polymer art going with a baby in the house.

Since the birth of her first child, she’s gravitated away from polymer jewelry to polymer faces. The story continues…in both Russian and English. (On Flickr if you just want pictures.)

Angry birds

wennberg pissed off chicks

Sweden’s Lena Wennberg adds a few angry polymer birds in with her Easter eggs this year.

“My hens are in menopause, probably got PMS as well,” she says, “And they are sick of giving and giving. They are keeping their eggs this easter. They won´t be beautiful, they won´t be nice.”

If you can appreciate an alternate view of the holiday from a few outspoken chicks visit Lena’s Etsy site.

Easter polymer

Tsaliki eggs

You’d better get crackin’ if you’ve got an Easter basket to fill this weekend.

Need inspiration? Greece’s Klio Tsaliki shows bowls and baskets full of polymer covered eggs in spring colors plus decorated candles.

For some of the eggs she winds a brightly extruded string of polymer round and round for a great effect. Much less messy than dyes! Here’s her Flickr collection.

Other egg-amples should turn up in the boxes below this post.