Fishing for something

Fiona Abel Smith inlays stripes over a blend for her tropical fish on PolymerClayDaily.com

The UK’s Fiona Abel Smith is fishing for something on Instagram. This is no ordinary polymer fish pendant. Fiona added the details over a Skinner blend-covered sculpture. The stripes are patterned cane slices inlaid into the blend.

Fiona’s fish has personality and sparkle and believable tropical colors. She’s had some practice. Look at this school of fish she made a while back. Practice makes perfect.

Welcoming the familiar

Cynthia Tinapple finds comfort in a bright striped inlaid bowl on PolymerClayDaily.com

I hesitate to feature my own work but when I run out of research time, it’s the best option. Here’s the 11″ diameter bowl I inlaid last week.

I was happy to get back to my easy stripes at the Virginia conference. Rather than fight against doing the “same old, same old” I welcomed the ease of the familiar. And I had Lindly Haunani nearby to give me color guidance.

I laid narrow strips of veneer into a shallow groove in the spalted maple bowl turned by my husband, Blair Davis. There’s something comforting in knowing that the bowl is made from the tree across the street. “Spalted” is a fancy word for rotted and the tree had to go. You can see a few in-process shots on my Instagram.

Now I can get to composing this week’s Saturday newsletter and gathering up the last tidbits that surfaced at the end of Shrine Mont. Just as we were packing up, people were sharing their “one-last-thing.” And there was a sudden spring crop of tutorials online this week. Join us over at StudioMojo for the scoop. 

The land of What If

Yuhr on PCDaily

One benefit of teaching is what the students teach you. Look at this imaginative Miro-like polymer inlay from Florida’s Lynn Yuhr (TheFlyingSquirrelStudio).

My class in Georgia focused on making polymer art for the domestic environment. Students quickly embraced the concepts and happily dressed up sticks, covered paper forms, and drilled holes in whatever wood they could find to inlay. You could see their attitudes change as the possibilities expanded.

Yuhr on PCDaily

Lynn brought wooden jewelry components with her to our class. She and her Florida friends at Banyan Bay are tinkering with wooden beads that can be inlaid. While they were originally thinking of designs for bead weavers, Lynn urged them to consider polymer inlay as well. The new products should be available soon.

Once you enter the land of what if, a whole new world of possibilities opens up.

Looking forward, looking back

Tinapple on PCDaily

My husband and I need deadlines to motivate us to finish new work. This week we had to hustle to finish some walnut pieces for a woodworkers gallery show. Deadlines help us stop thinking and get it done!

Tinapple on PCDaily

The striped polymer inlay idea has been marinating since I took a class with Carol Blackburn in Santa Fe where she taught us to make big sheets of variegated colors.

If I seemed distracted this week, it’s because I was awash in color. Here’s my husband’s complex turning project.

Gwen Gibson

One of the first bowls I ever inlaid was in a weeklong class on Whidbey Island with Gwen Gibson who passed away this week. She was a marvelous artist and a lovely person with a huge sense of style and a generous heart.

PolymerArtArchive chronicles several periods of Gwen’s works. Read about her early work, her wall pieces and her cuff bracelets. La Cascade, her home in Durfort, France remains a jewel that draws artists from all over the globe. We will miss Gwen and were lucky to have her creative spirit among us.

Fauxpal bowl

Opal has tickled the “faux rock” area of my brain since Donna Kato offered her free online tutorial. Camille Young, Randee Ketzel, Liz Hall and others devised their recipes.

My husband’s turned walnut bowl and a looming show deadline gave me the perfect opportunity to try out my own color combinations and mixtures.

Though I learned along the way and would do some things differently, these ideas are finally out of my head and strewn about my studio. It’s been a long time since I’ve shared with you and I want to start the year right.

Party tonight over at Craftcast where the group from the Polymer Clay Master Class book will gab and guffaw. Lots of prizes and fun. Join the gang!

Pietra dura polymer

The UK’s Fiona Abel-Smith created this polymer box with its decorative panels using an ancient inlay technique called pietra dura. Fiona watched Sue Heaser demo the technique in November and she was smitten.

The box is 5 1/2 inches (13 1/2 cm) square and 4 1/2 inches (11 cm) high with decorative panels of birds on each side and the top. Fiona details the her successes and failures (cracks during baking) with this technique and shows how she began with inlay and added minute dabs of polymer from fine extruded strings. Adding these flecks of color for the feather details gives the piece a more painterly feel.

This ancient technique may not be for everyone and Fiona admits that the box took 120 hours of work. See more pictures on her Flickr site. The link came to us from another polymer painter, Cate Van Alphen.

Polymer paydirt

Tucked in among the oxidized silver, bronze and copper chains, pendants and earrings in Greg and BJ Jordan’s booth at the local art fair, a blast of color jumped out at me. Paydirt! New polymer!

BJ and Greg are from Fort Wayne, Indiana and have been metalworkers for 30 years. BJ creates the polymer sheets and inlays the fired patterns into the bezels.

Jordan mosaic pendant

Her bold colors and graphic patterns compliment their strong primitive metal designs.

I had to have a pair for my collection (business expense, right?) and you can find them online at Etsy here. For their most current activity, check their Facebook page.

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!

Wood/polymer in new venue

Thursday night was the opening of our town’s new art center which featured an exhibit of art made from local wood assembled and sculpted by Dorothy Gill Barnes (see more about her here).

My husband, Blair Davis, has assisted Dorothy for several years. He thinks of himself as a cabinet maker/woodturner/engineer and Dorothy insisted that he receive billing as an artist. He’s the bearded guy in the hat in this page of pictures I quickly assembled. Dorothy is the white-haired woman.

One of Blair’s wood turned bowls with my polymer clay inlay was included in this show (here’s a brief in-process video). I was pleased that tonight two public gallery directors asked me about having polymer group shows in their spaces.

If you haven’t been a polymer artist for long, you may not understand that it is music to my ears to be asked to set up a polymer show. No more explaining or defending polymer clay as art. It was a lovely night. Have a lovely weekend.

Liedtke’s polymer clay leaves

I keep running into reminders of fall like these polymer clay leaves from Judith Liedtke of Dortmund, Germany. I like the spare, minimalist design. You’ll like some of her canine cane work as well.

Here in the US it’s Labor Day, our symbolic end of summer holiday.

Perhaps you’ll enjoy some pictures of the project I’m working on, a last minute entry into a local gallery show. My engineer husband created a wonderful system for firing polymer clay inlays. The system uses two paint stripping guns, a bench vice and the wind-up turntable from our aging microwave. Ingenious.

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