Ending the year with a gem

Celine Charuau ends the year with a new start on PolymerClayDaily

Celine Charuau (grisbleu) admits that her latest brooch reminds her of Totoro, a character in a popular 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film. Her micro mosaic and silver piece has already prompted lots of enthusiastic comments on Facebook.

The tactile shape and delicate petals continue earlier design directions. The mosaic is a new feature that fits nicely with Celine’s aesthetic. The big photos on her Flickr pages allow you to get in for a close look at her metal construction and the tiny patch of mosaic. What look like delicate and mysterious designs are supported by sturdy and serious construction.

Celine’s is an end of the year gem.

Micro mosaic stories

Toops micromosaics on PolymerClayDaily

Though San Francisco’s Velvet da Vinci Gallery has closed after 26 years, the gallery maintains an online presence. Cynthia Toops was an early name on the gallery’s list of artists.

Toops micromosaics on PolymerClayDaily.com

Her polymer micro mosaics still pop up on Velvet da Vinci and on Seattle’s Facere Gallery. This Turtle micro mosaic pendant recently appeared on Velvet da Vinci’s Instagram.

The Divine Archer whose theme is based an an ancient Chinese myth appears on Facere’s recent post.

It’s difficult to show you how exquisitely minuscule her threads of polymer really are. Cynthia bakes the hair-thin strands of polymer before cutting and embedding them in the base layer. Click on the images to see details and remember that the brooch is only 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ and the pendant is similarly sized.

“My work, especially the micromosaics, is technically simple but very labor-intensive,” she admits. She succeeds at telling very big stories in exceptionally small spaces.

Watchdog Wednesday

Toops on PCDaily

Cynthia Toops has added several 2015 works like this micromosaic Watchdog to her website. She lists a full lineup of spring/summer exhibits which have spurred her production.

Some of the items were created for a July/August Matter of Materials exhibit at Facere Gallery in Seattle.

From June to October she and her collaborator/husband, glass artist Dan Adams, are part of an exhibit of familial artists at the Racine Art Museum. All in the Family investigates how artists are influenced at home or in shared environments.

Cynthia’s carries her palette of prebaked thin threads of polymer in a divided plastic box. When I went to Philadelphia for a class, her teacher’s traveling studio fit in a small duffel bag while we students lugged large rolling carts of bulky supplies. Oh, to work small and with such concentration.

Mosaic pebble

This Pebble brooch marks the latest collaboration between polymer artist Cynthia Toops and metalsmith Chuck Domitrovich.

Cynthia mixes vertical and horizontal polymer micro mosaics in a beautifully constructed 2.5″ x 2″ x 1/4″ frame that Chuck constructed from sterling silver and brass with a stainless steel pin. Vertical threads of white polymer create the lines on the horizontal mosaic of a pebble.

Keep the size in mind as you zoom in to marvel at the detail. Then turn it over to examine the back with its brass posts that balance the piece, an option for a bail, and spaces for both artists’ signatures. We end the week with an example of remarkable attention to detail and fine collaboration. Have a remarkable weekend.

Toops/Adams site

Cynthia Toops and her husband, glass artist Dan Adams, have launched a new site with loads of mouthwatering work, old and new.

While Cynthia is known for her figurative polymer micromosaic pieces, in the last few years she has been concentrating on thin sheet work, creating the cone and claw necklaces and the rolodex series. Cynthia will teach at Arrowmont in September. This comes to us via the DailyArtMuse site.

You may enjoy revisiting this Seattle Art Museum video about Cynthia and this earlier post.

Toops in progress/Tajvidi’s leaves

You can look behind the scenes at Cynthia Toop’s latest polymer clay work by visiting the Flickr site of her Seattle jeweler/metalwork designer, Chuck Domitrovich.

His descriptions give you a sense of how the two collaborate and design their projects like this Summer Storm brooch which was part of a two-piece series.


Raking the last of the colorful leaves in our yard today made me think of this recent delightful polymer/wood branch by Afsaneh Tajvidi (JooJoo). The piece provides a fall landscaping backdrop for her snail series.

Polymer clay and Earth Day

As I considered which polymer clay artist best captured the spirit of Earth Day, Cynthia Toops‘ work came to mind….because she uses so little clay in her fine micromosaics (pictured here). I was thinking small and I laughed at my knee-jerk reaction to our environmentally incorrect medium. Many art supplies fall into the same shunned petroleum-based category.

Using less clay shouldn’t be the sole criteria for being sensitive to the environment. Using the clay carefully and wisely is important. Kathleen Dustin has posted an article about thinking big that is more to the point both for Earth Day and for our own artistic growth.

I’m also reading more and more articles about the development of biopolymers and I look forward to the day when we no longer have to make apologies on Earth Day.