Carving tools and tricks

McNall carves

All your resistance to carving polymer will vanish once you thumb through Page McNall’s latest examples of her work and pictures of her tools.

McNall cityscape

Page shows how she often makes silicone molds of her carvings which simplifies creating subsequent similar pieces.

It helps that as a dentist, Page has plenty of access to drills, sharp tools and mold-making materials. She has a painterly way with color that’s stifled at her day job.

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.

Polymer color boost

Nothing seems to start the week better than a shot of color! Why not take a double dose for good measure?

The first is hummingbird color from Carol Simmons. A study of the hummingbirds visiting her Colorado home resulted in Carol’s brilliant irredescent version of mokume gane. This botanist/artist has found a way to combine her polymer passion and birding bent with a new class that’s an adventure in both.

Rebecca Geoffrey moved over into metal clay, resin, and metalsmithing two years ago. Remember these? She’s back!

She explained that, “The dilemma is whether I will make mostly silver and resin jewellery, polymer clay and silver jewellery or sterling and gemstone work. I was feeling that I had to completely do one or the other but was not wanting to feel trapped in one medium. Then, the lightbulb went on and I realized that I could do it all. I will just have to work harder to make a cohesive line through all mediums. I don’t feel fulfilled unless I am learning new things and feel that this is the only way I can make and sell jewellery and feel satisfied.”

Many polymer artists share Rebecca’s enthusiasm for mixing up their media! The skills learned in one new media usually trickle into the others. It’s win-win. More here.

Shared techniques, singular styles

When Betsy Baker, Melanie West and Melanie Muir had a confab recently, they rubbed off on each other. Though the three artists take a similar organic approach to polymer, each has a distinct signature style and their works would never be confused with each other.

This bright fuchsia mokume gane bracelet by Melanie Muir reflects her environs in Scotland while Melanie West chooses the Maine coast for her inspiration. When Betsy takes a stab at the same technique, it has a refined, urbane Bostonian air about it.

One thing the three polymer artists share is a high standard of finishing and a laser focus on detail. Enjoy browsing their sites.

RAW polymer

Dee Wilder’s RAW (Ring A Week) project this week will start your wheels turning. She calls her piece Lamellia and it’s made of stacks of polymer sheets with occasional highlights of shiny mica powder.

Pressed together at the base, the layers at the front separate and curl to reveal their colors.

Check out her progress here. And Dee’s only half way through the year!

Tutorials unravel the mysteries

Rebecca Watkins unravels the mystery of her textured beads with a quick (and free) visual tutorial. Her methods and tools may surprise you. She shows more examples on her Etsy site.

You may also enjoy the step-by-step look that Tory Hughes offers on her most recent “Tahitian Flora” project. It’s educational to watch as she sketches her project before she begins.

Look closely and you’ll see that she forms the pieces into shallow cups in order to mimic the blossoms. She presses the flat pieces against her knuckle and bakes them on a paper cone to achieve a gentle shape. Tory promises another look at stringing as this project progresses.

Easter Monday

There are a few polymer mushrooms and such in this beaded bracelet by Wendy Malinow. The rabbits are beheaded toys surrounded by seed beads and crystals. It’s a sumptuous seasonal piece that’s irresistable. Here’s a close-up. Wendy grew up in this area of Oregon where such moss and wildlife and dewy sparkling flowers are plentiful in spring.

The polymer patchwork rabbit is from Lisa Pavelka who is just back from Petra Nemravova’s Fimohrani Event in Prague. Lisa’s rabbit is covered with mokume gane cane ends.

It feels like spring and I wasn’t quite ready to give up the holiday so let’s have another day of celebration.

Polymer and whiskey

The organizers of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show have invited Scotland to be the Guest Country for the November show.

Melanie Muir vows to bring whiskey and shortbread with her polymer creations if she’s chosen to be among the 25 Scottish makers.

The pebbles necklace on the left is one of her entries for the show. It was inspired by the rocks she runs by on Nairn beach each morning. You can see more of her latest works on her updated site.

No matter what the colors, Melanie’s beads give one the sensation of looking down through the rocky coastal waters outside her Scottish highlands studio.

Picarello’s new book

This polymer scarf pin from Julie Picarello provides another good choice for keeping warm with a spot of polymer. Julie’s style is distinct and her special techniques are laid out in her new book, Patterns in Polymer which is due out this spring. The yummy pictures on her Flickr pages give you a taste of what’s ahead.

Another upcoming book popped up in that dangerous “you might also like” section on Amazon. Masters of Polymer Clay will show the dazzling works of 40 of our most noted fellow artists. Looks like this spring’s crop of books will be a good one.

Spread the word

Holiday festivities and travel almost made me forget that I’m scheduled to teach classes in Worthington’s lovely MAC art facility starting January 5 for six weeks. As on PCDaily, my classes will offer a smorgasbord of polymer possibilities. Help me spread the word! Thanks!

You may note more food references than usual slipping into my vocabulary. I’m on the road and the free wifi networks at restaurants are having a subliminal effect!