Thursday, October 20, 2011

A very special weekend

October 21 marks the opening of Terra Nova - Polymer Art at the Crossroads at the Racine Art Museum. Although several museums have polymer pieces in their collections, this is the first permanent collection of polymer art at a major museum. The collection has a companion book and will kick off with a weekend symposium. The polymer world owes a huge thank you to Elise Winters, whose vision and determination to have polymer acknowledged as an art form (and RAM's Bruce Pepich for recognizing it) has made this all possible. I wish I could be there, but I have shows to do. In a way, it is a fitting tribute - the fact that I can make a living creating with polymer attests to the power of this versatile medium!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Stroppel Cane

It's amazing how an exciting new technique can catch on fire among the polymer world.  Ever since Polymer Clay Daily featured Alice Stroppel's new caning technique a couple of days ago, just about every polymerista the world over has tried it out.

And that includes me! Which is something, because caning is not my thing.  But I do have a lot of old canes from my very early days, and I love to use up my scrap.  So here goes:
Stroppel canes made from my old canes and scrap
The rather tribal/abstract result

Thursday, September 29, 2011

JP Open Studios

Every year, from September to December, Boston neighborhoods celebrate their artist communities by hosting Open Studio weekends. My absolute favorite is the Jamaica Plain event. It is held amidst colorful Victorian homes, along funky Centre Street, at the Sam Adams Brewery complex, shops and churches and the many private studios around the neighborhood.  Since the event features over 200 artists, a handy dandy map is provided and they even have an iPhone app!

Eliot School
Jamaica Plain, or JP for short, is a vibrant, eclectic, and diverse neighborhood. Its tolerant atmosphere and bohemian feel has attracted hundreds of artists who have studios all over town. In addition, the Jamaica Plain Arts Council provides group space for artists who live outside the neighborhood. I usually set up on the lawn at the Eliot School, an arts and crafts school.
The Eliot lawn is a pleasant, tree lined space.  This year my neighbors included, among others, regular show pals Vicky and james of of Fine Art Color Photography, Amy of Bumble Belly Designs and Carolina of Recycled Glass Jewelry .  Kingsley Weihe of  KW Pottery did a fabulous job as site coordinator - and I added another fab KW piece to my growing collection!

My growing collection of Kingsley Weihe vases
First Snow by Bumble Belly Designs

Cobbled Bike by Fine Art Color Photography
A musical interlude ...
And a happy customer wearing her new Stonehouse earrings!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Variations on a theme

Variations on a theme are a time honored tradition in the Arts.  Variations also mean less waste, because all the material is used.  I even use the bits and pieces left over to make stud earrings that I sell for $5 at shows.  I want everyone who likes my work to leave with something, even if only a simple pair of studs!.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Melanie Muir
Melanie West
Earlier this month I had a wonderful visit with good friends and fellow polymeristas Melanie Muir and Melanie West.  It was great seeing the two Melanies again - we had last seen each other at Synergy II over a year ago.  Both are masters at what they do - Melanie M's mokume technique is flawlessly executed and so evocative of her native Scottish landscape.  And Melanie W's Bio series is in a league all its own.  Complex and simple at the same time, and ever so tactile.  Both artists are intensely organic in their work.

Dale Chihuly at the MFA
And speaking of organic, the Dale Chihuly exhibit at Boston's MFA has to take the cake.  It is a jaw dropping series of large scale installations that defies the imagination.  Colors, fluid alien-like forms, forests of glass.  And did I mention colors? 
idea2lifestyle on
After all that inspirational overload, I just had to play.  I've used mokume techniques off and on since I first started working with polymer, so I decided to try my hand at it again.  The natural feel of mokume coordinates well with the soft, flowing, ethereal feel of current fashion trends.

"Sun and Shade" brooch

"Botanicals" window pendants

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Snails and Slugs

What do snails and yucky slugs have to do with polymer, you ask?  My city garden fights a losing battle every year to said critters.  I don't use pesticides, so I'm constantly on the lookout for natural controls.  A few years back, I bought copper tape.  Supposedly, it keeps out snails and slugs (something to do with positive/negative electrical charges).  I never got around to using it and it's been sitting around ever since.

Well, as polymeristas the world over already know, those of us who work in polymer are constantly on the lookout for stuff to use in our work.  Our medium is so new that it doesn't have a lot of established tools and materials.  We use pasta machines to sheet and condition, medical tissue blades to slice, coffee stirrers to make holes.  Not to mention knitting needles, tinfoil, packing peanuts, toilet paper rolls, sandpaper, screws and dirt.  

So when I ran across that roll of thin copper tape while cleaning out my garden supplies, I did what comes naturally:  I used it with polymer.  I cut thin strips, rolled and fanned it to make a flower and added a brushed copper disc.  I'll bet those snails and slugs are breathing a sigh of relief!

Friday, April 8, 2011

White on White

While at CraftBoston last month, I was mesmerized by Kathleen Dustin's new piece "White Pollen".  The piece, with its subtle tones and hints of gold leaf peeking out of the holes, is elegant, urban and so very chic.  The use of white also brought to mind Dan Cormier's "White Necklace", a masterful study in texture from a couple of years back.  

I've been doing a lot with color blocking lately - no subtle Skinner Blends for me these days!  I've also been doing a lot with textural and satin finishes.  Over the winter, I played with color and black,  but now that the warmer weather is upon us I want to lighten things up a bit.  Inspired by Kathleen and Dan, I've started to work on a new series of window pendants, adding pops of bright color to creamy white.  

"Grids" in lime, red and blue


"Bumps" in red

While on the subject of inspiration, I'd also like to share some refreshingly candid comments by Austin Kleon on creativity, originality and living the artistic life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Last year I was thrilled to be asked to be an Invited Artist for the 2011 CraftBoston shows.  I've done a ton of shows over the last five years, but never any of the high end ones.  It seemed incredible (and still does) that I would ever be in the same show as Kathleen Dustin, Ford|Forlano, Bonnie BishoffKarin Noyes and Mary and Louann!  It was also very gratifying to see polymer's strong showing at CraftBoston, topped off by Kathleen Dustin taking home the Best of Show award!

My CraftBoston 2011 booth.  My home for 4 days!

Fortunately, I had lots of time to prepare. I thought long and hard about my display and decided to invest in ProPanels.  They've turned out to be very useful at all my indoor shows.  I took the full set to CraftBoston, but also use them in different combinations for other shows.  They are modular, so they fit into any kind of space.  The panels wiped out my display budget, so I made do with my folding tables, making new coverings out of a soft gray cotton.  I opted to go rug-less to keep the look rather stark and industrial.  I used gray chipboard on the panels as a backdrop for my work.  Twine necklace busts, wood pushpins and baskets add an organic touch. 

The show logistics were pretty much what I'm used to, just on a bigger scale.  Load in and out was super smooth, with walkie talkie organizers keeping things moving.  I had very nice neighbors, which is important since there's nothing worse than a cranky show neighbor.  The crowds were steady all three days, Saturday being the busiest.  Overall, I had a great show and hopefully will be accepted again next year!

My stuff waiting to be loaded into the car

View of aisle 200 during set-up

View of the main floor area right before the opening reception
Kathleen Dustin - Best of Show award winner!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

To wholesale or not to wholesale

That is the question.  And it's one I've struggled with for a while.  For some, the decision is easy.  They hate doing shows and love the ease of filling orders, shipping them off and checking off the to-do list.  Conversely, there's the artist who thrives on shows and much prefers selling face to face.

I'm a show groupie, no question about it.  As long as I can schlepp my stuff, carry 40lb weights and deal with the elements, I'll keep doing them.  For me, the wholesale dilemma is strictly a price point issue.  If you wholesale, your retail prices have to be consistent with those charged by the shops carrying your wares. Which means doubling your artisan direct price.  But will increased prices put off show buyers?  For me, the answer is yes.  I do mostly juried indie shows where it's important to keep the average price points around $30 to $75, so raising all my prices is out of the question.

After much deliberation, I've decided to test the wholesale waters again.  This time, I've created a limited wholesale line consisting of items that are cost/time efficient  and where my retail price equals the suggested retail price for wholesale buyers.  I'll leave the more complicated pieces and one of a kinds for my show customers.

Once the decision is made and your line designed, you have to put it out there. For starters, I've created a linesheet at, a beautiful site for handmade that aims to connect buyers and sellers. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A treasure trove of information!

Maybe all you crafty folk out there already know about, but I just happened to stumble across it.  The polymer pages include a ton of links for techniques, projects, tutorials, info and all sorts of stuff.  It's so nice to have all the info in one spot!  Check them out - there are two pages on polymer  here and here.  While you're at it, take a look at all the other categories about things handmade!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Etsy Front Page

It's a huge deal to make it to the Etsy home page - you are seen by literally millions of handmade aficionados all over the world.  Occasionally one of my pieces makes it and it always results in tons of views and sales.

The FP, as Etsians call the home page, uses "treasuries" made by sellers and buyers. Hundreds of treasuries are made every day, so it's a big deal when Etsy admins pick yours to feature on the FP.  I was lucky enough to have my Urban Chic treasury featured on the front page at 11pm ET on January 31!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day

Massachusetts is closed today!   Why not spend a snowy, lazy day browsing Etsy Treasuries? I'm in the one below and it's a perfect color match for a day like today!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Every winter I try to take a couple of workshops.  I'm a big fan of workshops - I find them inspiring, energizing and, well, just plain fun.  This year I've decided to try my hand at Japanese brushpainting, or sumi-e.  I've signed up for an 8 week class at the CCAE with the amazing Jan Zaremba.  I'm really looking forward to it and seeing how I can apply sumi-e techniques to my polymer work.

While on the subject of Japanese art, I found this inro page at the V&A museum website:

Inro's are small containers used to carry seals and herbs.  These fabulous museum pieces are inspiring me to revisit inro making.  I took a polymer clay inro construction class from Seth Savarick a couple of years ago, but haven't really had the time to pursue it much.  Making inros in polymer is a long, painstaking process, but there is something very zen and calming about careful, laborious work.  

Here are some boxes using inro construction techniques that I made after taking Seth's class.  I'm itching to make more and decorate them with my soon to be learned sumi-e skills!