Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kudos to Will for bringing back neck scarves

It's been a while, hasn't it? Thanks so much for all the messages wondering if I've run off to the Caribbean with Vladimir, the pool boy. For those of you who've written and received no response or, a response that's so delayed, you don't even remember why you wrote to me in the first place, I apologize. I'm finding it difficult to maintain my usual pace.

As much as I hate to do it, I have to admit that I'm not the bad-ass warrior I thought I was. For the past 2 or 3 years, I've had some pretty unpleasant symptoms that have progressively gotten worse. I shouldn't have waited so long to go to the doctor. Lesson learned. I've spent the past few months having a lot of tests and enjoying the anxiety that goes along with all of that. On Thursday, my under-performing whacked-out thyroid gland is being removed. I'm looking forward to a much healthier 2009 not only for myself but, for the rest of the country, too.

As soon as I'm feeling up to it, I'll be back. In the meantime, I'm wishing all of you a happy and healthy holiday and all the good times you can handle.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Pittsburgh's Lesley Polinko is one of the most talented people I know. Besides being an incredible sculptor, she's an incredibly nice person with a fantastic sense of humor. You may have seen her "No Fear Sculpting" articles recently in Polymer Cafe .

She has two pieces available right now on Ebay, including this gorgeous ghost fairy just in time for Halloween. Be sure to check out the hot merman, too!

I'm getting ready to head to Mammoth Cave for a retreat and workshop with the Kentucky Tennessee Polymer Clay Guild. Hope you have the perfect fall weekend!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Plum Perfect

Iowa's Keila Hernandez created her "Plum Blossom" necklace after being inspired by a Chinese painter she saw at Baltimore's ACC show. You can read more about the story here. The initial pieces she made have merged into this lovely creation. Kelia's work continues to evolve and I 'm looking forward to seeing more beautiful things from her.
I'd like to end what's been a pretty rotten week on a happy note. After months of dedication, hard work and an extraordinary amount of courage, our good friend Ponsawan Sila finally has her daughter Ada home again! Because Ada has lots of rehabilitation ahead of her and many special needs that must be met, Ponsawan and her family have had to remodel part of their home in order to care for her. This expense, added to the massive medical bills they've incurred, has become an additional burden on a family that's been through more than I can even wrap my brain around.
Give some thought to skipping the next 99 cent clay sale at Michael's and making a donation to help them start to heal. You can go to the blog that Ponsawan started for Ada and click on the link in the top left corner to donate through Paypal.
Hope all of you have a wonderful fall weekend!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Let Freedom Ring!

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth or anything and I appreciate the emails asking where I've been the last couple of weeks. I've been feeling a little wiped out and haven't spent much time on the computer since I returned from Philadelphia. I just wanted to take the time to offer a much belated thank you to one of the most wonderful polymer clay guilds out there. I had such an amazing weekend with the talented ladies in Philly and I got to see some incredible things while I was there. Standing so close to the Liberty Bell was just awe-inspiring and a very moving experience, especially in light of the fact that our country seems to be totally falling apart right now. Not really a big surprise considering the way things have been handled the past few years. That's my fleeting version of a political rant and I'm moving on to more pleasant topics now!

Returning to my weekend in Philadelphia, it was a total affirmation as to why teaching is so incredibly rewarding to me. This gorgeous necklace was made by Barbara Egnor of New Jersey. She approached me first thing Sunday morning to thank me for inspiring her to work in a more organic fashion and for giving her the incentive to abandon her previous ideas of what constituted "perfection". She was so sincere and I was moved to tears to have inspired someone to make something so incredibly special. This piece represented freedom of creativity to her and to me, as well. I think that's truly one of the best gifts we can be given in our artistic journeys. Thank you, Barbara, for allowing me to share this story, and to all the members of the Philadelphia Polymer Clay Guild, your talent, kindness, good humor and generosity will stay with me always. I'm so grateful to you all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Time in a Bottle

I'm off to the City of Brotherly Love to share my love of polymer clay with the ladies of the Philadelphia guild. I'm leaving a day early so I can take some time to do a little sightseeing. I can't believe I'm going to be standing in front of the Liberty Bell tomorrow morning!
Here's a photo of my newest excuse to keep working with these organic chips. It reminds me of a sea slug. I have pages and pages of designs to try but, to borrow a line from an old Jim Croce song, "there never seems to be enough time to do the things you wanna do once you find them . . "
Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Enviable Design Skills

I know very little about this talented artist. I believe her name is Ingrid and her native language appears to be German. I'm hoping that some of my international readers will see this and be able to give us a bit more information. I ran across Ingrid through a comment she left on one of my Flickr photos. Her profile on that site gives nothing away. Update: This talented artist is Ingrid Ulrich and she is from Germany. You can read the delightful comment she left by clicking on the comment link at the end of this entry.

I'm smitten with her unique designs and these extruded tubes that she arranges in totally brilliant ways. Seeing such fresh work is a great and inspiring way to start the week.

I hope you'll indulge me in a brief bit of shameless self-promotion today, too. After putting it off for a year or so, I've finally managed to put together a "kimcavender" shop in the vast wilderness of Etsy. I'll be listing more things in the coming weeks and maybe I'll even figure out how to fix that sucky banner I have up there now.

Hope your week gets off to a positive start!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Falling Leaves

As far as I'm concerned, fall can't get here soon enough. It's my favorite time of year and it looks like I'm not the only one who's inspired by the wonderful colors and rich textures that nature shares with us during this season. This wonderful ginkgo necklace is from Delphine Roche de Montgrand of France. Her work is, to put it simply, nothing short of incredible.

Who wouldn't be inspired by Camille Young's expertise with Lumina clay and the way she sews these leaves together to fashion beautiful neck pieces like this lariat? These are amazingly realistic looking leaves and I can almost feel how soft and pliable they are.

Eva Ehmeier of Austria has fallen in love with Louise Fischer Cozzi's etching technique and has created this wonderful stylized leaf necklace. Eva's sense of color and design are pure perfection.

Fall hasn't quite reach the mountains of West Virginia but, I'm waiting patiently and I know that soon I'll be rewarded with glorious colors everywhere I look and that wonderful sense of crispness in the air.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Who says you can't do it all?

Elvira Lopez Del Prado of Spain is out to prove them wrong! This multi-talented lady not only works with polymer clay , she also makes magic with felt, fabric, wire, wood, paper, and metal clay. I'm totally taken with her felt designs and the wonderfully appealing colors she uses.

This piece combines her passion for metal clay and polymer. She has a wonderfully organic sense of design, doesn't she? If you'd like to see more of her lovely work, you can also follow this link.

Until I sat down to write about Elvira, I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd posted an entry on this blog. I've been fixated on some new work I've been doing and when I get in the zone, it's hard to break free and even think about writing or trolling around the Internet. Now, back to the clay table!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Need a little retreat?

I know I do! The Kentucky-Tennessee Polymer Clay Guild is sponsoring their fourth (I think) annual retreat at one of the most awesome places in the eastern United States, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. The dates for this event are October17-19, 2008. Marla Frankenberg will be there teaching workshops on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. She'll be covering her unique and oh-so-amazing caning techniques for flowers, ferns, leaves, and the fabulous dots which we all adore. I'm crashing the party on Saturday night to teach a class myself.

I can't think of a more relaxed and stress-free environment than the one at Mammoth Cave. The members of the KTPCG are wonderful and talented and so much fun! Because of the space limitations, they only have room for 30 people at the retreat and the last I heard, there were only 6 spots left.

Here's what I'll be teaching and since we'll be getting all dotty with Marla, you'll be able to embellish your pendants just like I have here.

Here's a few more details if you want to snag a spot before they're all gone. The cost for 3 days of non-stop claying is $150 and each attendee is also responsible for their own food and lodging at the Mammoth Cave Park Hotel. The food at the hotel is great and the rooms are clean and well-priced at a special rate of $59 per night for this event. To register for the workshop/retreat, you can contact Leslie Blackford. Yes, she'll be there, too and I won't blame you a bit if you decide to skip my class on Saturday and just gather around her workspace to watch her make some magic. Reservations for a room at Mammoth Cave Hotel can be made at 1-270-758-2225.

Hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bracelet Envy

I had planned to feature Maureen Thomas and her fabulous work yesterday but the queen of polymer clay blogging beat me to it. I've changed my post to include some exciting new work from other artists but I couldn't leave out this wonderful photo I asked Maureen to send me. I love the organic feel of her jewelry. Maureen told me, "I try to venture out, but texture always seems to work it's way into most of my pieces. I guess it's my 'thing'. My husband is afraid to throw anything away without holding it up first and saying, '....texture????' What a good guy." She's lucky to have a partner that notices the details and takes a real interest in her work.

This breathtaking cuff by Christelle is titled "Dreamtime". She made this piece for the Australian polymer clay guild's competition "Australia Speaks" and her inspiration came from the symbols and patterns of Aboriginal artwork. This is truly one of my most favorite polymer pieces ever! I'd like to grab it right off my computer screen, slap it on my wrist, and run away quickly.

Germany's Bettina Welker has a wonderful new cuff design she's experimenting with, too. I love the unusual shape and the pattern is different and refreshing. As usual, everything Bettina does is beautifully designed and finished.

I'm a sucker for a cool polymer clay bracelet and these amazing pieces have given me major bracelet envy!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Philly's got talent!

They also have a fantastic polymer clay guild, a great website, a blog, a Flickr site just for guild photos, an online newsletter, and 70 over-achieving members to keep it all running smoothly.

This beautiful hollow pendant was created by Martha Aleo, one of the guild's most active members, a very talented mixed media jewelry artist, and a fellow blogger.

Update: This striking jewelry set was made by Patty Pickup.

They have some wonderful show and tell photos from past meetings posted on their website. Unfortunately, I don't have a name to go with this lovely image or for the two below. If you're a member of the Philadelphia guild and/or the artist that created these, please leave a comment so I can fill in the blanks and you can be recognized for your artwork.

Update: The red tile box was created by Dr. Sarah Fisher, who also photographed these three items.

In addition to the Polydelphia Retreat that they host every year, the guild also sponsors several workshops with visiting instructors. I'm thrilled to be heading their way for a workshop the weekend of September 20-21, 2008. We'll have an actual class on Saturday and then on Sunday, I'll be their official "guest artist" and share lots of tips and techniques for creating rocks and beach stones. If you're a member of the guild (I really wish I lived closer!) or considering becoming a member, the price for a whole weekend of polymer clay fun and learning is shockingly reasonable and I'm hoping to see a lot of you there. For more information on joining the Philadelphia polymer clay guild or for registration details on my upcoming workshop, just go to the guild's website and follow the links.

Update: Gwen Agard is the talent behind this striking piece.

Don't forget, I need some names to go with these beautiful images. This one reminds me of aqua terra jasper, a stone that embodies the colors of water and sand. I may just have to claim it as my own if no one comes forward!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A beautiful beginning . . .

. . . to what I hope will be a much better week! This amazing orchid is from Celine (you may know her as Gris Bleu), one of the many talented ladies from France who are doing wonderful and exciting things with polymer clay.

The use of wire in many of her pieces, like this alien poppy, makes for a bold statement. Celine shares snippets of her creative process on her blog and it's definitely worth a visit if you've never checked it out. I adore her work!
It may be several days before I get the chance to make another post. Adam's elusive kidney stones are going to be lasered today and, if all goes well, I should be packed and headed to Louisville by the end of the week for a workshop at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. Anyone have a lucky rabbit's foot I can borrow?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dirty, rotten concretions!

Amelia Earhart once said, "There are two kinds of stones, as everyone knows, one of which rolls." Unfortunately, my son Adam's kidney stones seem to be the non-rolling variety. They've managed to cause plenty of pain during the past 2 weeks but they don't appear to have any plans for rolling away anytime soon. We'll give it a bit longer but it's beginning to look like surgery is the next step.

I've featured Jay King on my blog in the past and he's become one of my favorite artists. I admire his talent and his wonderful sense of humor. When he heard that Adam was dealing with kidney stones, he created a polymer clay kidney stone just for him and labeled it a "dirty, rotten concretion." It gave us a much-needed laugh. Jay has quite a fan club and the comments under his daily Flickr offerings are almost as witty and wonderful as he is.

Although it clearly states at the top of this page that Imagine Uncommon Things is a blog about "polymer clay, creativity, rocks and other things", kidney stones aren't exactly the kind of rocks I had in mind when I wrote that. So many of you sent nice notes and left comments here when I talked about this last week and I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate all the good wishes you've sent to Adam.

I've had some requests to list my teaching schedule so I added a few upcoming classes right under my mug shot. You can drop me a line if you want info on the particulars for any of these events. I'll have more dates to add soon.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Playing with Fantasy

"It's my escape from myself, my salvation and despair happiness and boundless longing for the unhappened. It's like expectation as well."

Speaking about her work, this quote is from Olga Roehl, maker of some of the most extraordinary art dolls I've ever seen. It took me a long time to savor all the amazing images found on her site like these masks and the piece below, titled "Blue Windy".

When I see sculptural work like this, I'm in total awe. If you're looking for a head start on weekend web surfing, I highly recommend losing yourself in the beauty and fantasy that Olga creates.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The things we do for love . . .

This has to be the coolest thing I've ever seen polymer clay used for! Bill Robbins, aka Elmer Presslee, may have a somewhat sick and twisted aesthetic when it comes to his artwork (personally, I enjoy a bit of that) but he also seems to be a great dad who knows what little kids really want. He made this zombie head stroller for his adorable daughter and you've got to check out the photos he took of her riding in it. She must be the luckiest little girl in Utah.

I've been trying to find time to put a blog entry together for almost two weeks but I've been busy with packing and preparation for a workshop. If you're a regular reader, you probably know that the Euro Clay Carnival starts Friday in Nottingham, England. I've been looking forward to my first trip to Europe for months and thrilled, of course, at the opportunity to meet so many of my European online friends. I've been excited about our poker chip swap, too and made sure that I had enough to trade with everyone.

Sadly, although my chips will be there, I won't be able to head across the pond now, at all. Right before my plane was to leave, my son Adam became very ill and after spending the better part of two days in the emergency room, he was diagnosed with kidney stones. He's only 15 and leaving him here while I jetted off to another country was just out of the question for me. To call this the week from hell is definitely an understatement. There's been enough incompetence, misdiagnoses, and complications to send a sane person over the edge. Adam's home now and we're managing his pain, hoping that the stones will pass on their own and that he'll soon be back to normal.

I'm heartbroken to be missing this wonderful opportunity and terribly sorry to disappoint the students (a double class with Donna Kato will more than make up for my absence, I'm sure!) but, I'm where I need to be and doing what I need to do right now. He may be 6' 2" but he's still my baby!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Talking to the Trees

I'm drowning in a sea of things that need to be done! I may be on the mend but I'm overwhelmed with how far behind I am. It's so bad that I may just have to change my name and start over. I have lots of half-finished blog entries sitting around but I chose this one today because I find the artwork so calming and peaceful.
Tamara of Block Party Press shares several photos of this piece during the creative process and being able to see it in these various stages makes me love it even more. You can't even IMAGINE how wonderful it would look in my studio against the aqua walls. I hear the trees telling me to breathe deeply and begin . . .

Monday, July 7, 2008

Balancing Act

Ah, vertigo . . . U2 recorded a song about it but to TRULY appreciate the video, it's helpful to watch it while you're actually experiencing the phenomenon yourself. Just be sure and hold on tight. Alfred Hitchcock made a movie about it and if you've ever seen it, you know just what kind of trouble it can lead to.

As if the freakishly bizarre dog-walking accident I experienced last month wasn't bad enough (The dogs are fine. I, on the other hand, almost lost a perfectly good finger.), I've spent the last week or so on the merry-go-round that never stops spinning. This isn't my first bout with vertigo so I know there won't be too much accomplished until it runs its course. I'm making lots of sketches and lots of lists but it still sucks that I can't do the things I'd really like to be doing or the things I actually NEED to be doing.

So, if you've been wondering if I've jumped ship and escaped to a tropical island with my personal pool boy Vladimir . . . no such luck. I applaud your creative imagination though and I believe I'll give some serious consideration to adding that to my list of things to do when I've regained some of this missing equilibrium.

Monday, June 23, 2008

When Pigs Fly

Today is a sad day for millions of George Carlin fans. The comic genius passed away yesterday evening at the age of 71. I adored his off-color, irreverent humor and although I know it was too explicit for some people, I loved the fact that he poked fun at the truth in ways that I sometimes found shocking and pretty twisted. I went to see him perform many years ago and got to hear his "incomplete list of impolite words". I still laugh when I think about him rattling those off. If you've never heard this part of his routine and think you can handle it, click here. I recommend not having children in the room while you're listening to this. It's full of "bad words" so don't watch it if you have delicate sensibilities about that sort of thing.

I guess I have a bit of the twisted thing going on too, especially late at night when I'm surrounded by funny people like Marla Frankenberg. The above photo is our version of a flying pig, aka Heavenly Ham, that we made after a weekend workshop that Marla did here in WV. I keep it hanging in my studio as a reminder that sometimes life is so absurd all you can do is laugh.

Toni Ransfield from New Zealand has a much more elegant take on the flying pig theme. This one is made around a real chicken egg.

We're all familiar with the whole idea of the phrase "when pigs fly" as a comment on an absurd notion but maybe it's become a bit trite and overused. Perhaps, "when pigs dive" may be a more up-to-date choice in today's world.

May your day be filled with much laughter and minuscule amounts of absurdity.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mystery Man

I know very little about David Revonav (I think that's his last name) other than he's a Washington, DC - based artist who recently started to work with polymer clay. Here's one more thing I know: I adore this ring in his Etsy store and I'm really sad it's not my size!

Beautiful, simple, clean work with a modern aesthetic. I love it!

One thing I'm not too fond of right now is AOL. I'm struggling to get anything accomplished online. All the more reason to stay at my studio table and keep my hands in the clay. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Friday, June 13, 2008

All Over the Map

Thanks to the magic that is Flickr, I've traveled the world this week looking at some wonderful artwork from talented individuals that I may never have otherwise had the opportunity to experience.

Enno de Kroon is an artist from The Netherlands who paints on egg cartons and has totally blown me away with his whole concept of two-and-a-half dimensional art. When viewed at an angle, his paintings provide a totally different perspective than the frontal view that's shown here. This is how he describes his choice of canvas and the viewer's experience:

"As a painter I consider egg cartons as two-and-a-half dimensional objects which offer me remarkable possibilities for imagery. The waves of the egg cartons limit the viewer's perception; they also make him aware of his positioning towards the image. The intentional limitation in subjective perception gives room for imagination and recall: the process of occlusion. By a fusion of direct and indirect perception conventional imagery is overtaken. At first sight this leads to a physical and mental incompleteness, that forces an integration which can only take place within the inner experience, apart from time and space."

His Flickr profile is full of fascinating glimpses into the amazing work he calls Eggcubism and the process it entails. You'll be missing out if you don't make a stop here yourself.

A trip to Spain brought me this beautiful necklace by Natalia Garcia. It reminds me of some vintage inlaid mother of pearl beads I have in my stash which I can't bring myself to let go of. I love the look and the feel of this piece, which is also very reminiscent of capiz shell. For those of you who are attending the Euro Clay Carnival in England next month, you'll get to meet Natalia there as she is one of the instructors.

A quick jaunt off to Scotland and I was enjoying the cool fantasy sculptures by Marc and David Green. This one is Tricksy, riddle-maker and master of manipulation.

These artists have provided much-needed relief from what I will always remember as "the summer of the locusts" here in the U.S. The irritating sound they make is bad enough but I happen to have a bad-ass locust eater living in my house that takes every opportunity to chase them down and devour them when he goes into the backyard under the guise of relieving himself.

The poor slow-moving locusts don't stand a chance against the cunning and speed of Baxter, the Wonder Dog. However, they take their revenge a couple of times a day when we're treated to the unmistakable sound of a retching schnauzer who deposits half-eaten locusts in the floor. I'm sure you can guess who has the honor of cleaning that mess up. Flickr is the only thing keeping me sane at this point.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Day of the Dead

I know it's a little early for a Day of the Dead celebration. My research showed that it's observed early in November. But, Tamra Kohl, a Texas artist whose background is in commercial sculpting, celebrates her appreciation for this traditional Mexican holiday every day of the year. I love her caterpillar which brings to mind a strange mutation of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Jack Skeleton from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

And coming to a parade near you, the shriner in his little car is just perfect!

Her tribute to Hank Williams, Sr. is another of my favorites. The talented Tamra shares more of her work here, including some wonderful photos of the process she goes through to create these fascinating, colorful sculptures.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Decoupaged Polymer Clay

Julia, aka White Guppy, is a Spanish artist who's come up with a way to decoupage onto polymer clay. Her beautifully patterned pillow beads first caught my eye on Ebay. Although she sells these beads herself, she's been generous enough to share her method for creating them on her blog and like so many of the talented European clayers, she's also included an English version of her tutorial.

I think her method would translate wonderfully to tube beads, as well. Or perhaps, this half-moon hollow bead design by Michele "Luny" would be a nice way to show off some interesting patterns.

I like the fact that both of these ladies have taken the time to experiment and come up with something unique in their approach to bead design. Hope you find the time to try something different yourself this week!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The world may be going to hell in a handbasket . . .

. . . but Jim Sheely ALWAYS makes me smile! Nope, it's not clay, it's carved basswood. I've blogged about Jim before but his artwork is so cool and edgy that I could talk about him every day. I love his wonderful spirit and the way he never takes himself too seriously. This is what he says about his art:

Imagining things and making them real is my beloved hobby.

If you're a collector of creatures who love to go swimmin' with bowlegged women, check this piece out on Ebay. The bidding is fast and furious!

Back tomorrow with more clay . . .

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Save a cow, do some clay!

Thanks to Michael from Mossy Owls, it's easy to get your leather on. She recently shared her method for making faux leather tags that are wonderfully realistic. If you're not into leather, check out her other tutorials on Polymer Clay Web for lots of interesting techniques to try.

Michael recently opened a "button bakery" on Etsy. Her polymer buttons with a liquid clay glaze are just lovely!

She has lots of photos of her polymer clay work on her Flickr site, including several examples of pastries, burgers, pizza, and other foods, like this cool sushi necklace.