Every piece of jewelry is a small scale work of art worn on the body. Each of the jewelry artists at Artistic Portland has a different vision, carefully crafted and unique. Jewelry from Susan Hunter features striking metalwork, while pieces of Beth Jones are delicate and romantic. June Martin’s signature mosaics are both geometric and subtly colored, while Petra Woodworth imaginatively combines found objects with metals and stones. My work in polymer clay is highly patterned and brightly pigmented, falling perhaps into the category of “statement” jewelry.
“Statement” jewelry necklaces are one-of-a-kind, attention-grabbing pieces which are often large, colorful and sometimes asymmetrical. Glittery or tribal, statement pieces transform that little black garment into a canvas. Polymer clay is especially well adapted to making statement jewelry because it is a great chameleon. Lightweight and inexpensive, it can be carved, twisted, painted or sculpted into infinite shapes, patterns and colors. Polymer jewelry artists have discovered a myriad of approaches.
My partner at our teaching studio, ViaArtistica , Maggie Maggio, is an architect, so perhaps it not surprising that she is known for exploring and expanding the structural possibilities of polymer clay. Maggie pinches and twists polymer to create sinuous neckpieces. The model shown here is from a series she has called “Octopi”. Maggie’s wow factor comes from complex swirls woven into a dramatic neck piece. One can fully imagine these pieces on the runway.
Another local Portland colleague, Wendy Wallin Malinow, has a completely different approach to making dazzling jewelry with polymer clay. A metalsmith, illustrator and sculptor, Wendy transforms polymer clay into mysterious fantasy pods, bones and imaginative unearthly creatures. Her imagination astounds! Wendy’s panache comes from vibrant colors and surprising shapes that range from naturalistic birds to gothic skulls. Her necklaces are eye-catching collectors’ pieces, which are also wearable
Kathleen Dustin’s calls her work “Wearable objets d’art” and her website showcases several collections of her polymer jewelry and handbags. Trained as a ceramicist, Kathleen has explored several properties of polymer, including translucency and the imitative potential of the clay. Here she pushes the boundaries of texture in her Tribal Bead series with lush mark-making, carving and the complex layers of pigment which create her distinctive palette, earning her a place in many galleries and museum collections.
My own work takes advantage of the lightweight nature and malleability of polymer. I love to form flat polymer into 3 dimensional petals, disks and pods. Most of all I love creating and juxtaposing patterns, a bit like a collage artist or a quilter. By mixing the primary colors of polymer clay I can create virtually any color I want. The complexity of millefiori cane work adds rich patterns to the mix. Nothing makes me happier than creating a palette, then making a pile of canes on my studio table ready to create veneers. I invite you to come see my polymer clay jewelry at Artistic Portland!