Have you ever thought about how often polymer work is abstract? Many jewelry, wall art and object artists that work in polymer do not work with recognizable imagery. We commonly work with just color, lines, forms … motifs perhaps. Technically, much of this would be called decorative design but tell me … is there really any difference between the intuitive arrangement of elements to create mood, impressions and symbolic meaning in a piece of jewelry and that can’t be done on a canvas?

Take a look at this beautiful painting by Carol Nelson. Can’t you see it as a lovely polymer pendant? She even finishes it off with a layer of clear resin to increase the depth of color just as many polymer artists do.


My mind has already gone off and figured out how to make something like this. Gold, copper and pearl mica clay blended backgrounds textured with a comb and colored with splashes of alcohol ink. That would probably do the trick, don’t you think? I wouldn’t copy it exactly–we all need to make our work our own, even if it is in a different medium. Translating the work means filtering it through your own aesthetic and personal statements. But the cross imagery, the straight lines contrasted against the rough edge of the space, along with the splashes of rich color … that’s what speaks to me, and what I would pull to make my own work.

So why isn’t our jewelry highly revered abstract works of art? In some arenas it is in its own way, but being functional or wearable puts craft work into another category. It really doesn’t matter though. What does matter is that what we often do in polymer can be derived from much larger work hung on walls in museums and galleries. Also, if you’ve been stumped by abstract art but can appreciate the wide breadth of polymer art, you can apply your appreciation of the decorative to an appreciation of abstract paintings–the colors, textures, lines, etc. are used in a similar manner and often with similar goals.

So if you have time this weekend, maybe you can go to a museum or traipse through some galleries and try to imagine the pieces you see translated into polymer. You might find some amazing inspiration and ideas in work you just hadn’t considered in that way before.
It doesn’t matter what medium it is. It’s all art. It’s all visual communication.
If you are interested in examples and ideas about how artists derive inspiration from other art and artists (as opposed to copying) keep an eye on The Cutting Edge page on Facebook. I hear Dan Cormier will soon be revealing the steps and each brooch in his Broken Telephone project on that page (I blogged about the project from the Synergy conference last week). It’s amazing what truly talented artists will do and how connected the pieces are, even when elements seemed to have disappeared along the way. Stay tuned here and at The Cutting Edge.