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Category Archives: Polymer Clay

joe fig’s polymer clay and mixed media sculptures offer insight into the creative process

Joe Fig sought out more than 50 artists at different stages of their career, interviewed them, took photographs of them and of their studios and then he did something amazing.


Working on the Chuck Close sculpture. Photo by Sage Sohier


Chuck Close

He chose 20 artists and reproduced their studios to scale in miniature (1 inch = 1 foot), sculpting the figures and most of the details using polymer clay and paint. Some pieces, like tools and roof shingles, are store-bought and transformed. Please click on each image to see it full size – the details are amazing on these miniature table sculptures.


Eric Fischl

Fig’s goal was to seek insight into the creative process and he developed a questionnaire of specific questions for each artist to answer. He hoped their answers would help young artists at the beginning of their journey. He shares detailed images of the sculptures and interviews in his book, Inside The Painter’s Studio.

A few of the questions from the questionnaire:

When contemplating your work, where and how do you sit or stand? How often do you clean your studio and does it affect your work? Did you have a plan for the layout of your studio or did it develop organically? What time do you get up? When do you come to the studio? Do you have specific clothing that you change into?


Each sculpture takes between one week and four months to create depending on the size and level of detail.

fig_ursulavonrydingsvardUrsula VonRydingsvard

According to this article, what Fig learned from this endeavor is that there really is no formula for success as an artist – but the most successful ones all worked regularly and kept steady hours in the studio.


Leonardo Drew
26.5″ x 17.25″


Leonardo Drew, detail

Joe Fig’s website


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kerri pajutee: miniature polymer clay animal sculptures

Wow. That’s about all I can say after reading how Kerri Pajutee creates her miniature animal sculptures.

pajutee_donkeyBurro and Foal
polymer clay, acrylic paint, border leicester wool, alpaca fiber and flocking

Pajutee, who only makes a limited number of sculpts a year to ensure she is able to keep balance in her life, covers aluminum foil armatures with polymer clay, bakes the 1:12 scale miniatures (1″ = 1′) and then gets busy. Very busy.




Standard Poodles
polymer clay, acrylic paint, processed wool yarn

The artist describes her process:

“When I have finished detailing the sculpt, I will smooth the surface using sandpaper, wipe it down with acetone on cloth, and finish off with a bath of mild soap & water. 

After washing, the sculpture is handpainted with acrylics, and a permanent fiber coat is methodically applied (layer by layer) using tweezers and glue. 

I prefer using natural fibers of alpaca, wool, mohair, cashmere, cotton, or silk depending on breed type. 

Many of the fiber coats will be uniquely blended by hand by mixing strand colors prior to application to achieve a desired shade.  

In addition, I make my own ‘flock’ (fiber that has been cut to a powder-fine consistency) using very sharp scissors to snip from the same mixed batch of fibers.”


Great Dane, raw polymer clay


Great Dane

OK. So did I say Wow? Yeah, Wow.


 White Stag


 White Stag, detail

 ”The entire process from inspiration to final scissor clip is tedious, exacting, and requires numerous hours to complete, but, the difference between ‘good’ and ‘great’ lies in the details.”


Pocket Kitty

Creating true-to-life miniature animals does not lie solely in the application of a fiber coat, but in closely replicating the anatomy & breed characteristics in the base sculpture.”

Kerri Pajutee

More on Flickr

via about.com


some things really are just black and white

While I love being surrounded by color every day in nature and in art, I admit there is something soothing about a limited color palette. . .or the absence of color. This week we look at artists who are drawn to the idea that some things really are just black and white.

French-born Armelle Bouchet O’Neill’s most recent collection of sculptures explore topography, “the science that describes the surface of a place’s unique landscape and the idea that each place is unique, much like a fingerprint.” I’ll bet you thought the sculpture below was ceramic. Nope. The Seattle-based artist, who was born and raised in France, works with glass.


Armelle Bouchet O’Neill

On the other hand, using dozens of small ceramic components threaded together with wire, Ursula Commandeur works clay in an unusual way, creating compelling sculpture that might make interesting designs for brooches if scaled down. Yes?




 Ursula Commandeur

Building organically shaped forms from metal, Gregory Larin created a technique to fill the forms that incorporates traditional materials (such as Silver 925) with innovative materials like polymer and epoxy. The pieces pictured here are metal forms filled with polymer. The Russian-born artist now lives in Israel and credits his time in the Israel Defense Forces building aircraft as the catalyst for his creative awakening.





Gregory Larin

Before Teodor Dukov begins sculpting the apples he has become known for, he prepares the wood by dividing into pieces that he glues together to avoid tension and cracking. Then the wood is turned on a lathe and shaped by hand until he forms the perfect apple shape. After sanding, the surface of the wood is polished before the color is added and then it is sanded and polished again. An arduous process with delicious results.





 Teodor Dukov

Working out of their studio in London, Jonny Love & Samuel Jordan collaborate on detailed scenes that often reflect the human desire to fill empty spaces. Wow! I think they balance the chaos of those filled spaces with the white of the material. The Untidy Attic, pictured below, is made entirely of paper. The artists describe the scene as “stagnant memories, forgotten and lost, waiting to be excavated and remembered.” Nicely done. Take a look at the sculpture up close in this video - I saw a dollhouse in that old attic! More from Love/Jordan here.


 Jonny Love and Samuel Jordan

Photographer Liz deSousa calls New York City home. I was intrigued when I first saw her work because the process she uses speaks to me. deSousa creates sculptures from paper, but the sculptures are not the end product. For this artist, who holds a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual arts, the photograph is the goal. Love it.




So you see, some things really are just black and white. . .I’m not complaining. See you next week!

animals in art, part two

Last month we took a look at artists who create animals, including a look at the DAM archives. There is so much good work out there it’s already time for a part two!

Textile artist Karen Nicol comes from a family of embroidery artists (both she and her sister hold degrees in embroidery). When asked to describe her work Nicol explained, “I create ‘couture creatures’ I suppose. I use my animals to explore the the interesting dichotomy of man wearing animal skins and animals ‘clothed ‘ in skins inspired by human culture.” Read and interview with the artist on textileartist.org.



  Karen Nicol

Researching Karen Nicol brought me to her husband, who I featured back in 2007. Time to take a second look at Peter Clark as he continues to make good use of his comprehensive collection of found papers – their colors, patterns and textures add rich layers as he ‘paints’ his paper animal collages.


Peter Clark 

Deborah Simon’s animal sculptures swing in the other direction – nothing cute or charming here. The work is realistic enough to be mistaken for taxidermy. Simon’s use of polymer clay, faux fur and foam is brilliant.




 Deborah Simon

Sue Walters usually burns animal images into wood but I was interested in the way she uses pyrography and acrylic paint on Tagua nuts – WOW!


Sue Walters 

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polymer, paper and plasticine illustrations

We are switching it up here on DAM! Until life returns to a more gentle rhythm for daMuse my posts will be mostly WEEKLY instead of DAILY. That’s a full weekly dose of inspiration for you in one post. WAM!


I continue to be charmed by paper and clay illustrations and this week we take a peek at a new (to me) crop of illustrators.

Although art dominated her play time for most of her life, Suzanne Del Rizzo became a scientist, turning to art again while raising her four children. The children’s book illustrator uses plasticine and sometimes polymer clay to render her delightful, dimensional illustrations.




 Suzanne Del Rizzo

Hemali Vidalia used both paper AND clay (though not together!) for illustrating iPad apps, claymation videos and more. Vidalia learned from one of the best – Barbara Reid.

Please take a few minutes to watch the lovely showreel (below) of two different stop motion animations by Vidalia that showcase both claymation and paper illustrations.

See the full portfolio here.



 Hemali Vidalia

 Jayme McGowan prefers paper over plasticine. I’m ok with that. Her whimsical, layered paper illustrations have been used in commercials, animations, magazines, newspapers and product packaging. She stages the illustrations in a paper theatre after she creates the characters – read more about her process here. Nice.




 Jayme McGowan

For Ana Villalba, characters first come alive in her imagination, then she creates them with plasticine. Villalba, who holds a degree in sculpture and owns a graphic design business, working with plasticine makes her “feel like I’m living between two worlds that I am very interested in: the sculpture and the illustration.”

Ana Villalba

Ana Villalba

The last time we looked in on Joseph Barbaccia he was creating a buzz with his sequin adorned sculptures. His latest work is in a different direction and this time he is using polymer clay to create illustrations and portraits.



illustrations_barbaccia Joseph Barbaccia


Clay and paper illustration posts from the DAM archives:

Andy Hixon’s Mixed Media Illustrations

Karen Caldicott’s Clay Heads

Fortner’s Polymer Clay Vignettes

Culp-able: Bethany Culp

Elly MacKay (paper)

Laure – The Making Of A Drugstore (paper)


This week’s featured artists:

Suzanne Del Rizzo

Hemali Vidalia

Jayme McGowan

Ana Villalba

Joseph Barbaccia

If you hurry, you can use the Sliding Scale when you register for the September session of WordPress Basics, eCourse for Artists (sliding scale is in effect through Wednesday).




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