What do you think of when you hear polymer clay? Well if you are Cynthia Toops you think it is a wonderful material with unlimited potential in jewelry making. September 26 & 27 Cynthia will be teaching Extraordinary Effects with Polymer Striped Canes at Danaca Design. Cynthia’s own work takes polymer clay to the next level making the mundane magical.
But what are polymer striped canes?
Polymer canes are when long strips of polymer clay are layered, usually to create a design, and then cut apart. They are based off of the millefiori glasswork technique that is used to apply decoration to glass objects. Canes patterns can very simple to very complex and how the canes are laid out together adds to the beauty and complexity.
These canes can then be used to cover beads and cabochons to create unique decorative elements for your jewelry. Techniques like combing, carving and mokume gane will be covered expanding and enlivening your repertoire.
Finally students will explore “thin sheet work” to make simple pins, bracelets and other alternative polymer clay forms.
This class is open to all levels, from the beginner curious about the many possibilities of polymer clay to the advanced student interested in focusing on a particular aspect of the medium.
To register for class call us at 206-524-0916 or stop by Mon-Fri 11am-6pm or Sat 10am-6pm at 5619 University Way NE, Seattle WA, 98105
Don’t forget to check out our complete fall schedule at www.danacadesign.com
Cynthia has been working with polymer clay since the 1980s. While she is known for her figurative micromosaic pieces, in the last few years she has been concentrating on thin sheet work, creating the cone and claw necklaces and the rolodex series. Most of her work is inspired by ethnic jewelry and ancient beads which she and her husband collect. Cynthia has a BFA in printmaking from the University of Washington and a BA in Biology from Drake University. She spends long hours researching and planning work with Dan Adams, her husband and collaborator. Besides her jewelry work and teaching, she enjoys sushi.
What’s your background? Is it in art, or something else? I have a BA in Biology from Drake University and a BFA in Art (Printmaking) from the University of Washington.
You often use unusual materials in your work, when did you start making experimental jewelry? What do you like about it? I work primarily with polymer clay. I started making beads in 1986 and then made small brooches and necklaces. My first necklace included glass and stone beads and found objects combined with my polymer beads. This was inspired by African jewelry where they use disparate material. Glass is another medium I have worked with – micromosaics and enameled glass pieces. I also enjoy dry felting but developed frozen shoulder and trigger finger which necessitated a temporary haitus.
What attracted you to polymer clay? I cam across polymer clay during a visit to Hong Kong. It is a very accessible material and requires very little equipment or outlay that was a big attraction to a beginning artist.
Your works exhibit huge attention to detail, have you always worked this way? I like to work small, especially on micromosaics because I hate conditioning clay!
What kind of imagery or inspiration do you use? Or, can you tell us about any recurring themes in your work? Lot’s of times the image is dictated by the theme of the gallery show. When left to my own devices, I often use folk stories or animal imagery. Sometimes I incorporate simple everyday life (e.g. knitting, hiking, enjoying a cup of coffee, etc…) into my pieces. In my necklaces they are often about color, textures or playing with different shapes and materials.
You regularly collaborate with your husband, Dan Adams. How is working as a team different from working on your individual work? The first thing we have to decide on is a piece that is exciting to both of us. It could be a color theme or story line. Then we work separately on the beads and then discuss whether they work together or if its back to the drawing board. It is more difficult that working on your own, but sometimes the piece is richer because of the additional challenge.
Have you had any one teacher who have shaped you most as an artist? I think Glen Alps, my advisor at the University of Washington Printmaking program, is my biggest inspiration in regards to work ethic. Even into his 80’s he still spent time in the studio every day. I believe in hard work and commitment which often means long hours.
If you like what you see and would like to learn more from such a great artist sign up for her class at Danaca Design Today. Cynthia’s Class “Polymer Micro Mosaics” will be on January 10th and 11th 2015, come visit or give us a call before all the spots fill up! Check out our website for more details, http://www.danacadesign.com/index.php?p=index
I love seeing the new photos for Cynthia’s classes! She’s definitely expanded my idea of what you can do with polymer clay.
In September Cynthia Toops will be teaching Beyond the Polymer Cane here at Danaca Design. If you want to learn how to create interesting and unexpected shapes and patterns with this material, now is a great time!
I found this little bit about polymer clay on Wikipedia. I never knew that’s where FIMO came from:
“Bakelite, an early plastic, was popular with designers and was an early form of polymer clay, but the phenol base of uncured Bakelite was flammable and was eventually discontinued. Polymer clays were first formulated as a possible replacement for Bakelite. One of these formulations was brought to the attention of German doll maker Käthe Kruse in 1939. While it was not suitable for use in her factory, Kruse gave some to her daughter Sophie, who was known in the family as “Fifi,” who successfully used it as modeling clay. The formulation was later sold to Eberhardt Faber and marketed under the name “FIMO” (FIfi’s MOdeling compound).”
Beyond the Polymer Cane
Instructor: Cynthia Toops
September 13 and 14, Saturday and Sunday, 10:30-5:00
Class Fee: $265|Basic materials included
Cane work is the most common polymer technique to decorate beads. Learn to transform this basic technique into something extraordinary. In this two-part class we will first take basic canes and transform them into complex designs to use for surface decoration. Then we will explore alternative bead shapes and create other objects: leaves, cones, claws, tab tiles, as well as hollow sculptural forms for bigger pieces. Cynthia will forever alter your perception of polymer clay! All skill levels are welcome.
Seattle artist Cynthia Toops has always been fascinated with beads. An ivory cicada bead carved by her father is one of her most cherished possessions. However, it was a copy of Lois Sherr Dublin’s “The History of Beads”, which catapulted this fascination into a passion and career. Falling in love with the Roman face beads on the cover, Cynthia was inspired to make her own versions. During a visit to her native Hong Kong, Cynthia discovered polymer clay and fell in love with the medium. Cynthia is inspired by 18th Century Italian micro mosaics, as well as the elaborate works of Mexico’s Huichol Indians, who embed seed beads in hot wax. Adapting these styles to polymer clay, Cynthia developed techniques that work for her and are ‘simple and very low-tech’. Using this technique of mosaic in her work, Cynthia is able to create tremendous richness, texture and subtle color variation on a single piece. Cynthia is widely published and exhibits and teaches throughout the United States.
Cynthia also has some work up at Facèré right now. You can see some of it on their website: http://www.facerejewelryart.com/artist.php?id=39
To register for Cynthia’s class call the studio at 206-524-0916, we’re here Tuesday-Friday 11-6, and Saturday 10-6.
Our summer class schedule is ready! We’ve got a bunch of great stuff coming up this quarter. In addition to our regular beginning series classes (offered every quarter) we’ve got a nice selection of featured classes as well. More details can be found on our website: http://www.danacadesign.com/index.php?p=classes&c=summer2014
We’re excited to be offering Kids Summer Jewelry Camp for Ages 8-12 with Tegan Wallace. This is a brand new class! It runs July 14-18, Monday-Friday 9:30-2:30.
Keith Lewis will be here to teach Enameling Oddities.
Learn casting methods you can use at home in Low Tech Gravity Casting with Juan Reyes.
In Etching without Acid with Nanz Aalund students will learn a non toxic way to etch copper, brass, bronze, and nickel silver.
Andy Cooperman will be back for Creative Surface Development.
Explore polymer clay with Cynthia Toops in Beyond the Polymer Cane.
To learn more about these classes and see what else we have to offer please visit our website: www.danacadesign.com
You can register for classes by calling us at 206-524-0916, Tue-Fri 11-6, Saturday 10-6.