Friday, August 12, 2016

Enshrined - the Evolution and Reveal.


  1. 1a: a case, box, or receptacle; especially: one in which sacred relics (as the bones of a saint) are deposited.  
    b: a place in which devotion is paid to a saint or deity: sanctuary  
    c: a niche containing a religious image.
  2. 2a place or object hallowed by its associations
A sampling of sculptural shrines I have made over the years. All smaller than 8 x10".
I love the concept of the shrine. A place where things are set aside, reserved, made 'more'... a place where attention and importance are focused on an item. I have been making sculptural ceramic shrines for over 10 years. Small in scale they are intimate, personal - icons of a sort. I fill them with items from nature, found objects, symbolic objects that reference myth, archetypes, and the natural world.

I have been musing on shrines in a miniature format for a while now. How to create a niche? Hanging mechanisms? And most importantly - scale! What is small enough to wear and large enough to enshrine a small treasure? Working with ceramic clay, I work when the slabs are "leather hard" (imagine a firm slice of cheese...). They can support their weight, and be joined in mired corners, carved, embellished. How to translate this to polymer?!

1. First two large hollow shrines. 2. Detail of bail and textured sides 3. 2nd batch - very deep. 4. Making progress! Thinner more wearable scale pieces. 
Polymer as I know it has only two stages - raw/soft and cured/firm. My first attempts were made of elements cured then assembled. I made the niche, the back, the front - cured the pieces. Then I assembled them with liquid clay and added the textured sides/surround. These are my first creations - the two at the top are rather large, in my opinion at app 2.5"tall. While it worked - it was very fiddly, not something that lent itself to small scale production. The fact that they were hollow was great - but polymer is so light. Do they need to be hollow? Back to the drawing board.

Solid construction. Playing with beaded bails. 
Solid construction is the answer! No sagging uncured clay. No sticky assemblage with liquid clay. and solid forms are easier to texture. The shrines above have beaded bails, and an antique enameled element.

Finding things small enough. That is a challenge. There is a sense of whimsy in using these small toys. I am ok with that... but they aren't enough. So I made my own polymer miniatures, made mold, and started creating. ( I need to redo that acorn.)
Small rubber? Plastic? Toys fit in nicely. But I was happiest with my own iconic polymer minis, which will be painted.  
This is where I wanted to be! I am really pleased with these! And they will be making their debut at Bead Fest this month. I am finally ready to share them with you all here, and the world. 

This is where I wanted to be! Stamped copper adds a layer of meaning! Holes run through point of top of arch.

So how is it done? Here is a peak at the steps in the process:

Stages of construction. And playing with pan pastels. 
Comparison: toy hare and polymer mini hare ( still needs painting) 
I really see these as a series  - I have so many ideas for colors, patterns... and inclusions. I'm pretty excited with the results and pleased with the continuity it achieves across my body of work. I would really like to hear your comments! 

And if you are at Bead Fest - stop by and see them in person. I will be at #463 in Artisan's Alley! 


  1. These are wonderful , you are going to be so successful at beadfest !

  2. Wow Jenny, these are amazing! I especially like the beaded bails, they add a unique touch. The bunny under the moon is Liam's favorite. I love the different varieties that you have created and look forward to seeing where these take you!


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