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Thu  |  MAR 13  |  2014

Despite the old adage to not judge a book by its cover, the cover of a book (even a digital book) can be an important part of its story, whether it comes early in the telling, or as a final flap to keep the dust off (even the digital dust... or would that be pixel dust?). After some clearly focused time at the drawing board, in the studio, at the computer, behind and in front of the camera, we took a step away from our latest Big Project, and Dan made a little 'here's what we've got so far' visual just to see how things were coming together. We thought his diptic looked a bit like a book cover, but maybe that's because the Big Project we've been working on is a new book. Pleased to officially share our Big Project news with you, here's that cover, uncovered...

The Cutting Edge MasterClass Library For Polymer Clay

Blended Patterns in Polymer Clay
by Dan Cormier + Tracy Holmes

If you've seen the latest issue of The Polymer Arts, you may have noticed a little teaser tucked in at the bottom of page 43. Blurred Lines, the next title in our MasterClass Library For Polymer Clay, is still in the works, but when TPA Publishing Director and Editor Sage Bray recently reviewed our collection of Cutting Edge tools and books and asked us, "What's next?", we decided to squeeze in the scoop. More on her review later in this newsletter... 

Dan has been blurring the lines between patterns and blends for a few years now, and we'd often thought his Blurred Lines techniques would make a good little tutorial. Last summer, we started to work on something, but the deeper we delved (we like delving) and the more we focused in (we like focusing in), the clearer it became to us, blurs and all, it was going to take more than a tutorial to cover the full spectrum of possibilities spanning out from this one original idea. It's not just about making the decorative patterns themselves, but also mastering the design, construction, and finishing methods that best feature them.

Like our debut digital book Relief Beyond Belief, Blurred Lines will cover lots: the not-at-all-blurry back story; good-to-know KnowHows; the right tools and how to use them; foundational basics; elegant and accessible new techniques, freshly defined and clearly explained with tangent variations and design options showcased along the way; and plenty of eye candy to explain, instill, and inspire.

Blurred Lines is coming soon to the book aisle of The Cutting Edge Store. We're excited about it, and we hope you are too. Check out our teaser posts on facebook and flickr. Let us know what you think with your Comments there, and please Share our news with others. We don't have an exact release date set yet, but if you know you want it, let us know and we'll put you on our Blurred Lines Virtual Launch Party Guest List.
When Sage Bray decided to review not just our books but most of our Cutting Edge tools and 'tutes' for a feature in The Polymer Arts, we were excited, not just by how far her review might reach, but by the idea that someone with such a broad knowledge of what's 'out there' was going to put our stuff to the test, start to finish, hands on, in her own studio. Of course, there was also the nervous excitement that comes when you know that the woman at the helm of one of our medium's top mags is going to share her thoughts with an international roster of readers. We felt a little like Ratatouille's Remy and Linguini, waiting nervously in the kitchen while Anton Ego sipped our soup. It took me back to my many years in professional theatre, when cast and crew all slept restlessly after opening night's closing curtain, wondering what the morning papers would say about the show...

The Cutting Edge reviewed in The Polymer Arts (Spring 2014)

Dan has been an artist and innovator in polymer clay for more than two decades, and The Cutting Edge has been our banner for designing and selling our own line of original tools and techniques since we debuted our original Cutting Edge Peeler in 2005. We're not new on our medium's menu, but with new people discovering polymer clay every day, it means a lot to us that Sage chose this time and place to share our stuff and our story with our growing community through the pages of her publication. We've had lots to show and tell in the past 20 years, and there's still plenty more to come...
You can read Sage's full review, 'Finding Your Cutting Edge,' in the Spring 2014 issue of The Polymer Arts: Wrap It Up. Here are some of our favourite bits (plus links to each of the product pages in our online store)...
about Relief Beyond Belief...
"At $35, Relief Beyond Belief has a higher than average cover price--for a book. Only it’s not really a book but rather the text to a home study course. This is Dan’s "Relief Beyond Belief" workshop plus a few additional items that workshops don’t allow time for. It would cost you at least five times the price of this book to take just the basic die cut class with Dan, not to mention travel expenses. From that perspective, this is a serious bargain."

about Designing With Dies...
"Clear explanations and plenty of illustrations show you not just how to make one design but how to see the many options you have. It’s rather brilliant and provides ideas and lines of thought that can be transferred into designing just about any piece with multiple components."

about both our books...
"The difference between these books and most other craft books is the depth of knowledge you have when you are done. You know not only the steps of the technique but the why and how behind the way it is done."

about our Die Sets...
"Of all the products I tried out, I was surprised to find the Die Sets the most versatile and useful of them all."  Because of their connection to Dan's original adaptation of traditional metal dieforming into silhouette dieforming for polymer clay, our Die Sets are best known as tools for turning flat sheets of clay into 3D forms. But Sage highlighted some of the other ways they can be used. As two-part templates (the Die as a window, and its perfectly matching companion Cut-Out), we designed them for flat work as well: cutting out shapes, and the frames to feature them; cutting out pieces to build and burnish together into complex composite veneers; masking veneers for mixed media projects; and combining two different dies or cut-outs to create an almost infinite collection of cropped, concentric, or asymmetrical hybrids.
(left) Dies framing veneers, veneers framing Cut-Outs, and (right) one of Sage's finished forms
pics from 'Finding Your Cutting Edge' (The Polymer Arts Spring 2014)
about our Peelers...
"The Peelers demonstrate the truly cool thing about the Cutting Edge kits—the accompanying information in these kits are as valuable as the tools themselves, if not more so. . . . Both peelers are very sharp, sturdy and easier to use than I thought they would be. . . . I sliced up an entire slab, even though I didn’t need it all, the first time I tried it just because it was so cool."

about our Burnishing Kits...
"[Burnishing] makes a huge difference by evening out the surface and sealing the cuts you might have made creating mica shift or mokume. . . . Burnishing has become a standard step in much of what I do now."
Burnishing, peeling, composite veneer construction, and dieforming have been standard steps in Dan's work in studio for years, all developed through his own need to answer questions, solve problems, and refine processes in his own work as an artist. Teaching these techniques to others through workshops and books came later, and education and tool design has settled into our partnership as an important and fulfilling part of what we do. The art is still there and always will be, but developing new techniques and tools and defining effective, accessible, and original ways to teach them has emerged as an art form in itself, just as time-consuming, experimental, and challenging, but also just as original and as joyfully rewarding as the art that can come from using them.

Sage wraps up her review with a sampling of her own Cutting Edge experiments. Seeing our students' projects in a workshop has always been a highlight for us as teachers, so it was cool to see Sage's finished pieces, both as a testament to what she learned from us, and as a chance to see her expressing her creative self. Thank you so much, Sage, for honouring our work as innovators and teachers with such a thoughtful, thorough, and respectful review, and for courageously sharing your work as an artist and writer through your words and pictures. Welcome to the 'Edge'!

Also in the Spring 2014 issue of TPA, Linda Stiles Smith presents her summary of research, ideas, and guidelines around the issues of copying and accreditation in her article, 'Stealing Talent.' There's a related post on the Daily Polymer Arts Blog, and blogger Harriete Estel Berman (ASK HARRIETE) continues to advocate for higher ethics in the arts, providing lots of info and insight to keep this important discussion going. Have you joined in? It's not too late to speak up and add your voice to the conversation.

Sometimes, even in its quietest moments, the world is so full of noise and distractions, when you have a Big Project on the go, you just have to say 'stop' to a lot of other stuff. You have to hone in, hunker down, and hop to it, letting all else drift, slip, or rush by as you do. So now, with the New Year turning soon to Spring, Valentine's Day chocolates long gone, and the lucky green of St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, it seems a little odd to wrap up this newsletter with all our best wishes for a "Happy 2014!" But that's just how honed in, hunkered down, and hopping to it we've been these past couple of months, with our new book, and more. More what? More this...
EuroSynergy starts in seven weeks, and prep for our presentations are well under way, with coded colours, creative voices, wearable science, and a fresh spin on 'Inspiration in the Digital Age.' Nods, winks, and secret handshakes to Dan's 'Broken Internet Project' players. You know who you are (but remember, no one else does...).
Right after IPCA's big gathering in Malta, we've got some workshops on our Euro travel itinerary, first in the Czech Republic May 8-13, and then in London May 17-20, peeling patterns with The Cutting Edge, and pushing forms with Relief Beyond Belief. Some sessions are already full, but there's still a few spots open for anyone in Eastern Europe or the UK looking to learn some new techniques from a couple of claying Canadians.

After that, what's more fun in the Summer than summer camp? For the first time since Kathryn Ottman established her longer format polymer clay retreats in Laurel MD, we are thrilled to announce that we'll be joining the roster of teachers at this year's Master Class Camp July 16-21. Watch Kathryn's blog for all the details to be announced soon.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, observations, or stories to tell us, we'd love to hear from you. Send us an email, follow us on facebook and flickr, or share our news with others. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your continued support of us, our work, and our tools, and thanks in general for sharin' the polymer clay love! That's exactly what we did last month, helping our son and his best friend make pc hearts for all their classmates to celebrate February 14: El Día del Amor y la Amistad, the 'Day of Love and Friendship.' Our hearts go out to you...
Dan + Tracy
Grade 4 He(art) Project
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