Natalie Blake Studios is a large art studio that makes ceramic pieces and installations for commercial spaces as well as smaller high-end pieces in collaboration with home design professionals. And while our website is about the love of polymer clay, there is much that we can learn from other media. Natalie’s characteristic ceramic work often consists of tiles that are carved to reveal flowing designs. Sheets of clay are colored on the surface with a contrasting layer that is then carved away to reveal the design. It’s a subtractive process called sgraffito, and it’s a bit like scratch art.
But most of the pieces have an additional unique feature that’s hard to appreciate in a photograph. They have been given a three-dimensional relief that adds to the undulating nature of the designs. Here are the tiles before carving, so you can see that they’re not flat to begin with.
And how are those undulations created? By creating a raised pattern underneath the sheets. You can see in this video how snakes and lumps of clay are used underneath the sheet to created raised relief areas in the design. Of course, there’s no reason we couldn’t also do this with polymer clay. And in many ways this process would be much easier with polymer clay than with earthen ceramic.
Another cardinal feature of Natalie’s work is the way she uses color. In some of her pieces, she colors only one side of the undulating “hills”, which enhances the visual dimensionality of the design. You can see what I mean below (video is kinda loud). How could you create a similar effect with polymer clay?
I love that...
Natalie’s designs flow with visual rhythm in the carving, the shaping, and the color. She’s developed a strong, clear voice that’s instantly recognizable and accomplished by a unified collection of construction details, subject matter, and color choices.