When I was a child I used to run down to the beach, gather cedar bark and kelp, tease the materials into long strips and spend happy hours weaving the cords into wall hangings and baskets. Later I’d follow trails through the cool forest and cut panels of alder bark to make tiny canoes for floating down the creek. My imagination was alive with stories and my first works of craft were props for playmaking. My childhood freedom gave me early training for my current work.
My muse awakens again whenever I walk on the seashore or in a rainforest. The west coast environment envelops me in a creative cloak tinted with muted, misty colours and undulating textures. The sound of the waves and wind in the trees inspire mood and rhythm as I sketch my ideas. I capture colour combinations with my camera and fill my pockets with glorious collections of stones and inspirational tangles of organic materials that I use to stamp or weave into my work. I use inked polymer clay as my primary material for three dimensional expression and I include pieces from my collections for connections and texture. My objective is to incorporate influences from my landscape to create pieces that inspire the viewer to celebrate their own sense of play and in turn find joy in creating their own stories.
Tobias has been a working artisan for over 40 years. Some of his ceramics instructors include Harlen House, Hal Regar, Jack Surs, Marylin Levine, Roy Kiyooka, Santo Mignosa and Léopold Foulem.
Tobias also weaves, fuses dichroic glass, produces torch-work beads, and creates sterling jewelry. He has taken courses in “Hollowware” in London, UK, and Canadian metalsmith Crys Harse. Tobias has taken repoussé classes with Valentine Yotkov of New York, and Nancy Corwin of Calgary, as well as several local instructors in silver jewelry. His degree in Fine Arts was a major in Printmaking, and a minor in Ceramics.
Several years ago, Tobias discovered that his great-grandmother had Chickasaw Cherokee roots, and he has been exploring his First Nations heritage through his art. Much of his work reflects; ceremonial, medicinal, herbal, and food plants Chickasaw Nation, including traditional and historic depictions from the medicine wheel to sacred motifs symbols like the World Weaver Spider, Weeping Man.
Tobias has always been interested in textiles, the use of natural fibres and plants used for dyes. He has raised sheep, sheared wool, spun, and created woven material from “scratch to finish”. Today, the main fibres used are rayon, silk, linen, cotton, viscose, and rayon chenille. With these, rugs, shawls, and scarves are lovingly made. Colour and texture, forms and function, this is the historical essence of humanity and craft history, as well as ingenuity combined with practicality. Like the myth of the girl, the womyn, and the crone, weaving the threads of Life.
A love of color and a passion for working with polymer clay as an art medium resulted in designing a line of jewelry that appeals to fun-loving women of all ages. Colors are blended to reflect the tropics, the earth tones and classic neutrals. The lightweight jewelry is often tone-on-tone for added interest and depth. Black-and-white geometrics are sometimes added for spark. These eye-catching pieces are as much fun to wear as they were to make.
Also available are shawl pins, business card holders, pens, seam rippers and hair adornments decoratively covered in polymer clay.
Wanda Shum is a B.C. grown artist who was formally trained in Electronic Communication Design at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, She has been an independent artist for over 20 years with a variety of works to her name. All her work has embodied an attention to detail in form and function. Wanda’s works are recognized for their bright and whimsical qualities.
Currently, she’s working with polymer clays in a technique called ‘millefiori’. ‘Millefiori’ or ‘A Thousand Flowers’ is a traditional Venetian glass art that involve the formation of a cane-like sculpture with fused glass rods that has a pattern throughout. The modern version of this is created by laying different coloured polymer clays together. Then the cane is sliced to reveal the design within. Wanda describes ‘millefiori’ as a combination of painting and sculpting.
This technique has allowed her to create unique limited edition designs of jewellery (She has created a few exclusive designs for the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature). More recently, She has created a line of home decor which features items such as wine stoppers, glassware, and teapots covered with millefiori slices. Her latest body of work, especially her teapots have moved beyond the framework of form and function into the distinct realm of collectible art pieces.