Selection from the Collection: Billy by the Riverbank

Cynthia Toops, “Billy by the Riverbak” Necklace, Micromosaic Inlay Detail, 1995, 1.75 x 1.75 x .5

Here’s another treat for your viewing pleasure to tide you over until I return from the ACC Baltimore Craft Show.

Cynthia Toops, Billy by the Riverbank, 1995

When I began to think seriously about building a substantial collection of polymer art, I wanted my first purchase to be literally the cornerstone: the most significant piece I could afford by the finest artist I could find. I decided on this necklace by Cynthia Toops.

Cynthia Toops, Billy By the Riverback Necklace detail, 1995

The necklace, composed of large lentil beads, is reversible.  On one side the beads are covered with a feast of tiny canes in colors so representative of Cynthia and her home in Seattle.  Three of these beads also have tiny thread mosaics embedded in them. The smaller two mosaics are abstract in design but the third, the largest of those, is figurative, shown in the detailed image at the top.

On the flip side, each bead is lovingly carved by hand with a unique design.  Cynthia meticulously backfilled each carving with clay in complementing colors. Twelve years later, I still thrill to the sight of this piece of jewelry, and I hope you’ll share in that excitement today.

I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in looking at art, talking about art and the making of art. In 1990 I earned a Phd in art history at the University of Maryland. My first experiences with polymer clay were in 1992, but I consider my real work with the medium to date from 1999.