More Than Just Beads

Cynthia Toops, Bird Watching, 2007
polymer micromosaic, 3.5″ x 3.25″

On Broadway in New York, one or two outstanding shows every year gets tabbed as a “Must-See” performance. This year the polymer community has its own “Must-See,” a book self-published by Cynthia Toops and her husband Dan Adams, beads & more, which has drawn rave reviews. My own copy, graciously inscribed by Cynthia and Dan, will be a lasting treasure in my library.

The book has its own website, offering fifteen preview pages. Most of those pages show Dan’s wonderful glass beads – belying the fact that the book is chock full of amazing polymer work as well. My favorites are Cynthia’s micromosaic pieces, typical of her work, like the one pictured above. You’ll find 14 equally incredible miniature masterpieces in the chapter on Mosaics. Verde, pictured below, is a new type of “sampler” necklace which balances Cynthia’s inventive polymer beads with Dan’s glass creations. The Necklace chapter shows 22 other mixed-media necklaces which incorporate polymer, glass, and silver as well as felt, shell, bone, and bobbins.

Cynthia Toops and Dan Adams, Verde, 2007
polymer glass and sterling, 20.5″ long

For those of you who live in or can visit Seattle , you’ll be able to find Cynthia’s work at the Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery.

Project Runway fans might also be interested to learn that this season’s winner, Leanne Marshall, created a dress inspired by one of Cynthia’s recent bracelets.

Leanne Marshall (right) is pictured above with Cora Benesh, modeling that dress last January in Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft. The dress entitled Feather was inspired by Cynthia Toops’ hand-cut and folded Tarletan Cuff (above, on Benesh’s wrist) from the Museum’s exhibition, Touching Warms the Art. Photo: Pete Springer

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.