The Exquisite Polymer Clay Art of Jon Anderson

Of all the types of polymer clay techniques, complicated canes are probably the most difficult and the least appreciated by the general public.  Frequently, the only ones that can fully appreciate complex cane work are those that have attempted it themselves.  However, once a lay person really “gets it”, they are totally amazed and converted into an admirer of polymer clay art.

The Elephant by Jon Anderson

The Elephant by Jon Anderson

Several years ago, when I was still fairly new working with polymer clay, I was coming home from Arizona, killing time at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.  I wandered into the gift shop, casually browsing, when I was literally stopped in my tracks by a display of wonderful animals.  I had suddenly realized that these wonderful creatures were covered in tiles of different complex polymer clay canes.  From the whole animal itself, to the masterful arrangement of the tiles, to the astonishing complex cane work, I became an instant fan of Jon Anderson.

I considered buying one of these sculptures, but the price tag was in the realm of a car payment, and well outside of my ability to buy.  I didn’t mentally complain about this, though, because I had already come to understand the amount of time and effort that went into making just one of these complex cane designs, let alone the dozens of different ones I was seeing.  Upon returning home, I found his website and have kept it at the top of my “favorites” ever since.  I traveled through the Phoenix airport again a few more times, and always visit the gift shop and study Jon Anderson’s animals, in person.

Fast forward a few years.  My daughter had become good friends with a very cool lady, Carol, who she also works for.  We invited Carol to dinner at our house, with my daughter, one Easter Sunday.  I had some of my polymer clay eggs displayed in the table centerpiece and Carol noticed them.  I brought out several of them for her to look at, close up.  She liked them very much, but I could tell she didn’t “understand” them, as many don’t until they see how they are made.  Since we were all busy enjoying the holiday, I didn’t launch into my usual lengthy description of the process.

Fast forward another couple of years.  My daughter called me, to tell me about Carol’s latest shopping acquisitions during a recent trip.  She explained that Carol had seen a demonstration of a polymer clay artist, and was so stunned and amazed at what went into the process, that she purchased two of his sculptures on the spot.  I immediately asked if artist’s name and if it was Jon Anderson and she said, “Yes, that’s it!”  She then said that Carol wanted me to come and see the two pieces,a Turtle and an Elephant.  The Elephant is actually just the head, balanced delicately by his trunk, on a stand.  When she saw the process demonstration of Jon Anderson’s work, she realized it was the same thing that I do with my polymer clay eggs, and she knew how much I would appreciate her new art treasures.

So, of course I went to see them.  I spent an embarrassingly long time studying them, taking pictures and appreciating the workmanship.  Pictures never do them justice, as anyone that has ever seen the actual wildlife figures knows.  However, here are a few pictures to highlight my experience.

First Closeup of Elephant Head

First Closeup of Elephant Head

In this closeup, of the eye detail, you can see the many canes used in the design.  Of special note is the Buddha’s face cane, upside down.  Check the next picture out for another closeup, a little higher up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closeup of Elephant Cane on Elephant's Head

Closeup of Elephant Cane on Elephant's Head

 

In this shot, of the Elephant’s forehead, you can see the elephant polymer clay cane in the center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jon Anderson Turtle

Jon Anderson Turtle

Again, notice the exquisite polymer clay cane patterning on the Turtle.

 

 

 

 

Closeup of The Turtle's Back

Closeup of The Turtle's Back

 

Here is a closeup of the detail of the intricate polymer clay canes that make up the designs covering the Turtle’s back.

 

For more, and larger versions of these pictures, please visit my gallery.

 

 

 

I continue to hold Jon Anderson’s work in the highest esteem, at the pinnacle above and beyond all other well-known intricate cane makers.  It isn’t just the marvelous canes that he creates, but what he does with them.  From the animals’ shapes, to the patterning he uses when he applies the canes, the final pieces are some of the most innovative and beautiful examples of wildlife animal sculptures.  I idolize his workmanship and it inspires me towards a higher goal in my own work.

I think we can assume, from his website name, that Mr. Anderson works with Fimo brand polymer clay.  I believe he is currently living in Bali (or some similar exotic location), where he creates, according to Carol. His bother represents him to galleries here in the States,  throughout the southwest and elsewhere.  If you’re traveling in California, Arizona, or other Southwest locations, and gallery browsing, you may be able to see his work, in person, yourselves.  It’s an experience every polymer clay artist should have.  Although I’m glad to be able to visit Carol’s, I plan to purchase my own Jon Anderson wildlife sculpture one of these days, so I can admire it every day.

You can see more examples of his work, and a video of the process, on his website at http://www.fimocreations.com/.

3 comments to The Exquisite Polymer Clay Art of Jon Anderson

  • Wow! Thank you for the wonderful critique of my work. I appreciate it very much. I caught Encephalitis 5 years ago and lost a lot brain mass. It takes every gram of my abilities to make my work. Compliments make me feel wonderful. Thank You so much. jon

  • Molly Baker

    Dear Jon,
    One of your little turtles peers curiously at me even as I write this message to you. I was examining him this morning and realized I had no “provenance” for the little guy. So I put “Great Polymer Clay Artists” into my browser and there you were, the creator of my little turtle. A very subtle signature, sort of a wide “J’ over an open bottomed triangle, (the “A”) right?
    I sincerely hope that despite the challenges you’re facing, each day is happy and productive. I’m not a stranger to polymer clay, so I can appreciate your skill. My oldest (97) and closest (she knew me before I was born) and I used to fire/cook our pieces in a leaky old toaster oven on the upper deck of her lake dwelling. I was in charge of maintaining the proper temperature. Go to SAPG, Members’ Work and look for Bertie Smith. That’s my friend. She’s been in the International Orton Cone Box show at least 3 times and has entered again this year.
    I’m 76, still in good health but starting to downsize. I want my children to appreciate the finer bits of art I’ve accumulated over the years, hence the desire for provenance. I did buy him in an airport and I think I paid around $80 – an enormous sum for me to lay out in those days. Now, I couldn’t afford a Jon Anderson button!
    If I make the San Antonio Potters’ Guild meeting this coming Wednesday, I’m taking “Turtle” with me to show to a friend who does both clay and polymer clay.
    What are you making these days? Whatever it is, keep doing it. The power of your work will bring joy to many.
    Sincerely,
    Molly Baker, potter

  • Ivelise

    I love our people, our polymer world that is. Polymer artists are so humble and amazing, I admire Jon anderson or just us average run of the mill clay making lovers. thanks for the info and amazing that your idol wrote on your page. With Love: Ivy V