Shelley Kommers, a 1970s kid, recalls the days when crayons, scissors, and paper were the tools of her creative pleasure, before the internet took over much of that role for many children.
Shelley recalls that when she was 3 years old, her artistic mother encouraged her to do artful endeavors.
“We created our own fun,” says the 52-year-old resident of Agoura Hills, who describes herself as “multi-creative”.
Over the years she has worked as a visual artist, illustrator, craftsperson and art educator and can now add an author to her list of successes. Her first book, Make Cute Stuff with Polymer Clay, was published on November 16.
Why should the visual artist end up writing about polymer clay? This is a story that, like many others, began a long time ago.
When Kommers decided to make her life with art, that was exactly what she pursued. After attending UC Irvine and UCLA from 1987 to 1989, she studied advertising design at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena from 1989 to 1991. “
She became a graphic designer in the entertainment industry, then created collage-based artwork, many of which draw on the standbys from her youth, such as paper, paint, and scissors.
The layered pieces often have a fun, whimsical quality that will appeal to both adults and children.
At some point she started what she calls the Mandala Project in order to be “more present” and “Zen”.
In 2009, her work received recognition from a gallery in Nashville, Tennessee.
“You contacted me out of the blue,” she says. “The piece they were interested in was for their show called ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’.”
Her mixed media piece “The Swarm,” which she describes as “cheeky,” went perfectly with the show – “a cute collage of a boy running away from a swarm of loading scissors,” said Kommers.
Not only was this the first artwork she sold, but it also brought her artwork to many galleries and online marketplaces. Lendrum Fine Art, an art and design consultancy in Los Angeles, has linked Kommers’ artwork to the Kimpton Gray Hotels chain. Reproductions of her art have been sold by Pottery Barn Teen, Minted, Wheatpaste Art Collective, and Oopsy Daisy.
Her artwork has been published in Spirituality & Health, Ma Vie, and Somerset Studio magazines, and in exhibitions at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana.
Married today and mother of two, Kommers is thriving as an arts educator, offering classes in schools from Malibu to Pasadena for children ages 4 and up to middle school.
When the pandemic broke out, like many others, she started offering her courses online.
“I teach a lot of drawing, cartoons, and anime,” she said.
But it was the sculpture that became the basis of her foray into polymer clay.
“I was asked to teach a sculpture class at Webster Elementary in Malibu and was given a large box of supplies. I didn’t know anything about polymers, but I loved making really fun projects. “
She found that polymer clay is a versatile medium “that you can bake and keep forever,” she said.
“I became addicted to the ‘squeak factor’”, as she calls it – the shouts of joy from the students when she introduced them to another project. “Sometimes I would stay up all night working on a new one. I’m such a geek that I like to think of things to brighten up your day. “
One of her projects is a flying pig pencil attachment inspired by a sculpture she saw in Topanga Canyon. (If you are heading towards the Pacific Coast Highway from the 101 Freeway, the pig will be on the left about 4 miles down the canyon.)
Her creations were so popular that she developed 12 more articles, which she portrays in her book.
Two of her favorites are a bear jewelry box and a mushroom night light. As soon as you have made a happy rainbow and an elephant finger puppet, you can look forward to a great picnic scene with tiny fruits and vegetables.
“I’m always on the lookout for beauty and I find it everywhere: in the dilapidated and imperfect and in the small, hidden places that no one else sees,” wrote Kommers on her website.
“My work is inspired by nature and my own inner stories. My work is about the poetry that lives beneath the surface of things. “