Memories for a Lifetime


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I know I showed you a bit of the sample “Into the Forest” installation last week, but I didn’t get in this mosaic created by Julie Eakes for the exhibition that will be installed in November. I think Julie gets the prize for the most intense and biggest piece to go into the installation. I uploaded a fairly large image of this so if you click on the photo, it should open up in a browser window and you can zoom in to see all the individual canes that make up the idyllic scene.

I wish you could zoom in on the screens you see here in the main assembly room as Ellen Prophater presented her talk on mokume gane. Oh, the secrets and the great tips and tricks she gave away during this talk! This kind of thing was happening all over and made the price of this event well worth it on that basis alone. The friendships and conversations, however, they make it priceless.

If you didn’t get to make Synergy and haven’t been to any major events lately or ever, keep them in mind. Save up your pennies and plan to get that time off from work for the next big event you can possibly work into your schedule. They are each an experience you’ll keep with you all life long.


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Enticing and Entertaining

Bonnie Bishoff necklace 350x327 - Enticing and EntertainingIMG 0237 430x280 - Enticing and EntertainingThe art jewelry at these events is also a big draw. There is nothing quite like seeing masterful polymer work in person.

Here is a gorgeous piece by Bonnie Bishoff. She wore it to the final gala event and I just could not stop looking at the delicate forms and sunset-like colors. The picture (and the poor lighting in these places) doesn’t quite do it justice.

Another bonus to coming to these events is the local color. In this case, Sherman Oberson, a board member of the IPCA and a local Pennsylvania resident, treated a small handful of us to a tour of his insanely packed and ever-entertaining collection of flea market and thrift store finds. We did this, in part, to honor Nan Roche whose birthday it was. A huge collector of the curious and visually enticing herself, it was a perfect birthday outing for her and an immensely entertaining evening for those of us who got to tag along.

Poke around on Instagram and Facebook for more on Sherman’s place and other Synergy events.


Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners.

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Synergy Recap in Pictures

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First of all … the new Fall issue came out over the weekend! Get your texture fix with this issue, in a big way. If you have a digital subscription and have not seen your access email, check your junk mail folder. You should also be able to access it through your account here. If you have a print subscription, those went to the post office in Idaho on Friday so they are on the way too. If you do not have an active subscription or need to get your single issue copy, go to our website at

So this week we are going to have a parade of photos from Synergy 4 to include some beautiful art and some show shots for those who didn’t go but are trying to live vicariously through the community’s representatives that did.

The absolute best thing about going to these events is the people you get to meet and chat it up with. I think I may have said that last week but it’s true! The first picture here is just a sampling of the talent that was sitting behind me at breakfast one morning. How thrilled would you be to have the opportunity to sit down with Jeff Dever and Rachel Carren and listen in on their, no doubt, very insightful conversation? Or pull up a chair and say hello to Nan Roche and Melanie West? Or hang out at the same table with Christi Friesen, Bettina Welker, and Martina Weller? And you can at these things. People here, no matter what the skill level or how long they have been involved, are happy to talk to all the attendees. It is always illuminating what one can learn from others with the same passion.

I was grateful to get to talk to so many people but I was particularly happy to have a little time to sit down with our longtime polymer master, Marie Segal. She gave a talk about the new Cernit formulation–there has been improved strength, flexibility, and clarity that looks to rival the other better-known brands which got me quite excited to try it. If you like sampling clays to see what works best in what application, jump over to her shop and get yourself some new goodies at The Clay Factory.



Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners.

Neverknead 052217 - Synergy Recap in Pictures    The Great Create Sept 15 blog   businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front   Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog


Translucent Play, in 3 parts. Pt.1

jan-montarsi-transAfter finding the beautiful textured glass for Friday’s post, I noticed that my folder of art work to consider for blogs was full of translucent pieces, and almost all of them in the same basic color palette and all of them are fairly recent shares on Facebook. It could be because of the season but I don’t know how relevant that becomes when you set them side by side. So I thought I’d basically do that, presenting three pieces that are similar in color and using translucent clay but we’ll look at how it is used to create different moods.

This first one is a set of earrings by Jan Montarsi. The autumnal palette is there but the primarily vertical composition of the set, both in the direction of the swathes of color and the stacked squares lean towards a strong, organized atmosphere. Until you get to the visual and tactile texture. That reminds me of an energetic kid in a sandbox digging hole after hole. The circular shapes are jauntily wonky with colors blurring into each other, all with a very natural and organic feel. It says “I keep on the path but like to dance a bit on the way.” Well, that’s my read.

Jan created these in a class taught by Marie Segal at the annual Kentucky/Tennessee guild retreat this last month. He used his own ‘organic’ extruded cane technique as well. I guess he expected the colors to come out more muted because in the comments he made this observation:

“The amazing thing is the colors of these translucent clays were diluted by at least half with regular translucent clay and then placed on a translucent background and the color is still vibrant.” It’s good to know just how rich those packaged translucent colors can be.

Jan is our Americas Regional President for the International Polymer Clay Association as well as being an active clayer and contributor to a variety of information and educational outlets including The Polymer Arts magazine. His work can be found on Facebook and on Flickr.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Pick a set of colors and then pick forms that seem quite disparate from the color palette you picked. Light and bright colors combined with severely geometric shapes or dark, rich colors with light hearted squiggles. What does the contrast in shape do to the mood of the colors and vice versa? What can you add in terms of texture, line, or motifs that will further illustrate the mood you see within that juxtaposition of disparate elements?


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Progress & Possibilities 2012

We interrupt this week’s Outside Influence installment with an important announcement … If you have not already seen the announcement, the IPCA opened registration for entry into the Progress and Possibilities juried online exhibition. It’s one of the biggest events of its kind in our community so well worth looking into. There are categories for every level of polymer artists too.

If you are unfamiliar with this annual event, you can check out last year’s exhibition art here: Below is the winning piece for the professional category in sculpting. Fox and Grapes is a piece by Doreen Kassel (an artist who was also featured in The Polymer Art’s Fall 2012 Mentor Artist’s Gallery)


Here is the official announcement information:

“Progress & Possibilities 2012,” an online juried exhibition of polymer clay art is open to IPCA members only. The purpose of Progress & Possibilities is to encourage and acknowledge promise, innovation, and individuality in the work of individual polymer clay artists, at all stages of professional development, and to advance public awareness of and appreciation for the fine craft of polymer clay. This official online exhibition of the International Polymer Clay Association will showcase the finest work completed this year by our members throughout the world.

Go to the IPCA’s website for more info and get your work ready!

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