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.


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Synergy Recap in Pictures

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Marie Segal necklace and pin Synergy 4 081617 338x450 - Synergy Recap in Pictures

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 www.thepolymerarts.com.

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.



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Creatures from the Deep

AHumpert deep-sea-creatures-10As artists, we think of our imagination as a major muscle, if not the primary one used when we’re creating. But how much do you stretch that muscle?

In craft art, because we also have to create steps, a process, and consider function and durability, our minds spend a lot of time in the purely logical, problems solving sections of our brain. Not that the imagination and problem solving are not connected; they absolutely are. But pure imagination is something we don’t always practice. So, here is a little something to push you to do so.

These fun bracelets are the work of the ever creative Anke Humpert. Using translucent clay in a unique design and decorating it with sea creatures she made up is just the start here.

As she explained to me, “The bracelets have a design that glows in black light! That is why they are called deep-sea creature bracelets. You would not normally notice the night side of them, only if you go to a night club or something similar. They also have a special hinge. Most of it is made with polymer only very little metal involved.”

These bracelets, as it turns out, are the centerpiece for one of the three classes she will be teaching at the Cabin Fever Clay Arts Fest next month. In describing the class for prospective students, she says, “Since we do not know much about the deep seas, we will have fun and let our imagination run wild creating plants (or even animals?) as we imagine them.” And that freedom and use of the imagination is what inspired me to share this today and create a bit of a different challenge for those following along.

By the way, I do have a Flickr page for sharing the results of the challenges I’ve been posting, only I haven’t had time to snap pics of what I’ve done, so there’s nothing on it yet really. But if any of you want to get on while I catch up over here, I would love to see what you’ve been up to. Go here to join in!

Does Anke’s class intrigue you? She is also teaching her Big Beads and fun hand tool texturing techniques. She’s joined by a slew of amazing talent including Lisa Pavelka, Maureen Carlson, Dayle Doroshow, Lindly Haunani, Doreen Kassel, Jana Lehmann, Ann and Karen Mitchell, Nan Roche, Lynne Anne Schwarzenberg, and more. There is still room in almost every class, so, if you are interested, jump in while you have your pick of classes still. You can find the classes on this PDF and registration on their webpage.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Let your imagination run wild and recreate an image, motif, shape, or a faux effect you might otherwise recreate as it is seen in nature or as we expect it to be, making your own version. A rose with black petals, a plaid cat, turquoise in pink, purple leather, a square pendant with a chunk missing in the corner, or a peace symbol with Mickey Mouse ears. Just change it up and make it your own.


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The First Polymer Pioneer?

Sigrid-Smolka-coverOn the last page of the Winter 2015 issue, we have a very, very special Muse’s Corner article. It was brought to us by Anke Humpert, who had the good fortune to connect with a polymer artist who may very well be the first published polymer pioneer, unknown to most all of us. The reason we may not recognize the cover of this book, or the author, is probably that it was written in German. Which makes sense since that is where polymer clay was invented and first produced commercially. But how have so few of us even known of dear Sigrid Smolka?

Here is the thing that so shocked Anke (and, later, myself) when she first found out. This book was published years before Nan Roche’s seminal book The New Clay. Now, we aren’t talking 3 years, or 5, or even 10. This book was published 17 years before, not too long after the clay actually hit the market. Isn’t that amazing?

All on her own, Sigrid developed techniques and processes that we will all find familiar and common today. I guess that really shouldn’t be a surprise. The clay can leads us to obvious conclusions even now. But it was just so early on and she did this all on her own and so hidden from the rest of us. But not anymore.

You can read Anke’s whole story about Sigrid Solka in the Winter issue. Get your copy ordered, if you haven’t already, so you can read this and all the other wonderful contributions your fellow polymer artists shared with you in this issue.


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Polymer Pioneers

One of the truly exciting things about going to an event like Synergy is getting the chance to meet the people who you admire and aspire to be. Although you may have the opportunity to meet a great polymer artist by taking a class, there is nothing like a lengthy event like this, a retreat, or a workshop to give you the opportunity to chat and hear their stories.

At Synergy, we had the opportunity to not only talk to a large number of highly talented and innovative artists, but we were also treated to their presentations and panels. One of my personal highlights was the closing banquet’s presentation with three of the most influential polymer pioneers – Nan Roche, Kathleen Dustin and Lindly Haunani. They told stories of the good old days, how they started in polymer, and how they started organizing polymer artists and the hurdles they encountered in the early days. A lot of funny personal notes and anecdotes were included as well. It was just great fun to hear of our polymer beginnings from these very important artists who were there.


I have my own personal anecdote about Nan Roche from this past week. For those of you who might not know, Nan wrote the first book on polymer clay, The New Claypublished back in 1992. That book precipitated the advent of polymer being considered a true art medium, and really pushed the public awareness of it. And today, it is still considered one of the best books on polymer for beginners. So this genius of woman comes up to me the first day of Synergy, all bubbly and kind of bouncing and says, “Oh, I just love your magazine!” I was floored and started babbling back about how much I admire her and what she has done for the polymer communtiy. I knew she subscribed (she gets both the print and digital versions of The Polymer Arts) but I thought it was just a matter of keeping track of the industry. As it turns out, Nan had to back away from doing polymer for a number of years, so she actually considers herself far less talented than many of the folks she is often grouped with, and finds The Polymer Arts inspiring. Whoa. I get some really touching compliments but a comment from someone like her … its hard to explain how much that meant to me.

As you take a closer look at the picture here, note all the pretties down in front of the presenter’s table. Those are the pieces that were auctioned off at the banquet–they include vintage pieces by Marie Segal, Jeffery Lloyd Dever and Lindly Haunani. Most of the larger events run by guilds have such auctions, giving the attendees a chance to buy some really wonderful work while supporting the organization – just another reason to make it to a retreat or other big polymer event. Check your local guild to see what they have going on and keep track of others through the IPCA newsletter, or by checking The Polymer Arts Resource list.


Thankful for You

Today in the USA we observe Thanksgiving Day, a day most notably associated with turkey, pumpkin pie, and generally eating way, way too much. I’m not sure why we celebrate a day that is suppose to be one of contemplation for all we have to be thankful for by putting ourselves into a food coma. Maybe the food coma is a way of slowing us down so we have time to think and be thankful. Or we’re just being typical crazy Americans.

In any case, this is my opportunity to stop and say thank you to all the readers throughout the world and artists in the polymer community that have helped to make my life so full and so inspired. I am grateful for each and every email, note card and online post that encourages and comments on my efforts with the magazine and this blog. Not only couldn’t I do this without the support of all of you but, in truth, it really has become a set of projects about and by you. And I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to be facilitating the exchange of knowledge and beauty in this community. Thank you all for keeping this going.

Of course, polymer would not be what it is today without the immense contribution of the pioneers of our medium. We should all be immensely grateful for their efforts to spread the word and share emerging techniques. One of the first and most inspiring of the pioneers was and is Nan Roche. Her groundbreaking book The New Clay was the seed that got the obesession going for many of us. And we are so lucky that she is still out and about teaching and sharing.

This next year at Cabin Fever Clay Festival, Nan Roche will be present, teaching her loop-in-loop chaining using extruded clay “wire” used to make pieces like the one below.


If interested in this class and the CFCF event, here is the link to more information about the plethora of artists and classes at the 2013 event being held Feb 15-20 in Laurel, MD. www.polymerclayfests.wordpress.com

In the meantime, don’t overstuff yourselves if off to Thanksgiving dinner but do have a beautiful and loving day with family and friends.  Feel free to share this with your friends, polymer or not.

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