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.
The 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.
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.
Today I would like to ask for your input. I want to talk about creating an unique artistic voice and I think the best way to define it is to have you, the readers, break it down together. Are you up for it?
The primary question is, what does it mean to have an artistic voice? I think the answer is in understanding what sets the well defined and easily recognized style of one artist apart from all others? Sometimes it’s the choice of form or imagery, maybe even a standard set of colors. But what if that artist does a wide range of things. Is their particular voice going to stand out if they jump from one thing to another. I think, if they are following their true selves, that voice inside that directs the inquiry and steers the fascination that motivates the artist to create can be apparent in a wide variety of work from the same person.
Take a look at the piece below. Even if you have never seen this type of work from this artist, you may be able to guess who this is. I did pick a fairly easy person to recognize.
Did you guess? You can click on the image to take you to the artist’s website if you like. But we’re going to chat a bit more about this before answering. So … this piece is not one of the more popular, widely seen pieces from this artist and is not one of her more well-known styles (perhaps … it’s hard to say that any of the phases or styles of this artist aren’t fairly well-known) but how quickly did you come to recognize the artist? I’m guessing for most of you it took almost no time. And why is that? Why, when this artist is known primarily for her translucent techniques, her imagery, her purses, do we still recognize a vegetable sculpture by her so readily?
Some of the reasons are pretty simple but they do matter … like the fact that she’s widely shown. But what else? What is is about her work, no matter what form, technique or imagery she uses, that allows us to recognize her? Are there other artists that come to mind that you know you’ll recognize right away? Why?
I would love to have as many of you chime in as possible. If you are getting this via the email delivery, you can click on the title of the post in the email to go to the blog and comment at the bottom of the post. If you need, you can reply with an email and I can post it for you. But do get in on the conversation if you have anything to add. I can have my say about why I think Kathleen Dustin here is so readily recognizable but its just my view. We are a large community with many, many different views. Let’s hear what you think.
In a recent conversation with a couple rather big names in our community, I was asked why the community’s major blogs don’t feature the masters very often. It gave me pause. The thing is, I think we do … but part of it may be that there can be a difference in opinion as to what constitutes a master. But really what it comes down to is why we do these blogs. I know my reason is to bring inspiring ideas to you, things that will get you running into the studio or thinking about how to challenge yourself or tips that might help resolve a design issue. This requires a lot of new work and new ideas. The people we might call masters have perfected a set of techniques and/or approaches to design that most of us have become familiar with, so there is a question as to whether a reader will be very enthused by a post on something they’ve seen before. But what this question did make me consider is what we can get out of revisiting the masters.
We can become so familiar with some things that we just can’t see what there is to learn from it any more. The first time I saw Jeffrey Lloyd Dever’s work was years ago in Art Jewelry magazine. I was floored by his technique and finish (still am actually!) and tried out the tutorial in those pages. I wasn’t very successful but I did learn quite a few things along the way about back-filling and finishing. The thing is, if I worked through that same tutorial now, I would learn something different. What I was able to glean from my exploration of his work then, is not what I would glean from it now. Jeff was at Synergy and had a gallery table of his work so I was able to see his pieces close up. This time it was the color choices that I pondered. That didn’t even cross my mind years ago when I was so focused on technique.
You can see by the detail of his Racine Art Museum installation why his colors might be just a tad intriguing. But is that what intrigues you? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on where you are in your art and even where your thoughts are on this day.
The point is, we should keep revisiting the masters, even the same pieces. The best work does not have just one thing to teach us or for us to take away. Really wonderful art will have many facets that will hit us differently at various points in our lives. So, I’ve been thinking … I should make a point here and there of revisiting even the most familiar work on this blog, give us a chance to get reacquainted with it and find what is new and exciting for us because of where we are as a community today. I’d love to hear that many of you are or will do the same. If you have any great discoveries in doing this, do let me know. We can share it here.
By the way, I pulled this image of Jeff’s work from the Polymer Art Archive which is also a treasure of a source for work from our past as well as our present. It is well worth reading and visiting on a regular basis.
If you have the first issue of The Polymer Arts, you may have read the back page Muse’s Corner piece written by Marjon Donker and Saskia Veltenaar, the editors of From Polymer to Art. It told the story of how we e-meet and why we decided to work together, not compete, even though we were all producing polymer clay magazines.
The thing is, I would not have started The Polymer Arts magazine if Marjon and Saskia were producing the same type of magazine I wanted to produce. Nor would I have done so if our other industry magazine, Polymer Cafe was covering the material I wanted to cover. So, when it came down to it, we weren’t at all competing, rather we were complementing each other. The ways things are now, hobbyists and those who just want to play with polymer have Polymer Cafe to look to for basics and fun projects while the more experienced clayer who wants to branch out can look to From Polymer to Art for more advanced projects and articles on issues that interest the polymer fan. For those who look at what they do or aspire to as serious art or are looking to make their craft into an income producing business, they have The Polymer Arts to push and challenge them, make them think, and help them build a better art business. As one of the attendees said during the magazine editor’s panel, we’re now covering the full range for polymer clayers.
Do we have different philosophies on publishing for this community? Yes, we certainly do but we all have the similar goal of spreading the wonder and improving the work of polymer artists, regardless of their level of work. We all four talked over the week in Atlanta for this reason. All the editors even came to my Writing for Polymer in Print workshop (get the guidelines from this workshop on The Polymer Arts website)which was fabulous as the attendees got to hear from us all once again. That’s exactly how it should be.
The thing is, my magazine really NEEDS these other magazines. Someone new to the material might be overwhelmed by The Polymer Arts (unless they are really gung-ho and determined, are coming from another art medium, or they got the polymer bug bad from the start!) So yes, if you’re new, you may want to start with one of the other magazines and if you find yourself getting serious and want to push yourself and your art, we’ll be here. Or just give in and get them all. I do! You just can’t have too much polymer information, can you?
If you are interested in writing for a polymer publication, please do consider sending us ideas. Any of the editors here would love to see your ideas. Just help us out and send it to us one at a time. If what you have doesn’t fit my magazine, for example, I’ll pass it on to one of the other gals. The more we share as a community, the better it will be for clayers everywhere.
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.