Friday, February 26, 2010

History at Synergy2

Synergy 2,  the 2010 conference for the International Polymer Clay Association, is being held at the Tremont Grand in Baltimore. This Building was the site of an early Masonic Lodge and is loaded with history and very fancy decor.

on the first night of Synergy2, the old and the new collided for me. As a big fan of Ace of Cakes, a Food Network weekly series about Baltimore -based Charm CIty Cakes, I was thrilled to discover that the Synergy Committee had contracted for a Duff "special " cake.

This cake depicts several polymer clay techniques, including flower canes, beadmaking  and mosaics - and was very yummy (except for the gum paste jewels around the base of the cake, which looked scrumptious, but had the consistency of unflavored, very poofy marshmallows).

After the cake tasting, I visted the ladies room and came face to face with a story related to my home town, Jamestown NY, and the company where my grandmother Haupin spent most of her work life- and where my mother was a Rosie the Riveter during WWII. the plaque and signatures hidden in an alcove explain it all.

Maryland madness

So, I've been in Maryland for almost a week, staying with family and attending Cabin Fever Clay fest. This was my second time attending this whirlwind polymer clay event. It is hard to say which of the 7 classes I attended that I enjoyed the most.

What was great about this year was that there were more "multi-media" offereings, and I really didn't have the self imposed pressure of  completing projects in each class (good thing because I was up late -for me- almost every night watching the Olympics  )
so, in Dayle Doroshow's class I did complete 10 different folded paper books (and polymer covers for 4 of them)

 in Laurie Mika's class
 I completed some  very thick mosaic ATC's.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Traveling Studio

While there are many joys that come from working in both polymer and metal clay, one of the big frustrations that I have is the packing and repacking or tools, supplies and materials when switching gears from one medium to another in a class setting. Yes, many tools I use in polymer clay I also use in metal clay, but there are some I don't. I have a series of transportation options for my studio on wheels. The biggest and definitely the heaviest is a very heavy duty 3 part metal tool cart that I use primarily to cart polymer goodies off to retreats. Then I have 4 heavy cloth rolling bags- two designed for scrapbooking, one a big hand tool bag from harbor freight, and a rolling carryon Samsonite bag. Then there are the big blue, insulated, zip top trader Joe's bags that catch the overflow when travelling. finally, if I'm teaching and have to drag along a kiln and/or a toaster oven, I have a rolling flat cart. Right now, all my studio supplies are in disarray- spread out over my studio, the basement and what used to be (and hopefully will be again) my dining room. As my brother , Bill, so sweetly put it, I can't die before he does, because he doesn't want to have to deal with "the mess".

Two weeks ago I was finishing up an intensive metal clay class series in Nashua. Because I'm a firm believer in bring something you may or may not need, it's safe to say that I packed everything but the kitchen sink from my tool and supplies area that could be used for metal clay, including many of my polymer tools. This took the two larger rolling bags and two of the insulated trader joe's bags. I finished the class and headed back to life in the "real world", sliding all the transport gear into the studio.

Next week, I'm heading off  to CFCF2010 for 4 days on intensive polymer clay classes, so now it's time to regroup, sort out the tools and such and go over the supply list for each of the 7 classes I'll be taking. I'm excited about these classes, because they're with artists whose work I've always admired, but with two exceptions, I've never met.

I've got a full day class with my old friend Jana Roberts Benzon. It's always a treat to get together with her - a wonderful teacher with a great sense of humor and an amazing talent. She'll be debuting her "laser cut technique”. This three dimensional intricate design reminds me of aerial views of a city - and it will be a great way to use up those bits of cane I have stored in ammunition cases (we polymer people are very good at repurposing all sorts of things - let us loose in a hardware or sporting goods store and we can come up with any number of repurposed texture tools)

I'm doing a faux raku bracelet class with Tony Aquino, with whom I had the pleasure of studying last year. Tony is the chemist for Kato clay, and a talented artist and teacher. Ask him how to incorporate something non-polymer into your process and he'll come up with a creative solution

and then there are the new folks - well, new for me- Laurie Mika is doing a mosaic ATC class (spent lots of dollars on multimedia goodies at Absolutely Everything in Topsfield, MA getting ready for this class and Dayle's); Laurie is also presenting at the International Polymer Clay Association (IPCA) conference and devised the magnificent Synergy Collaborative Tile Project. Laurie's also doing one of the development sessions at Synergy

Dayle Doroshow is teaching a bookmaking class, using folded papers and polymer covers at CFCF2010 and she's also presenting at the IPCA's Synergy 2 conference- on creative spark and how to nurture it.

After watching Louise Fischer- Cozzi's "Sophie Necklace" dvd and marveling at her talent, I'm looking forward to taking a class with her in person - this bangles class incorporates polymer clay laminates and fine finishing techniques. Louise will also be presenting at Synergy - thoughts on wholesaling

Grant Diffendaffer is one of the more "interesting" polymer artist today. At a recent show at the Fuller Crafts Museum , his contribution to the exhibit was polymer clay ray guns! He also uses heavy duty tools in creating some of his bead - his recent book walked us through creating polymer beads with a mini wood lathe. The CFCF class I'm talking with him is making recursive beads - a lot of techniques involved here too.

and last, but not least, is a mobile stackable sculpture with Maureen Carlson. Maureen makes absolutely lovely dolls and many of us use the push molds she's designed for faces in our work. This class uses many techniques and materials to help us express an emotion or feeling - I love the lady with the bird on her head in Maureen's exemplar for the class. And I've always envied the wonderful teaching facility Maureen has up in Jordan , MN

So, as you can see, there's a ton of supplies and tools to organize - and lots of clay to pre-condition so I can get the most out of the classes. and hopefully in the process I can get my studio re-organized so when I get back from these classes I can get to work creating!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


for the past two weekends, I've been driving up to Nashua to take a level 2 certification class in Art Clay Silver at Carol Babineau's studio. For those of you unfamiliar with ACS's cert programs, they're fairly intense- several projects to be completed on site in a limited amount of time.
The cert programs have just been re-written and with a couple of the old projects eliminated (the brass wire and silver pendant and the gauze over clay bead-two of my favorites)  and several of the remaining  projects changed .
So I've been busily crafting, refining and firing away. Today marked the completion of my in-class projects and now I can begin obsessing about what to make for my 3 "submit to be juried" pieces - a ring, a brooch and a pendant , all meeting specific fabrication guidelines.
I do know that the pendant will definitely NOT have a stone as large as the one I created for my in-class project. It was a great learning experience on a couple of levels- setting a stone with corner, and setting a REALLY big stone.  Another challenge has been trying to get the perfect photograph of all the pieces together. aside for a bit of focus issue in the right corner of the really big pendant, this is the best I've been able to do.
of course part of the problem is using a flash with all that shiney silver.
the Dragonfly Inro has different dragonfly scenes on each side - one with bent grasses, the other with cattails, and int underside of the inro cover is adorned with 2 baby dragonflies. Grasses and reeds embellish the sides of the box, too.

so now I'm cruising my favorite supplier sites, trying to find just the perfect stone for the pendant I've designed - either moonstone or a light blue stone would probably be perfect in a 10mm round. The pin gave me the most fits, but I've finally come up with a design I like - can you pick it out of this group of some of the sketches I did for early designs?