You Make My Day

Within the last month, I was honored to be mentioned on 2 of my favorite blogs, Simple Studio Journal and Polka Dot Creations.  So, inspired by these 2 wonderful ladies, I present to you my “You Make My Day” list.

Lynn at Simple Studio Journal writes about so many things that interest me: tea, journal writing, walking in nature, experimenting and playing with various art medium.  We have so much in common that I feel like I’m having a chat with a long-time friend whenever I visit her blog. Lately, she has been experimenting with wire wrapping and creating the most gorgeous pendants.

On her blog, Lisa Clarke at Polka Dot Creations shares her life as a businesswoman, artist and mother of 2 small boys. The joys, the challenges, the delicious recipes, the beautiful art are all a delight to see and read about.  I especially enjoy Lisa’s color challenges and seeing how she creates a color palette in polymer clay from inspiring photos.  I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa at the Synergy conference.

One of my fellow Bead Journal Project members, Morwyn over at AnotherCountry Beadworks, creates the most fabulous beaded pieces and shares her creative process, most recently with a video. Her writing about the symbolism in her journal pages resonates deeply with me.

Susan Lomuto’s Polymer Clay Notes has been inspiring me (and many others!) ever since I found her blog a little over a year ago.  She devotes an amazing amount of time and energy in sharing and writing about the most awe-inspiring artists and photos. Most recently, she has been sharing her own beautiful creations.  I hope she continues to do that!  I had the pleasure of meeting Susan when I took Dayle Doroshow’s workshop last April and, most recently, at the Synergy conference.

I recently took a class at Joggles called Mixed Media portraits by Alma Stoller. A thoughtful and inspiring teacher, she encourages her students to use materials found at home to create the most beautiful mixed media creations. A visit to her blog is a colorful delight!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have deeply loved color so when I discovered polymer clay and the ability to mix colors with it, I had such an epiphany. One of my color heroes is Lindly Haunani who I had the pleasure to meet and take a class with at Synergy. Lindly has such a deep connection with color and shares her delight with the subject on her blog. I hope to take a color workshop with Lindly someday.

My webmaster, Dave at Clear Path Studios, has been such an inspiration to me in so many ways. In creating a website for me, he carefully explored with me what I wanted to say and do with my site. He blends the artistic with the technical in a wonderfully magical way.

Judy Dunn at Artrepreneur generously shares her experiences and knowledge as a working polymer clay artist. Filled with interesting stories and tips, Judy’s posts resonate with her enthusiasm and wisdom. Her Flickr photo albums are filled with her gorgeous polymer clay artwork.  Most recently, she has created a video about how to make a polymer clay origami crane, one of her signature pieces.  I had the pleasure of having a nice chat with Judy over lunch at the Synergy conference.

One of my fellow RIPCG members, Dora, creates the most amazingly intricate and beautiful polymer clay canework.  She recently posted some of her artwork in her Flickr album.

Last but certainly not least, my Rhode Island Polymer Clay Guild, has been an integral part of my life for the last  6 1/2 years. We get together on the 4th Saturday of the month and share stories, laughs, good food and, oh yes, making stuff with polymer clay. They are like my family and I’m so blessed to have them all in my life.

Thanks to all of you for your inspiration!

ACC Show and Synergy Wrapup

There were over 700 artist vendors participating in the ACC Show at the Baltimore Convention Center a couple of weeks ago. Since we were a little pressed for time because we were meeting friends for dinner, we walked the show in an hour and fifteen minutes. There were so many beautiful art pieces that caught my eye but I could only stop and savor a few.

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Carol Owen creates “Spirit Houses” from all sorts of ephemera and mixed media. “My Spirit Houses are shrines to family memories. They make sacred those shards of the past that have made us what we are.” I found myself so drawn to these little shrines, wanting to open the doors and peer inside. In our dreams, the house can be a symbol for ourselves and each room a different aspect of who we are. So, I think I loved her work so much because it reminded me of my dreams. I love this quote from her website:

“Every spirit builds itself a house, and beyond its house, a world, and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then that a world exists for you.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Karen Smith creates jewelry combining fiber, stones and metal. I found myself very drawn to her work because it reminded me of ancient tribal pieces. It spoke to something very deep within as I gazed upon the rich weavings encasing gorgeous stones. I was so disappointed to see that she doesn’t have a website or a blog because I wanted to read more about her work. I am so intrigued by the idea of incorporating fiber into jewelry pieces.

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Kimberly Willcox makes the most amazing sculptures, as described on her business postcard “A Contemporary Spin on Primitive Form”. She shares with us: “My goal is to create a unique art form that shares a seamless integration between the world and the human spirit.”

I think that she accomplishes her goal quite wonderfully. Her sculptures seems to incorporate all sorts of materials including but not limited to wood and metal. I wonder what she uses to sculpt her faces.

To see the work of more ACC artists, you can read my friend, Amy’s, account here.

So, that concludes my account of all of my experiences at the 2008 Synergy Conference.

A huge thank you to all of the fabulous artists who worked so hard to make this event come true!

My Synergy Purchases

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I totally love these earrings! I purchased them at the Synergy Gallery where over 80 amazing polymer clay artists displayed and sold their creations. My gift to myself. They were created by Sarah Shriver with her fabulous kaleidoscope cane technique. The cane design is so organic, like ferny tendrils. As I was taking the photos of my Synergy purchases, I noticed an interesting color theme going on.

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These Stewart Gill paints match the earrings. I purchased the earrings first so I must have had those great colors in my mind when I picked out these paints. And this Amaco Fun Wire.

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I can’t wait to play!

The Synergy Panel Discussions

I really enjoyed all of the panel discussions. Even though the topic of each discussion was different and pertained to the theme of the day, all seemed to lead to a core discussion of the artistic voice. This was the common thread woven through the fabric of the conference – the discovery, the expression and the cultivation of your unique voice in your art.

Day One brought “Hallmarks of Craftsmanship” with Jeff Dever, Rachel Carren, Sarah Shriver, Alison Lee and Donna Kato on the panel. What constitutes fine craftsmanship? Most agreed that besides being finished well, a piece needs to say something. I have been doing a lot of thinking about exactly what this means. I do agree that there needs to be a connection between the artist and the piece they create. That is what infuses a piece with spirit and interest. But does there necessarily need to be a connection between that piece and every viewer? Not necessarily so because everyone has different perceptions and tastes and a piece might not attract all viewers. I think that the most important part is what the artist thinks and how they feel about their piece. Then there was an interesting discussion about how making a living with your art can affect what you produce. The responsibilities of paying the bills might not afford an artist the time and energy to get deeper with their pieces. They also have to take into consideration what will sell in their designated market. I know that the responsibilities of my day job definitely affect the amount of time I can spend playing, exploring and experimenting.

Day Two’s discussion, “Inspiration, Originality, and Infringement” was again moderated by Jeff Dever. Joining him on the panel were Elise Winter, Thomas Mann and Dan Cormier. While Jeff’s work is clearly inspired by the beautiful forms in nature, the other 3 panel members talked about how their work has been inspired more by sitting down and working with the material. “Getting your butt in the chair” as Alison Lee says. There was also some discussion about teaching a technique you’ve developed and how once you teach it, you no longer own it. Some artists choose not to teach or stop using a certain technique once they have taught it in a class or workshop. Everyone agreed that carrying a sketchbook/journal was essential to the documenting and development of ideas as they come to you. I love journaling and sketching in my notebook and feel it really helps my creative flow.

Day Three brought Tim McCreight to present “Design Decisions: Good, Better, Best” What a lot of fun that was! We all got a little clear ziplock packet filled with geometric shapes of different colors. Tim had larger versions of these shapes and he carefully arranged a design on a magnetic board. He then invited Donna Kato and Seth Savarick up to change the design. What a great idea to jumpstart the design process and, more importantly to me, just play. I love to play.

Tomorrow is the return of my Saturday Morning Tea but I will continue my Synergy thoughts on Sunday…

More on my Synergy Experience

I love photography and taking photos. I used to drive my kids crazy with having my camera at the ready for every little wonderful moment of their lives. Of course, now that they’re adults, they enjoy looking through the bulging photo albums at their younger selves. So, very surprisingly, I didn’t take any pictures at Synergy except for the photo of the sunrise on the first morning. That’s how very absorbed I was in the whole experience. My camera sat in my backpack the whole time.

I was delighted and honored today to see my blog mentioned on Cynthia Tinapple’s fabulous Polymer Clay Daily. Cynthia was the keynote speaker at the Gala banquet last Saturday night. I’m sorry to say that I was so tired that I missed the banquet. I heard it was a lot of fun. So, I was excited to see that Cynthia has generously provided her slide presentation here.

There were 3 guest lecturers, one for each day of the conference. Day One focused on Craftsmanship and Kathleen Dustin presented “The Early Development of Polymer Clay in Bead Making”. I believe that Kathleen mentioned giving this presentation in Istanbul, Turkey when she attended the International Bead and Beadwork Conference there. I first had the pleasure of meeting Kathleen at the Crafts at the Castle show in Boston last December. Her work blew me away and I was so excited to see it finally in person after drooling over photos in many polymer clay books over the years. What stayed with me after meeting her was how very down to earth she is and I just wanted to sit down with her, have a cup of tea and chat. One of the things I found most fascinating about Kathleen’s presentation of the early years in polymer clay was how artists in different states started creating canework jewelry almost simultaneously. I enjoyed listening to how it all started. It seemed the universe was ready for the springtime of our medium and it burst into bloom.

Day Two was about Business and the guest lecturer was none other than our craft tv hero, Carol Duvall. Carol is so sweet and humble that her presentation felt like you were sitting at her kitchen table with her chatting over a piece of coffecake. She shared with us her story of how many years ago on a whim, she went down to the local station for an audition and, as they say, the rest is history. From a 2 minute and 40 second spot talking about crafts before the local news to the host of her own show on HGTV, Carol has inspired us and introduced a lot of us to the medium of polymer clay. She is a lovely lady and I was honored to hear her speak in person.

Day Three was about Design and the guest speaker was Jo Lauria, one of the contributing writers of Craft in America, described as a journey to the artist, origins and techniques of American Craft. I ended up going to the ACC show instead of attending this talk. After sitting for 2 and a half days, I really needed to stretch my legs and move around.

The ACC show was downstairs at the Convention Center, with over 700 artists participating in the largest indoor juried craft show in the nation. I found it to be a sea of colors, textures and forms which left me breathless with wonder. We moved through the aisles, stopping at booths that caught our eye. I found myself attracted the most to whimsical sculpture and, for some unknown reason, lamps. I think I was being drawn to the light. We left the show with glazed eyes and great respect and awe for the amazing artists there.

More tomorrow on the panel discussions…

My Synergy Experience

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The dawn of the first day of the Synergy conference in Baltimore. I stayed at the Tremont Plaza Hotel, located about 1/2 mile from the Baltimore Convention Center where the conference was being held. The room that I shared with my friend, Amy, was quite spacious with a kitchenette, sitting area and 2 big feather beds. We could eat breakfast in our room and it was very comfortable for sleeping. We walked back and forth to the conference center everyday. The brisk walk and crisp winter air helped to wake us up for our first morning class at 8:30am. The 3 days were so jam packed with classes, panel discussions and guest lectures that I am still digesting the volume of information I absorbed and recorded in my notebook.

Jeffrey Lloyd Dever has a 20 year background in graphic design. He shared slides of his amazing work in polymer clay and its progression from vessels to pod shaped jewelry. His art graces the cover of the latest issue of Art Jewelry magazine. The article explains how he creates his pod forms and he also shared this process with us in class. There is also a chapter on his “Sculptural Pod Necklace” in Katherine Duncan Aimone’s book The Art of Jewelry: Polymer Clay.

Robert Dancik is a mixed media artist with a background in teaching at all levels from elementary school through college. A very engaging teacher, he opened both classes I attended with the sounding of a small Tibetan singing bowl. Its soothing sound helped to create a shift in our brains that opened us up more fully to the information he shared with us on artistic technique and process. We learned about Cold Connections such as riveting, tabs and prongs, and nuts and bolts. These techniques are from the metal world but can easily be used in polymer clay creations. My all-time favorite class was entitled “Dance to the MUSEik”, where he discussed various ways to access your artistic voice.

Lindly Haunani is very well known in the polymer clay community as an expert on color. I took 2 classes with Lindly, one on color confidence, which she taught with another queen of color, Maggie Maggio, and one called Teaching 101. She is such an entertaining teacher and as I laughed at her colorful stories and techniques, I felt myself opening to my playful child within. Lindly is very much in touch with that playful child and I would love to take a color workshop with her someday. There is much to learn.

Maggie Maggio is writing a color book with Lindly. Hooray! She has a wonderful blog called Smashing Color. As its name suggests, it is all about color and has shared tutorials about making color scales and practicing with color mixing. Her beautiful jewelry displays her amazing color sense flawlessly.

Sarah Shriver is best known in the polymer clay community for her intricate kaleidoscope canework. Her class was called “A Teacher’s Quandry”, all about the challenges she faces in teaching her exacting technique. This sparked a lively discussion which carried through into some of the panel discussions on finding your own voice in your art. A teacher would like to facilitate the discovery of that voice in each one of her/his students but the quandry results when you are teaching a specific technique and the project causes an imitation to be created. As the question of finding your voice and expressing it in your art has been a journey I have been on within the last few years, I was most fascinated and intrigued by these discussions. What constitutes true art? Does all art have to actually say something? What and who determines this?

Karen Woods is a weaver and fiber artist. In her class, Unconventional Polymer, she shared her explorations of combining polymer clay with basket weaving. She also showed us a slideshow of magnificent work of artists from polymer clay, fiber, glass and paper arts. She is an enthusiastic proponent of letting your work be inspired by many different materials.

Judy Kuskin is a jewelry artist, marrying polymer clay with metal in her beautifully graphic pieces. We explored asymmetrical design elements with her in a slideshow of the work of various polymer clay artists. I learned that one of the key words of asymmetrical design is balance.

More in my next post on the guest speakers and panel discussions…