Greetings! The Christmas season happened and time got away from me! I think my New Year’s resolution will need to be to blog regularly. I am a little late with this, but today’s post is my “Conversation” entry to a wonderful Facebook group I belong to – Polymer Clay Collective. This is a group of polymer clay artists and enthusiasts who share their work, techniques, knowledge, and life with like-minded crazy clayers. It’s my turn to share my story by answering the following group of queries:
Tell us a bit about where you live.
I am from Indiana – the Hoosier state, where we take our basketball seriously. Our little corner of the state is way down in the southwest. Evansville is my home, but I was born and raised even further down in the corner in tiny Mt Vernon, Indiana – one of at least 23 Mt Vernons in the US.
Evansville is a small city of about 120,000 – we are right in the center between Indianapolis IN, Louisville KY, Nashville TN, and St. Louis MO, so while there aren’t a lot of cultural happenings here in our city, the possibilities for weekend trips are endless.
I live at the end of a cul de sac in a suburb-ish neighborhood – it’s quiet and relatively close to most everywhere we need to be (3.4 miles to Hobby Lobby, 3.5 to JoAnns, 3 to Michaels )
What do you do when you’re not polymer claying?
My children are grown and on their own and my step-children are grown and finishing college, so my hubby, Ed, and I are at a time in our lives when we have time to pursue hobbies and hopefully soon, travel. I work as a staff member at a university and love the work, the people, and education, but would love to have more time to pursue claying. I am working towards giving that up and doing so – maybe at the end of this school year! I like to cook and read, and am a serial entrepreneur. I have always been fascinated and heavily involved with computers and have a BS in Intenet Technology. I have also always been a crafter – sewing and cross-stitching, jewelry-making, and now, claying. I am somewhat obsessive – when I find something I love to do, I do it A LOT.
I also am from a huge family and love, love, love spending times with sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and our sons and daughters – no grandkids of our own yet, but we are hopeful!
What did you want to be when you were little and do you think you ever will be?
When I was 7 or 8, I wanted to be an artist. I can’t draw, but LOVE to make things. I have always tended towards making usable things as opposed to pure art- this is the practical, analytical side of me. As I got older and did well in school, my analytical side took over and I went to college to be a computer programmer and, although I always kept making things, my work was mostly technical.
When my first marriage ended in divorce about 10 years ago, I sort of lost all my desire to create. I stopped crafting for 5 or 6 years, during which time, I met and married Ed. Once I discovered jewelry-making and claying a couple years ago, I geared up and am as obsessed as ever. Since I wasn’t craft obsessed when Ed and I first met, I don’t think he knows what hit him.
Tell us something about yourself that we don’t know.
One of my passions a few years ago was marble collecting. Antique marbles – both handmade and machine made are beautiful works of art – colorful and creative. A lot of their value comes from the fact that they were actually made to be children’s toys and to strike against each other on a regular basis – making the ones that survived relatively unblemished highly collectable. At one time, I had thousands and thousands of marbles, many quite valuable. I bought and sold them on ebay and at marble shows and had a lot of marble-collecting friends. As things happen, I ended up selling most of my marbles over some period of time, and now just have a few remnants of that obsession lying around. I still love them though!
Tell us your polymer clay story: What made you first try polymer clay and how long has PC been part of your life?
Three years ago, I decided I might like to try jewelry-making and I asked for supplies for Christmas. Several of my personal Santas obliged and I started learning the techniques and collecting tools and beads. While browsing Etsy, I ran across the most beautiful creations made from polymer clay and decided to give it a try. I was immediately hooked. Having both an artistic/creative side and also being very analytical, I have tended towards not working in the abstract, rather, staying more with things that have a pattern and symmetry. I quickly found that with polymer clay, I can be abstract. I can find beauty with no set pattern. This is amazing and exciting for me! For instance, these are some of my favorite beads, made from the scrapings when I cleaned my extruder!
What’s your favorite PC technique?
I’d say I have 2 favorite techniques – I LOVE using the extruder with my favorite techniques being retro like this:
and making extruded mokume gane where I shave off the outer layer of extruded clay to reveal so much beauty underneath:
My other favorite technique is making faux stones – I’ve made agate,turquoise, gaspeite, lapis lazuli, poppy jasper, among others. I love the way the clay can be manipulated to mimic some of God’s most beautiful creations!
What are your art/design inspirations?
When I read this question, I read it as “aspirations” instead on “inspirations”. On reread, I see that I had that wrong. Here’s my answer to my self-made “aspirations” question:
I’ve read that to be really good at something, you have to spend 10,000 hours at it. I’m working towards my 10,000 hours with clay. (I’ve probably spent that many hours looking at clay creations on Pinterest!!) Although, I’m not keeping track of the hours, I hope to continue to learn and grow with my polymer clay art. I plan to find some workshops to attend where I can learn from the masters at the craft. So far I am all internet-taught. When I read about last year’s Synergy event, I got really excited with the idea of attending in 2014, but alas, it looks like it’s in Malta which, while this would be AMAZING, is not even remotely in the budget.
Because I work at a university, my step-daughter is getting free college tuition right now. At the end of this year, she graduates – which means I get about a $30K/year pay cut. So, unless an opportunity arises at work that I can’t turn down, hubby has pretty much agreed that I can stay home and pursue a career in polymer clay. I love teaching (have taught one beginner class so far), hope to develop some tutorials, work hard to make my blog successful, sell on Etsy and at shows, write articles, etc. I have a Facebook page and will work to build that and also to use my favorite social media, Pinterest, to help build a following. I know that it’s not easy to make a living as an artist, but I am committed to giving it a try.
And my “inspirations”:
From my love of antique marbles, I have a fascination with spheres. Or maybe I have a fascination with marbles because of my love of spheres… I am especially drawn to and love to make round beads and therefore use there liberally in my designs. As I mentioned before, I love Pinterest and can sit and look at PC creations for hours. I find this SO inspiring – to see what all the possibilities are and to open my own mind and imagination to them.
Show us something you’ve made with polymer clay
I also love making extruded filigree beads!
Question from previous poster:
I don’t see where Stamatina left a question for me, so I’ll pose one myself – who is your favorite polymer clay artist?
I am fascinated with Lynda Moseley’s work. I don’t know Lynda, but have seen a lot of her work and tutorials online. From her “Controlled Marbling” technique and the attention to detail that she uses when finishing her pieces (including beautiful backsides), I can often recognize here work when I see it. I aspire to that kind of attention to detail. I find that once I get the front of a piece looking the way I want it, I sometimes call it done, and don’t think about making it professional-looking from all sides. I’m working on that!
BTW, I have not yet purchased any of Lynda’s tutorials, but they are on my list of stuff to buy with my Christmas money – along with an electric Dremel tool!
Additional question for the next artist conversation
Marlene, I would love to know more about your craft shows and how you decide what to make to take – sort of your planning process, if you wouldn’t mind sharing that!
If anybody has read this far, THANK YOU!!! I’ve enjoyed sharing! Be sure to follow me online – there are so many different ways!: