Polymer Clay Recycles

With the big move toward eco-friendly products, polymer clay artists are once again apologizing for their plastic material. Let’s not be too quick to abandon our craft. Polymer clay is nothing if not adaptable…and we must be too.

We’re experts at recycling! We cover and reclaim tins and glassware. We combine polymer with fibers and found materials. We alter and reuse books.

I’ll be searching out artists who move with, rather than against, the tide of public sentiment and ecological sensitivities.

These recent assemblages from California’s Dotty McMillan illustrate the point. (I love the titles, "Too Much Time on Her Hands" and "Life Has You Nailed Down.") Here’s a recent interview with Dotty.

  • reply Melanie West ,

    Oh Cynthia! Thanks so much for showcasing this approach to pc. I’ve been worrying about just this same topic for a while. I try to walk my talk, but I’m soooo addicted to polymer clay and I’m having a hard time rationalizing it’s use. I’m very interested in seeing what you come up with.

    Thanks again!

    • reply Polka Dot Creations » Blog Archive » Natural Crafting and the Plastic Addiction ,

      […] [Edited 11/14/07 to add: This topic just came up today on Polymer Clay Daily.  Have a look.] […]

      • reply Kathi ,

        Dotty’s stuff is amazing in person. The way she incorporates “trash” into her art works is amazing. Not to mention she is a wonderful person.

        • reply Nancy Ulrich ,

          Dotty is also a great teacher. She’s very reassuring to newbies and experienced clayers alike. Dotty’s been working with clay for a long time and has tried almost every technique at least once. That experience comes out in her classes. She KNOWS what will work best and has a terrific eye for unusual combinations (like her new mixed media stuff – love it, love it).

          • reply Polymer Clay Notes » polymer clay: making history ,

            […] Other polymer clay treasures exhibiting at the CATC fundraiser this year are Laura Balombini (her new pieces speak to me – more of the assemblage work that Cynthia was talking about today) and Elise Winters (and yes, Lindly is right, just wait until you see what Elise has in store for us – I have no doubt that it will catapult the medium to a higher level). […]

            • reply River ,

              I too have been bugged by the envioronmental problems using polymer clay presents.
              plastic permanently in landfills and the use of petroleum to manufacture plastic. Like Melanie I try to rationalize my use, but the worry is always present in my mind.


              • reply Betsy ,

                Lets not feel guilty about using polymer clay. There are a lot of things we can do to help our environment before giving up this wonderful medium. Have you switched to compact flourescent lightbulbs? Do you wash in cold water? Do you switch off your electronics instead of leaving them on standby mode? Do you compost? Do you walk or bike whenever you can – or make do without a car like I do? Do you use canvas shopping bags? Do you drink tap water instead of buying plastic water bottles? The list goes on and on. There are hundreds of things we can do for our planet before we give up artistic expression. Because art is important, too.

                • reply sari0009 ,

                  In addition to incorporating supposed junk into polymer clay items, wouldn’t it be great if all polymer clay were manufactured from recycled plastic (and hopefully we will learn to safely process plastic waste well before the 500 or so years it takes for it to break down)?

                  Thought of that when I wrote my Oct. 28 [‘07] blog entry on reusable grocery bags (plastic grocery bags are one of the biggest offenders).

                  • reply debra aka goober ,

                    I will never give up this beautiful medium !! I do all I can to be earth friendly but I am totaly addicted to polymer , All I want to do is craft , a life with out clay is not a life at all !
                    Good- Day All !

                    • reply Lisa Braun ,

                      My name is Lisa Braun and I too am a guilt-ridden polymer clay lover!

                      I picked up my first 2 oz of polymer clay in February 2011 and instantly fell in love! Being a tree-hugging type gal, always preferring natural things – whether wearing it or displaying it in my home, even ornaments on my Christmas tree – I have always preferred wood, ceramic, glass… but since I fell in love with PC, I am working very hard on overcoming my disdain for plastic.

                      I am getting there- rationalizing the fact that beautiful natural looking water color paintings, earthy looking ceramics and eco friendly looking painted wood creations all are likely to have chemical and/or synthetic compounds – right????

                      I am doing my first 2 craft shows in September and working on a brochure for new polymer clay jewelry business – I am so conflicted about explaining what PC is- I am having such an issue typing the words – PVC and plastic… Ughhhh- I need to just get over it, right?!

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