Washington, the heart of “Clay Nation”

Maggie Maggio has renewed her blogging vows and started the year with a post on “white” which includes a terrific link to Minnesota architect/designer Martha McQuade’s Uniform Studio and her polymer clay experiments (here’s her Flickr link). You may want to savor that site this weekend.

The simple, minimalist designs feel so right. And speaking of simple designs, please revisit the work of Washington’s Ellen George. I have a completely visceral response to her work.

“Baby Doll” is a series of hand-formed polymer clay objects that look slightly naughty, almost edible…like lost belly buttons.

There’s a good article in the Portland Tribune about George, Maggio, Dittmar, Toops and other Washington artists who are part of the “Clay Nation.” Think of yourself as a citizen of that nation.

Five 2007 Favorites


These five polymer clay artists and/or their techniques piqued my interest and stood out in 2007. You may agree…or not. If I missed your absolute favorite, let me know.

Carol Simmons – Simmons’ kaleidoscope system is the most logical and elegant mathematical system since the Skinner blend. Can’t wait for her to introduce it. Carol uses Kaleider software to test her color combinations.

Elizabeth Bonura – This had to take the cake, didn’t it? I love that Etsy friends chimed in to help her capture the bride’s likeness.

Camille Young – Her use of Lumina air dry polymer clay pushes us to think in other directions. Check out her new barbed wire.

Sharon MacLeod – You have to see her work to appreciate its detail. I can’t figure out how she wraps such fine patterns so perfectly on memory wire.

Meredith Dittmar – She’s prolific, she’s hot. Meredith’s art has been on cell phones, billboards, books, and in the coolest Portland galleries. This girl is talented and knows how to market. Last week my tivo found her on “Crafters Coast to Coast” – that frenetic program that I usually avoid. I wanted to yell, “Stop moving the camera,” so that I could see more of her work.

Banner Year for New Sites

2007 was a banner year for polymer clay artists unveiling new web sites. Familiar names like Hyde, McCaw, Stokes, and Bolgar threw their hats in the digital ring while others like Haunani and Dustin became bloggers. Of course there were thousands of newbies (more on them soon) who joined the chorus as well…a fabulous trend from my point of view.

Have you looked at the posts on the new Polymer Art Archive? Historical information (like these pictures of early Pier Voulkas beads) is certainly something we have needed to document and explain to artists new to the craft.


Several trends emerge as I study last year’s posts. The first is the explosion of Etsy where you’ll find 982 pages of polymer clay works offered for sale today. Interesting pieces, like those of Pennsylvania’s LaBeana (Lauren Cole) pictured here, jump out as fresh and new from this vast reservoir of talent.

Three other 2007 events seem especially significant – the new NPCG web site which reveals a newly invigorated group, the Craft/MakerFaire movement (and Leslie Blackford’s polymer clay entré into that group), the revitalization of the American Craft Council (and the magazine).

There’s also the phenomenal growth of art blogging. That’s for later this week.

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