Barbee’s Wearable Works

By the end of last week, you could spot Meisha Barbee’s work on the neck of many Synergy shoppers. She combines simple canes and soothing colors in graphic ways with subtle textures woven in. The modern minimalist design continues through her findings. The harmony and detail in these pieces make them very pleasing to wear.

Since Meisha has no web site (her studio and shop are in the Spanish Village Art Center in San Diego, CA), I’ve assembled a few pictures here. Her brothers are glass artists and they urged her to enter her work in the Niche competition which she and Loretta Lam won earlier this month. Have yourself a winning weekend.

Meisha Barbee

ACC polymer artists

Last week during Synergy I flew past the 700 booths in the Baltimore American Craft Council show with no time to photograph polymer clay work from more familiar artists like Louise Fischer Cozzi, Kathleen Dustin, Mary Filapek, Ford/Forlano, Karyn Kozak, Sue Fleischer, Karin Noyes.

It’s difficult to attend a conference, report and shop at the same time. I tried to stop only at artists you might not otherwise see.

Virginia’s Wiwat Kamolpornwijit and Wisconsin’s Susan Dyer allowed me to photograph a sampling of their work. You may not be familiar with them and Susan has no web site. Ponsawan Sila is a friend of Wiwat’s and assisted him in his booth.

There’s more coverage of the Synergy conference over at the fun blog, Art and Tea.

Gathering Ideas

Even though no one brought polymer clay to work on at Synergy, you could tell that participants were filling their heads with ideas.

These ping pong balls covered with polymer by Gloria Askin made me smile and shifted my brain into high gear. They’re super light.

Robert Dancik showed wire forms covered with pantyhose and made rigid with white glue. Yes, you can cover the pantyhose/wire/glue forms with polymer and bake them. His classes made your head reel with the possibilities.

The glowing neon colors and velvety texture in this necklace by California’s Cheryl Lois Walker made me reconsider using Ultralight clay as a base as she did. She packages her necklaces in a clear plastic box with a matching bead glued on the lid as a handle. Nice presentation.

The microwave clay from Eberhard Faber has me stumped and wondering. Could it be useful? Do I want to use it in my microwave?

Donna Kato has information about the reformulation of Kato Polyclay on her site plus a nice album of conference pictures.

It takes time to process ideas and figure out which ones fit with your style, your ideas, your voice.

Tribal Trends – Kuskin and Dewey

I’m digesting the ideas and information from the Synergy conference and may be rolling out new materials for weeks.

These new polymer clay earrings by Judy Kuskin were jaw-dropping (to use Ponsawan’s terms). By the time I got back to the gallery to buy some, she had sold out.

Don’t they remind you of the primitive ones by Philadelphia Perishables we looked at a few months back? There must be a tribal trend in the air.

Seeing Katherine Dewey’s work up close was stunning too. The detail and the power of this “Family Tree” piece was amazing.

The slides from my speech are available here. You may be able to glean some Synergy excitement and ideas just from following along.

Clarke’s Polka Dots

Perhaps the best view of the Synergy conference is from the newer polymer clay artists who were there. Cynthia Blanton continues to post pictures and her impressions. Ponsawan dropped her jaw repeatedly. “I am happy to be here among all other fine artists. The first time in 26 years living in this country, I felt I belong,” she says.

Lisa Clarke (aka Polka Dot Creations) gives a great glimpse of what she experienced.

Lisa’s a self-described “wife, mother and geek” who sells various products, publications and her own artwork on an assortment of sites. She has an impeccable color sense and creates buttons to embellish trendy fabrics and handmade items. Lisa seemed astonished when I told her that I’d been following her charming blog closely.

Be sure to see Lisa’s photo of the international attendees at the Synergy conference. We’ll soon put names to all those faces for you. I’m worn out from the long drive home and still riding high on the positive response that my keynote address received at the banquet. And I can’t miss the Oscars!

Camera Karma

If you have any good vibes lying around, send them my way. My camera is resting under a chair in a convention hall classroom. With any luck (and your spare karma) it will be there in the morning and you’ll get your post…just a bit late.

Word is that the male polymer clay artists have dreamed up their own event, billing themselves as the “Clay Hunks.” They’re overwhelmed by our estrogen-laden atmosphere and long for something manly with more power tools.

Found the camera. Thanks. Here are a couple of quick pictures. Susan Lomuto and I are posting hurriedly from the coffee shop. The chic pendant above is from Maggie Maggio. The pin is from Linda Loew who’s new to polymer clay. I like the way it uses rough clay to good effect (similar to the European guild post the other day).

And here’s a pile of business cards from Laura Tabakman onto which she’s glued a thin textured piece of clay stamped with her web address. On the opposite side is her normal business card. Very clever, very effective.

Cynthia Blanton gives a great update on the conference if you’d like to follow along.

Silas and the unseen artists

At the Synergy conference I’m catching up with those polymer clay folks who fly under our internet radar and are hard to track – like Virginia’s Cindy Silas. She doesn’t have much of an online presence for her dynamite polymer clay/PMC work. It’s an impressive marriage of the two materials.

Clay pushed through open-work metal must be an idea whose time has come. The concept popped up on Susan Lomuto’s site and she’s experimented with it impressively as well.

My nagging about creating an online presence is paying off. Dan Cormier swears that the Cormier/Holmes site is nearly ready for prime time.

The set-up day was exhausting. Classes start early tomorrow. Need my beauty sleep.

Celebrating the European Guild’s Birthday

The European Guild for Polymer Clay People is one year old. Their membership roster lists artists from all over the world with links to charming web sites from villages in wonderfully remote locations.

These newcomers to the polymer clay community bring an enthusiasm and fearlessness as well as a fresh perspective. I loved the look of Slovenia’s RobertaM’s extrusion-covered bead. Even though her clay was dry and not quite conditioned, the resulting patterns make it look like stitching or fabric.

Happy birthday to the guild and thanks for your continuing contributions to the craft!

Synergy Icebreakers: Where else in the world can you stare at a woman’s chest, walk right up to her and ask, “Is that yours?”

We’re at the Baltimore conference early for general grunt work and set-up. Meeting old friends and making new is lovely, no matter how jet-lagged and road weary we are. (Left to right: Dorothy Greynolds, Meisha Barbee, Hollie Mion wearing Ann Monheit’s work)

Simmons Synergy Donation

One more yummy item in the Synergy silent auction. Carol Simmons has refined her kaleidscope polymer clay pendants to perfection. Take a look at the front and back of this piece. Her stringing method allows the wearer to comfortably adjust the length and the mechanism blends unobtrusively with the bead.

Thanks to Carol and all those contributors who donated their works to the guild even though they won’t be attending. We’ll try to keep you all posted. Hollie Mion and I are on the road!

NICHE WINNERS: Kudos to the polymer clay Niche Award winners announced last week at the Buyers Market of American Craft. California’s Meisha Barbee won with her mica pendant in the professional polymer clay category. New York’s Loretta Lam won in the professional bead category for her Kalamata necklace.

About entering competitions, Loretta Lam says, “It’s more about doing your best – often better than you thought you could. It’s creative problem solving and pushing out of your comfort zone.” Read more about the winners and their reasons for entering the competition.

Artists Head to Baltimore

Polymer clay artists from around the world are on their way to Synergy in Baltimore. England’s Carol Blackburn sent these pictures of her colorful, cheery bowls that will be offered in the silent auction.

Israel’s Iris Mishly shopped ’til she dropped in NYC and is blogging about it as she rubs her feet and prepares for the flight to Baltimore. Browse her Flickr photos from the comfort of your home.

Germany’s Bettina Welker blogs about a layover in Cincinnati that she’s dreading. Wish I could make her brief stay in Ohio more pleasant.

Melanie West is unveiling a great new bangle design that she’ll be selling and Martha Aleo has pictures of the bracelets she’s added to the auction.

Check in with PCDaily to attend the conference virtually. I’m gathering all my techno gear, cameras and batteries to keep you in touch with the action.

LAST MINUTE DONATIONS: Bring an auction item with you to the conference. There’s still time! Simply fill out this form and present the item at your check-in (there are forms at the desk as well).