When metalsmith Gabriel Craig took to the streets of Richmond, Virginia to acquaint people with handmade jewelry arts, he used polymer clay to introduce the concept.
His guerrilla marketing techniques earned him a story in the current issue of American Craft magazine and it’s an interesting read about the value and meaning of handmade items. Click on the bottom picture to see the video.
You readers have long understood the popular appeal and immediacy of polymer clay. We don’t necessarily see it as a gateway drug to metalworking however. For us it’s a daily vitamin that we appreciate as an art medium in its own right as demonstrated by the works of so many artists on this site.
Thanks to Elise Winters for the link. Have an inspired weekend.
Ronna Sarvas Weltman ,
Thanks, Cynthia. Your post today is a lovely note to end PCD’s week, which included the thoughtful comments on Wednesday that have had me thinking ever since. After much percolation: I love that this blog features so much that is happening in the polymer clay world, and weekend crafters and folks still finding their voice and perfecting their chops have a place to celebrate, share and grow artistically. It’s my first “stop” every morning. And I also love that there are other places — daily art muse and polymer art archive, for instance — that focus on art that reflects careful (and often arduous) learning, deliberation, exploration and spot-on craftsmanship.
It’s really cool what Craig is doing, but I’ll wrestle with anyone who tries to make the case that polymer clay is a gateway drug to metalworking. Metalworking was my gateway to clay. The colors, textures, shapes and improbable riffs on life that we are able to express in polymer clay aren’t gateway. They ARE the high.
Gabriel Craig ,
Thanks for posting about my article. I hope you enjoyed it, and I am glad to see it has made me a poster boy for polymer clay! I am glad to see there is a polymer clay lobby out there.
I wanted to quickly respond to the comment about polymer clay as a gateway drug. I don’t know where this notion of using polymer clay as “a gateway drug” came from, but that certainly didn’t figure in either my performances or the article. Polymer clay provided a practical way for people to participate in a hands-on activity. Believe me when I say that crafts should be an inclusive endeavor, and that I am not interested in hierarchies, only sharing the history and value of craft. I really view my performances as altruistic acts on inclusion, so much so, that I give everything away for free. Sorry if it came across any other way.
I have demoed polymer at countless venues and have found that it is so much fun. Big crowds, big attraction! Lots of noise. People love it and I’m constantly complimented for inventing it where, I have to correct them and inform them that there is a big society of polymer artists and that I can’t take credit. There are people drawn to guilds because of my demos. However, in my case, demos detract from sales…big time. As much fun as they are to do, people tend to love the free show without buying a thing. Most don’t even look at the finished work in my booth at the end of a demo. Every time I’ve demoed, sales were a disaster!
Ronna Sarvas Weltman ,
Oops. My bad. Check out Gabriel’s site and you’ll see his work is a lucid, intellectual and often elegant combination of art and message. Ironically, one of his artistic focuses is to open a dialogue about what is a precious material, and what are we to value in our society. His body of work (and one would surmise his life as well) is not about the medium, but rather about how art not only speaks to us in a different language, but how that language transcends the usual barriers and prejudice. And he’s teaching others how to hear and how to speak that language.
Gabriel Craig ,
Just a quick link you all might enjoy:
Gabriel – Great article and spot-on. My knee-jerk reaction was to sense a pecking order when I read about a metalsmith hawking polymer clay. Nowhere in your article did you disparage polymer clay but I automatically assumed you would. My bad.
Thanks for the clarification.