Polymer clay inspirations

Nepali polymer clay enthusiasts

An email from the other side of the world changed my fretting, procrastinating week. Wendy Moore, who describes herself as an Australian polymer clay junkie living in eastern Nepal wrote:

These photos are of amazing ladies who I think are the first polymer clayers in Nepal. They are survivors of violence (usually domestic but some trafficking) and among the most resilient people I know. They are looking at ways of generating an income for themselves and their families.

There are all sorts of challenges such as clay supply, existence of ovens, electricity, but no lack of enthusiasm. My main reason for sharing with you was my excitement about the healing and practical capacity of clay, the “we’re all in this together” nature of it, and to share the phenomenal spirit of friends who are helping and the ladies themselves. Loving supportive vibes from readers would be good.

Melanie Dilday and the Australian guild are marshalling their resources to help. Others are pitching in and we’re talking about strategies for supplies and marketing. I’ll let you know more about Wendy’s story and what you might do as the project develops.

I can’t leave you without some inspiring art! Drink in the color and the designs on Tory Hughes’ new brooches page. Have an inspired weekend.

  • reply Melanie West ,

    A huge BRAVA! to Wendy Moore, Melanie Dilday, and her Guild!! It seems to me that this is EXACTLY what polymer clay and the pc community is all about!

    The pc community is what has kept me going and gotten me to where I am today, and polymer clay has been amazingly cathartic for me over the years. Brava!! I can’t wait to find out more about how I can help (and see what these brave women have been making – hee hee)!

    Cynthia, in the words of my son… You are AWESOME! Thanks for giving us such a huge boost into the weekend. 🙂

    • reply Ronna Sarvas Weltman ,

      Thank you to our Australian friends … whatever it is you decide to do, count me in!

      • reply Lynda Moseley ,

        Count me in! What an inspiration these ladies are. I would love to be able to help. Thanks, Cynthia, for letting us all know about the project.

        • reply Kathy ,

          I’m really glad to hear something like this is happening for women in India. I always wondered if polymer clay and a hand up could bring emotional healing and economic empowerment to victims of social inequality. Thank you Melanie, Wendy and the Australian Guild for your big hearts and showing that it can be done.

          Yes, Cindy, please let us know what we can do to help. I would be happy to contribute to this project.

          • reply amy wasserman ,

            wendy and these nepalese women ROCK!! there’s nothing like a little art therapy to move on in life!!

            • reply Mindy ,

              Just let me know how to help!

              • reply maria psaltis ,

                This is amazing! It was only posted on our aussie clayers guild yesterday I believe and already there is so much support. Wendy is an amazing person and artist,she is truly inspirational.I was fortunate to do one of her workshops here in Sydney and her enthusiasm and love for polymer is absolutely infectious!I am sure she can make a huge difference to these womens lives.

                • reply Suzie West ,

                  Fantastic! Thank you for relaying this news. Please keep me posted – I would love to help these ladies.


                  • reply Jeannie ,

                    Thanks Cynthia and Wendy for a peek into a world we will never know, and what a happy ending..for most.
                    I already buy fair trade beads and the proceeds from my jewelry goes back to the fair trade federation. So let me know how I can help.

                    And Tory’s brooches are to die for. Delish!
                    Creatively yours, jeannie

                    • reply Pat Sernyk ,

                      Thank you for posting that article about the women of Nepal. I agree, that they are so resilient, and they really have the goods on how to stretch a nickel into a dollar. I believe similar groups of women who worked at the silk weaving factories in Nepal are responsible for the gathering and spinning of Silk Sari Yarn which I love so much and often use in some of my creations with polymer clay. They gather the warp ends of silk off the loom (which are essentially waste) and then recombine them making some of the most gorgeous variegated silk yarn I have seen. Then, thankfully, they receive some of the profits for their own use. I wish they could get more of it as fair trade, but at least it is something. I don’t know how much money they get. But they do get my vote for being resourceful and and able to cope and bounce back from demanding situations.

                      Pat Sernyk

                      • reply Cara Valentino ,

                        @Pat Sernyk – Hi Pat, I work with Fair trade co-operatives in Nepal. The living/fair wage is $2.37 a day. When pricing an item, all hours needed to be calculated into this price. For example, if it takes 4 hours to complete a bracelet, the cost should be $1.19 plus the cost of materials. If you want to know if the women spinning the yarn are paid a living wage, you would need to know how long it takes for them to spin a skein and how much they receive. If it takes 8 hours to spin one skein then the cost per skein would be $2.37. It is the responsibility of the fair trade co-operative to calculate the cost and see that the women are paid the living wage. One of the problems I see with pricing is that often the co-operatives will price items for what they would sell for in America, pricing them out of the market. You don’t want to pay a whole lot over the minimum wage because it throw the whole wage structure out of balance but offering additional benefits is a great approach. Paying school fees or offering tutoring or micro loans… things that promote education and encourage self reliance is beneficial.
                        Also some co-operatives offer additional benefits to the women like training, education, health clinic, tuition for children… so these benefits can be an addition to the wage or part of the wage. If you want check out the fairtradefederation.org for more information. Also livingwage.org for wages in third world countries.
                        Hope this information helps, Cara

                        • reply Sherry Bailey ,

                          Back when I was in college, I took a camp crafts class. We had to (for our final exam) go on a campout overnight and use at least 3 kinds of camp cooking. We made reflector (solar) ovens with cardboard boxes and aluminum foil, in which we baked cornbread or something — it got into the 300’s easily. (I know there are serious camper versions, too.) They don’t have the kind of controls we like for polymer clay, but with an oven thermometer and vigilant attention, maybe they could work where electricity isn’t available…

                          • reply Wendy Moore ,

                            Namaste everyone, I have finally been able to look at the site (iffy internet here!). Thank you all so much for your wonderfully encouraging and loving comments! The ladies were so delighted to think they were the Nepali Polymer clay guild! I will send Cynthia more info and let you all know when we have a “web presence”. Cara, the Fair Trade organisation we hope to link up with does just what you said-bonuses in terms of health care, education etc. Such a good idea. Thank you so much for encouraging us and we will keep you posted with what will help.

                            • reply Colleen Bergeron ,

                              for Wendy – laura’s suggestion for solar cookers is a grand idea. please go to the following link to learn everything about solar cooking, making your own oven/cooker, how hot they get, etc.


                              thank you cynthia for posting wendy’s newsbit.

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