McMillan’s polymer bobbins

Californian Dotty McMillan (here’s her latest book) showed me these bobbin beads she developed using a stash of old sewing machine parts from her fabric store manager daughter. Dotty was pleased to see a photo of Cynthia Toops’ bobbin necklace in Polymer Clay Color Inspirations. “We don’t do them the same, but it was good to see someone else had thought about using them and I wasn’t nuts,” says Dottie.

Here are links to four more examples (1, 2, 3, 4). She’s written a how-to article on the beads for a spring edition of Bead and Button magazine.

Dotty reminded me about our original online polymer group on the ancient Prodigy network. What year was that? Does anyone remember?

  • reply Jeannie ,

    These really hit the spot. I love the colorful designs. This is the most cleaver thing I’ve seen in a while. Genius.

    • reply Kathy Fiete ,

      Pretty much everything I learned in my first years in polymer clay was from that old Prodigy group – I’d guess it was around 1994 maybe when I joined. I remember someone on the east coast would ask a question in the evening and Dotty would experiment on the west coast and by the morning we’d have an answer 🙂 Many of the people we swapped with have become the “big names” in the polymer world (if they weren’t already at the time). Another historic thing that came out of that Prodigy group…one day I referred to Jane Mahneke as the Swapmeister of our group when I asked her permission to host my first swap…the name has stuck and is still used by many today.

      • reply Martha ,

        Oops. I’m getting a 404 error when I click on the link to Dotty’s latest book.

        • reply Alisa ,

          Oh! Bobbins! Now I get it. (I was thinking of the old wooden kinds when I first read that, even though you said “sewing machine parts”. Duh!) What a great idea!
          I don’t know about Prodigy, but the first poly clay group I joined was a newsgroup, way back around 1995(?) Then, a Yahoo group, where I learned of and from Dotty McMillan — talented, creative & sweet lady. Great to “see” her here!

          • reply Elizabeth ,

            Love these beads, she is a master!

            • reply Priscilla Lane ,

              I hope you’ll post the month her article will appear–or I’ll just have to check the book stores each month between now and next spring. This looks like a fun project and Dotty has used her skills to produce some attractive and very artistic pieces.

              • reply Debby Roberts ,

                I have loads of old bobbins. I have to make myself a necklace right away? Pure genius!

                • reply Sabine ,

                  I love these fun earrings, their textures and colours. Great use of bobbins.

                  • reply Jane Mahneke ,

                    Hi Kathy!
                    I am not doing much polymer anymore, but love Cynthia’s Polymer Clay Daily and it was great to see your name here today. I had forgotten that the origin of swaps really does go back to our original Prodigy group. Those were great days, weren’t there? I have lots of our swaps saved in boxes in the garage and it really brings back memories when I get them out. There is a lot of polymer history there! I still think of and miss everyone from those days and, as you can see, I’m still using the name Dotty McMillan gave me on Prodigy…canejane!

                    • reply Janet Bailey ,

                      How can I buy some of your bobbin beads, Dotty or Cynthia? I do not work with clay but I have an Aunt that has been creatively sewing for at least 70 years and I would like to give her some of your bobbin beads for her birthday in July. I saw the article in Bead and Button on Dotty’s bobbin beads which are so unusual and would really mean something to my aunt’s creative sewing soul. Can you help me find out how I can buy some of these bobbin beads? Thanks so much–Janet

                      • reply Denise Arndt ,

                        I too would like to buy some of the bobbin beads. Please let me know. They are truly a work of art.

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                          • reply Waxing colorful – Polymer Clay Daily ,

                            […] The polymer community was saddened by the loss of California’s Dottie McMillan. She was one of the first people I linked up with on the Prodigy bulletin board way back when. She was a writer, artist and good friend in the polymer community. Here’s an earlier PCD feature about her work. […]

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