Museum-quality polymer

The once-snubbed material is making a grand entrance in the art world, thanks to one woman’s vision and drive.

That’s the tag line for polymer’s coming out story in American Craft Magazine this month and you can read the whole article here.

Written by Monica Moses it celebrates the efforts of Elise Winters and a host of artists who have muscled their way into museums by demonstrating the power of polymer. The pieces chosen for this article were drawn from the upcoming RAM exhibit and you can sneak a mouthwatering peek at the catalog.

Smaller chunks of the collection Elise gathered have gone to the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Newark Museum; and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego.

As Elise’s husband Woody says, “We’re stepping on the surface of a new world, just beginning an artistic exploration of a medium that will reveal itself for decades to come.” Read all his comments on the PolymerArtArchive blog.

  • reply genevieve ,

    What a great article! (How can it be that some members of the art community discount ANYTHING as a material? I just don’t get that.)

    Thank you very much Elise for your tireless work!

    • reply Susan Lomuto ,

      Elise W, Rachel C, Woody R, Nancy T and many others persevered to make this a reality. The global art community owes them a debt of gratitude – and kudos to all of the pioneers and innovators who saw (and continue to see) the potential of this versatile medium.

      Elise – you are indeed a visionary – what a legacy you have secured. Many, many thanks.

      This might be the best article I have ever read about the medium and about the project – beautifully written.

      • reply Loretta ,

        Elise deserves all of our thanks and love for her efforts to ensure polymer arts a place at the “big kids” table! I can only imagine the time, energy, will and vision that it took to accomplish this feat.
        Many, many thanks Elise!
        xxx ooo

        • reply Valerie ,

          Awesome article! I am so amazed by the talent and the work that they have done to put forth polymer clay as a viable fine arts medium. Truly trailblazers!

          • reply Michele Norine ,

            All I can say is WOW!! A well written article about the origins and history of polymer and the vision of one woman, Elise Winters. I so agree it’s not the material/medium, but what one does with it, and Elise has persevered to bring polymer to a higher awareness. Many are indebted to her and all the amazing artists working in polymer truly deserve the recognition.

            • reply Sherry Bailey ,

              You GO, Elise!!!

              I plan to offer my Kathleen Dustin, Jeff Dever, Cynthia Toops, Pier Voulkos, Ford & Forlano, Kathy Dewey, and other more significant works to the Racine Museum as a bequest, and I hope others will do likewise.

              • reply Deborah Groom ,

                Dan Cormier kicks butt! His work has the most exquisite finishes and his imagination is phenomenal. He and his wife Tracey make a great teaching duo. I am so pleased to see his work in the book.

                • reply Lindly Haunani ,

                  It is not too late to make a donation via PayPal to help support Elise’s vision and the Polymer Collection Project at the Racine Museum = go to and follow the link to donate.

                  • reply marie segal ,

                    Thank you Elise for your vision and tenacity.
                    You are truly a woman of heart and soul.
                    Blessings all over you and the others that have brought this to the forefront of history.

                    • reply Sabine ,

                      Congratulations and THANK YOU !!!!!! This was a long time coming and so much effort has been put into the project by a number of people. we will always be indebted to their perseverance. It’s finally an official art medium!!!!

                      Interestingly Polymer clay art has made it into the National Gallery of Australia quietly in 1980/81 in the form of printmaker Robyn Gordon’s work. I have tried to contact her on a few occasions as I remember her work having been exhibited in Sydney when we arrived in 1984. Her work can be viewed here . The work I remember was very colourful and along a marine creatures theme.
                      Polymer clay has come a long way since those days.

                      • reply claire maunsell ,

                        Coming from another medium (hot glass) has made me repeatedly ask myself why we value one material over other. Perhaps we simply don’t value the ‘new’, or extremely accessible material, but that is a little sad and shallow, considering what has been achieved in polymer. I’ve seen enough boatloads of really bad glass to last me a lifetime, which makes it clear that the material by itself is not art without the guiding hand and vision of the artist.
                        Thank you, Elise ( and everyone else involved) for tackling these perverse limitations!

                        • reply Mechelle Fox ,

                          I want to add my voice to the many “thank yous” directed to Elise and everyone else who has been involved in this project. We are all indebted to her and her vision.

                          I need to take articles like the one written in American Craft Magazine and post them on the buliten board in my studio as a reminder that there are those who believe that what we do is important.

                          • reply Anna Gray ,

                            Congratulations, Elise! What she is wearing IS art. I personally always strive to make art-like creations out of polymer clay – because I hate when this amazing medium is treated like a goo. Times when it was used for children’s toys are long over. However, I guess there are still some who don’t get it. We ARE creators of polymer artwork. People, please, don’t make cheap freaky stuff out of polymer!

                            • reply Sharon Jeter ,

                              Great work on behalf of artists and craftspeople everywhere. To those who feel polymer is “just clay” – remember that the renaissance masters used “just paint”. Excellent article too.

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