Taking it easy

Kassel's limp and lovely leaves on PolymerClayDaily.com

Sure, you may have been impressed by the cheeky, funny characters that Doreen Gay Kassel has been creating for her Synergy4 presentation with Donna Greenberg (Translating Your Environment into Your Inspiration). Doreen’s characters are funny and engaging and quite complex.

Then she wows us with casual, offhand leaves that look as if they floated to the ground, ready to be raked. Their torn edges and folds show off lovely layers of colors with dots hidden in the recesses.

If you’ve worked with polymer for long you know what a trick it is to make our medium look easy, unforced and really organic. How does she do that? Will she and Donna reveal all at Synergy? You may enjoy some of her inspirations on Pinterest.

Buying kisses, giving away magazines

Our surveys showed that only two percent of polymer artists are men. That statistic may have contributed to the popularity of Dan Cormier and Staedtler’s director of marketing Nils Henssen during the Synergy3 auction.

Saskia Veltenaar and Marjon Donker, publishers of the Polymer To Art Magazine started the silliness by requesting Dan’s kissable stubble as an auction item (a bold move considering that Tracy Holmes was the auctioneer). When Saskia and Marjon later proposed Nils as an item, Hollie Mion and I could not let the Europeans outbid us. Here’s Nan Roche dropping out.

Wind Issue

To raise the stakes, I offered a PCD post that would document the event. I’m paying up with this post. Here are the two kisses that raised hundreds of dollars for IPCA. It was hard to explain to my husband how I placed a winning auction bid and came home with nothing.

Giveaway 5 magazines

Silliness aside, the Netherland’s Saskia and Marjon are offering a copy of this month’s issue of their international magazine, the Wind issue, to FIVE lucky winners who leave a comment on this post. Sign up before Tuesday midnight to be entered to win. Winners will be announced Wednesday.

Wrapped up polymer

Garrod on PCDaily

My suitcase sits by the washer mounded with dirty laundry and my husband forlornly admits that he’s eaten all the pot pies in the freezer. I’ve been on the road too long and must attend to the homefront today so I’ll make the Synergy wrap-up brief.

The two presentations that Judy Belcher and I gave at the conference (How to How to and The View from Higher Ground) are available. Keynote speaker Harriete Estell Berman has posted the handout listing references from her speech, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly in the Age of the Internet. Her talk evaluates the good of the Internet, some bad trends, and a few ugly behaviors that threaten the healthy growth of crafts.You can follow Harriete’s entire slideshow here. Other presentations will soon be up on the IPCA site.

Cold drugs

I am most grateful that I did not catch the cold that ran rampant through the stressed and sleepless crowd. This snapshot shows the pile of therapies on my Georgia friends’ kitchen counter. Thanks to the IPCA committees that soldiered through sniffles and snafus to bring us Synergy3.

Heartfelt thanks to all of you who donated your money and good wishes to the Samunnat building project for the ladies in Nepal. By the end of Synergy you had exceeded the goal. We’ll follow along as Samunnat realizes the dream and I’ll share pictures right here as the building goes up. We are over the moon with gratitude and the ladies are astonished at the generosity of their friends a world away. Thank you, thank you.

This black and white necklace from the UK’s Angela Garrod was in the Synergy gallery and I couldn’t get the idea of its extrusion-wrapped cones out of my head so I’ll leave it with you this weekend.

Treasure chests

These are the collars, chests and arms where your eyes might have roamed if you’d been at Atlanta’s Synergy3.

Today was a travel day and gave me an opportunity to begin to make sense of all the ideas, goodwill and plans that floated around. As I decompress, I’ll share what I saw with you. Consider this a first installment.

Photos here include: Pendant from Croatia’s Nikolina Otrzan, brooch from North Carolina’s Carol Parsons, Maryland’s Jeff Dever’s brooch was made with balloons. Second row: Germany’s Anke Humpert’s beads were much larger than I imagined, UK’s Carol Blackburn‘s striped bangle, hollow pendant from UK’s Cara Jane.

Wheeling to Atlanta

Humpert on PCDaily

While Anke Humpert is excited to bring her work to America (like these new distressed hollow Wheely beads) and visit the U.S. for the first time, we Americans are excited to meet our European counterparts.

Anke is speaking at the IPCA Synergy conference in Atlanta, talking about the European scene and the German polymer clay group, Polyclaykunst.de. She’s trained as an architect and has published a number of books and classes. Read more on Flickr and Facebook and check back here for the next few days to see what I see at Synergy.

Polymer squiggles

This colorful polymer squiggle ring is from Serbia’s Milena Babic and Miloš Samardžic’s new Bold Geometry series. Generally the pair, known as Tramps and Glams, feature film stars, artists and lost souls in cubist constructions that become polymer brooches and pendants. Their geometric pieces pile polymer twists and curls into constructions that look like confetti gathered up for a party.

We need your squiggles!

…on our “Habits” survey. Ten easy questions ask where you learn about polymer and how you share your work. Your answers are important, anonymous and much appreciated! A few quick checkmarks will help Judy Belcher and me gather data for our presentation at Synergy.

If you missed the first survey, you can still fill it out here.

Milner’s shifting geometry

Kylee Milner's autumn disk necklace

Need more Synergy? Try Heather Campbell’s site, Libby Mills’ or Julie Eakes‘ blogs and Kelly Russell’s site. Maureen Carlson commented yesterday and brought up issues to think about in the polymer versus polymer clay debate. Leave your thoughts and I’ll try to pick up the thread soon.

I’m going to let the topic rest for a few days as I pack for a month-long trip out west and prepare to take this show on the road.


The necklace at the left from France’s Kylee Milner (Bijoux and Banter) popped up as I was catching up on research. Polymer disks bump up against one another to form a shifting geometry amid the play of autumn reds.

This just in…

Elise Winters writes that while her jewelry’s debut on the fashion runways was exciting, it was, “…nowhere near as thrilling as seeing Gwen Ifill wearing my teal lattice rope necklace on the PBS news hour tonight.”

Synthesizing Synergy2

Janet Pitcher's polymer and filigree necklace

It’s taken me a couple of days to process what I heard at Synergy and boil it down to bullets. These are my takeaway points:

  • We are emerging from the polymer ghetto and crossing over into broader participation in the art world
  • We are making closer alliances with important advocates – museums and academic institutions among them
  • Mash-ups of media are commonplace and these collaborations signal an acceptance of polymer
  • Media tools bring our art in front of a wide audience
  • Many artists are working in polymer which is raising the bar
  • Calling our art “polymer” and dropping “clay” is becoming the most favored description and avoids confusion with ceramics

I’ll try to elaborate on these themes and share some of the techniques presented in future posts. You can sense the participants’ energy and excitement in this album of snapshots that I’ve assembled.

Janet Pitcher wore her new polymer and filigree design shown here at one event and I didn’t want you to miss it.

Weekend treasury from Synergy

Alex Pier's extruded polymer pendant
Carol Blackburn's polymer mobius strips
Kay Dever models a Jeff Dever assemblage
Laura Tabakman's stacked disks
Melanie West's brooch/creature
Jeanette Kandray shows no fear with her diva bangle
Updated mokume from Barbara McGuire
David Vanover wears a beret and a Belcher pin
Judy Belcher's dimensional pin/sculpture

The last night festivities at Synergy and the trip home left me both exhilarated and exhausted. Here’s a treasury of snapshots to delight you while I sort through my pictures and wash some laundry. More debriefing tomorrow.