Synergy2 – Final Day

Today was the final day of the Synergy2 Conference.  It’s sad that it’s over, and we’re saying goodbye to friends, but I am looking forward to bringing some of the creative energy from the conference back into my studio.  (actually, I’m not heading home until Tuesday, as I am taking a 2 day post conference workshop with Dan Cormier, so I get to prolong the experience another couple of days)

I attended two excellent seminars today.  The first was on Kaleidoscope Construction with Carol Simmons.

Carol has developed a very precise system for building a myriad of kaleidoscope patterns from a single cane,  It’s fascinating, and there are elements of her approach that are just genius.  She mentioned that she is hoping to start teaching workshops soon.  Based on the short taste of her techniques we got in her seminar, a workshop with her would be fantastic.

My second seminar today was “Building or Improving Your Portfolio” with Wendy Outland.  It was a great and really informative session.  I feel like I’ve got a road map for what I need to prepare for presentation to galleries,  competitions or other calls for entries.  As someone who hasn’t yet pulled together a complete artist’s portfolio, the concept seemed very intimidating, but Wendy made it very straightforward.  It wasn’t the most exciting seminar I’ve taken here at the conference, but it might be the most useful.

Other events today included a “Clay Manufacturer’s Forum” where representatives from 4 polymer clay companies answered attendees’ questions, and the final shopping hours in the sales gallery and Vendor Fair.


The culmination of the conference was the Banquet with keynote address by Craftcast host Alison Lee, and of course the Live Auction with Tracy Holmes as auctioneer.  A lighthearted tone for the evening was set by Lisa Pavelka with a demonstration of the secret polymer clay handshake which started at this past summer’s IPCA Retreat.

The banquet is an occasion for everyone to show off some of their best creations.  Two of my favorites were:

Julie Eakes’ purse with her famous retro cane mosaic face cane

And Pam Sanders’ amazing necklace::

The auction itself was a lot of fun.  I really appreciated Tom Truty of Art Clay Silver’s video camera which projected images of the items being auctioned up onto a couple of big screens so that everyone could see.  And on a personal note, the highlight of the auction was that I am going home with Laurie Mika’s Collaborative Artist Quilt.

The photo really doesn’t show the fantastic dimensionality of the piece.  I am proud to have been one of the 38 participating artists, and I will treasure this piece along with everything else I’ll be taking away from Synergy2.

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Synergy2 – Day 3

It was another great day here at Synergy2.  I’ve been looking back through my notes from the day and thinking about what I’ll take back from today’s seminars, presentation and panel discussion.  Today I attended a seminar by Jeff Dever on incorporating alternative materials along with polymer, and one by Cynthia Tinapple on Trends.

The panel discussion topic was “Purposeful Marketplace” and featured Tamara Honaman, artist and former editor of Step By Step Beads, Lisa Bayne from ArtfulHome.com and Robert Dancik.

I’d love to give you a detailed synopsis of the day, but frankly I’m fried, so I’m going to go with bullet points of impressions from everything I attended today.

Some of the ideas that resonated with me today were:

  • put in the time at the bench.  At a very basic level, seat time is essential to an artist’s growth and development
  • experiment, play and give yourself permission to fail
  • explore new materials, move out of your comfort zone
  • seek feedback from a select few and be willing to listen
  • don’t take rejection personally, but allow yourself to work through your response to it
  • put your work out there in some way.  Don’t expect the art world to magically find you
  • stay true to your vision and don’t undervalue your time

And finally, from Jeff Dever:  Dollar Store nail polish is really great stuff

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Synergy2 – Exhibit and Gallery

Last night the Synergy2 Invitational Exhibit and the Gallery opened.  It was so exciting to see my necklace displayed with all the amazing pieces.  Photos just don’t do these works justice.  It’s a wonderful show and incredibly eclectic.  You can find close photos of most of the pieces on the IPCA website, but here are some overall shots of the exhibit:

The Gallery for sales of the work of many of the artists attending the conference also opened last night.  The Preview was crazy crowded.

Sales have been brisk.  I put in my volunteer work hours in the Gallery today and even during the lunch hour there was a steady stream of buyers.  It’s a fun and unique opportunity to see and purchase work from polymer artists from all over the world.  Many of the artists rarely sell their work outside of an event like this.

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Synergy2 – Day 2

It has been a full day and my mind is reeling.  Really there’s just so much to take in:  workshops, panel discussions, presentations, the exhibit, the sales gallery and the gathering of friends new and old.

The seminar I took this morning was “Evolving Mokume” with Dan Cormier.  It’s always fun to get a peek into how Dan’s brain works.  He spends a lot of time carefully analyzing a process and developing techniques that can be precisely replicated.  His presentation bridged from the philosophical all the way to the tightly engineered.  I am taking his new “Cutting Edge Evolved” workshop following the conference and I am hoping that he will cover some of his new mokume techniques.

After a short coffee break, Elise Winters spoke about the Polymer Collection Project.  Elise then introduced Bruce Pepich of the Racine Art Museum who spoke about RAM’s philosophy, about the museum’s commitment to polymer and about the various ways that RAM’s new polymer pieces will fit in and play off other items in the museum’s collection.

He’s an engaging speaker and his enthusiasm for fine craft in general, and more recently polymer in particular, is exciting.  Up to this point it feels like a select few polymer artists were recognized at this high level.  Now through the hard work of Elise Winters, her team of volunteers, as well as Bruce Pepich and the Racine Art Museum, it  feels like polymer is starting to finally be recognized as a fine art medium.

Elise concluded with a plea for donations to RAM to support the polymer collection and upcoming exhibit and catalog.  There was a heartwarming response by attendees as well as large donations from the IPCG and my own guild the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild.

Next up was a panel discussion moderated by Jeff Dever entitled “intentional Evolution”.  The members of the panel were Bruce Pepich of RAM, Rachel Carren, artist and curator of the upcoming Lark Book “Masters of Polymer Clay” and premier polymer artist Kathleen Dustin.

Highlights of the discussion:  treat polymer as a medium of expression instead of technique, increase exposure in academia, look at broader sources of inspiration, have something to say with your work, “don’t be afraid of excellence”, intentionally refer to the medium as “polymer” not “polymer clay”.

There were two other seminar slots today, but I missed them both.  I walked over to the ACC Show during the late afternoon and then tonight I went out to dinner.  I’m not sure how much else my brain could have taken in today.

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