Interlude in Vermont


Bethel, Vermont – misty morning view from the B&B

Ok, this is the third time I have tried to write this post.  I don’t usually have technical difficulties with Google Chrome or with WordPress, but apparently I am so woefully out of practice writing on this blog, now I am having trouble I never experienced before.

Recently, I traveled to Vermont, land of my college days to take a four day workshop on working with bronze metal clay at the home studio of artist Celie Fago. It was lovely visiting Vermont in the Fall.  A couple of weeks past peak, I positively soaked up the smells and sights and general ambiance.


Grace Hill Farm, which sadly doesn’t have a web site.

I stayed in a wonderful Bed & Breakfast, a first for me.  I enjoyed the social aspect of chatting with other guests over breakfast or an evening fire.  The innkeeper’s adorable yorkshire terrier was a delightful and tiny treat.  The almost complete absence of a cell signal and a very intermittent wifi signal were frustrating, but being unplugged isn’t all bad.


My fired bronze clay links.  I chickened out and didn’t join them.  I’m thinking of joining them with peyote stitch bands eventually.

I’m on the fence about working with bronze clay.  I haven’t done much with any metal clay in years and I’ve always found it a bit frustrating.  The process made me itch to be work in sheet silver again.  I’m not dismissing the material entirely.  I am going to fire my last couple of pieces from the workshop and see how that goes.

We began the workshop with a half day lesson in polymer clay tear away textures.  Unfortunately the art I had brought with me to Vermont wasn’t suitable for the process.  It got me doodling on my ipad and I’ve just surfaced from spending several days doodling and tweaking black and white images.  The iPad is really great for this.  I’m going to use some of the images for tear away and some for etching metal and some for polymer clay transfers.



PAPCG Guest Artist Visit

Before I forget, I want to write a few thoughts about my recent trip to Philadelphia. I was invited to be the Guest Artist for the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s March meeting.  I was so flattered when they asked me, as expected I had a wonderful time.  Since I don’t do a whole lot of teaching, my two demos were a bit rough, but hopefully the guild members learned some things of interest.  I did one demo on Scribble Beads, and one on the pitfalls of combining metal and polymer clay.  It was a lot of fun to revisit the Scribble Bead technique because I haven’t played with it in years.

The PAPCG is a really great group and they made me feel right at home.  It was wonderful to catch up with friends and put some faces to names.  The show and tell was phenomenal!  You can see some of it on the Guild’s Flickr page.  There’s a ton of talent in that group.  I hope we see a big Philly contingent at the Connecticut Retreat this summer.

So, a huge (and somewhat belated) Thank You to the PAPCG!  Extra thanks especially to Terri Powell for opening her lovely home to me and Sarah Fisher for dinner and a home tour.

I’ve got to share a photo of Terri’s fantastic bathtub Koi pond.

Such an unexpected delight.  It’s very elegant, but it also made me think of Dr. Suess too.


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.


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 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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