Tuesday, February 11, 2014

There's No Magic

The process of making art is a lot of work. There's no magic in it. I'm not saying that imagaination or the source of inspiration isn't magical, I'm saying that the day-to-day, getting up and going into the studio, cleaning up your bench, putting in the hours, doing the research-- that's work. Even though it's work you love, your craft is not going to improve by posting on Facebook what you had for breakfast,or by spending hours on Pinterest. Nope.

When people take a class from me that they will be learning from someone who has put in considerable time in the discipline of polymer clay, someone who knows a lot about what techniques are out there and what resources are available. For example, after last year's ArtBliss retreat, I put together a very comprehensive color resources chart for my students, listing all the media we used in class, and appropriate uses for each. I don't simply teach a way to use a technique-- I teach a way of thinking about that technique, a method that-- hopefully-- will lead you to your own artistic way of using it, of expanding your skill-set as well as your imagination.

The person that's copying my workshop (see previous posts this past week) has no idea of the thought process behind the technique. She merely sees the results and likes them-- likes them enough that she wants to teach them too. She wants to use my work to enhance her teaching reputation. But she's an impostor-- I originated the content and I know the thought-process behind the technique. I put in the hours and days and weeks of work it took to create the technique that she will now go and blithely take perhaps 10 minutes to throw at her students. After all, she's only got a few hours to teach what it takes me twice as much time to do in my class. Because I know why the technique exists, what it's really meant to do (besides color polymer), the philosophy behind it, the reasons why it will enhance your work, the best ways to use it, all the stuff that's listed on the chart that my students get at the end of the class.

So workshop imposters aren't offering any magic, no matter how the class description reads. What you're getting is diluted content, the husk of the technique. The person that originated the concept, that tapped into the magic of their imagaination to create it, the person that can tell you why you're using it and how, that's the person you should seek out. And that would be me.

(Christine is teaching two new classes at ArtBliss this September-- stay tuned to AB's website for the announcment in early March)


  1. Christine - I am sorry that this has happened to you. Having taken a class from you, I could tell the experiences and passion you put into creating the information that you taught us.

  2. Christine, I know from my experience in your Art on the Farm Intensive that your teaching skills and knowledge of polymer clay and the techniques you teach are profound and wonderful. I am so sorry that anyone would think it is OK to teach them. Thank you for speaking out on this matter and raising consciousness on this issue in your recent blog posts and on your Facebook page.

  3. I hate to hear artist’s stepping on other’s to get to what they believe will be recognition for themselves. But not always the type they want to be associated with. Especially at the detriment of a dear and cherished artist in what really is a small world of like souls.

    What goes around typically will come around. And your technique and over all look is so “Christine Damm” that the story the art can only tell is “yours”, rest assured.

    You simply can’t steal or sell another’s uniqueness, what you are selling is always a cheap imitation which devalues the seller and the maker. The maker isn’t getting the true value of the technique, the back ground or the stories they need to hear, especially yours. You can’t shorten history and you can’t speed technique.

    I also know associating myself with originals will one day bring out my originality and create the artist I am supposed to become. Multi layered, mixed media and totally me. Thanks for helping me get there, one lovely class at a time.

  4. It's just downright wrong when people are so deceitful. But I guess when you put yourself into the teaching arena, it is bound to happen. As a fellow polymer clay artist I understand your willingness to share your passion but perhaps you need to hold back on what is truly precious to you. Perhaps with your notes, you could put a copyright infringement on them or maybe not be so free with the handouts. I'm thinking about doing some classes in my home studio but when I read stuff like this, I cringe a bit.