Friday, November 6, 2015


“Idiosyncrasy” – a mode of behavior or way of thought peculiar to an individual:
It’s been an interesting few months. Notice how people use the word ‘interesting’ when they don’t know exactly how to define events, people and situations that defy categorization. When your perception of the world is rocked, ‘interesting’ is a place-holder expression, useful until you can finally sort out what’s really happening.

I spent most of the summer and fall severely questioning my perception of myself as an artist and teacher after this Spring's Art on the Farm class sessions at my home. Several of my students were cantankerous (to say the least) and others just didn’t seem to ‘get it’. A couple of them actually wrote me e-mails telling me how I should have improved or changed the class. I feel I have a modest reputation out there in the polymer clay world and when students come all the way to Vermont to learn from me, I expect they may have certain expectations about the instruction. I welcome positive (emphasis on positive) input and always want to improve my classes and teaching. But I was very careful to explain in several pages on my website what it was that I was teaching, as well as the philosophy behind the techniques and processes. I’m not just teaching pretty ways to color clay. I don’t want to send you home with exact copies of what I make. There are already plenty of teachers out there who are teaching classes featuring stand-alone polymer techniques and that’s fine. It’s just not me.
Every day I read a feed from Seth Godin, an entrepreneur, marketing genius and culture analyst who always gives me a fresh perception on the world of business and how it and our culture are rapidly changing in the 21st century. Today the post was called “Idiosyncratic” and he talks about how “the people at the edges, the people who care, are drawn to idiosyncrasy, to the unpredictable, the tweakable, the things that might not work.” He mentions that perfection might just be boring.

I totally agree. I started applying surface design and paint to polymer because I was bored with smooth surfaces and then applied texture because I wanted a more sculptural canvas to embellish. I wanted more 'art' in my jewelry approach. I wasn’t sure it would work, any more than I am sure every time I step into my studio that I will find success with any innovation or new tweak to a familiar process.
And I have come to realize, in these past few months, that this is what I have to teach—idiosyncrasy or, actually, how to express your individuality. Making it your own. It’s really what defines an artist. I don’t see myself as a polymer rebel—I don’t want everyone to change the way they make art or overturn the status quo, but I do want to reach the people who are craving innovation and want to step out on the ‘skinny branches’ to discover what may or may not work. People who are ready to challenge themselves to change up how they have been working before, to seek the true expression of their ideas, to learn to love what they create, even if the world may not.

So I’m looking for a few good students who are ready to do amusing exercises as homework when they sign up, to free up their perceptions and get their brains ready to work. People who will arrive without expectations about what they will be taught and how, who will take responsibility to create value for themselves. Explorers who will embrace the word ‘idiosyncratic’ and not feel it’s a dirty word. Seekers who will fully engage in the work and not expect to be spoon-fed all the answers.
So if that’s you, visit my website, read the pages concerning my teaching philosophy and then contact me and I’ll send you an application for next Spring’s Art on the Farm workshop. You’ll read all about me and then I’ll also know all about you and what you intend to get from the class. Maybe we’ll find our idiosyncratic way together.


  1. I am so sorry to hear about this kind of behaviour. I love your work and follow your blog for a long time. In all what you create there is so much to see and fell, stories indeed. To be at one of your workshops should be great just alone for being able to see how you work with your hands and how your stories evolve. I am over the ocean, a little bit far away for a workshop but honestly? I am bitching inside at the ones being able to attend and not appreciating it :)

  2. i read seth every morning too - christine, you are teaching so much more than duplicating your own work. you teach aesthetic, intuition, exploration... in short, the most valuable things. it makes me sad to know you have been rocked and doubted yourself. you are the real deal - so take it as a compliment that you are sometimes misunderstood. if you lacked the subtlety and complexity and richness that makes up you, then where would that amazing person be? dare to be you - do not compromise to appeal to the masses - i know you know this. xo

  3. and i agree, i'd love to be at a workshop -

  4. First and foremost, I am appalled at the behavior of your students. Too often they see your amazing work and don't realize it took just that -- WORK. Work and year of practice and years of trying new things. Your job as a teacher is to give them tools, and it's up to them what they do with it.

    I have Seth's book "Whatcha Going to Do With That Duck" -- it's terrific.

    Please never doubt what you do. You're an ARTIST.

  5. I just want to add to the other comments that what you do is wonderful and spark creativity, you make artists reach, stretch and dream bigger. Don't let a few people who don't understand or appreciate that make you question yourself. What you do matters to a lot of people and I, for one, thank you for it. I would love to come to a retreat of yours someday!

  6. I am relatively new to polymer clay, been working with it for almost two years. My first exposure to your work was through Cynthia Tinapple's. Global Perspectives book. I was immediately intrigued by your work. Then I found all the wonderful images of your work on flckr and it was an inspiration and a revelation for how artistic polymer clay jewelry could be. I started following your blog and had been really keen on trying to get enough funds and time off to come to your workshop. It sounded quite ideal and very generous of you to open up your studio and share your supplies. But, circumstances did not allow for me to take your class/retreat. So, I'm disappointed to hear that those who attended did not recognize the opportunities that they were given. I admire your work and suspect that you are a humble and generous teacher. Please do not allow the opinions of the few to infringe on your artistic voice. Looking forward to seeing what you will create next!

  7. I took your workshop last year and had a fabulous time. I could happily have spent even more time learning from you, and hope to come back for another go sometime. I'm sorry you had this experience. My class had a great group that really appreciated your teaching.

  8. This is exactly the approach that I wish to embrace and would love to take your workshop one day. I am an artist in other areas and truly want to make my polymer work my own and find my own unique expression. I've purposely avoided some sites and groups for a while because I've now learned a number of techniques but don't want to be overly influenced by what others are doing. I want to carve my own path. Thanks for sharing so much of your philosophy and who knows.. maybe one day I will be able to learn from you in person. Peace to you.