Monday, October 3, 2016

When the Photos Say It All

Taking an art technique-- in this case, one for polymer clay-- that you've developed and then translating it so others can learn it is always a crap shoot. The method seems so clear to you because you've spent weeks or months working with it. It's like a lover that you know well-- how it will respond, what will work or not work, its sensitivities and peculiarities. In order to teach it, you have to think backwards to try and remember how it was when you didn't know how to do it at all, what the first steps were, the first explorations. That's the hardest part-- not merely teaching the steps that lead to the finished project but putting yourself in the students' shoes, back at the beginning, where it's exciting but scary.

So when your students begin to produce results that go beyond your expectations, all the hard work that went into developing that technique is worth it. Not only are they experiencing the joy that comes from creating pieces that express their individuality but they are validating your vision, the one that came to you in the hazy half-light time between night and morning. They see what you see, they get the power of the creative spark that spawned it. Heady stuff.

I made sure that at this past session of Art on the Farm I took a lot of pictures. Sometimes in the aftermath of a 3-day class I'm so drained that I think maybe this will be the last class. Time to move on to something else. Then I look at the photos and they say it all.

Polymer clay veneer sheet by Janis L.

Polymer clay veneer sheet by Karen K.
Polymer clay veneer sheet by Terri K.
Polymer earrings from veneer sheet by Janis L.
Leaf elements - polymer clay - by Karen K.
Veneer earrings by Janis L.

Jewelry elements from polymer veneer sheet - Terri K.
Earring elements from polymer veneer sheets - Janis L.
Polymer clay veneer sheet from Terri K.

Polymer veneer elements - Corrine G.
Polymer veneer headpins - Kim R.

Polymer veneer sheet - Corrine G.

Polymer veneer elements - Kim R.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Art on a Different Farm-- Fletcher Farm

Last summer I began teaching at a very special venue in Vermont, Fletcher Farm School for the Arts and Crafts.
Fletcher Farm reminds me of the summer camp my sister and I went to in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania for a couple of summers. I learned to swim and shoot and make lanyards and do ceramics. We were strictly segregated from the boys’ side of the camp but they could have been on the other side of the moon for all I cared--at the still innocent age of 11. We all ate in a big dining hall with a lofty ceiling and after lunch went off for boating or crafts or nature hikes. Some nights we got to stay up late and sneak off on a trip to the local hamburger place up the road, accompanied by our counselors.

So, if you’re nostalgic for a simpler time when the world outside seems far away—even just for a few days—Fletcher Farm is the place to be. Established as a family farm in 1783, it’s been run as a foundation since 1948 dedicated to teaching craft skills, both old and new, to children, teens and adults. My own medium—polymer clay—is one of the newest, although my friend Lisel Crowley teaches precious metal clay classes. The offerings run the gamut from rug hooking and ceramics, to traditional jewelry making, basketry, watercolor and folk art painting. Classes begin in late June and run through August and there are even some in fall and winter—here’s the link-- . The classrooms are in rustic buildings scattered around the spacious campus, some cottage-y and some in old barns, with a a beautiful post and beam ceiling in the dining hall.
I had two classes there this year—one for my new polymer veneer technique and another for that technique paired with forged wire. The students were all enthusiastic and a few were well-versed in polymer and wire-working techniques, so we could just get on with the business of making things and having the life-changing experience of seeing the creations of our hands come to life. Below is a selection of their work. Thank you, my wonderful students!

Forged wire and polymer veneer earrings by Marti A.
Polymer veneer elements for pendants by Wendy K.
Earring elements by Anne P.
Necklace elements by Marti A.
Polymer veneer elements by Anne P.
Polymer veneer pendant by Marti A. - forged wire and metallic
Anne P. working in The Corn Crib at Fletcher Farm

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Polymer Clay: A New Way at Art on the Farm, 2016

In announcing my Art on the Farm workshops for 2016, I’m naming them ‘Polymer Clay: A New Way’ for two reasons. Not only am I teaching a surface design and coloring approach to polymer—as I have before—but I’m employing a new method this year for students to use to discover their own style. I’m also seeking to learn more about each student—their experience, artistic preferences and expectations-- before they come to my studio, using a ‘tell me about yourself’ survey so I can plan the class structure to be more effective. I don’t teach single techniques so I don’t want students to be disappointed that they don’t go home with a completed ‘project’. There are plenty of tutorials online and other workshops at bead shows and polymer retreats that do that. That’s not how I teach. People have seen the constant evolution of my style in polymer and they want to learn how to do that in their own work. They also want to learn how to move on from artistic blocks and how to turn their vision of their own style into reality.
"Terrazzo" earrings - polymer veneer with Pan Pastels, acrylics and crayons
"Blood Moon" pendant - Polymer veneer with Pan Pastels, acrylics, layered and textured
 On the first day we cover form and how to transform and personalize shapes with texture, layers and morphing. Day 2 covers surface techniques— textures, veneers, applied surfaces and molding. The last day covers color methods, types of products and their uses and how they act in combination with each other. We also cover attachments and how they inform the design process.
Valentine's Day pin - polymer veneers with Pan Pastels, acrylic paints

"Summer in the City" earrings - polymer clay, acrylics

If all this sounds rigorous, it is-- but it’s also a kick-butt load of fun! I think problem-solving and creating from a personal vision is the best kind of artistic stimulation and doing it in the company of other creatives is life-changing and is meant to send you home with a super jolt of inspiration and energy to kick-start your own creative process and projects.
"Point Reyes" necklace - polymer clay, acrylics, wire

Multi-layer beads-- polymer clay, oil paints, acrylics
Even if you’re not familiar with polymer, this workshop will work for you. I’ve worked with metal artists, wire designers, potters and painters. This method works for anyone delving deep into the creative process with a yen to discover their own style. I’m giving you a foundation process to take home and keep improving and growing. I want you to play, experiment, explore and have insights into how to work and expand ideas into new, exciting areas.
If this sounds like something you've been looking for and feel you’d benefit from, visit my website and click on "Workshops" to view the registration information.

Art on the Farm – May 25-27, 2016 in Braintree, VT

Dates in Fall, 2016 TBA