I tried Polymer Clay

I made this during the class.  The crystal beads are on brass wire so the legs move. They were attached to the clay and cured together in a toaster oven at 275°F for 20 mins for permanency.  The moveable arms were attached afterwards.
I made this during the class. The crystal beads are on brass wire so the legs move. They were attached to the clay and cured together in a toaster oven at 275°F for 20 mins for permanency. The moveable arms were attached afterwards.

Go ahead, be a stick-in-the-mud potter (pun intended) and cringe, but polymer clay offers incredible elasticity, negligible shrinkage and versatility.  Case in point: Orcas Island artist Maria Papademetriou uses it to create ethereal sinuous ‘veins’ around driftwood branches as part of her assemblages.

I found this out first hand at an Introduction to Polymer Clay workshop by the very gracious Maria herself, whose intriguing artwork reference shrines, amulets and talismans from her Greek Orthodox childhood.  The class was held at Monkey Puzzle Workshop – a cosy, new art-discovery space at Eastsound Square launched by the inimitably bedecked Ms. Sallie Bell, as an extension of her stone bead and metal jewelry shop, Monkey Puzzle, a few doors down.  In fact Sallie joined the class and together with Charlotte Sumrall, a textile artist, we three had a great time watching Maria’s demos, and getting our hands dirty with rolling and cutting the polymer clay (a hand-cranked pasta maker is involved), stamping with ink, and even applying gold leaf.  It is just the most agreeable and approachable medium! To my delight, the material fees included some bead shopping at Sallie’s shop for embellishments to add to our ‘masterpiece’.

Charlotte's Gal
Charlotte’s Gal

Sallie's Belle
Sallie’s Belle

Maria has over 35 years of experience working with ceramics, but she is infectiously enthusiastic about polymer clay as a medium. Her enthusiasm alone made the class really interesting.  She is an engaging speaker and generously opened the window to precious little tips from years of art practice.  Oh, and she also brought a mean plate of homemade chocolate brownies.  It was a Sunday well spent. I am still too much in love with ceramic clay but I AM already thinking of using polymer clay elements to incorporate into my own mixed media work.

There’s another class this Sunday.  Check it out.

Sunday January 27th 10am-12pm 1pm-4pm

Location: Monkey Puzzle Workshop, Eastsound Square, Orcas Island

Fee is $50, plus a $20 materials fee.

PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please contact 317-5522 or email monkey@rockisland or information/registration.

P.S. Did you know there is a Northwest Polymer Clay Guild?  Check out their site to see the work of artists already using this medium.

The rains cometh

We are well into cold misty mornings  and I have had the excitement of choosing my first wool sweater to wear to kick off the season.  But seriously, the change in season has been made more distinct by the quiet after the bulk of tourists and summer residents have packed up and left, flying south, like the geese that are now a common sight on all the beaches.  With that, many of the restaurants and retail shops are cutting back their hours to just a few evenings and weekends, with some already shut, like Lily’s our favorite ice-cream shop.  This is the economic reality of living in a summer tourist spot, on an island to boot.

The windswept landscape with low clouds and occasional bursts of sunshine are as poetic as they come and I find the cold quiet beaches a welcome relief, after the carloads of families with their cheery togs and summer cliches have headed back to the ‘burbs.  But Main Street’s quiet belies a frenetic local pace, as farmers and gardeners haul in their harvests and can, dry, smoke and pickle for the winter.

With the fall sports season winding down for island kids, musical instruction is on our horizon. Perhaps violin and ukelele?  The prospect of long dark winter afternoons filled with the strains (now I understand this deeper meaning) and whines of instruments performing under duress is surely more charming than the reality of being present. But music would be a perfect distraction for idle fingers confined indoors by the weather, and perhaps, it may keep those vicious raccoons and the odd heat seeking rodent away.