Clayathon 2017

Another Clayathon has come and gone.  There was a record attendance of 80+ this year from all over the US and a delightful contingent of clayers from Canada.  Clay retreats really are a wonderful place to make friends and to rekindle old friendships.

Lindly Haunani, this year’s guest artist, shared her color expertise with six hours of presentations stretched over three days.  In  between Lindly’s demos, the attendees shared their knowledge of techniques ranging from Kumihimo, wire working and wet felting as well as basic to advanced polymer demos.  

There is a lot I am not mentioning but I am still recovering from the experience. When I got home, I went straight to bed and got up 14 hours later.

Here are some pictures.



Arlene’s Birdy

Remember The Deerclayer post and how we conspired to make hounds tooth-covered animals to give to Arlene Groch at this years’ Clayathon?



Well I have been into birdies lately and my Clayathon  hounds tooth contribution was a hounds tooth covered birdy.  I made the core from aluminum foil and newspaper which I covered with scrap clay, painted him with white acrylic paint and baked him.

   Birdgetting covered

Then I covered the birdy with cane slices


And baked again (his beak is painted with liquid clay tinted with acrylic paint)

Birdie Rear

I fashioned a birdy perch so Arlene could hang him in her studio without taking up any precious work space.






I antiqued him with a mixture of liquid clay and white acrylic paint for a muted look.

I think he looks content; don’t you?

Still Claying After All These Years

Clayathon time is here again. I will pack up my stuff and head to beautiful Galloway Township NJ and the Stockton Seaview Hotel where I will meet new and old friends and have a chance to play with my clay for as long as I want.    Clayathon is a friendly gathering of creative people who enjoy playing and claying together.  Clayathon  can be a time to set goals and try new things, or  a time to make birds.  Lisa Clarke has attended most of the Clayathons and written about them.    Robin Milne designed a great logo for this years’ event.    And Arlene Groch and her team of volunteers have made Clayathon one of the best clay events of the year.  


Want more?  Here  are some past Clayathon posts from this blog.

New Work from Arlene Groch

Earlier this summer I got to spend some time in Arlene Groch’s spanking new studio which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s what she’s been up to.

Arlene really took to screen printing on polymer clay, but she didn’t restrict her work to pieces with an Asian flavor.  She tried screen printing on practically everything except her Grandchildren, often with stunning results.

And no one ever accused Arlene of being afraid of color.  Her pieces are big, bold and colorful.

Recently, Arlene has gotten into caning.    Well, I suppose a workshop with Bonnie Bishoff and Melanie West   and hanging around fellow PAPCG member and caner extraordinaire  Emily Squires Levine is bound to rub off.   It will be interesting to see where Arlene goes from here.

This just in!

Catch Arlene at the Wheaton Fine Arts Festival

In Arlene’s Studio

Earlier this summer I got to spend some time in Arlene Groch’s spanking new studio.   For years , the room had been a makeshift storage closet for Arlene and her husband but now it’s the studio she always wanted.

I have to admit,  there was something refreshingly different about Arlene’s first studio.  She was a practicing lawyer and when she decided to quit, she turned her conference room into a clay area; the conference table was just right.  But when another tenant wanted the space, she decided to move on.  She took over a room in her house but it was never quite what she wanted.    Something had to be done.

There is a room near the front door of Arlene’s house and for years she and her husband used it as a makeshift storage locker.  Arlene knew it could be put to better use.  They cleared it out and now Arlene has the studio of her dreams.  Two windows give plenty of light on sunny days; one is a  bay window complete with window box.  The studio  has running water, work tables to accommodate five people and plenty of storage.

Now students can come to Arlene’s front door and right into her studio.

Arlene keeps her oven in the  laundry room it behind the door on the left and happily reports that she’s finally caught up with the laundry.

Arlene has filled her studio with her work and little mementos are everywhere.  Her studio is a happy place.

A work space like Arlene’s is conducive to creativity.  Next week, we’ll take a peek at what she’s been making in there.

What I Did At Clayathon

I made a beaded bead, two birdies and started a mad scientist figurine.  I was not productive at all.  But I don’t care.  Leslie Blackford was our guest artist and she gave some wonderful demos on sculpting  and making figurines with heads that screwed on and off so you could change them depending on your mood.   Leslie’s work is engaging, memorable, clever, funny, punk, outre, and wonderfully screwy all at once.   She is a patient, generous teacher and down to earth.    We all had a blast.   I bought one of her necklaces (a pizza eating cat) and  part of the clasp bore the words, “Damn everything but the circus!”  I looked up the e.e. cummings poem which seems to describe Leslie’s approach to polymer clay.  I think it’s also a good way to live:

Damn everything but the circus!

…damn everything that is grim, dull,

motionless, unrisking, inward turning,

damn everything that won’t get into the

circle, that won’t enjoy, that won’t throw

its heart into the tension, surprise, fear

and delight of the circus, the round

world, the full existence…

— e.e. cummings

I saw old friends, made new ones and took a cold walk on the Atlantic City Boardwalk to Caesars Casino with Leslie,  Rob Yost  (who came up from Maryland wearing his skunk hat) and Barb.  Emily and Lisa were preternaturally prolific as always.   People sculpted some incredible things and I took scads of pictures.  I  hope to post most of them in the fullness of time.

Here are my birds

To see everyone else’s birds, go to to the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s blog, the Guild Reporter

Clayathon 2010

I don’t know what I enjoyed more: watching Wilma Yost of Polymer Clay Express demonstrating the Dream Machine and trying it out for myself, watching Melanie West’s demos, catching some of Arlene Groch’s enthusiasm or having uninterrupted time to continue working through Polymer Clay Color Inspirations.

I clayed, drank whiskey, sat up until 7:00 am one night (morning?) claying and chatting, made new friends and saw old ones.
Everyone had a wonderful, relaxing time.  See you in 2011!

Clayathon 2009

If you want to see even more Clayathon pictures, click on The PAPCG Guild Reporter. Thanks to Arlene Groch and all the other wonderful South Jersey Polyaddicts for making the Clayathon such a success!

Klay Kismet

A couple of years ago, I spent a few days at Arlene Groch’s house claying nonstop alongside Arlene, Ellen Marshall and Melanie West. During the course of the claying frenzy, I made some bracelets with long beads usinga variety of techniques.


In October, Barbara McGuire taught a master class in Philadelphia and was the guest artist at the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s monthly meeting. She saw my bracelets and remarked that I had used oneof the stamps she designed. Then I remembered admiring one of Arlene’s stamps and using it to texture some of the beads.  Arlene bought the stamp on Barbara’s web site.


Barbara McGuire is the author of two of my all time favorite polymer clay books,Foundations in Polymer Clay Design and Wire in Design. So I was  looking forward   to her demo at the meeting.  I was not disappointed.  And the members who took her face canes class gave it rave reviews. The Guest Artist Program is one of the best perks of PAPCG membership.

If you want to see pictures from the meeting, go to the guild’s Flickr site. If you’re in Philadelphia this weekend, try to catch the  PMA Craft show where Melanie West is participating as an emerging artist.

And not for the last bit of Klay Kismet:  Arlene happened to go to school with my boss.  How Kool is that?

Arlene Groch: Polyaddict

 Let Arlene Groch’s story be a warning to all of you. “My totally out of control addiction to polymer clay had such an innocent birth in September, 2004”, she recalled. “I bought some clay and a couple of books to share an activity with my 8 year old grandson. He was mildly interested; I was hooked. Within a month I had decided to give up my 30 year career as a trial attorney so I could devote most of my time to playing with clay and attending workshops and classes. I set myself a one year goal of learning enough to be able to begin to develop my own style.”  To see more of Arlene’s one of a kind Mezuzah cases and jewelry, go to her site,PolyGemDesigns.