Polymer at PMA Craft Show 2022

I got my first real look at polymer back in the stone age at the Philadelphia Craft Show at the 23rd Street Armory in Philadelphia. That’s where I first saw the the work of City Zen Cane. I bought two pairs of earrings at their booth: a pair for me which I still have, and a pair for my mother-in-law. She later confessed that she lost one earring and was so upset, she threw away the other one. That’s alright. I got her son.

I joined my friend Patty for the 46th annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show at the Philadelphia Convention Center recently. The show was less crowded than I remember it, probably because of the pandemic, and it was easy to take pictures of work with your cell phone. But there’s a danger in doing that. If you want to remember something, you’re much better off going to the artists’ websites, and everyone has one nowadays. They pay a lot of money to have their work professionally photographed in the best possible light. Still, I could not resist taking some pictures of the venue itself

City Zen Cane, now known as Ford and Forlano, were at the craft show this year with their distinctive work that has evolved greatly from their early days.

But this year’s show will be their last one. Now, we’ve all heard things like this before. How many farewell tours has Cher and The Who had? Don’t even mention Tom Brady. Still, there’s a lot more money to be made from stadium rock concerts and professional football than polymer clay, no matter how innovative and visionary it is. I am sure their work will still be available on their web site.

I had never met Wiwat Kamolpornwijit, but he proved to be a friendly and affable guy who loved to talk about his work. He looked like he was having a good show. Go to his website to take a look at his jewelry.

I have admired Genevieve Williamson‘s work for years. I love her muted and understated palate and her commitment to recycling clay and materials. Great earring cards!

Follow Genevieve on Instagram here.

Last but not least is Bonnie Bishoff, who was showing work with her husband and collaborator J.M. Syron. Bonnie will be this year’s guest artist at Clayathon.

Check out their website here and Instagram feed here. Drop me a message in the comments section if you want to learn more about Clayathon.

ArtSci Designs

I made my way to the home of ArtSci Designs this weekend for an open house and to see the beautiful polymer jewelry that my friend Terri makes in her Conshohocken studio.

Terri is a scientist who spends most of her days looking at the microverse through a scanning electron microscope. She translates the microverse into art you can wear. Here are just a few of her creations: bracelets in a color for everyone. She makes other kinds of jewelry, too-earrings, pendants, and necklaces mixing in sterling chains and findings, semi precious gems and handmade glass beads.

Terri has a lot of shows scheduled in the Northeast in the coming months. Follow ArtSci Designs on Instagram here, or Facebook here, to see where she’ll land next.

Clayathon Online 2022

A lot of planning went into Clayathon 2022. We had an incredible team of volunteers who worked together seamlessly, who supported one another, and made it happen. With registrants exceeding 450 this year, I was concerned about how we would handle them all on a Zoom meeting. But there were no problems. Everything and everyone came together.

The sense of community was palpable. Although most Clayathon registrants came from the United States and Canada, a number of registrants from Russia, who came to us via polymer artists Juliya Laukhina and Olga Guseva, joined us. It seems surreal in light of recent events that less than two weeks ago we were together online sharing tips, techniques, and talking about our personal histories and sources of inspiration.

From Juliya’s presentation
From Olga’s presentation

Donna Kato and Anna Ko of the Van Aken Clay Company dropped by to show off some exciting new products. Their video just went live on YouTube and here’s the link.

Wendy Moore joined us live from Australia where, aided by Kathleen Dustin and Cynthia Tinapple, she educated us on the history of Samunnat in Nepal, which is an organization dedicated to empowering Nepalese women who have experienced violence or abuse to become financially independent. One of the programs Samunnat sponsors is teaching women to make and sell polymer jewelry. You can support this wonderful program by buying some of this jewelry for yourself. More information here.

The Gathering grew out of an interview of polymer artist Debbie Jackson by Cynthia Tinapple after the murder of George Floyd. Debbie issued a call to action and assembled a group of 14 polymer artists, 7 white and 7 black. They met weekly on Zoom to have hard, unflinching conversations about race, society, and the impact it had on their lives and art. In October, 2021, they opened a group show, Truth Be Told, at the Two Villages Art Society Gallery in Contoocook, NH. For the exhibit, each artist chose a word that she felt related to the topics discussed in the conversations and created a piece of polymer art around it.

Several of the Gathering artists joined us online at Clayathon to discuss the exhibit and their contributions to it. It was a moving, challenging presentation.

Syndee’s New Tips and Tricks

We ended Clayathon on a lighter note with an entertaining presentation by Syndee Holt on what’s new on the polymer horizon and what’s trending in general.

I wrote about Loretta Lam’s incredible presentations in last week’s post. If you are interested in purchasing her jewelry or her book on jewelry design (which I heartily recommend,) press here.