What I Learned in Bonnie Bishoff’s Class

Last week, I took a two-day workshop with Bonnie Bishoff entitled “Polymer Meets Wire,”  sponsored by the New England Polymer Artist Guild.   Bonnie is probably best known for the extraordinary furniture she made with her husband and artistic partner, J.M. Syron, and her superbly-crafted cane work.   But there was no cane making instruction in Polymer Meets Wire.  Instead, the class was packed with information on how to construct lightweight and durable open forms, findings, and components by first making cores of epoxy clay and wire and then covering them with polymer veneers.  Then she showed us how to assemble them into delicate-looking necklaces, pins, and bracelets that did not rely on soldering to hold them together.

Bonnie

I am really excited about what I learned because now I have the means to address some design and construction problems that have been dogging me for years!  I also learned about the properties of various metals and why some are better for building inner cores than others.  Good to know.

Class

Bonnie also showed us some clever wire measuring tricks and taught us the ins and outs of working with epoxy clay, Genesis  Heat Set Medium and liquid clay.

My head was exploding by the middle of the first day and I still need to process all I learned.  Fortunately, Bonnie provided us with detailed written materials and drawings.

Here are some pictures of a cuff bracelet that I started in the class and finished when I got home.  Not my favorite cane work, but I have a feeling that I will be making more of these.  Thank you, Bonnie!

 

The class was held in the home of Ann Marie Donovan, who was a gracious, welcoming and friendly hostess.  Not only did she open her home up to 14 students, she provided us with a delicious lunch both days, coffee and snacks.  Thanks, Ann Marie and thanks to Kathryn Corbin for organizing the class and laughing at my jokes.  Well, most of them anyway!

To see more of Bonnie Bishoff and J.M. Syron’s work, check out their Pinterest board.

Into the Forest in Philadelphia

Last year, polymer artists Emily Squires Levine and Laura Tabakman  spent some late summer days in the  Colorado mountains and were so inspired by their walks through groves of aspen trees  that they decided to collaborate on an installation.

The result  is “Into The Forest” which opened for public viewing in Philadelphia on September 12.  Located  in the South Tower Art Gallery of the Park Towne Apartments in Philadelphia, the installation  is part of the “Constructing Organics” show which features work by three other Philadelphia artists.  InLiquid and AIMCO  co-sponsored the show.

I attended the opening and was excited to see polymer art recognized as fine art. Laura, who lives in Pittsburgh, was not able to attend the opening but Emily did an excellent job of  explaining how she and Laura were influenced by their hikes through the aspen forests and how they translated that experience into an intriguing installation.

Here are some pictures

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Painting by Jeffrey Keith

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Emily talks about “Into The Forest”

 

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Installation at twilight

 

The Philadelphia venue is only the beginning for “Into the Forest.”

I first learned at  the EuroSynergy conference this summer that  Emily and Laura, who have been joined by award winning polymer artist Julie Eakes plan to expand “Into The Forest”  into an  international collaborative project.  Laura  announced the project at the end of her Synergy presentation on “Getting Your Work Ready to Show.” She’d  already wowed the audience with her stories  about how she scouted exhibition  opportunities for her incredible polymer and mixed media installations.  After she revealed the plans for the international collaboration she invited everyone to volunteer via a Facebook group set up for the purpose.   I volunteered right there on my iPad and many people in the audience did the same.

You can volunteer too. Just go to the Facebook group page, here.   You can follow the project on Instagram (@intotheforest17).   Read more about the project on the Polymer Arts Blog.

Several  polymer events to support the program are in the works.  Emily will lead one at the September meeting of the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild.  For information on this meeting, go to the PAPCG blog.

 

 

 

Retreat to Morrisburg

Tray with tiles attendees made. Auctioned and proceeds donated to http://plancanada.ca/because-i-am-a-girl

My friend Patty and I, ever the intrepid travelers,  decided to take the recommendation of our friend Sherman and drive  to the little town of Morrisburg, Ontario and join a group of polymer artists who meet once a year at the McIntosh Inn for a retreat.

We crossed the border into Canada,  pulled up to the Canadian border inspection station, and handed our passports to the border screening agent in the booth.

“Polymer clay retreat? What’s that?” the  agent wanted to know after Patty told him the purpose of our trip.  

“It’s not like a religious retreat,” Patty explained, “it’s  a bunch of artists who get together and work on their polymer clay projects.”

“Polymer clay?” the agent wasn’t buying it.

I leaned over so the agent could hear me.  “It’s like what men do when they get together with their model trains.”

“Oh!” the agent, replied, “you’re gonna throw clay at one another?”  

I had never heard of that, so I laughed as if I got the joke.  The agent handed our passports back and waved us on our way.

We had a great time, renewed old acquaintances and made new friends.  We drank Tim Horton coffee, ate Butter Tarts, wrestled with the metric system and warned our Canadian colleagues that after the U.S. election in November, we might be back to stay.  

Here are some pictures

To see more pictures, go to my Flickr site, here.

 

 

Instant Karma

Klay Karma that is!  Sherman, Patty and I loaded up Patty’s car and headed up the New Jersey Turnpike to  Nashua, New Hampshire and the campus of Rivier University for the latest Klay Karma polymer clay retreat.

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This was my first year at Klay Karma.  Those in attendance were a lively and playful bunch.

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We had plenty of room to spread out; something every polymer clayer needs.

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I scored one of Libby Mills’ new bowls at the auction!

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It wasn’t all clowning around. . .

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  The natural light was fantastic!

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Here are some more pictures of work from the talented people who attended.  A big shout of thanks to Seana and Camilla and everyone who made the event possible.

Still Claying After All These Years

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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.

Clayathon Goes to the Circus!

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This is the second collaborative piece made at Clayathon 2013,

 Sherman Oberson(Dancing Clown),  Patty Pickup Clown with Blue Feet), Patti Underwood (Bearded Lady),  Lois Rosenthal Seal),  Robin Milne (Elephant), Martha Aleo (Juggling Balls and hands), Sue Springer (Spinning Plates  and Hand), Mary Frederici (Dancing Dog), Arlene Groch (Clown Shoes), Denise Pettit (the Bear in the Cage and the Giraffe) .  Please leave a comment as to who else contributed to The Circus and I will update the post.  We have a Ringmaster, the Balancing Teacups, the Giant Octopus,  the Gag Flower, the platforms and who painted those lovely boxes anyway?

What We Made at Clayathon

The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party

   A collaborative effort by the attendees of Clayathon 2013,  presented to Clayathon founder and organizer (and really cool person!!!)  Arlene Groch with gratitude,  affection and a big round of applause.

Some of the contributors: Sherman Oberson (chef),  Mary Frederici (fish),  Lisa Clarke  (napkins),  Terri Powell (wasabi peas),  Sarah Sorlien (bowl of oranges), Martha Aleo (baked potato) and Lenora Kandiner.

Here are the names of more contributors.  Thanks Robin and Sarah!

Sandra Donohue (pizza),   Jenn Dorion (salmon mousse), Lois Rosenthal (polka dot cake), Perrie Layton (orange flowers) Emily Squires Levine (bowls) Robin Milne (roses, banana and fortune cookies) Sue Springer (candy corn)

 I know that more people made things.   If I left your name out or omitted what you made, please leave a comment.

 

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Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild Website

The Art of Sherman

Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild member Sherman Oberson made these wonderful chess pieces at Clayathon this year. I can’t wait to see the rest!

The Queen

Her(?) King

Artillery

Special Forces

The rest of the Pawns

Rook

A Second Rook

A Knight

Your Other Knight

The Bishop

Are Knights on the rim grim?

Epaulette Mate

The Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild is holding its annual fundraiser in support of its Guest Artist program this Sunday. For more information, press here.

And we have a new YouTube channel!  Awesome!  To see it,  click here.  We’ll be featuring our own  videos and playlists of  videos from around YouTube.

Cynthia Toops Came to Philadelphia

to teach a polymer clay class to the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild. I was fortunate enough to take the class in micro mosaics and other techniques.  What I learned is that you don’t have to be able to cane The Last Supper to be a great polymer clay artist. Cynthia Toops makes simple components, but she assembles them with virtuosity and imagination.  And superb craftsmanship.

And she works simply.  I took a lampworking class with her husband, Dan Adams, a few years ago.  He told us that for the first several years, her only tools were a drinking glass and a single-edged razor blade.   Her class materials list was short, but the instruction was intense and personal.  I came away with some mediocre work and the realization that I had a long way to go.  But I had fun and I am already thinking how to integrate the techniques I learned into my own work.

Detail

Detail

 

I fooled around with some techniques in these little pins and then I poured clear resin over the elements, leaving some of them poking out.

To see pictures from the class, go to the Philadelphia Area Guild’s blog.  Cynthia Tinapple took the class too,  and put up some images on Polymer Clay Daily.  To see a video with Cynthia Toops explaining her work, press here.

 

Clayathon Wrap Up with Pictures

 

Clayathon is a place to relax, mix with great people, see the work other people’s work in progress and watch demos of  polymer and non-polymer techniques.  I saw demos on caning, faux dichroic glass,  soldering solver bezels, metal fold forming, and I gave a demo on drilling glass and making ring clasps with copper washers.  Lisa Clarke of Polka Dot Creations was there with the latest books and videos and Wilma Yost was there with the latest products from Polymer Clay Express  including their Shape Frames  that Wilma showed everyone how to use.  We had a cane swap and worked on a group cane too.  To sum it up, we had a blast.

Here are some pictures.