Transitions: Mary Federici

South Jersey Clayathon started in 2005 as a small weekend get together for a group of people from different walks of life united by their love of polymer clay. It has grown to one of the preeminent polymer events in the US, last year attended by 130 people. I have been going to Clayathon since the beginning and am involved with the plans to take the event to a virtual platform in 2021 because of the pandemic.

You don’t attend an annual event all those years without making friendships. So we were all devastated to learn of the death of Mary Federici on September 20th. She never missed a Clayathon.

Hamming it up at the first Clayathon. Arlene Groch is in the front, Emily Squires Levine is left. Mary is at the rear.
Mary at Clayathon 2019

Mary was always good for a laugh. A typical story: one year when she was dating a plumber, she brought a length of heavy pipe to Clayathon that she used to whack the hell out of hard bricks of polymer to soften them for conditioning. “My persuader,” she called it.

We will all miss her.

Coming Together at Clayathon

Polymer artist Lindly Haunani is currently in the hospital with multiple severe injuries she suffered in a car accident last week. She is going to have a very long, painful, expensive recovery.

Lindly was scheduled to teach a class at Clayathon which started yesterday.  Her friend and collaborator Maggie Maggio is flying in to teach Lindly’s class for her.

The Clayathon participants have planned some extra conference activities in support of Lindly.

Watch the Creative Journey Studios website here   for exciting news about Sue and Ellen’s ambitious long term project, “52 Weeks for Lindly”.

Most importantly, Cynthia Tinapple has created a Go Fund Me page for Lindly here. Please support Lindly’s Page on your social media and email it to your contacts, and make a donation if you can.

New Earrings (Ugly Cane School Part 3)

I have pretty much exhausted my supply of ugly canes, but I think I have put them to good use.

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These earrings are what can happen when you chop up ugly canes in a mini chopper.  (I found one like this  at a thrift shop for $6.00) and add a few lumps of contrasting clay for interest.

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Another example

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So I have all these components that I plan to take  with me to Clayathon to play around with and try new combinations for earrings.    I have also been experimenting with making my own clay cutters with this kit I got on Amazon.  I will post a tutorial and a review in the future.

I’ll have a  lot to keep me busy!  Clayathon starts February 12 and goes until February 20.  A week of polymer bliss with Kathleen Dustin as this year’s guest artist.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.

 

No Work and All Clay

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Clayathon logo by Robin  Milne

Clayathon starts in a few days and it won’t be too soon for me.  The hotel where we hold it was sold last year  and ensuing renovations meant we had to move Clayathon from February to April.  Nicer weather but too long a wait!  Fortunately, Clayathon will return to its February time slot next year and make that dreary month seem a little less miserable.

Here are some pictures from last years’ Clayathon.

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Experience the Golden Age of Swaps at Clayathon

We are having a bit of polymer history this year at Clayathon.  I have donated the items I received years ago in polymer clay swaps for Sherman Oberson to curate.  Some items will be auctioned off.   But everybody will be able to see the collection of polymer pens, beads, canes, jewelry and more made in the late 1990’s.   Most of the work is primitive by today’s standards and most of mine is downright ugly, but the learning curve was higher in those days than is now. Many swappers included notes and cards with their stuff sharing what they did and how they did it. None of this would have happened without the Internet.

 

Polymer Clay didn’t  come into its own  as an art medium until the advent of the Internet.  Before then,  polymer artists found one another pretty much by serendipity.  A few of these artists founded the National Polymer Clay Guild.  The National Guild started holding conferences.   But as the Internet came into its own, more and more people started surfing, found one another, and connected.

The most popular polymer site in those days was Polymer Clay Central.  This was back in the mid to late 1990’s before Leigh and Stephen Ross took over the site from Arlene Thayer.   (I  was not able to find a screen shot on The Wayback Machine because it only started tracking the site in 2000.)

People flocked to Polymer Clay Central for information, news, and to participate in swaps.  It worked like this: Someone would volunteer to host a swap, decide on a theme and would post a call for participants in Polymer Clay Central.   People would sign up and make items according to the theme-one for every participant-and mail them to the host or Swap Meister along with a small amount of money to cover postage.  The Swap Meister would sort through everything and send each participant a box filled with everyone’s creations.

Leigh Ross recalled the excitement of receiving a swap box: “Swaps were sometimes the only way that we could actually see, in person, someone’s work besides our own! I remember the excitement of opening the “swap box” when it arrived in the mail, and the joy of seeing others who were as crazy about polymer clay as I was!”

Here are some of my favorite things from the swaps.  There will be more at Clayathon.

 

You can see many more swap pictures on Polymer Clay Central here and here.

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War at Clayathon

I am cleaning out my workshop for two reasons.  The first one is to clear out things I will probably never use like all that novelty yarn that looked so pretty at the time, and all those unopened stamp pads that I acquired from various rubber stamping conventions,  goody bags and sales too hard to resist.

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These items and many others are now packed in bags on my workshop  floor, ready to be taken to Clayathon for the Junque Table.  This is my second reason for clearing things out.  Because clearing out your workshop is so much easier if you know that your former treasures will find new life with someone else.

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The Clayathon Junque Table is a time-honored Clayathon tradition and the brainchild of Sherman Oberson, a serious collector of Junque, oddities, taxidermy and various art supplies.  Sherman invites Clayathon attendees  to sort through their supplies and bring anything from the “unwanted” category, the “no longer needed” category,  and the “OMG what was I thinking? category” to Clayathon where he and his crafty pack of  minions sort through everything,  The really desirable or costly items go into the auction.  The remainder go to the Junque table and are covered by a white sheet until the moment when Sherman whips the sheet aside, bellows,“Cry Havoc!,’ and let slip the dogs of war!” and retreats to a safe place while frenzied Clayathoners pick the table clean.

Here are some other things I am bringing for the Junque table:

 

Clayathon runs from April 4 to April 11 at the Seaview Resort in Stockton, NJ.   It’s sold out,  but I will be posting pictures.

Clayathon: Another Look

Lindly Haunani arrived at Clayathon on President’s Day and informed us that  Tory Hughes had died of ovarian cancer the day before, on  Sunday. Tory was just 59.  Not everyone at Clayathon was familiar with her body of work.  She was one of the first to develop polymer imitative techniques.   and to get on the video bandwagon.  She made a series of polymer videos that are still in circulation. But she was more than a pioneer;  she kept pushing herself and growing as an artist and teacher.  Her work kept evolving.  Cynthia Tinapple interviewed Tory in 2013,  and you can watch the video here. To learn more about Tory and her work, visit the Polymer Art Archive, here.

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Sherman Oberson runs a great auction. Here he is with his assistants.

 

There were a number of  old-school polymer  pieces for sale at the auction (which raised more than $3,000.  A big chunk of it went to  Ron Lehockey’s Heart Project.) An anonymous donor contributed a number of items by City Zen Cane, Grove and Grove, Pier Voulkos, Kathy Amt and others.  Here are some pictures.  I wish I had taken more.

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And Sue Springer came through again orchestrating a collaborative mirror project. (She did this for the first time at Clayathon 2014)  The finished mirror, which was also auctioned off, went home with a very happy person.

 

And finally,  Cynthia Tinapple came to Clayathon this year and made a great video of the highlights.  You can watch the video here.    And if you want to learn more about  pioneering polymer artists and their work be sure to check out the Polymer Art Archive.

Back From Clayathon

I got back from Clayathon today and I am so tired I can barely see straight.  But we had a ball,  all 110 or so of us.    The Stockton Seaview, where the event is held, is a luxury golf resort with a spa, pool, fitness center, a fireplace in the lobby and a big bowl of apples on the hotel’s front desk. It’s a great place to unwind and have fun.

This years’ Clayathon attracted clayers from as far away as California, Texas, and Canada.  Each Clayathon attendee got a 6-foot table as a workspace.  We had ovens for baking, buffers for buffing, drills for drilling and electric pasta machines out in the hall.  Donna Kato was this years’ guest artist and taught a class before Clayathon started.  Sarah Shriver, Claire Maunsell, Lindly Haunani,  Melanie West and Jana Roberts Benzon taught pre and post-conference classes, too.

I’ll write more on Clayathon next week, I hope!  In the meantime, here are some pictures.
 

 

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For more Clayathon reportage, go to Lisa Clarke’s blog here.

Embrace the Handle

Many people, including yours truly, are daunted by the thought of pulling a handle for a mug. So rather than face the task with fear, I decided to pay special attention to my mug handles to see whether I could come up with handles that are fun to make. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1.IMG_20180209_113045But I will not be making mugs this week because Clayathon starts today!  And I’ve been looking forward to it for some time.  To read about past Clayathons, press here.

Pottery, Cats, and Clayathon

I’ll start with the bad news.  Boris broke the Picasso Vase!  He was flinging himself to the top of his cat tree to claim a treat and everything between him and the treat was, shall we say, fodder for collateral damage.  He got the treat and the vase hit the floor.   I repaired the vase today with some 23k gold leaf and epoxy (Kintsugi) and might still put it in the Fleisher Art Memorial’s 2018 Student Show.  We shall see.

In the meantime, I have been working on soliciting auction and goody bag donations for Clayathon 2018. There are going to be some wonderful items this year and one-third of the auction proceeds go to  The Center for Pediatric Therapies and Ron Lehockey’s heart pin project.

I donated some pottery last year and it was pretty popular so I decided to contribute two lidded vessels to this years’ auction.

 

The vessel on top is screen printed with underglazes and the lower one is painted with underglazes.    The vessels are hand built using the tarpaper technique.

Here’s a  picture of the vessels before they were painted and a picture of the finished vessel I showed you in the tarpaper technique post.    I call it the Sassy Box and plan to make some mug handles with the same design as the handle on the Sassy Box lid.