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Presentations


Monday 11th July - Morning

General Session


Jeffrey Lloyd Dever

Stretch – The Journey Toward Artistic Growth

Every artist wants to evolve. For this seminar will Jeffrey outline various practical steps to push ourselves as artists, and our work, to new levels – ways to break the log jam and challenge ourselves. With a Power Point presentation, he would list, discuss, and look at various options available, discussing pros and cons of each avenue. Interspersed, Jeffrey would illustrate with artwork from his personal 25-year journey – work that was a direct outgrowth of some of the options discussed.

This session would be best with time for audience participation, for a Q&A, and sharing personal tips and experiences. Jeffrey would conclude with a challenge to individual artists and our community as a group to keep pushing the boundaries, toward a personal evolution.

Seminars

Borrow Like An Artist: One Artist’s Journey of Paying Attention to Everything and Everyone

Kathleen Dustin has been making things since she can remember, but became a professional artist only 35 years ago. After a professor told her during a critique “don’t just make pretty things, make your work personal” she has endeavoured to express her own voice in all that she makes by being authentic.

She nevertheless has paid attention to what others have done and has often borrowed ideas. So, how are these two seemingly contradictory ways of working resolved? This presentation not only shows the development of Kathleen’s work in ceramics and polymer, but it also looks at how artists can be informed by and use the work of other artists. The goal of Kathleen’s talk is to generate healthy conversation on the whole topic of borrowing, stealing, and copying within the polymer community.
HOLY POLY XXL

Construction of shrines and more with Polymer Clay

George will show the making of new work:
▪ the workflow from the sketch to the finished part
▪ the use of different materials as a support structure
▪ the making of moulds with 2-compound silicone
▪ duplicating with DIY stamps, stencils, moulds etc.
▪ mechanical solutions with polymer clay
▪ and a few new things he is still working on!

2020 Vision: How to see clearly where your art is going

Can you see where your art will take you in the next 5 years? This presentation will bring social, cultural and taste-driven trends into sharp focus.

Cynthia will create a picture of what the future looks like so that you can capitalize on those changes and adapt. She’ll look back over 10 years of blogging on PCDaily plus decades of polymer experience to predict what’s next. Surf through her slides of the best, quirkiest, most compelling art from around the world.

Trend Tracking (some of the questions we'll address):
• What art will your customers be drawn to in 2020? How will your art excite tomorrow’s buyer?
• Color mixing systems will change. How will you adapt your processes?
• How will technology insinuate itself into your art? How will social media impact you?
• How will you make your living from art? What’s the proper mix of revenue streams for you?
• What will your materials be made of? How will formulations change?
• What tools will appear and how will your studio evolve?
• What unlikely partners will you take on as you mix your media?
• Art for good? Will polymer have a social effect and will you include a social component in your work?

You’ll walk away knowing how to apply the trends that will affect us all in ways that make your art succeed.
Explore new nuances with your existing colour palette, sharpen your colour contrasts, develop your colour deepening skills through colour layering, graduating and texturing. Let your colour genie out!

Click on the Challenges for more information.

Monday 11th July - Afternoon

General Session


Laura Tabakman

Getting ready to show

You started playing with polymer clay, took many classes, made the techniques yours and developed your own voice; you know what you want to say with the medium. So, are you ready for the next step? Facebook is a great way to share, and your friends love your work, but to grow as an artist people need to see your work in person and appreciate every little detail you work so hard on.

For Polymer to grow as a medium we need to expand our public moving beyond just our community. In this seminar I will tell you about my journey and we will talk about the tools needed to look professional and exhibit your art. We will discuss entering juried exhibitions, craft shows, gallery exhibitions, organizing your own show and how to be ready for them. Showing your work to the world can be scary, but with a little preparation you can be ready!

Seminars


Go Pro Polymer

Melanie believes it is vital for the future growth and success of our medium that we continue to elevate standards; certainly creatively, but also in the way in which we conduct ourselves as professional artists. Many in our community are happy to enjoy polymer as a hobby (and that is perfectly fine!), but what do you do if you want to 'go pro' and sell or promote your work, even in a small way? Melanie's presentation will encompass everything you need to know, from taking first steps as a beginner to improving and expanding your markets and business practice if you already sell your work. Her talk will include vital information (based on many years of my own marketing, retail and business experience), such as:
  • Pricing your work correctly and organising the financial side of your business
  • Business planning - forward thinking
  • Organising your work (creatively and financially)
  • Best creative practice - be efficient and still have fun making!
  • How to be a good entrepreneur
  • How to promote your work to galleries, shops and the public (even if you are shy and lack confidence)
  • How to exhibit and display well in any environment
  • Using social media and other marketing methods successfully
  • Facing and dealing with failure and rejection (and how to rise again)
  • Developing the required personal qualities you need to succeed - all about 'grit' and other important mindsets!
Melanie has delivered lectures and seminars on these topics on behalf of many professional organisations, including University of New South Wales Design School (to Masters of Design students and faculty), Craftscotland, Applied Arts Scotland, Crafts Council UK and Emergents Arts Organisation. She also coaches individuals at various stages in their professional lives.
Beyond Polymer: Adapting the ColorWash Technique to Teach Color Across Media

Over the years, polymer clay artists have adapted a huge number of techniques from other media. We can return the favor by reaching ou t across media to show how we are using the many techniques that we share with other artist and craft communities. The ColorWash technique brings out the richness of color by spreading thin a thin layer of color over a white base. Used by artists in many different media, including paint, inks, dyes and polymer, Maggie believes that the simplicity of this technique can help all artists discover, and learn to trust, their unique of color. Maggie stumbled upon the ColorWash technique (aka Torn Paper or Watercolor technique) over twenty years ago while playing with applique beads. Since then she has explored this age old technique in her own work and used it at the heart of her Smashing Color workshops for polymer artists.
After the Challenge of Racine - to venture outside the world of polymer – Maggie decided to reach out by expanding the use of the ColorWash technique to teach color classes for artists of all media, not just polymer.

Maggie will show the results of her ColorWashing experiments in paints, Inks, dyes and polymer and share the color charts and exercises that she designed over the last year to teach her Smashing Color workshops across media. Playing with ColorWashing in other media has rekindled Maggie’s appreciation for the beauty of this technique and inspired a whole new body of work in polymer clay. In addition to showing slides of her own work using this technique, Maggie will present work of master artists in other media from all over the world who use variations of the ColorWash technique in their own absolutely beautiful ways.
Polymer Jewelry Construction: Inside Out

How do you construct a complex piece of jewelry with polymer clay? From the inside out, back to front, bottom to top! There are many workshops that present methods for creating visually stunning polymer clay surfaces, yet very few that help you put those techniques to use in creating elements as part of a compete design. Take your work to the next level! Explore the possibilities of using clay as an element of a mixed media jewelry design.

The properties of polymer clay make it the perfect engineering vehicle that enables the artist to complete complex jewelry construction. Its malleable nature allows it to be manipulated in a way that can mask complex attachments in a beautiful manner as part of the design as a whole. It can be used as a structural tool, a means to an end, in addition to being the surface embellishment. Discover how drilling is not always the answer, as directional holes and multiple attachment locations can be created prior to curing the polymer pieces. Realize your vision through the concept of multiple holes, attachment alternatives, preplanning for wearability, and coordinating accents.

The construction decision-making process will be covered start to finish. Construction variations using head pins and eye pins, wire, chain, filigree, cord, tubing, stringing materials, fabric and mesh will all be touched upon to provide ideas that go beyond those that are generally seen in polymer pieces. Join us for this journey of endless design possibilities by finding a whole new perspective on jewelry engineering.
What will make your flat compositions come to life? Will it be interlocking shapes, novel cane patterns, unusual textures?

Click on the Challenges for more information.

Tuesday 12th July - Morning

General Session


EvaMarie Törnström

Creativity is a place in your heart

Since neither polymer nor creativity has any limits the combination offers extreme possibilities! In my presentation I will take the audience on a journey into different ways to find their own, unique and personal creativity. I will talk about my own artistic career and show various milestones (one is of course my first meeting with polymer clay).

It is very rare to come up with something that is absolutely new in all aspects. Creativity is the ability to make something new out of things (or ideas) that already exist, by combining and using them in a new way.

I am only part-time artist – I am also the Director of Communications at one of Sweden’s most creative places – Mjärdevi Science Park in Linköping, Sweden, the city where ideas come to life. I am a skilled presentator, used to adapt my presentations to the current audience.

My presentation will be very visual, with both photos and videos. I will show examples from my own work, environments and things that have inspired me and point out where you can recognize it in my art. I will also talk about the techniques that I use, and thereby also mention a little about serendipity - how mistakes can lead to new opportunities and possibilities.

I am also a part of the makerspace movement – at the moment active in the forming of Linköping MakerSpace - a meeting place for creative people of all kinds, including artisans and technicians. One of my goals for the coming year is to work with engineers to develop some kind of wearables that include both polymer clay and electronics in a useful way. In my presentation I will include a lot of photos from this collaboration, showing how creative people can create wonderful things across different boundaries.

Seminars


The imaginative mind: how to inspire it, feed it and exercise it

To create is to produce one's imagination. As free and as abstract as imagination may seem, it is always rooted in inspiration, a prior experience or a set of constraints that form the jumping point for one's imagination. Inspiration is what fuels the imagination to create and innovate.
In this two parts talk, I will address sources of inspiration and discuss how to best nurture the imaginative mind from eating the right foods to exercising the brain.

Inspiration is almost never made up of only one element, rather it is a combination of elements some of which may not even be visual. Purpose, intention, emotion, motivation and even the medium itself can all be sources of inspiration. In this talk, I will discuss the various sources of inspiration in depth and illustrate them with examples of art. I will show how incorporating more than one element of inspiration into the design adds dimension and complexity and elevates the work from an object to art. I will also demonstrate how tapping into different elements of inspiration ensures that the design deviates well enough from the inspiration to avoid copying, one of the hot topic of discussion in our community.

In addition to being an artist, I am a scientist and professor of public health and nutrition so I can't help but think about how best to nurture the imaginative mind. Imaginations is a function of the brain. For polymer clay artists, the brain is our instrument of expression just as vocal chords are for a singer or hands are for a pianist. To nurture our imagination, we should take good care of our brains by making sure it gets the right amount of nutrition, rest and exercise. In this part of the talk I will give a brief overview of how the brain works (in non technical language), outline the types of foods that best supports the brains functions, how sleep affects it and how to give it the right amount of exercise to optimize performance.
Effets de matière

I discovered polymer clay by chance in 2008 and since then the passion for this medium has never left me. In 2011, an editor contacted me, which led to a first book in French on imitative techniques published in 2012 and a second in 2015, still on the same theme.

Until quite recently, my connection with this medium was that of an "enlightened amateur”. I wanted to be guided mainly by pleasure without mercantile considerations, but I had to revise my views and become a professional to satisfy yet another passion: teaching.

During my presentation, I will present my imitative techniques and in particular three techniques that evolved from the research work I did while working on my second book. I will focus on three areas:
1) First, I'll speak about my journey and how my work evolved over the years. This will be an opportunity to share with you my thoughts about creativity.
2) Secondly, and this will be the most substantial part of my talk, I will reveal the secrets of three of my imitative techniques: the Murano, lace and driftwood effects. I will show many illustrations and also short video clips of me at work.
3) Last, I will talk about my sense of design and style which tends to combine unusual colors and incongruous shapes.

As I do not speak English, I will present in French with translation by an interpreter. Lots of photos and video clips will help to overcome any translation issues.
Selling Out Without Losing Your Soul: The Business of Being an Artist

Very few artists can create purely for the joy of it, most of us are required to find a way to monetize our passion. This is the history of art, in all genres, in all ages. How do we, as artists, balance the business side of art with the pure passion of creativity?

We will discuss two broad topics:
1. selling out - making money with our art
2. saving our artistic souls – making space for the passion of art

This will take the form of a talk with presentation of images/videos. Included will be short interviews with polymer artists and artists from other genres. The business “selling out” topic will be addressed by many artist with a wide range of business ventures, including artists with personal product lines, artists who teach, who assemble handmade products in large quantities and as one-of-a-kinds, those who travel the show circuits, and those who do small local fairs and in-home parties, some who sell online or in boutiques, galleries and exhibitions, others who produce books, magazines, projects or online classes, artists who own their own studios/galleries, and those who do commissioned work.

The crucial but time-consuming role of social media will be examined. We will examine ways to monetize our art in a way that fits us each as artists. For the “saving our souls” portion I will present more images/insights/videoclips from artists who share the joys and struggles of balancing art and business - some pitfalls to avoid, and how to rescue an artistic life swallowed by the demands of business. How one’s creativity suffers without frequent and scheduled creative time, and practical suggestions on how to chose realistically between demands and desires.
Vibrate yourself and remove colour from your work in order to focus on other elements of Design such as line, form and grey tonal values.

Click on the Challenges for more information.

Tuesday 12th July - Afternoon

General Session


Catherine Petitjean

Polymer Clay in Europe-Evolution of Techniques

I will begin this presentation with a very short history of the arrival and impact of Polymer Clay in Europe. Afterwards I will introduce the work of contemporary artists who combine polymer clay with other additives in an innovative way. Some of the applications we will be looking at are the use of dry pastels with translucent clay, inks, new applications of mokume gane, silk screen with new media and perhaps even a look into 3D design.

As this event takes place in Europe I will focus primarily on the work of prominent European clay artists that have created masterpieces using these techniques while adding their own personal interpretation as well as considering the initial artists who inspired them. There will be many beautiful pictures of jewelry, objet d’art and more that best illustrates these new techniques. but always with a focus on artists dedicated to developing their own creative process and individual exploration.

Seminars


Finishing – It starts before you even begin

When do you know a piece is finished? What is a good finish? Why can't you seem to get that professional, finished look in your work? Why can't you finish anything you start? This tricky English word “Finish” has so many meanings. And yet, it plagues the artist every time she... well... wants to finish a piece. In this presentation, I will share a different way of looking at your work, and a different way of working. Using lots of images and examples, I will walk the participants through a way of “finishing” their work before they even begin it.

I will cover:
- Where do you want a piece to be seen, used, owned?
- How does this effect how complete a piece is?
- Breaking your work down into steps
- Assessing where a problem began
- Working and reworking, or even starting over
- Remembering to enjoy what you are doing... or if you can't, what to do about it.

Note: As a 90 minute breakout session, time will be given to allow participants to bring problems they are having to the group, and give time for discussion on ways to address challenges. This will NOT be a critique session, only a problem solving session, focussing on ways to aproach the work so that individual problems an artist has can be resolved.
Aspiring to Inspire— Communicating with Creatives

An interactive talk and workshop on creating written and visual content for blogs, websites, tutorials, articles or even your next book. The bas ic steps for creating printed or online material is the same no matter what you are putting together. Some are more abbreviated than others but the goal is the same--you want to delight and excite others to create or otherwise tap into their creative spirit.

Sage will go over how to organize your ideas, how to find a written voice and develop a visual atmosphere that will connect with your particular a udience, what you need to include and what you shouldn’t, how to edit (or get others to do it for you), and what kind of images work for various types of publications and web pages.

Bring ideas, outlines, partly written work, previously written/published pieces or screen shots of existing web pages for us to go over.
Immaterial Evolution – Seeking Re-imagined, Repurposed, and Recycled Possibilities

Jeffrey presented similar seminars at previous Synergy Conferences in Baltimore and Atlanta. They were very well received, creating a lot of buzz and discussion. It has also been the start of a personal journey that continues to evolve to this day with many new explorations. Re-imagining, repurposing, recycling and recombining various discovered “found” materials with one another and/or polymer clay awaken an entirely new lexicon of possibilities.

For this seminar Jeffrey illustrates an array of techniques using repurposed and recycled found materials. He would start with review of some of the pieces from his previous two lectures. Next, he would present a gallery of new pieces and studies he’ll create (jewelry, baskets, sculptural objects) to show the exploration of materials usage and possibilities. Interspersed within the presentation, several of the techniques could be virtually demonstrated with a narrated step-by-step slide show, not unlike an “Art Jewelry” magazine article. An important facet of this presentation would be group interaction, dialogue and a Q&A session. Jeffrey would also display a couple of actual pieces for attendees to see after the session. The main purpose would be to inspire artisans to explore new options common everyday materials can present – to open their eyes to the possibilities.
Feel and fill the space, try your hand at sculpture or take on the challenge of creating dimensionality by bringing together contrasting volumes and forms.

Click on the Challenges for more information.

Wednesday 13th July - Morning

General Session


Loretta Lam

Intentional Design

How do you choose which colours to use, what goes where, and how much of this or that goes into each piece? To design great jewellery you have to choose which principles and elements to feature in the current work and which to leave for another time.

Informed and intentional decision-making is the key to great jewellery design. Establishing a design hierarchy will draw people in, engage them by telling a story with your art. Conscious choice will take your art from accidental to intentional, from awkward to elegant, from good to great.

Seminars


Borrow Like An Artist: One Artist’s Journey of Paying Attention to Everything and Everyone

Kathleen Dustin has been making things since she can remember, but became a professional artist only 35 years ago. After a professor told her during a critique “don’t just make pretty things, make your work personal” she has endeavoured to express her own voice in all that she makes by being authentic.

She nevertheless has paid attention to what others have done and has often borrowed ideas. So, how are these two seemingly contradictory ways of working resolved? This presentation not only shows the development of Kathleen’s work in ceramics and polymer, but it also looks at how artists can be informed by and use the work of other artists.

The goal of Kathleen’s talk is to generate healthy conversation on the whole topic of borrowing, stealing, and copying within the polymer community.
HOLY POLY XXL

Construction of shrines and more with Polymer Clay

George will show the making of new work:
▪ the workflow from the sketch to the finished part
▪ the use of different materials as a support structure
▪ the making of moulds with 2-compound silicone
▪ duplicating with DIY stamps, stencils, moulds etc.
▪ mechanical solutions with polymer clay
▪ and a few new things he is still working on!
Go Pro Polymer

Melanie believes it is vital for the future growth and success of our medium that we continue to elevate standards; certainly creatively, but also in the way in which we conduct ourselves as professional artists. Many in our community are happy to enjoy polymer as a hobby (and that is perfectly fine!), but what do you do if you want to 'go pro' and sell or promote your work, even in a small way? Melanie's presentation will encompass everything you need to know, from taking first steps as a beginner to improving and expanding your markets and business practice if you already sell your work.

Her talk will include vital information (based on many years of my own marketing, retail and business experience), such as:
  • Pricing your work correctly and organising the financial side of your business
  • Business planning - forward thinking
  • Organising your work (creatively and financially)
  • Best creative practice - be efficient and still have fun making!
  • How to be a good entrepreneur
  • How to promote your work to galleries, shops and the public (even if you are shy and lack confidence)
  • How to exhibit and display well in any environment
  • Using social media and other marketing methods successfully
  • Facing and dealing with failure and rejection (and how to rise again)
  • Developing the required personal qualities you need to succeed - all about 'grit' and other important mindsets!


Melanie has delivered lectures and seminars on these topics on behalf of many professional organisations, including University of New South Wales Design School (to Masters of Design students and faculty), Craftscotland, Applied Arts Scotland, Crafts Council UK and Emergents Arts Organisation. She also coaches individuals at various stages in their professional lives.
Experience the extruder's versatility and show us novel ways of using it!

Click on the Challenges for more information.