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I am hoping this would open a discussion about this myth about "polyclay people being one family". I know most of us get defensive as soon as the diversity and difference inside "group" of people is opened to discussion. Of course there are people who do not want even to try this kind of open groups, and are intimidated by differences and "nonsense discussions".
Porro: First of all I kiss you for doing this all in English. <bowing in your direction> what an effort!
I've been reading and rereading your post entitled: Unsubbing, this list and polyclay myths. I felt it bring up some very good points.
I'd just like to address the myth of "Polymer Clay People being One Family." and the assumption is it's a happy family.
Off the cuff, I don't think that by virtue of using the same medium that all those who use it will necessarily get along. My first husband was, and probably still is, an oil on canvas painter. His training was the old school of the Renaissance Masters and his painting shows that influence. He had friends who were painters and he would always have disdain for surrealists, like those influenced by Salvador Dahli.
Just because the medium is similar doesn't make everyone march to the beat of the same drum.
I was looking at my latest additions to my website and I realized, my stuff doesn't look like anyone else's polymer clay work. If I've been influenced by anything it has been by nature, or sewing costuming, by images of ethnic art from other cultures, but it hasn't been influenced by the styles of polymer clay work that you can identify as "So and So's Something" ...Donna Kato's Posey cane, for example. The Posey cane is very close, very close indeed to the tiger cane: Skinner blend, rolled into a jelly roll and then sliced with some sheets put in somewhere. That's the technique.
Leigh's Rose is the only recognizable technique and I felt I HAD to do it because it was so popular. But I really don't like to do tutorials on things that (1) already have a tutorial somewhere else, (2) that "everyone" is doing....always hated doing what everyone else is doing. I have a serious nonconformist streak to maintain. I might do an additional tutorial to show some steps in different colors. Take the canes through their paces of reiterating sections or doing the obligatory chop and toss. Or turn canes into mini tea sets which other tutorials neglect, the mini application of a technique. But my roses don't look PerfectLeigh. I find the polymer clay is too organic to follow directions too closely. I let it move where it wants to.
What YOU do with any technique, what pallet YOU use....that's where the individual hit will take place. If the Posey cane blend were made with abalone mixes: Pearl with a touch of green, blue or crimson...then jellyrolled and then sliced to have those cell separation that abalone always has, it's a whole different cane, the technique is similar but the outcome is something far different. It's what you want to do with the technique that will distinguish you from the crafter/hobbyist clayer or the artist who uses polymer clay as one of the means to an end.
Miniaturists, those Scav Mavens, will use ANYTHING. Polymer clay is just one part of the worktable for miniaturists. Doll makers too, clay is just part of the doll's total outfit.
There's a factions in all groups. Miniaturists have different national and regional organizations. Within organizations there are "factions". I know if I went to a gathering of polymer clay artists I would be drawn to those who are chatty and laugh too loud and at inappropriate moments. The blowing coca cola out of one's nose sort of surprised laughter is what I'm always drawn to. Is that being cliquish? Naw, I'm just looking for folks who are as gregarious and obnoxious as I am so I don't feel lonely. Or I'm just going to hang with the smokers, or the older gals who can relate to the fact that I'm a granny. People are naturally drawn to those who share something with them in some way. How do we know we share stuff if we don't post about our lives? That's the importance of Off Topic posts here, it's part of the glue that binds us.
With that being said, what if the thing that binds a bunch of different art and craft and mini and clay folks is not the medium, not the end result product, be it dolls, jewelry, or house hold embellishments, but rather the bond is one of sharing the journey of expression? This, I think, is what we have here. We are all not miniaturists, not pure clayers, not only artists, not just craftspeople who do a mad amount of production and sell their works. The tie that binds is our ability to express our process, share our works no matter what it is, and the added bonus of sharing our lives, as much or as little as we are comfortable in doing.
Now the difference between polymer clay people and miniaturists needs to be addressed.
I find more mature individuals in the miniaturist group because it takes time to build all those skills. From paint and plastering the dollhouse, running electrical, doing the wall, floor and ceiling decorations and THEN filling the space with something coherent. It takes TIME, and money, and effort and a variety of skills that ...well, younger women are still just learning, in between taking care of little children. You see how the demography is bound to be different? The younger women I find as miniaturists are often women who do not have small children...cats, dogs, ferrets, ya. But no children or no children yet. They have TIME that their cohorts with children do not have. I find polymer clay attracting young mothers because...well, they are already in the darned kitchen.
Miniaturists tend to be older, patient and follow directions. Polymer clay hobbyist and crafters tend to be younger, like young mothers, they like the fact that polymer clay is cured in a half an hour. Enough time to do that and take care of the laundry while the baby takes a nap. There's different energy between the two different crafters.
Then there are the kit lovers and kit bashers in both camps. Some folks follow all the directions to the letter and as miniaturists you can sort of get away with that because it's been an established art and craft form and there's tons of directions to follow. It's harder to follow directions with clay because it is just so gooshy when the weather's hot. <sigh, and rolling her eyes> There's no exact in any of my tutorials. It's sort of a fist full of this color and a booger's worth of that color, mix with your feet as you eyeball it. Polymer clay is what, like 30 years old. Miniatures were found in the tombs of the Pharoses. Miniatures were found in archeological digs and were family fertility goddesses or protections from the "evil eye". Because of the newness of polymer clay as a medium we are forging inroads into making it an art....taking it a step further than craft.
Not all clayers want to sell. Not all clayers want to make art for art sake, but need to support their activity by earning money from it. There's a skill required in doing mass production and getting them out there for sales over and over again. I have nothing but admiration for those polymer clay and miniaturists who do that Sales Show Circuit. It's something I know I don't have the where with all to do. There's the hobbyist, the craft person and the artists in both polymer clay and miniatures. So it's understandable that there'd be different "camps". Like we're all involved in the war but we are in different platoons, doing different sort of mayhem. It may look unified but it's not.
I know there's folks out there in both the polymer clay and miniature world who are sick of my shit. Just can't stand my communication style, hate the rambles, get angry and confused when I go far afield with the clay..."Now how on earth am I going to utilize THAT goofy technique?" Hey, no one told you to click the link, or read or be here. <shurg> This is just where I hang out.
What is important is that you know the craft of a medium, the basic moves, before you try to dance the fancy dance of an artist. That's one thing you can get on any clay list. The how to do the skinner blend, which glues work or don't, what do you use to finish a piece. It's all the same, the books are the same, the videos are the same and they will all show you the basic stuff. What do you do after you've learned the techniques?
You have to feel nurtured and safe to blossom as an artist even if you know all the techniques by heart, can do them in your sleep, but still have not found your "voice" as it were, haven't found your own personal style. This is what I hope this list can provide, that claypen where we can take our baby steps and there'll be loving hands to pick us up if we fall. Where even if we are accomplished in polymer clay or miniatures we might get inspired to try something new, something bold and daring, because for once we have a group of people open to new things, and who get excited because you're excited about something.
There are accomplished miniaturists who are taking their baby steps in clay. There are accomplished clayers who have discovered miniatures and fell in love with the challenge of making it smaller. Each can help the other in so many ways. The influences between the two groups enrich both.
So is the polymer clay world one family? Nope it was an young orphan that got adopted by mature miniaturists looking to scav another medium to exploit in their roomboxes. LOL (I can see the nodding of heads and hear the laughter from the miniaturists who are saying..."darned tooting.") As for the infighting in the polymer clay community and I know it takes place, doesn't have any baring here because we are a mixed bag o nuts. What draws us here is our need for a safe space to muck about with clay in some fashion and share what we make, no matter what it is. What binds us here is finding there's also artistic and emotional support along with good fellowship.
I hope that fed your need for some serious discussion on this matter, and I love your rambles. They give me food for thought.
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