About 40 years ago while on a business trip my aunt Kathy discovered polymer clay. It was Sculpey original, she brought it home and gave it to me. I was 9 or 10 at the time. I was obsessed with sculpting things out of modeling clay and always sad when they didn’t survive. Little did I know when I opened that box that I’d be opening up one of the longest and most important chapters of my life. It’s a chapter that helped shape who I am as an artist, lead to some of the most important friendships I’ve had and opened up many doors for me.  I work in several other mediums but polymer clay with its endless possibilities always calls me back.  One thing I love about polymer clay is the community we’ve built around it. Guilds, retreats, classes and of course online resources like this blog.

I just returned from Clayathon, a week long polymer clay retreat that is held annually in Galloway New Jersey. It was the 13th year and I’ve only missed one. I’m one of the co-chairs of the event along with event founder Arlene Groch and Susan Gross. What started as Arlene’s brainchild of a polymer clay pajama party for a group of friends has grown into one of the largest retreats in the country. There were 110 of us this year filling the ballroom of the Stockton Seaview Resort. Each of us had our own 6ft table filled to the brim with clay and supplies. It’s amazing to walk through the workroom of a retreat and see all the different things we are all doing with polymer clay, I always find some new inspirations.

Experiences Gained From the Polymer Clay Retreat

This year we added optional master classes by Lindly Haunani, Jana Benzon Roberts, Donna Kato, Melanie west, Claire Maunsell and Sarah Shriver. Donna Kato was our guest artist as well and gave 6 demos. Many attendees also gave demos. In addition to demos on every topic imaginable there are several social events at the retreat. There is a wear your art party, a fun game night and an auction. This year’s auction benefited Dr. Ron Lehocky’s Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies.

The retreat attracts attendees of all levels from around the country and Canada. From complete newbies to some of the best polymer clay artists out there. This year’s attendees included Julie Eakes, Cynthia Tinapple, Syndee Holt and Laura Tabakman. All of us working with polymer clay in unique ways.

The workroom was filled with laughter, happiness, sharing and the camaraderie that comes from being surrounded by creativity. I came home from the retreat feeling invigorated and brimming with new ideas to try. Retreats of this type happen all over the country and the world. I hope if you’ve never been to one that you’ll seek one out or join your local guild. Open yourself up to meeting other polymer clay enthusiasts and the rewards will be endless.

Now to open up some packs of clay and see where it takes me today.

Photo credit to Linda Ezernieks and Robin Rosenthal Milne!Sherman- 1

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