My “Honey-Bunch” and I just got back a wonderful weekend getaway in the beautiful area in and around Douglas & Saugatuck, Michigan. During our time in the area we made a point of checking out the local small brewery, a winery, and a wonderful place that does craft ciders. While enjoying all of the flavors at the various tasting rooms I was thinking about how the craft of cider, beer, or wine making can be directly related to polymer clay. OK: Here goes… You head to the store and get a bottle of your favorite wine, brew, or cider and that first sip is just absolutely wonderful. Now; have you ever toured a brewer or winery? If you have I think you can understand what I mean when I say that it gives you a new level of enjoyment and appreciation for what you taste when you take that sip. There’s a difference between knowing that someone made it and seeing just what goes into making it and the knowledge and skill involved. The same thing goes when seeing a gorgeous work of polymer clay versus having witnessed or learned the technique. I’ve had the fortune of taking classes with several artists whose work I admire very much. The first class I ever took was a real eye-opener. From the outside I understood on a basic level that there was a lot of work involved in what I was seeing; however, I didn’t really have a solid idea until I was trying to do it myself. It finally dawned on me when I sat down to do the first step I was just shown; you know, the one that looked so easy (HA!) At the end of the day I walked away with a newfound respect for the work that went into making the piece. The second realization is that although I am happy with my piece I know it is nowhere as well executed as the piece the instructor made. I stare at my piece and wonder how many times the instructor had to do it before he/she perfected the technique and look? How much time, effort, experimentation, and possible failures went into this before he/she got it just right? All of this adds up to the mark of a true craftsman/craftswoman.