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.