The Lasting Allure of Polymer Clay


It’s November and that can only mean one thing; it’s my turn to write the blogs.  As in the past years of writing blogs for the lovely folks at Polyform, I find myself sitting staring at my computer screen like a deer in the headlights.  I am also thankful once more that the Chicago Area Polymer Clay Guild (CAPCG) retreat takes place just before my blog month since the happenings at the annual retreat have always provided good material.  OK. Time to get rolling with my first topic this month.


Like many of you out there, I’ve roamed from one artistic media to another but never stuck with one thing for too long.  This very same topic came up during the retreat last month.  Folks were commenting on what medium they have worked with the longest and I was impressed to find out that a good portion of our group has worked with polymer clay longer than any other medium they have tried.  I am happy to state that I am among those in the group who have worked with polymer clay longer than anything else.  I have been thinking back to when I first started working with clay and I can honestly say that I am not sure what pulled me in first but I can talk about why I stick with it.  Before getting to my thoughts on the lasting allure of working with polymer clay, I’d like to present you with some thoughts on clay from some of my close artist friends.


The “Newbies”

I’m going to preface this portion of the blog with a statement about my “Clay Newbie” friends.  I am what you might call a polymer clay “enabler”.  I get to know folks at work and when I find out they are creative they receive an almost immediate invitation to come hang out with me in my studio for a creative play-day.  Diana and Anna are two of my favorite people to hang out with while playing with polymer clay.  Since these two ladies are new to polymer clay I thought it would be interesting to find out what their first impression of polymer clay is.

Anna –

My first impression of working with polymer clay was that it was something that was really easy, fun, and versatile.  It’s a mature version of play-dough.  You can do anything with polymer clay from making fancy jewelry and intricate figurines.  Much like paint, you can blend different colored clays together to make new colors.  It’s basically a combination of a few different art forms.  Once you know the basics, the possibilities of what you can create are limitless.


Diana –

One of the things I first realized when I started working with clay is that I could do just about anything with this medium.  From things like jewelry to vases to sculptures.  I was immediately struck by how versatile it was and all the little projects that sprang to mind as I played around and got used to working with it.  I love looking around and coming up with small projects that I can do or going online and see what other people have managed to do with clay.

My conversation with Anna and Diana prompted me to talk to my friend Susan who has been working with polymer clay far longer than I have and to think about why I have continued to work with this medium.


Susan –

I’ve been claying for more than 15 years. I started with clay because I wanted to make party favors for our guests at my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and the idea of covering little votive candle holders to make charity jars appealed to me. I had taken a class with Barbara McGuire before I even knew what one could do with clay, and I fell in love with it. I’ve made many things throughout the years, but my favorites have always been little wall hangings. Although I do all sorts of artwork (painting, beading), I always come back to clay because I just plain love working with it. There are so many things one can make from clay and many, many ways one can go about doing it.


Me –

What they said…kidding.  Just like my friends all stated, the foundation of my continued interest is the fact that polymer clay is so versatile.  More than that is the constant innovations in techniques and products.  I’ve got two words which sum up one of the things I love best.  Shaving. Cream.  Yes, you read that correctly, I said (technically wrote) shaving cream.  One of the first books I bought after starting with polymer clay included a project which used shaving cream as a carrier for dye to create this amazing surface effect.  I remember staring at the words “shaving cream” listed in the material for the project and thinking to myself “Shaving cream? Really?  I am going to LOVE playing with polymer clay.”.


I think it’s fairly safe to say that the reasons we fall in, and stay in love with polymer clay is because of the endless possibilities.  I can’t wait to see what new things happen next in the world of polymer clay.