This weekend Judy Dunn and I made our annual trek to the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Show. This wonderful show, now in its 74th year showcases some of the best art work created by artists from New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. (Aside: Though primarily comprised of NH artists, artists who live in the bordering states, within a 20 mile distance from the border of NH, are also eligible to join the League.)
A visit to a quality art show is always inspiring. Several notable polymer clay artists are members of the League, including:
Kathleen Dustin: Kathleen has once again pushed the envelope in creating and developing techniques in polymer clay. With a background in math and then ceramics, Kathleen first became known for her astonishing millefiore cane work. Then she perfected the depth of surface technique with translucent polymer clay which allowed her to create exquisite museum quality handbags most notable for their depiction of the female face and form. Now Kathleen has pushed the envelope again with pod forms. I joked with Kathleen that it looked like she had been playing in her garden. “No,” she said “I’ve been walking alot in the woods picking up pods.” I want to take a walk in those woods. Kathleen’s web site will be updated in the near future with these new pieces. They are simply stunning! (Note: a shot of Kathleen’s new work is currently posted on Polymer Clay Daily.)
Sandra McCaw: Sandra creates delicate jewelry that starts with handblended colors in polymer clay that are then combined into Skinner Blends. But it is the patterns that Sandra creates with these blends that are real winners! Everytime I see her work I see movement and flow in the patterns. Just mesmirizing. This fall Sandra will be teaching her technique in a six week course at the Worcester Center for Craft. If you have the opportunity to study with Sandra, I highly recommend it.
Barbara Sperling: I first met Barbara several years ago at an area art show. Her cane work simply blew me away. I had never seen canes with hummingbirds and herons before. And the detail was unbelievable. Since that time Barbara has expanded her work to incorporate precious metal clay with the polymer with a wonderful effect. Barbara also makes sculpture pieces and recently received several awards for her work in the National Polymer Clay Guild’s 2007 Progress & Possibilities Juried Competition.
Luann Udell: Though I knew of Luann and her work, I had never seen it in person until 3-4 years ago. Luann’s work is greatly inspired by “artifacts from lost cultures” and is best known for her horses based on the Lescaux cave drawings. Luann has a great ability for combining these artifacts with minerals and gemstones to create jewelry with an “aged” feel; it is as if these pieces were recovered from an archeological dig. Luann also combines her artifacts with wonderful fibers to create one-of-a-kind wall hangings. And not only does Luann have her famous horses but bears, fish, and birds in ivory, jade, and soapstone.
Ann Dillon: Ann’s specialty is mokume gane and, most recently, flower canes with a watercolor affect. Ann has a great sense of color which is evident in the color combinations she uses in her mokume gane jewelry. Ann also has a wonderful ability for combining polymer clay with seed beads, delicas, and other beads.
Along with polymer clay artists, my other favorite artists at this year’s League show were:
Lauren Pollaro: Lauren was first brought to my attention as a jewelry artist. Lauren creates jewelry from collages of her own acrylic paintings. Each piece of jewelry is a small, delicate art work unto itself. In recent years, Lauren has branched out into mixed media wall hangings that incorporate found objects, wood, metal, paint, and other items.
Paula Barry: Paula is a potter, a member of the Dunstable Artisans Guild, and a new member of the League. What I love about Paula’s work is that I have seen it grow and change over the last few years. When I first met Paula she created functional pottery with pleasing blue and green glazes. Over the last year or so Paula has pushed her own boundaries into horse hair pottery, carving in the clay, and these groovy new pod shaped forms. It has been very exciting to see this happen.
Lydia Grey: Lydia’s work is new to me and I was immediately drawn into her booth. Lydia is also a potter however she uses porcelain clay to create sculptural pieces that evoke a spiritual, earthy quality with a bit of humor thrown in. My favorite piece was titled “Connections” which featured several figures riding astride a wide base. The figure in the rear wore an iPod, in front of him was a person working on a laptop, and in front of that person was another person viewing a computer monitor. Ah yes, our connections. Not so much with each other but with our technology.
And so it goes. By visiting a quality art show I can connect with other artists and with my own creativity. I’m feeling inspired and ready to get back to the studio.