Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


More Insights and POV on Synergy

A number of artists are blogging about their experience at Synergy.

In an attempt to capture the enthusiasm as we end this week, I thought you might enjoy reading other’s viewpoints and impressions and seeing different pictures, so here we go:

Cynthia Blanton

Susan Lumoto on Polymer Clay Notes

Cynthia Tinapple on Polymer Clay Daily

Judy Dunn

Karen on Art and Tea

Lisa on PolkaDotCreations here and here



Janice Abarbanel

And for a slew of photos, check out Donna Kato’s blog here.

Have a wonderful weekend and as Alison Lee always reminds us “Get your butt in the chair.”


Synergy Review Day Three-Design

On Saturday, our last day at Synergy, I woke up with a cold;  a scratchy throat and irritated sinuses.  Oh Yipee!  On the way to the convention center we detoured to Walgreens for Zicam, cough drops, and water.

The third and final day of Synergy focused on design, with a special emphasis on personal style.

My morning session was with Robert Dancik whose presentation was titled Dancing to Your Own MUSEic.  Robert began his presentation with a “cognitive shift.”  That is, he created a setting that required us to move ever so slightly out of our comfort zone.  When this happens, you, in essence, shift from left brain to right brain.   And it is in that shift from left brain to right brain where we find our creativity; our muse.  Robert also presented on various ways to stimulate the muse and on developing what he calls an “emotional alphabet.”  Audience members also shared their experiences in finding the muse and in experiencing artistic “blocks.”

The guest speaker on Saturday was Jo Lauria, contributing writer of Craft in America. Unfortunately, between seminar overload, fatigue and my cold, I decided to skip this presentation and spent some quiet time people watching, drinking tea and enjoying chocolate chip coffee cake.

Because this was the last day of Synergy and the Gala Banquet was scheduled for the evening, the afternoon sessions were moved up, starting at 11:45 am instead of 3:00 pm.

The first afternoon session was spent with Karen Woods who presented on Unconventional Polymer.  This was a wonderful session spent admiring and discussing the artwork of fellow polymer clay artists who have taken a less than traditional approach with polymer: baskets, vessels, sculpture, tesselation, origami, and mixed media.  And then we enjoyed viewing other mediums that many of us look to for inspiration such as fiber and quilting, porcelain and ceramics.

The final panel discussion was renamed an “interactive presentation” with guest speaker Tim McCreight who presented on Design Decisions: Good, Better, Best.  And interactive it was as each of us created designs using small pieces of paper guided by Tim’s initial model.  The purpose here was to view a design (Tim’s model) and then consider ways to improve it.  When you look at your design and how you came to that final product, consider that you are making a decision in context or “in the moment.”  Informal critiques were also conducted on our paper designs. 

My final session at Synergy was Gwen Bernecker’s Design 101.  Gwen is an architectural engineer who now designs jewelry from silver clay and polymer clay.  This session was a mini-introduction to design and briefly covered topics such as visual elements, the purpose of design, line, color, texture, shape and form, and focal points.

There was a two hour window between the end of the final sessions and the Gala Banquet.  By this time my throat was feeling worse and my sinuses decided to behave similarly.  I decided not to attend the Gala Banquet which featured Cynthia Tinapple as the keynote speaker, honors for the NPCG founders, and a live auction.  I’ve heard that the banquet was quite nice.  Cynthia has graciously shared the slides from her speech here.

My day ended with dinner at a lovely turkish restaurant, Cazbar, on North Charles Street, followed by packing and repacking of my suitcase in anticipation of our travels home on Sunday.

Synergy was truly a ground-breaking event for the National Polymer Clay Guild.  I believe most of us came away with renewed energy for our chosen medium and momentum to make our art excel in craftsmanship and design.

Kudos to the organizers of Synergy and to all the presenters for their energy, enthusiasm, and sharing manner.


Synergy Review Day Two-Business

When I travel, I never know what to expect when it comes to the quality of a hotel bed.  Some are very soft; others rather hard.  The beds at the Tremont Plaza were a pleasant surprise, in my opinion; comfortably soft and supportive, lots of pillows, and a big, fluffy duvet.

So on Friday I awoke from a good night’s sleep only to see snow on the ground.  Fortunately, the terrible weather predictions from the night before turned out to be rather insignificant to us New England gals.  While Massachusetts was preparing for 6-12 inches of snow, Baltimore had an inch or less, followed by some freezing rain that eventually turned to all rain by the time Karen and I walked to the convention center.

The second day of Synergy focused on business and included topics on teaching, pricing, publishing, entering the art/craft market, blogging, and accounting.  I started the morning with a Sara Shriver seminar on A Teachers Quandry.

Sara discussed several pros and cons for the various workshop formats (one day, two day, and multi-day) and gave numerous tips for conducting workshops.  Sara additionally discussed the differences between a “kit” class and an “artistic” class.

After the morning session, the vendor fair started.  Danger Will Robinson!  Vendors at Synergy included Polymer Clay Express, Art Clay, Polka Dot Creations, Thomas Mann/Studio Flux, Whole Lotta Whimsy, Kato Polyclay/Van Aken, and Amazing Mold Putty.

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Can you believe I didn’t buy anything at the vendor fair?

Friday’s guest speaker was a real treat; Carol Duvall.  Carol’s presentation was a mix of humor and heartfelt sentiment for polymer clay.  She shared her evolution from her start as a craft reporter in Grand Rapids, MI to host of the very popular Carol Duvall Show on HGTV.  In the Q&A that followed, numerous audience members expressed their gratitude to Ms. Duvall for her promotion of polymer clay and how that promotion motivated many of us to start working in polymer clay.  Donna Kato, Kim Cavendar, and Maureen Carlson also added a few special comments which brought tears to many eyes.  Following Ms. Duvall’s presentation, a group picture was taken of Carol and all the polymer clay artists who appeared with her on HGTV.

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Friday’s panel discussion, Inspiration, Originality, and Infringement, was among the best.  Jeff Dever once again moderated the discussion which featured Dan Cormier, Thomas Mann, and Elise Winters.  Each panel participant was asked where they find inspiration, how s/he maintains originality, and how one handles the issue of infringement.  Many important points were brought up in this discussion including keeping a journal or taking pictures, that once one teaches, you, in essence, no longer own your technique, and that many years ago in Europe it was commonplace to copy the “Masters” as that is how artists learned. 

With the afternoon open (no afternoon seminar for me), several of us decided to take in the American Craft Council (ACC) show at the convention center.  Featuring over 700 artists, ACC is one of the most desirable art shows for gallery buyers and collectors alike.  Earlier in the week it was open for wholesale sales only.  Beginning on Friday and through the weekend, the retail section opened to the public.  We spent a little over an hour walking the show and covered maybe half the show.  I collected numerous business cards and postcards and will post more on the show specifically later.  Suffice to say it was both visually stimulating and overwhelming.

For dinner we went to Phillip’s Seafood at the Inner Harbor.  We enjoyed crab cakes, scallops, tilapia, fresh veggies, salad, and lobster.  It was great to spend dinner with new and old friends.


My evening seminar was spent with Lindly Haunani who presented on Teaching 101.  Lindly was quite funny (definitely promoting the humorous aspect of teaching) and insightful as she shared with us her “lessons learned” and experiences from over 17 years teaching polymer clay.

A 10 minute walk after the final seminar brought us back to the hotel; our heads once again swimming with information and inspiration.

Tomorrow: Synergy Review Day Three-Design

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Synergy Review Day One-Craftsmanship

Karen and I flew down to Baltimore on Wednesday.  I surprised myself at being able to pack everything into one carry-on bag.


After settling into our hotel room, we ventured over to the Baltimore Convention Center to check-in, get our “welcome” packet, and catch-up with a few people from our local guilds.  Dinner that night was at the hotel restaurant which quickly filled with Synergy attendees.  Here we met Alison Lee of Craftcast and chatted with Susan Lomuto of Polymer Clay Notes, Libby Mills, Jen Doiron, Diane Villano, and Sharon Mihalyak from the Southern CT Guild.

Day One: Craftsmanship

Day One of Synergy focused on Craftsmanship.  My first seminar was with SL Savarick who presented on The Polymer Clay Jewelry Studio.  Seth discussed aspects of fine craftsmanship and design, questions to ask ourselves regarding our work when entering the art/craft market, and provided a series of demonstrations on creating light, durable forms.

synergy08kdustinpresents.jpgThe guest speaker for the first general session was Kathleen Dustin.  Kathleen presented on the history of polymer clay up through the 1980’s with an emphasis on beads as that is where many of the leaders in polymer clay made their marks.

After lunch we visited the teacher fair and talked with Dayle Doroshow who is already planning her 2009 workshops at Gwen Gibson’s La Cascade Retreat Center in Southern France.  We also met Kim Cavander, Laura Tabakman, Laurie Mika, Maureen Carlson, and caught up with Jana Roberts Benzon.


Before the afternoon sessions began, a panel discussion was presented.  The Thursday panel discussion, Hallmarks of Craftsmanship was moderated by Jeff Dever and featured art historian and polymer clay artist Rachel Carren, polymer clay artists Donna Kato and Sarah Shriver, and the host of Craftcast, Alison Lee.

Some great quotes and thoughts from this panel discussion included:

Imperfection is the nature of handmade art.
Don’t be apologetic.
Workmanship of Risk.

My afternoon session was spent with Robert Dancik who discussed Cold Connections for Polymer Clay.  This includes things like rivets, bolts, and tab closures.  The use of cold connections opens up a whole new world of possibilities and creativity when it comes to problem solving how to connect non-polymer items to polymer clay.  Glue may not become obsolete in my studio, however, with what I learned from Robert, I hope to use it less frequently.

synergy08hollymcollection.jpgBefore taking a dinner break, we wandered through the Synergy Gallery which featured Holly Mion’s fantastic collection of polymer art as well as wonderful polymer art for sale by our fellow Synergy attendees and items for the live and silent auction.  Dinner was down at the Inner Harbor at a Tapas restaurant.  And then it was back for a final session with Katherine Dewey on Molded Armatures.

Katherine’s seminar was a bit more technical than I was prepared for.  She gave us a very detailed handout on creating inner “skeleton” (my term) armatures and two-part molds.  By this time my brain was on overload.

Being the Lost devotees that we are, Karen and I hurried back to the hotel to catch the last 40 minutes of the show and to rest before getting up the next day for Day Two of Synergy.

Tomorrow: Synergy Review Day Two-Business



On to Synergy

The rest of my week will be spent in Baltimore at the National Polymer Clay Guild’s Synergy conference.  Over 200 people from all over the world are coming to this conference.

The conference is divided into three parts: craftsmanship, business, and design.  Seminar topics each day will focus on these areas.  I am taking seminars with SL Savarick, Robert Dancik, Katherine Dewey, Sara Shriver, Lindly Haunani and others.

Guest speaker presentations are being given by Kathleen Dustin, Carol Duvall, and Jo Lauria.  And three panel discussions on The Hallmarks of Craftsmanship; Inspiration, Originality, and Infringement; and Design Strategies will also be presented.

This should be a very exciting and interesting conference.

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Sustaining Our Environment Postcard Exhibit

Earlier this month I submitted my postcards for the Women’s Art Caucus (WCA) Sustaining Our Environment Postcard exhibit.  All the postcards submitted for this exhibit are now on their way to Dallas, TX for the WCA national convention where they will be displayed and auctioned.

The WCA has an international committee which is an NGO to the United Nations and supports the UN’s Millenium Goals.  All proceeds from the Sustaining Our Environment Postcard auction will be donated to the UN in support of the UN’s Millenium Goals.

Any postcard not auctioned will be kept for future exhibits.

You can see my postcards here and over 200 postcards here.

To learn more about WCA, go here.

To learn more about the UN Millenium Goals, go here.


Paper Doll Collage

Two weeks ago I started a six-week online workshop with Pamela Hastings.  The workshop, Transformational Art Dolls, is hosted by Joggles.  This is my first experience with a multi-week online course.  An advantage to this type of workshop is that you download one lesson per week and work at your own pace.

The first lesson focused on creating a transformational journal, collecting personal images, words, and symbols, and making a paper or fabric icon.

Cutting and tearing pictures and words from magazines was great fun and I finally got everything sorted out.  Then I moved on to making my personal icon.  Pamela provided a template for the doll.   It was up to us to make the collage and cut out the doll.  I didn’t have any idea where to start.  I wasn’t feeling resistant to making the doll; I just didn’t know which direction to take to get her started. 

After a period of time, I decided to collage a sheet of miscellaneous images left over from another project.  Since I was feeling scattered, a smattering of leftover images for this collage seemed appropriate.  When I was satisfied with the collage, I scanned it and printed it onto glossy photopaper, and then cut and assembled the doll.


This doll represents both my playful side (see the lady smiling and holding her toes) as well as a dark side (dark images on the lower half of the body and one wing.)  My dark side is those times when I’m moody, cranky, or down.

The phrases “Nature heals” and “The art of well-being, a detour by the water’s edge” represent how I feel.  Nature is very comforting and soothing to me; it can also be destructive.  Well-being represents the importance of honoring ourselves, treating ourselves to something nice, pleasureable, or meaningful.

On one wing is part of a key.  This represents my search for that key; the key to myself. 

I also added the phrase “The Journey to Greatness: How to Get There.”  It seems appropriate for this first doll as I pursue my journey to greatness.

Finally she wears a crown just because.  We should all feel like queens.  And she had to have a belly button; a beautiful blue belly button.