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.
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.
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