Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

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.

4 thoughts on “Synergy Review Day Three-Design

  1. Thanks, Amy, for your detailed, informative, and entertaining report of Synergy, Day 3 ! What a bummer that you caught a nasty cold….Germs have a way of finding us at the most inconvenient times, don’t they? Developing a personal style and overcoming artistic blocks is a major challenge for me (and apparently many other artists as well!). How does one make art that is instantly recognizable by others as their’s, without getting stuck in a design rut? It’s a question I’m always asking myself as I view polymer clay art from ‘giants’ such as Kathleen Dustin, Donna Kato, Sarah Shriver, etc…

  2. Hi Amy
    I came across your blog site by accident and want to thank you for the recap of Synergy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend this year, but hope to next year if they have another event. Reading what was presented was not only interesting but also invigorating. I will love seeing the creative changes with this clay as the years pass on.
    Thanks again, and hope you are feeling better and rested by now.

  3. I’m sorry to hear you came down with something. I feel your pain. I was sick the two days before the conference, all through the whole thing, and am only now beginning to feel like myself again. I skipped Jo Lauria’s speech in favor of a nap, and unfortunately slept too late to catch Tim McCreight’s presentation. I’d have liked to have seen that.

    Hope you’re feeling better!

  4. Hi Dora, Cami, and Lisa,

    Yes, I’m feeling better. Thanks!

    Cami, thanks for stopping by. It is great to hear from you.

    Dora, I think we all battle finding our own style. What is important to remember is that whatever your style is right now, that style is perfect for you.

    Lisa, I hope you’re feeling better. Tim’s presentation was fun. It is always interesting to see how people interpret and create designs.


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