Wednesday, January 19, 2011

NEW Clay Happenings

Hi everyone. Sorry it's been so long since I popped in. Life is HUGE is my excuse. But as a result of the 'time out' I've had the chance to grow. This also means I am now inspired to share more of what I am learning, not just on techniques and teaching but in all kinds of deeper ways too.
Recently i heard an interview with a guy called Rick Jarrow. He said "“What I want HAS to be in relationship to you. Without some kind of community connection, without some kind of 'we', the ’ I’ wanting what I want is almost satanic.”
So, with all this in mind, welcome to the 'new' Clay Happenings, a more holistic look at life, growth, claying and the claying community...
What's new:
Camp Creative Contemporary Clay Jewellery 2011, students and their work.

I'm just back from teaching a week at Camp Creative in Bellingen and wanted to share a bit of my experience with you.
Tho I've taught many workshops in the last 8 years or more, I am still learning. Some things that I picked up from having just completed the Cert IV in Training and Assessment shined through and improved my teaching methods and intertwined with that was my willingness to be open to discussion with the class and with other really learn from it, to make changes to improve everyones experience of the workshop.
Things I learned. That if you ask people for feedback, they give it to you. Be aware where your mind wants to jump to defence and breathe through it, let the knee jerk defence response just slide away and continue to just be open to 'support', know that this person is supporting you in finding improvements. This attitude of openess and genuine willingness to give value to participants leads to the manifestation of something greater than just teaching techniques and doing your job. Over 50% of the group of 16 wrote back to me thanking me. I've never had that kind of response before. One such response was: "You were just fabulous - I think you did a marvellous job with the numbers. Your patience and willingness to teach AND learn from your students makes the difference. Your enthusiasm is just infectious"
Two changes I'm making.
1: Get peoples email address from the organizers and send each participant the tutorials and notes before the workshop date. This means you don't have to print them out yourself (saving a lot of time and some money too) because they print out their own hard copy to take to the class, enabling them to check tutorials themselves if they get stuck and 'teacher' is busy with someone else. It also gives them the benefit of reading through them if they want to get a feel of the big picture of claying.
2: Have a 'ten clay commandments' sign
ie 1)Tho shalt not touch the work of others in it's raw state.
2)Tho shalt look at where the cutting edge of the blades are whenever you pick it up.
(not that I had any injuries thank goodness, but I'm just giving examples here).
I learned through Cert IV TAE that people learn differently to each other and that while speaking it is important, so is getting them to read it and so is demonstrating and getting them to follow...
Anyway, you get my drift. Hope this is helpful to some of the other art/clay teachers out there...

Oh...and as another reminder, here's that quote again...I just love it “What I want HAS to be in relationship to you. Without some kind of community connection, without some kind of we, the ’ I’ wanting what I want is almost satanic.” Rick Jarrow

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Inks, landscapes and silver frames

These pieces, like many new things I make, are created by me but are influenced tremendously by other teachers and artists I admire. Donna Kato has a fabulous tutorial in her surface designs book on how to use gold leaf and inks. Susan Turney explored Donnas technique and took it to new levels with her beautiful work. We chatted in depth about how to get a specific look and her advice helped me tremendously. Unfortunately for her polymer clay fans, she has been lured into fabric art recently and we don't get to see much polymer clay from her anymore. The pmc silver frames idea came from Janice Abarbanel who wrote an absolutely fabulous tutorial on using sterling silver frames (which she also supplies) with polymer clay, available in her etsy shop for those who don't want to make their own from pmc like I did here.
Anyway, I thank all these talented and generous artists...and give you my own take on this technique. I am teaching this technique (top ones, not with silver frames) in Sydney in Novemeber, still one place left. Check my website for details (scroll to bottom of page)

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Recently someone turned me onto angels, saying that whatever you want to name them/it... go within...there is great support when you ask for it. I've tried it. It's true!
Then the subject of angels came up again...someone else sent me a link to Robbie Williams great song out about angels, a real heart opener...
And sometimes they come when you least expect when I turned up to teach a wonderful group from the Bribie Island Community Arts Society. On my arrival, I was greeted by Dee who announced that she was my Workshop Angel and immediately started to direct people to lift things out of my car, make coffee for me, make sure I had everything I needed and that the workshop ran smoothly. I can't tell you how wonderful that was! So big thank you to Dee, my Workshop Angel. And also a big thanks to Sandi, another angel, who gave me a bed for a couple of nights and served the most delicious Indian food for dinner and made me feel so at home.

Now I'm gonna be spoiled for all my other large groups like Grafton Artfest and Bellingen Camp Creative. Maybe I should put up an ad "angel wanted, apply within" (haha.. apply winin...get it?)
Anyway, here are some examples of the work that the Bribie Island participants made on the weekend.... and a group photo too...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Musings and mountains

I've always had a facination with mountains. Magestic, immovable, solid...just gazing at one gives me a sense of peace. It's no wonder cartoonists depict gurus sitting on top of them! It's not surprising I ended up living on a property that overlooks the well known landmark of Mt Chincogan in Mullumbimby which often ends up inspiring me to make landscape pendants in polymer and silver clay. This time I've used gold leaf and alcohol inks and covered with translucent clay. I made a batch of them which I still have to sand and polish but here is one finished. I will be teaching this technique in Sydney in November along with some other fun techniques. See my workshop page for more details if you want to learn how to make these too!

Speaking of inspiration, Amy Crawley is a mixed media artist I really admire. Her work often reflects something profound, some inner workings, something spiritually enlightening. She has a great blog I subscribe to and often throws in quotes that strike a cord with me.
Recently she asked for submissions from people for their favorite quote. Being a lover of good quotes, I submitted one too. Read about it here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nepalese clayers

Every now and then, something comes along that touches your heart and compels you to take action. If ever there was a plight worth supporting, it's this one. My friend Wendy Moore, an australian polymer clayer living in Nepal, has been teaching Nepalese women jewellery making skills and polymer claying skills to help them become empowered and self sufficient. They are survivors of violence, domestic and trafficing (selling girls into prostitution) and are looking at ways of generating an income for themselves and their families.
We are working on ways to get them more clay and supplies, the difficulty is that even if we amass an army of people happy to donate clay, the postal service is very unrelaible. If anyone can shed some light on successful ways to get clay through to Nepal, please write to me at
In the meantime, there is more info at the Aussie Polyclayers forum
for those interesting in trying to send small amounts of clay to keep them busy till we come up with more permanent and successful solutions...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Inro (wearable vessel)

Out of that mess (see messy table previous post) came this delightful little number. Moulded over an EMPTY cigarette lighter, screen printed and stamped with my very own hand made stamp using photopolymer plates.
This inro is a lot easier to make than the previous ones I've made. Like this. In fact, it took me less than three hours where as the other one took me around 8 hours! I've written a tutorial on this latest one for Australian Beading magazine's October issue...and since that's such a long way off, I'll remind you when it's out!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's on your table?

Valerie Vaharoni asks in her blog what's on your table? I love her blog, well worth subscibing to. Anyhow, I'm one of the messy ones. I used to feel a bit embarrassed...till I saw that all the artists I like trash their tables as bad as I do. So it is with gratitude I come across pics like Valerie Vaharonis.
Here's a squizz of mine...