As you know I design a lot with polymer clay. You might also know from my website that I am a member of the British Polymer Clay Guild. I have been a member for some time, but most activities are unfortunately based in England or Scotland and there is one branch in Wales, but it is too far away.
So I decided to start up a branch for Cardiff and those who live relatively close to Cardiff. It took a while to get people interested and I also started a group on Facebook for this branch. Currently we are only eight members – one is from as far as Bristol, one from Merthyr and one from Newport. We all love working with polymer clay and have different styles. In the FB group we exchange info about techniques and tutorials or share our own creations or work from artists we’ve come across and admire. And we try to meet up for a fun clay day. This is of course easier said than done. For starters my home and work space is too small for more than say two people. And coming up with a date and time everyone can agree on is also tricky. One of our members Sarah Warden-Smith of “Bezeal” is not only a very experienced jewellery designer, but also runs workshops and has enough space for more than two people. So we decided to meet up at her place. Once the venue was agreed on we had to find a date and time. And due to my health problems and various things that were happening with our members it took about four months to organise our first meeting on the 9th of April. Unfortunately I forgot to charge my batteries and could only take a few photos.
Sarah Warden-Smith – copyright Helen White
Our meeting was pretty informal and fun – and we want to keep it that way. I brought lots of unhealthy but yummy food from Lidl, Charlie Maber of “Maisie and Maude” had a healthier approach to what we should have for lunch – quiches and grapes (thanks Charlie .
Cardiff Polymer Clay group meeting – copyright Helen White
We spent the first hour admiring Sarah’s workshop and massive amount of tools (I do fancy that Paragon kiln). We also cuddled her two dogs Masey and Oscar, and I was smitten with her adorable cat Thor, who is an absolute sweetie.
After lunch it was time to decide what we wanted to work on. I brought some tutorial print outs for everyone to choose from. Sarah chose the zipper cane, Charlie the tiger cane, Joie Parris-Lewis of “DillyMillie” chose the brain cane and I wanted to have a go at Donna Kato’s feather cane – but in different colours.
Sarah Warden-Smith and Charlie Maber – copyright Helen White
While we were all working on our chosen projects we were having a good chat about our businesses. Sarah turned out to be a fountain of knowledge and experience and it was interesting to hear what she had to say about things like hallmarking, craft fairs and pricing.
Charlie Maber and Joie Parris-Lewis – copyright Helen White
Time really passes by quickly when you are engrossed in clay work. Charlie picked some pretty colours for her project, but found that the instructions I printed out had bits missing and she was so unhappy with her resulting cane that she decided to use the clay for lots of pretty lentil beads. Joie wanted to know how to make these, so Sarah showed us and explained how to create a perfect lentil shape.
I was concentrating on my feather cane for which I picked peacock, pearl, silver and white as colours, so I didn’t quite follow the lentil bead instruction – I have made some in the past – but they were too big and heavy!
Our canes and beads for the day – copyright Helen White
Joie created her own version of the brain cane – meaning she didn’t follow the instructions as much, but ended up with the same result. Sarah made the wise decision to stick to small amounts of clay and made a small cane – so hers was quickly finished. And then there was me. Here’s the thing: when I work in groups I tend to be slower. And when I try to learn from instructions it takes me longer to work out what the writer means. The problem with instructions is - most are not written by professional writers, often vital info is missing or you just can’t understand them. So you try to work with the images instead and experiment.
Seeing everyone else getting on with their canes and turning their focus on to lentil beads frustrated me a little as I was still working out how to create the feather bits. Sarah tried her best to explain it to me with Donna’s book, which I have at home. I got there in the end (with a lot of swearing) – but not because I followed the instructions! Which reminds me of my mum (not my swearing!) – she always improvised and experimented with recipes rather than following the instructions to the letter, so I might have inherited that.
I hope I will remember how to create the next feather cane, because – surprise, surprise I really like it. I will use this cane probably for a bangle and a couple of pendants. I don’t want to reduce it for earrings, as reducing it could be tricky and might destroy the shape.
My first feather cane – copyright Helen White
All in all it was a successful and fun first meeting. Everyone came away with new canes and learnt a new technique. We are going to repeat this in summer.
If you are a member of the British Polymer Clay Guild and live in or near Cardiff and want to join our group you can email me via the contact page or check out our group on FB.
I hope you liked reading this post – please don’t hesitate to comment below and share.
Thanks for reading.