Respect the polymer…

Polymer collage

So – Art Bliss – I know it was over a week ago, but I am still digesting some of what I learned. I took 2 classes with Christine Damm, a polymer and jewelry artist from Vermont. I had a phenomenal time, in fact I was only signed up for Saturday’s class but at the day’s end added Sunday’s class becouse I wanted to soak up more knowledge and inspiration.

I have been on a quest in recent years to respect the polymer. Its a clay. I love clay. It can be used sculpturally and texturally – as I use “real” clay. (Can you see my bias there?) Best yet – you can embed things in it and cure it in the oven. Cannot do that with stoneware…I see polymer work by other artists that I like, and others that I dont like. I have no desire ever to do cane work or color blends. The exacting nature of those techniques, the fiddli-ness, the precision, makes my creative muse curl up inthe corner and refuse to play. I worked in polymer a bit in the late 80’s/ealry 90’s. Teaching jewelry making at a Fine Arts camp – polymer was cost effective, user friendly and versatile. I was creating Art History pieces as brooches, all inlay – no painting. Imagine “The Scream” in polymer – that phase didnt last long.   So here I am: a sculptor, a jewelry artist, working in mixed media – and I was trying to add polymer to the mix. 

I am happy to report that I now like AND respect the polymer. Layering colors appealed to the painter in me. And a painter can create layers of subtlety that make me think: patina, age, weathered surfaces.I can now achieve intricate colors, detailed definition, shimmer, and a bit of mystery in the polymer. I am so taken with it: I went shopping immediately after returning from ArtBliss:

Heat set oils

RTV and blanks

And I made a new bunch or molds – I can use these for earthenware/stoneware as well – But I have some polymer ideas percolating!


Oh – my work from class, you ask? ( Let me go snap a pix in natural light…)

Polymer from class

Top: ring and cuff bracelet. Bottom – experiment with copper bezel, Boudicca earrings. 

I have three bangles as well – LOVE them. Wear them all the time, and plan to make many more! So please stay tuned for more polymer pieces popping up soon. 




8 thoughts on “Respect the polymer…

  1. Christine Damm says:

    I could not be happier that you “got it” about polymer– it’s so immediate and versatile. I just live to share my love of the stuff, really and I am super chuffed that you have gotten the bug. Love those molds! See how addicting they are? Please keep me posted on your progress and experiments.


    • jenny says:

      Thank you Christine! For helping me make the transition. I am intrigued by the layering of colors…In some ways I treat my clay pieces the same – sculpt then layer underglazes and glazes – but the subtlety is lost, and the surface always the same finish… The molds are truly addictive. I have only skimmed the surface of the treasures assembled in the studio, then there are more treasures to find…and natural elements to mold. I may have to carry that stuff with me at all times! I will keep you posted,, and look forward to insights and exchanges as I move forward. Thanks again!


    • jenny says:

      Agreed! Its too short. I count on the post event creative buzz to keep me fueled for a while! As I see you are busy – with your new metals techniques! Keep it up, woman!


  2. Cindy says:

    Jenny, I absolutely love this post. You captured many of my exact feelings! I don’t have a background in art of any kind, but I am so drawn to polymer for the same reasons you are. Christine really opened my eyes to the potential and beauty of polymer clay pieces…. I am not a big cane, marbling, or color blending person either. But I am drawn to Christine’s style that incorporates plenty of texture and layers of color. And boy do I wish I knew something about painting right now! You really are on a roll – ordering your supplies by Monday and getting them by Wednesday! I’m still working on my order. I sure wish you lived closer so we could have a polymer play date! 🙂 You really inspire me with your quick taking to polymer (although wow, you worked with it back in the late 80’s?) all of the molds you made already, and by the projects you made at artBLISS. Your large cuff is hands down one of my absolute favorite pieces I saw made by attendees this year. I want that cuff!!! 😉 I think you could have sold it several times by now, actually. Keep on experimenting and sharing – I look forward to seeing all of your future creations!


    • jenny says:

      Its only 2.5/3 hours Cindy! That could be scheduled! I am working in a creative bubble of solitude here, so I love to have an art date from time to time! Glad the polymer is clicking with you. I had so many prejudices to overcome from earthenware/stoneware – but at the same time thats why it did click rather quickly with me… Finally this week I think I can experiment. And I will keep you posted!Thanks for the compliments on the cuff. <blushing>  Perhaps I should come up with a color theory class proposal for an evening class next year? 


  3. Erin Prais-Hintz says:

    That is exactly it! I feel the same way. I never had any desire to do cane work or color blending and I pick up pc jewelry books all the time but set them down because that is not what I want to do. I have a very simple style, so I can hardly say it is sculptural on a level with what Christine does. I simply adore her and it would be a dream to meet her and especially to learn some techniques. You have fueled my desire. There is so much for me to learn about this medium. The layering of colors and texturizing it and sculpting it really intrigues me. Thanks for this glimpse! Oh, and it would be a dream to meet you, too, Miss Jennifer!
    Enjoy the day.


    • jenny says:

      Glad to know I am not the only one… slow to polymer! Erin – mark ArtBliss on the calendar – mid September! You could make it happen! The wonderful organizers approve of trunk shows – and I routinely offset some of my costs that way! 


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