What got you interested in polymer clay as a medium?
I am a scientist (a chemist) by education, but I always liked drawing, painting, and sculpting. In Moscow (Russia), I used to go to a ceramic studio, where we had a nice kiln for firing ceramic and porcelain pieces. When my husband and I moved to US, I could not find such a studio, but found polymer clay instead. I liked that it can be cured right at home, in my own oven. This quality, combined with practically endless possibilities of this medium, keeps me interested in polymer clay for more than 10 years now.
What inspires you to create?
I find inspiration everywhere – in nature, books, movies, places I visit. Works of other artists, especially in other media, are also inspiring. I love Art Nouveau enamels and lampwork beads, and, as you can see, I spent lots of time and effort re-creating these techniques in polymer clay. Our material itself is also inspiring. I love playing with it, looking for what it can do. A number of my tutorials is the result of such experiments.
Do you have a favorite technique?
I do not really have a single favorite technique. I think the beauty of polymer clay is in its diversity and versatility. My “signature” technique, the one in which I created the most high-end pieces, is faux cloisonne. I developed this technique myself and very proud of it. I like its elegance, but it is also a very demanding technique, requiring perfection and patience, especially for complex designs. When I get tired of it, I switch to other techniques, that are more forgiving and have more room for mistakes.
Of everything you have created which is your favorite?
My favorite piece (so far) is a custom order I did last spring, titled “The Scarlet Sales”. It is a rather big faux cloisonne piece, about the size of a postcard. The person, who asked me to make it, is a fan of old Russian movies, and he particularly likes “Scarlet Sales”. This movie is an adaptation of a very romantic and beautiful story by Alexander Grin. It is about a poor peasant girl. When she was a child, she was told by a traveling storyteller that one day a prince on a ship under scarlet sails would come for her. She kept dreaming about this beautiful ship despite being constantly laughed at and teased by everybody in her village. One day Captain Grey saw her sleeping by the sea shore and learned about her story. Taken by the girl's beauty and her kind and romantic character, he ordered to make sails for his ship out of the brightest red silk he could find, and then he came for her, just as it was predicted.
Here is the link to my blog post showing the finished piece:
There are also a few earlier posts that show my work in progress.
What do you prefer to make out of polymer clay and why?
I like making jewelry and vases. Both types of objects are decorative and functional at the same time, and that is why, I guess, I like making them.
How do you decide what to make?
I can think of at least three different ways of how I decide what to make. When I make jewelry for myself, I usually create it for a particular outfit or occasion. When I have an idea for a new technique, I am trying to come up with a design that would showcase that idea in the best way. When working on jewelry pieces to sell in my shops, I consider not only styles and colors, but also price points for finished items.
Is there something you wish you could make in clay that you have not yet?
Oh, there is a lot of things that I want to make! I have volumes of sketches that are still waiting their turn, and the new ideas keep coming faster than I can create them in polymer clay...
What makes polymer clay a better fit for your products than other mediums?
I keep saying that polymer clay is an amazing medium, with more possibilities than many other media combined (and definitely more that any of them alone). Last year, I had a separate blog, in which I wrote about Etsy polymer clay artists – one artist a day, every day (with a short break in July), for 11 months. That is more than 300 artists, and every one is different and unique! I am not continuing on this project, but I am keeping this blog up so that people could see all the beautiful works I featured there. In my last post, there are links to monthly video slide shows I did for these artists. I hope you will enjoy browsing this blog: polymerclaychameleon.blogspot.com
What is your best advice for someone starting out in polymer clay?
Find your own voice in your work. When you learn a new technique, use it as a stepping stone for your own creativity. Do not try copying the works of somebody else, no matter how much you admire a certain artist. In my tutorials and during my classes, I always tell people to concentrate on the technique, not a project at hand, and better yet – think how to adopt the new technique to your own work, try to come up with your own variations and ideas.