Monday, January 18, 2010

Penny is a self confessed polymer clay addict, like many of us that begin working with this versatile material, once you have tried it, it quickly becomes quite the obsession. I was out searching for a bararatte for one of my friends and Penny's shop caught my eye... so lets get started …

DM: Tell us a bit about yourself.
PS: I live in a large, beautiful town called Ra'anana, 10 minutes from the beach in Israel. I have lived here 11 years. I was born in London,UK and after getting married moved to New York, then back to London, a year in Moscow, and then finally (?) Israel.

I originally trained as a Dentist, but what with all the moving countries, it rather fell by the wayside. So once my children had grown up a bit, I was looking for some other meaning to my life. I have always been creative, enjoying knitting, embroidery, candle making, cooking, glass painting, card making, beading etc.

Then in 2001, when I was 35, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During my convalescence, a friend invited me over for a craft evening. She introduced me to polymer clay, and I was hooked! I wanted to know more, so I started buying books and reading as much as I could about it on the internet. I experimented and explored in every spare moment. I have always loved color and pattern, and this medium really appealed to me, especially as I never have to make the same thing twice! Once I had been diagnosed, I felt a strong urge to create. I wanted to know that even if I felt lousy, I had accomplished something with that day, even if it was something as small as just polishing 1 bead.

Unfortunately my cancer returned in my bones 2 years ago. However by this time I had already set up my home studio and opened my Etsy shop, so I already had a good framework, and this has helped me enormously to get through each day. I have been having chemotherapy now for a year and a half. Since it has been working (thank goodness!), the doctors have decided to keep me on it. So I know that a few days a month, I won't feel well, but the rest of the time I feel pretty good.

DM: Are there any artist that inspire you or that you admire?
PS: Little by little I began to make friends in the Israeli polymer clay community. They are a wonderful community with people all over the country. There is an active forum within the Tapuz network where we can all communicate with each other, share photographs of our latest work and keep informed.

Every 6 months we bring a teacher from overseas. We have been lucky enough to enjoy fabulous workshops with Donna Kato ( who has been twice, and is returning in May), Jana Roberts Benzon (returning this January), Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg, Sarah Shriver, Julie Picarello and Dan Cormier. Then within our own community we hold regular workshops. All of these are well attended and often it is hard to get a place!

DM: Where can your art be seen?
PS: I sell my work on etsy, and locally from my studio. I love to sell my work, and it always gives me a thrill every time I bump into someone who is wearing something that I have made.

DM: Tell us a little about one of your favorite creations.
PS: My favorite creation of the moment is my Magic Mayhem Bangle. I recently attended Euro Clay Carnival in France with 80 other polymer clay crazy people, and I noticed that many of them were wearing beautiful solid bangles. Up until then I had only made beaded bracelets, and I was intrigued that this was solid clay without any wire or metal support. So with a couple of tips from some of the artists there, I returned home to see what I could come up with - I am very pleased with the result, and it is very comfortable to wear.

DM: Would you please tell about your studio set-up?
PS: We moved to our current house 4 years ago. When we first saw the house, I immediately knew that the attic room would be my studio. It is large and airy with wonderful light. Plus most important of all it is far away from the kitchen!! I designed it with a large counter top and many drawers, and built-in glass cabinets for displaying finished work. I added a large table for all my beading and a computer desk. Finally I added a radio and I was all set. I just love to come up here in the mornings, and be by myself, surrounded by all my supplies. The way I work is that I will sometimes feel like working with clay or sometimes putting my finished handmade beads into an original creation. Often the beads will sit on the table, with a whole selection of other beads that I think will coordinate, for months at a time, until suddenly in my mind it all seems to come together, and the beads speak to me and tell me how they want to be arranged !

DM: Have you ever experienced artist block and how did you overcome it?
PS: I haven't yet experienced any real blocks, partly because there are so many things I haven't yet tried in the world of polymer clay, and partly because I switch around what I am doing. If I need a break from the clay, I'll work on the beads, or if I have to be out of the studio, I take my knitting with me. So I am always doing something. I also find looking through magazines (especially Stringing magazine) and my crafting books extremely inspirational.

A couple of years ago, I started learning silver smithing. I wanted to raise the level of what I make with polymer clay, by adding silver to it. It has been fascinating to learn a new craft at this stage in my life, and blend the 2 media.. My biggest challenge is not having as much time as I would like ,to devote to it.

DM: Out of what you tried, was there any particular thing that you would recommend to someone just starting out?
PS: For anyone starting out, I advise buying a simple book, a couple of packs of clay and just experimenting. You almost cannot go wrong! Then start looking at what is out there on the internet. Of course, this can be totally addictive, and you may find that instead of creating you are spending hours looking at and drooling over what everyone else is doing!

DM: Penny, we really enjoyed your interview and may positive thoughts go out to you and your cancer recovery ! I am sure 2010 will be a wonderful year for you and you will have to keep in touch with us all !

Till tomorrow...keep creating,
Tina aka Daily Muse


Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

Wonderful interview! I love Penny's work, especially the first piece. It has such a folk art feel to it. Thanks for sharing this delightful artist!

amy said...

I'm blown away by that green spiral...really lovely colors and manipulation. Nice variety of styles! Loved the bracelet with the wire structure and your other pieces had really incredible detail. Fabulous work! Keep up the GREAT efforts in your clay, metal and treatment...we look forward to seeing what you do in the future!

mosespni said...

I am thrilled to see your work....I feel that there is so much to learn from you......Hope you Health Health and Health

Handmade in Israel said...

Great interview! My favourite piece is the last brown beaded bracelet. Wishing you good health, Penny!

Anonymous said...

Glad everyone enjoyed this interview, I was very happy to have Penny showcased and glad to show off her talents !

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