Polymer clay image 1

JANA ROBERTS BENZON, MAYA pendant of polymer clay; cane-built, assembled and cut to reveal inner designs; 7.6 centimeters wide, 2011. Photographs courtesy of the artists.

Collaborating with the Past

polymer arts


Personal adornment serves as one of the truest ways to see what matters to a particular culture. People, today and long ago, those here and far away, have used methods of decorating and honoring the body as a means of communicating their values and ideals. Historically, humans have proven their atraction towards ornamenting themselves—as an expression of love, an enhancement of beauty, a show of pride, status or wealth, religious affiliations, everything from a simple statement of belief to a show of hierarchy and power. Since adornment is such an integral part of the human experience, and we cherish beautiful objects, those who are drawn to the act of making are often drawn to create ornamentation and jewelry in response to this need.

As an artist working primarily in the area of adornment, this was on my mind recently as I discussed the subject with fellow artists who use polymer clay. Polymer is an ideal material for creating pieces of personal adornment. It is lightweight, colorfast, strong; it sculpts easily, and takes decoration beautifully. The ancient Egyptians would have used it if they could have, I am sure.



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