Creativity, Passion, Online Learning – Sir Ken and Me

Cindy Lietz Creativity - Polymer Clay Tutor“Tears are streaming down my face right now as I type these words. It is heartbreaking to know that all my life I tried so hard to…” ~Cindy Lietz

It may be a midlife crisis thing… or maybe just because I am continually immersed in creative thinking… but I do find myself putting a lot of thought into trying to figure out who I am as a creative being… and how can I pass along my passions to help others discover themselves as well.

Like so many other artists, I too have struggled with identity issues, for most of my life.

Well, as The Universe would have it, all things that you focus on seem to come together into one cohesive picture. That is, if you are looking for clues.

A few of these clues have been collecting in my life from seemingly unrelated sources. First, just before Christmas, my Mom gave me a box of keepsakes from my childhood. In there was some workbooks, some drawings and some poems from Elementary School. There was one item in particular that spoke to me deeply. A scrapbook filled with questions, assignments and projects related to a field trip I took to the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton Alberta when I was in Grade 6. In a minute, I’ll explain why what I found in that book made me cry, and why it is relevant to this post.

Another piece to this puzzle is of course, my journey with you. Creating new polymer clay tutorials, week after week, year after year (over 250 now, and counting)… has not only been a challenge to pull off, but also a growing experience for me as a person and as a teacher. It has made me really think hard about how people learn, and as a result, what should be taught.

Because of the commitment Doug and I have made to delivering new videos every week, it really has forced me to continue learning new stuff all the time. To stay ahead of the pack so to speak. And that is invaluable to any teacher. This constant learning on my part keeps the knowledge that you are receiving, current and relevant. Which, trust me, not all teachers are doing. Just ask Willow about her 80 year old French teacher! LOL!

The third piece of this epiphany collection (good things always come in threes don’t they), is this video that Doug just sent me. It is of Sir Ken Robinson and his views on Education, Creativity, Passion and Online Learning. Why don’t you have a quick watch. It will set the stage for the for the rest of the post…

Now after watching that clip, and reflecting on what he said about teaching and learning, I would like to return to my story about the workbook I found in the box of childhood schoolwork.

The scanned image below of my childhood handwriting, is what I found inside the book, that made me cry. And as another amazing coincidence (believe me I only realized it today when I dug this out again for this post), it happened to be written at Easter time…

Cindy Lietz Creativity - Polymer Clay Tutor

Transcript

The Show House At Easter by Cindy Lee Ross (Lietz) age 11

As I walked up the ramp the sweet fragrance of fresh spring time flowers filled the air. When I entered the pyramid a field of colourful blooms greeted my eyes. A sea of creamy white Easter lilies welcomed me like a trumpet band.

Crimson red, golden yellow and blushing pink tulips stood at attention along the pathways. Clusters of sunshine yellow daffodils sang “Happy Easter” from their shining crowns. The daisy-like cineraria smiled with their freshly painted faces. The Muttart conservatory Show House at Easter is a paradise of blossoms.

~Cindy

What made me cry when I read this was how I felt for the little girl that wrote that beautiful piece. Do you recognize her writing in the color recipe posts? That little girl was passionate about flowers, colors and the beauty they presented when you were exposed to them. She described them in detail, with feeling and pure joy. She is exactly who I have struggled so hard to become after all these years. The girl I am today, was there all along.

And do you know what… to this day I still remember the feedback from my teacher about this little story… “Cindy you clearly love flowers, but you spent too long on that write-up and didn’t do a good enough job on the rest. The project was incomplete and the work was messy.” She pretty much said what all the teachers, minus a few angels, said about my work. “Cindy’s head is in the clouds and she needs to knuckle down and get some work done. Stop being such a dreamer!”

Tears are streaming down my face right now as I type these words. I can’t help it. It is heartbreaking to know that all my life I tried so hard to be better at what I wasn’t good at, and undervalued and pushed aside what was clearly easy and natural for me. I am sorry little one, that it took so long for me to find you… but at least now you are happy, dreaming your life away, and teaching others to dream too!

Sir Ken said so many things that speak to this very problem in the way that most children are taught today, and how our education systems are in dire need of change. New technologies (like our online video tutorials) make it possible for students to learn at their own pace in the way that works best for them. Good teachers have always been able to do that for their students… teach in a way that works best for the student. Sir Ken said that teaching is an art form… that technology alone won’t be enough, but in the hands of good teachers and engaged and imaginative students, it could.

He also speaks of the importance of finding yourself. In order for one to be in your element, you must be doing something that you’re good at and get… and you have to love it. Well I tell you I am in my element now, sharing my passion for color, flowers and polymer clay!

Thank you all for being part of my journey to find myself. I hope that I can be part (if only in a small way) of your journey of self discovery too. So go on… get your head in the clouds… let your inner child out… you deserve to be happy!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. As an early “dreamer” nature lover and trained educator, I walk beside you Cindy. Thank you for picking this art form. Wish you all the best….

  2. Sir Ken’s books are truly inspirational as well. I wish more people, not only educators, would soak up his wisdom. This TED talk he gave is absolutely amazing.

    • I hope others will take the time to watch this video. Wish I’d had someone like him as a teacher when I was growing up. And wouldn’t he have loved having someone like Cindy in his classroom. He would have recognized her talents right from the start.

  3. I think your teacher needed to stop and smell the roses. I could see the flowers you were describing. Even back then you could talk of things and help us visualize what you meant. You go Girl l!!!! I also agree that teaching should come out to the dark ages and catch up to what the children of today need.

  4. Wow, thanks for sharing. I look yoiur writing and see at all the descriptive words being used.
    My oldest daughter has ADHD and social percption problems. From age 11-15 I felt like dropping her off at school was taking her to a place where she could never meet the expectations; thank goodness the kid was a social animal. We had many conferences wherea teacher lectured us on being better parents and to teach her to fit in. My husband asked if they expected parents of a deaf child to teach their kid to hear and tell the child they could hear if they just tried hard enough. .
    Many teacher go into the profession because they loved school and were the perfect students, they can’t understand people who learn differently. This approach kills a child’s spirit and love of learning and can be damaging in many ways.
    I can totally relate to “in search of self” and not only wonder “What I want to be when I grow up.”, WHO do I want to be when I grow up.” Loved the video clip. I am so happy you had your head in the clouds.

    Cindy Lee Ross, you have arrived!!

    • Anna,

      When I read your post I felt like I was reading an excerpt of my own life. My daughter also has ADHD and actually had a confrence today at the social services about our parenting “problems” and a meeting tomorrow at the school. I am so very thrilled I read your post because if you dont mind I may need to use your words about telling a deaf child if they tried harder the could hear…
      My daughter is very intelligent, but needs to be taught in a way that keeps her attention better than it is now.. Urgh I get so frustrated and feel like I am fighting a losing battle when the only thing that should matter is making sure all kids are taught in a way that they can learn without being labeled Bad or disabled.
      Hmmm I wonder if Cindy would like to teach 7th grade reading writting and math for the rest of the year?? LOL Because she is a very inspiring teacher and very very good at what she does…
      I hope I can advocate for my child before any damage is done to her self esteem.. I know she has her head in the clouds dreaming of being a doctor so she can help kids that have learning problems, So she needs these skills and not to be pushed thru a system…

      Sorry this is so long I was just totally amazed by what you wrote…And Cindy again hit the nail on the head. I somedays think she is a bit psychic..LOL

      Thanks for ur words of wisdom also!!!!!!!!!!

      • My daughter, Jackie, was in the same position in 7th grade, as yours. ,I finally decided to homeschool Jackie. She maintained an 98 average and took nine courses. We took it very seriously and with the regulations imposed by our state she did probably ten times the work she would have done in traditional school. You have to have “school” so many hours, and our time was spent working whereas in school they probably spend 30% in transitions. So she had the ability, she just had trouble concentrating with all the disruptions. She eventually returned to regular school the next year. She did continue to struggle against their teaching styles, and we fought with the school many times! I say all this to say … Keep up the faith.You know your child, and what is best for her. Be her advocate. Work to keep her happy and help her realize the talents she possesses. My Jackie’s 25 now. A sweet womn, great mom, hard worker. She turned out to be a very creative girl. She’s who I go to when I need to test my design ideas in my business! So go forth, expect the best and you will see her blossom into the woman you knew all along was inside her.

  5. Bottom line, though, it that folks have to be motivated to learn. You have to love to read, research, interact with others, plus see the benefit of continuing to gain expertise to keep at it with a passion.

    All the best teachers in the world can’t help a hungry, sick or in-pain child learn. To me, all education assets should go for the best, as much, and state of the art childcare. Self image is set before nine years of age as is your self confidence much based on whether or not you can read well.

    Once you’ve got them through the basics here, learning booms and is a joy through your whole life.

  6. Cindy, thank you for sharing this!! This was a wonderful surprise to what I, too, have encountered!

    I wanted to be an Art Teacher when I was in high school. I, too, was discouraged. Jobs were hard to keep back then, for teachers in Art and Music. Most of my teachers were going back to school to teach other subjects like English and Math. So, I swallowed my dream.

    Thirty years later, I find myself teaching!! I tell everyone that to be an “artist” it is not by talent alone. You must crave to be what you desire. I have been told by many people that, “Art is easy for you. You are really talented.” My response: “Talent is only 10% of the equation and 90% is the desire to learn, practice, practice and more practice!” Faliure, is a part of learning. IF you LEARN from the “failure” you have succeeded!!

    My father always told us kids that “If you can put your mind to it, you can do anything!”

    My brother, was in Kindergarden (5 years old), was given a project to: Draw an apple and color it red. He did. But, was given too much time and he got bored. So, he drew a car at the bottom on the page!

    My parents were called to a conference with the teacher. She showed them the art work. My parent were beaming with pride! It was very good! The teacher informed them he failed! He did not follow directions! What??

    “He drew the apple with a bite out of it! And the car was not part of the assignment!” After my parents had their say with the teacher, she was no longer teaching in that school! To this day, he thinks he is not as “talented” as I know he is. The results of early contact with bad teachers.

    So, hurray for my Polymer Clay Tutor! An inspiration to us all! Kudos, to the little girl who dares to make dreams come true!!! Sending cyber {{{{{{{huuuuuuggggsss}}}}}

  7. Cindy

    I just wanted to say you are A WONDERFUL TEACHER but not only that You are an ANGEL of inspiration, hope, admiration, and dreams. You give all of us the tools not only artistic tools but LIFE tools and it takes a special person to be able to do that.. I am so glad You have Finally realized your ” DREAM ” CALLING IN LIFE and shared it with us. Because who would we turn to for our polymer clay needs or our life lessons that seem to come along with your tutes and blog..

    You are doing what you should be doing teaching.. Now would you be willing to do any side jobs? Like teaching my child 7th grade reading writing and math..LOL LOL LOL I know she would do alot better learning from you than at her current school…LOL

    Thanks for being you.

    Kelli Nelson

  8. When I was in middle school I had a teacher that I absolutely adored. His name was Mr. Procino and he would let us – encourage us – to do whatever we wanted in class to to put us in the best atmosphere for ourselves to learn. If that meant laying on the floor or sitting on top of his desk, or whatever, we did it. And we learned. To this day I haven’t forgotten that teacher. He let us talk freely with him and each other during class. Looking back, we probably took advantage of this at first but he knew how to steer us and, before we knew or realized what was happening, we were effortlessly learning. I loved this teacher. I learned from him. I wish I knew where he was today so I could thank him. He was exactly the kind of teacher I wish my kids could have had and every child should have.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us Cindy. Hopefully there are teachers who will see it and take it to heart.

    Angela M.

  9. Wow. It hurts just to think how (you Cindy) that little girl must have felt to be told her work was “incomplete and messy”. Due to being out of the working world for a long while as a stay at home mom, I have not been able to find a job as an RN (employers all want recent clinical experience). In a lovely twist of fate, I have become a grade school science teacher, plus the biology teacher to my daughter’s high school class. I LOVE IT! I feel my creativity pushed to the nth degree. The kids are awesome and I enjoy their thoughts. I work very hard not to be the type of teacher that crushes a child’s spirit and imagination as I always try to put myself in their place.
    Thank you Cindy for continuing to inspire us!
    PS. I find that the kids periodically need to keep their hands busy, while engaging their heads in what is discussed in class. They’ve been having fun playing with Sculpey clay and I’ve had to bring some projects home for baking. I am amazed by their work (fish, snakes, etc)

  10. Thank you Cindy, that was so inspirational and brought back some very painful memories. From one “dreamer” to another.

  11. Wow Cindy, I would just love to hug that little girl for the hurt she must have felt and hug the
    accomplished young woman she has become! To dream and be free to follow those dreams
    should be what life is all about. With all the differences there is so much to learn from one another. We see this in our clay family all the time. You have often said that you don’t expect us
    to do exactly what you have shown us but to take it and make it our own. This is our world and
    without causing anyone else hurt we should be able to “grow our own tree” so to speak. Thinking outside the box is growth but maybe it scares those who cannot see that far ahead and why so many children don’t do well in school and are stifled when with encouragement
    they could be happy in their own beautiful way.

    Its unfortunate your teacher didn’t compliment you on the wonderful job you did (you probably were the best) and give you a little more time to complete the assignment. If only….she could
    see you now….such an acomplished artist and teacher, a real success story. So many times
    we repeat the same thing, that we are so fortunate to have you in our life for so many reasons.
    Thank you for all you give, it is truly of yourself. Of course Doug and the kids are right there also.

    Happy Easter, Happy Spring, and of course Happy Claying Everyone.

  12. Your touching story brought to mind the oft-quoted passage by spiritual activist Marianne Williamson:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
    It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
    We ask ourselves,
    Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
    Actually, who are you not to be?
    You are a child of God.
    Your playing small does not serve the world.
    There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
    so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
    We are all meant to shine, as children do.
    We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
    It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
    And as we let our own light shine,
    we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
    As we are liberated from our own fear,
    our presence automatically liberates others.”

    So shine on, Clay People, shine on! xoxo

    • What a lovely passage Monique! Thank you for sharing that. I wish every single person could read that and believe it. Unfortunately not all are born with strong spirits to withstand the ones who would hold them back in order to quell their own feelings of failure. If only they knew that by helping to foster that new spirit, they would lift up their own and not see themselves as failures anymore. Everyone can be a teacher in some manner. But first they have to learn to value what they know before they can share it with others. I was fortunate and had a very strong and supportive mother and grandparents when it came to my imagination and creativity. They were all very talented in their own ways and taught me that as long as I did my best and did not cut corners or hurry, that I could always be proud of what I did and that no one else had the right to judge me for my artistic expression. To this day I will happily discuss my work with anyone and describe how and why I chose to do it the way I did. But I wont defend it. I wont allow someone to put me in a position to defend it. I simply tell them that this is mine. I made it and Im proud of it. If they do not care for it that is their choice, but it does not make it any less in my eyes. And I try to pass along that spirit to anyone I can when I see them start to doubt themselves.

  13. Hi Cindy: In my High School yearbook under my picture they picked the song “TURN AROUND”. When I read that, I burst into tears myself, because I knew it was not a compliment. It was a remark clearly repeated to me throughout the years by so many of my teachers – to turn around Miss Pauline and pass attention to what I am trying to teach you. I clearly was smart enough, but they were not “smart enough” to grasp my attention. I was called a “dreamer” too many times for my parents liking. But it did not stop there.
    HOW LONG I STRUGGLED TO BE LIKE ALL THE OTHER WOMEN OUT THERE. They all had there talents, crafts, families, loves to call their own. I wanted something that I could be really good at. It took me until my mid fifties to find by “accident” this wonderful world called Polymer Clay.
    I want to congratulate you Cindy for putting the courage out there and sharing your own personal thoughts on this online. It helps all of us relate, look at how many people have had similar circumstances. We are NOT ALONE. For so many years as a only child I was raised in a not so great household, and I thought I WAS ALONE. I was the only person that was going to be called a dreamer, there was something wrong with me. Turns out, there was nothing wrong, just a very distinct gifted voice that was looking for a path to find a way home.
    Thank you again Cindy for making this home for me.

  14. info on card thickness: I found this website that actually makes these frames that are built to replicate standard card thickness #2, 3, 4, 5 etc in two sizes, and a variety of purchasing forms. I was actually looking for textures and I saw this and I thought of you Cindy and your discussion on this matter.

    • Pauline, great find and thanks for sharing! Must add these to my wish list…..

      With these sets you just need well conditioned clay and a roller to get exactly the thickness you need, and this could be vital when using clay sheets for a die cutting machine.

      These are made for work with metal clay, but they’d also be perfect for polymer.

      I love that site, Cool Tools offers a ton of one of a kind aides and doohickies, lol.

  15. Wow Cindy, this post resonates within me so much. The power of life and death is in the tongue and those negative words can have such a devastating effect on us; sometimes for the rest of our lives. Thankfully you didn’t allow that to happen. I see not only your passion for color in that early letter but, you passion for writing as well. You’re a poet Cindy! To write with such imagery at that age is amazing. God has given you wonderful gifts and I’m blessed that you share them with us. You encourage and inspire me…now I’m starting to cry, lol.

  16. Thank you SO much Cindy for sharing this raw emotional epiphany with all of us! It means even more than you know when a mentor can share who they really are and the history or struggles along the way… your story so to speak!! Love to hear your story, or anyone’s story rather than a sell sell sell anything in this world! (not saying you do this, couldn’t live without your totally awesome valued tutorials, both inexpensive and expertise!) I dare you to share more! Let her glow from the inside with teaching all of us your ingenuity creativity!!! Xoxox

  17. Yes, thank you for this post, Cindy. I heard it said, many years ago, to find our direction … go back to what you loved as a child. Yes, you “found” what you “had” all along. Now, I think I need to work on that for myself :) Thank you, Cindy!!!

  18. Ah Cindy, your post struck a deep chord in me! – takes me back to the little girl I was – a dreamer, a romantic, introspective and far too sensitive – and so very different from anyone else in my family. I wasn’t a particularly happy child – I always felt so misunderstood. I wanted to go to art college but my mother wouldn’t let me …. and, at that age, I didn’t have the confidence to take a stand!

    Now I’m a granny and I’ve come a long, long way from that shy, tongue-tied little dreamer – I’ve learnt to assert myself and stand up for the things that have meaning for me – and that it’s NOT ‘selfish’ to take time out from other people to do the things you love.

    My creative star has led me down many different paths. And now I’ve discovered polymer clay and this wonderful community.

    Thank you!

  19. Cindy,

    As usual, you have affected many readers with your heartfelt story. I’m so glad you persevered and became the gifted, sharing person you are today. I think it is so sad that some teachers are often rigid and intimidated by growing talents of their students, that they don’t encourage that talent.

    My daughter, Jordan, has always loved to sing. She couldn’t wait to get into middle school to join the chorus. Her teacher has dampened her desire by criticizing the “warbling” style of country singers and reigning in on the desires of her students to sing songs they relate to. She chooses her own songs for their concerts, even after telling the students they can submit requests. As far as I know, she doesn’t work with the students to enhance and encourage their dreams. To me, this is not a teacher, this is someone who goes through the motions of their job.

    Don’t ever lose your passion and know that we will always appreciate and remember you for it and for your encouragement!

    Jan

  20. You are an excellent writer too! That teacher was blind! Thank you for this, and I did not even see the video yet. You said it all for me.

  21. Cindy…that little girl is also me…accused of being a daydreamer since grade two and onwards :) …yay us!

  22. Just finished reading your inspiring story, and truly empathize with you.

    The one thing that came into my head immediately was Kermit the Frog, and part of a line from “The Rainbow Connection” – “The lovers, the dreamers, and me”
    Jim Henson was an awesome creator of thought-provoking songs, as well as those lovable puppets. Putting them together shows his dreaming genius, which truly is shared by so many people who wouldn’t or didn’t let that creative spirit be crushed.

    You are in this group and I appalude you for being there, here, and sharing so much with all of us.

  23. I was five and it was my first day at infant school. In the afternoon the teacher said we were going to do painting. Lovely……… so I went and chose the biggest brush I could find but all the other kids had taken the pots of paint and only black and yellow were left. I painted a huge flower in the sunny yellow with four petals similar to the Dogwood. Then I carefully painted the black background, being careful not to go over the lines.
    But another child jogged my arm and black paint went all over me and my masterpiece!! Sob!!

    The teacher (a Miss Lake) was not at all cross and giggled at the state I was in. Cheering me up she remarked. “It WOULD have been a striking picture” and dabbing at my frock added. “Never mind, it’s washable paint,so you had better go and clean up before you go home” (She also taught English and from that day on I adored her)

    As a teenager I was always dreaming, thinking up new characters for the latest romantic story I was trying to write, so in the Art class my brain was disconnected from my hands. At the end of the lesson I found that my hands had painted my yellow flower on a black background, I had no recollection of doing it. I think this is what’s called automatic painting and it has happened to me many times!

    The teacher totally ignored us and pretty much left us to our own devises while she sat marking last nights homework. Just before the end of the lesson she got up to walk round to look at our work. She was NOT at all impressed by my painting and was very sarcastic and called it very childish. “Well I AM a child” I said.

    She was furious and sent me to stand outside the Headmaster’s room for being so rude. She must have forgotten all about me as I stood there for nearly three hours until the bell rang for hometime. Then I ran all the way home crying and climbed up into the treehouse feeling miserable, till suppertime.

    The next week I was dreading entering the Art class……. nothing was said but all that term my efforts didn’t meet her expectations and I felt useless. My self worth was zero and my creativity squashed. We were told what to paint , how to paint it and what colours to use. I am so glad that the teacher left the school at the end of the year.

    This is not the end of the story, as many years later I went to an exhibition of Batik. I stopped short in my tracks at a beautiful piece of material.

    It depicted dozens of small bright sunny yellow Dogwood type flowers on a black background. Wow, my childish design was replicated in miniature? The sun shone through the yellow translucent flowers and I thought what a wonderful sarong it would make………………..

    I love painting flowers and birds but it took many years before I plucked up enough courage to enter some of my paintings in a local exhibition and was over the moon when I saw the red stickers………….sold………..So I agree with your speaker (Don’t you just love his very English sense of humour?) We need self -expression as children, not to be put down for dreaming, for without dreams it would be a dull world and most of the wonderful inventions would never have got off the drawing board. If you are not passionate in what you do…….forget it…..
    ……..cheers xx

    • Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. I think such trials as children really help us become the artist we are today.

  24. Dear Cindy, Don’t you hate labels? It’s because you love flowers, colors and have your head in the clouds that you are so great at teaching.
    I was in an orphanage until I was 10 (parents divorced and fighting, Mom declared an unfit mom) The only teacher I remember was the meanest one, but, I do remember singing, which I loved, and the stained glass window in our church which had beautiful colors. I go to the fabric store and just walk around and enjoy the colors and fabric prints.
    I learned long ago that God doesn’t make junk and that what I do is fun. It gives me pleasure when other people compliment me on my polymer clay jewelry. I am 71 I’m playing for the firat time in my life have been married for 49 years to a wonderful man who lets me be creative and loves my work, even though his brain is made up of orderly file folders and everything in it’s place. I have 4 wonderful grown up children.
    I can hardly wait for fridays when I get to be taught by you. My daughter is a choral director of high school kids in a lower income school. She lets her adhd kids fiddle, one she lets have his comic books when he is antsy, still his tests show he is learning what she’s teaching. She has a special needs class and loves the children and has found that , because of music and rythmn, they have excelerated their learning in their regular classes. (music was started last year as an experiment). I go on too long, but your comment brought back so many memories.

    Sandra

  25. Dear Cindy,

    Back again to add that I do not expect there were many dry eyes while reading about a messy little girl who lived up there in those fluffy clouds (Aren’t clouds wonderful?)
    Cindy, I felt your pain.
    Now she’s all grown-up and still enjoys messing with clay n paint, dye and glitter. Don’t ever stop being messy Cindy, we all love you for it.

    Your talent is amazing, you need to be different, to feel the magic.

    You drum to a different beat.!

    Perhaps those early remarks from un-enlightend teachers spurred you on? It is remarkable that we all emerge as individuals, after THEY try so hard to make us all in the same mold. I will not be mass-produced because they broke the mold after I emerged hee hee.

    cheers xx

  26. Hi,
    I was an elementary school teacher for 17 years and I would have loved to have had a writer like you. But, it is sad to say I knew many teachers like you had. Why are they like that? I don’t understand. I enjoyed letting students have freedom of expression in their writing and artwork. I learned a lot about my students and how they saw the world by doing this. That is how I see creativity. Maybe the problem for some teachers came in grading. If you don’t have a set list of what must be there you can’t grade it. I don’t agree, but who knows.

    I loved working with children but gave up teaching when I ran into problems with bureaucracy and their need for young, yes ma’m teachers who followed those lessons your talking about that don’t lend themselves to students who need room to spread their wings. I don’t know any creative and talented students who can sit still 6 hours a day being prim and proper and do worksheets. Children need a chance to be creative, move and use their own minds. I didn’t want students who could mimic what I did. I wanted students who could think through problems or know why they got the answer. Enough of my sermon.

    Thank you for your story, it brought back to me the reason why I believe as I do. You made me feel good about who I am. Also, I love working with polymer clay and reading your blogs!

  27. Hi Cindy,

    I just read your April 2 blog about creativity and passion, and it touched me. You describe so very clearly what being a person is; the good, the grief, the longing and the aspirations that each one of us have. And you described some of the obstacles that we meet on our way through life: The public demands, the expectations of others, the need to conform, and the need to rebel against conforming.

    I have thought about people and their paths in life for many, many years. It’s my job.I have come to see how important their histories are to their development, their coping and their understanding of their individual meaning and purpose. And, working in palliative care especially, has led me to marvel at our capacity as humans to adapt and find depth and meaning, even in the most adverse situations.

    I have a tendency to compare a persons growth and development to a tree’s. Someone plants it (or it starts it’s life by accident). It finds the nourishment available, and it grows under the conditions that it’s environment allows. And then – from age, from accident, from disease or industrial need – it dies.

    You know, when you fell a tree and see all the yearrings? They are all there, right up to the day it falls. But they are not even or perfect. Some rings are thick, some are narrow. They can be crooked or squiggly, and here and there are protuberances that bulge out and perhaps distort the next yearrings. When you fell the tree, you can see that – oh yes, that ring must be from the year we had the drought, and that ring must be from the year we had a magnificent summer. And we can see when disease or frost distorted the the development in another ring, or when continuous winds bent all the succeeding rings into ovals. But all the rings are complete, and they all protect each other in their own, special way. And they all protect the core that is our original, biological self.

    So too with people. We too have our yearrings. We all have an angry little child inside, or a frustrated pimply teen, – a wonderfully happy year, or one when something tried to thwart our growth. And we all have our bulges. Sometimes those bulges, or those inner rings, become more available to us. All we have to do, is be aware of them, and recognize them as part of us. 11 year old Cindy has been inside you all this time, pushing and bumping and making you aware of her presence. You never lost her; you have actually protected her as best you could in the circumstances of your life. And your protection has helped her mature to what she is today. Good for you!!!

    You cried for that little girl, and perhaps you didn’t really have to. It’s obvious through your blog that she has been developing just fine. Maybe you cried for joy at having found her again? I would. You have access to her now, and you can utilize her dreams and hopes. But you also have recognized her through all the outer yearrings, the knots and gnarls that living has given you. To me, that means that you have acquired wisdom and insight into how to access her, and how to best utilize her. Those teachers you had who said you had your head in the clouds and needed to buckle down? They are all there too, probably as ruffles and small cracks in the yearrings. I think you can probably benefit from them as well. Today they do not need be the obstacles or”unfairnessess” that they were when they were said. On the contrary, it hit me that your teacher’s words about “getting some work done” have perhaps in part been helpful to you in your work today. I have seldom come across better teaching combined with creativity than yours. And, believe me, as a former teacher I know how hard that is. You are straight to the point, succinct and extremely down to earth in your presentations. And, just as important: You show great empathy and encouragement, and an ability to include everyone, not make anyone feel small. That is the art of teaching in a nutshell. I imagine your old teachers probably inadvertently taught you that as well. Maybe you should send them a little, mental smile. That’s all I had to say.

    Good luck, Cindy, and I hope you have a good Easter. I appreciate your blog and your tutorials immensely, and will continue to follow them closely. Thank you!

    Mette
    (from Norway)

  28. I remember as a kid… riding in car in back and would hear classical music and dream… as you say, it was then it opened my mind to colors etc watching the curtains at a movie back in early 50s with grandma and the colors on the curtains before the movies. Losing ones self in the movies. A cousin, who was fantastic showing me beauty of opera and classical music. And for some reason I cried as no one had allowed me to explore those things.

    It’s wonderful when you meet such a wonderful teacher and they may not even realize they are doing it. Cindy you do so much in your 10 minute videos. You show / allow the person to take what you do and build on it. Thanks again. I love your inner child. Amazing. Thanks for being there and sharing all your hard earned skills.

  29. Hi Cindy,

    Thank you so much for posting this. Not only is your journey personal and triumphant, it is courageous. It’s not easy to share things like this but it resonates in many of us.

    What struck me about your writing is the detail you noticed. A lot of people don’t see that much detail (let alone explain it beautifully) at that age. Have you ever heard of HSP? It stands for Highly Sensitive Person, and it is a character trait that seems to be found in people who are creative. The woman who pioneered this concept (and has written some great books) is Elaine Aron. It has to do with having a central nervous system that is very active, taking in more information than other folks. I am one, and just thought you might be too. Like your realization and personal discovery did, it’s a life changer. Her website is hsperson and there is a self-test. :-)

    Thank you again for sharing this.

    • Wow very interesting Karen! I had never heard of the traits of a Highly Sensitive Person, but man am I ever one! I scored 23/26 on the self test and apparently 14 is high. Other than not being shy, nervous while performing or sensitive to pain, I had every single other trait on the list. There are several other members of my family who also display the traits in varying degrees, including my Mom, Dad, Son and my Nephew who is Autistic. I seems that it may have something to do with genetics. Luckily my parents were patient and gentle with me as a child and I have learned over time to use these traits as strengths. It is kind of cool to read about it though. Just one more layer of understanding in my self realization journey. Who knows one day I may just figure out who I will be when I grow up! LOL

  30. Cindy,
    Wanted to add my kudos for such a wonderful post. As a homeschooling mom I am learning a lot about “teaching”. LOL! What it is and what it isn’t!

    Reading your writing reminds me soooo much of my 14yo son’s writing. He is so verbose! And he loves to do it. So that is why he starts his “school” day with half an hour of writing. And why I’m seeking out others to help him with his writing. I can help him with the art… or at least I feel confident in that area… but words, not so much!

    Thanks for the link to Sir Ken Robinson’s interview. I had not heard of him before but of course my son had through TedTalks. He loves that site. I will be reading more of his works!

    So a great big THANKS! For your inspiration and your work.

    Hugs,
    Hope in MO

  31. Reading all these touching stories it’s wonderful to hear and feel connected to others who have gone through similar experiences. Cindy when I first started reading your words from childhood I was struck by such lovely, vivid details, then I saw how young you were…I honestly had to look at that a couple of times! What would compel someone to ignore the beauty in those words? And to express only negative comments to a child who “poured her little heart out” in that piece?
    I was also “sensitive”, always hyper aware and kind of intuitive to things and people around me. Always had to do something creative too. I was the emotional one, although I’ve been blessed with a loving family – the label wasn’t always meant in a positive way. Being sensitive, you often end up feeling bad for how you are.

    What I love now though, is that with age comes the confidence of leaving those labels and negative perceptions behind. Still sensitive, but it feels so much better to put those judgements where they belong (the bottom shelf, far, far away = ) One of the best things that stayed with me came from someone who was exceptionally gifted as an artist. His view was that with every piece of art you can find something positive, something good to balance any criticism.
    It’s that lack of balance that can carelessly “hurt” for years afterward. Stay strong creative souls, we are very different and although it’s sometimes lost on others – it is a rare gift. = )

  32. There were so many amazing comments from you all in this thread that I just had to come in and give my heartfelt gratitude for sharing your stories with us.

    When writing this post, I had thought I had already learned what I needed to learn, but as I read through each comment, I realized there was so much more to be learned.

    It is only when you peel off the dried outer layers of time and experience, do you find that fresh bulb of new growth waiting to blossom. I wish for each of you this coming Spring, that the new growth is not only restricted to the budding life in your gardens, but to the new life in your hearts.

    I leave you all with this beautiful quote I found some time ago…

    “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin

  33. what a beautiful post Cindy, and such a profound quote! Thank you so much … you just made my evening brighter!!! God bless.

  34. Dear Cindy,

    You have touched my heart with your story of the childhood joy in flowers and colors and, it would seem, in the abundance of beauty everywhere. And then came the tearing rejection of your own heartfelt description of it. That unfortunate teacher most fortunately could not stamp out your creativity, thanks be, but surely she must have made you less confident. A plague on all who would discourage a child from expressing joy in life. Some others most likely were there for you somehow countering her disparagement, but there it still has its place behind your tears. Still, you have long displaced her insane criticism with a constant, and now weekly, display of encouragement to do your own thing with a wonderful set of tools to help accomplish that. The world is a better place with you in it.

    Thank you.
    Katherine Davis

  35. This post made me cry… re-read it a couple times and again the tears… bless you and that little girl inside you! It’s not pleasant to relive, but it is inspiring to hear that people who you admire (you) have doubts about their abilities too. Too bad we weren’t born with filters so we’d been able to only hear the positive… wasted lots of our days here when we could’ve been building on those God-given talents, but it’s never too late, right?! Hope not LOL.

    Shelley

  36. Although I am a little late in reading this post. Better late than never right? I just wanted to say thank you for posting this personal realization of the Cindy I think a lot of us have known for quite a while. The creative, passionate, expressive, colorful, talented, giving, generous person, we all tune in to watch and learn from every week. And to thank you for encouraging all of us to be all of those things too, in our own ways. If ever there were a model for the best kind of teacher, the kind that Ken spoke of, I think you would be the very image of that teacher. As for your teacher of the past? Just having the title of teacher does not always mean they have the talent that is required to do the job properly. And if you could go back in time? I know you could teach them a thing or two on that subject. But fortunately for all of us, you are OUR teacher now, and I don’t think there is one of us who does not know how very lucky we are to have you. :}

        • All is well as it always is. I never start a day focusing on negativity. Even if I dont feel well I tell myself I will feel better later, and just get on with it. LOL. At my age I am grateful to wake up and be able to get on with it. But lately it has been much better since I have begun playing wih my clay again. I finally broke down and just cleared a space and set up my work table. I might never have a finished craft studio, but I cant go without my clay and wire work one more second! And after I scored a ton of clay at an awesome Michaels sale recently, I have almost a lifetime supply Hahahaha!(almost) Plus I have all my pearl ex (the new colors are beautiful) and I have some UV resin and the light, and so many other goodies I have been collecting. I almost dont know where to start! But I did begin with going through my old canes and sheets and skinner blends to see what was salvageable. I am happy to report that all the canes are still workable even after almost 4 years of not moving!! And the sheets? That was very interesting. I had them stored between sheets of wax paper in a plastic container. Apparently wax paper will leech plastisizer over a period of time. So my sheets were very brittle and cracked. BUT! They worked perfectly for making faux raku sheets! Woohoo! So now I have several lovely sheets of deep crackle raku to play with. And I am happy to report also, that the counter top convection oven I bought works wonderfully! Its made by Deni and its see through so I can watch my clay while it bakes. And the large glass bowl which is the main body of the oven can go in the dishwasher! Anyhoo, I am hoping to be able to hop in a little more often here again. Things seem to be calmer here for now LOL. But that can change in the blink of an eye hahaha! Makes life exciting in a way dontcha think? XOXOXOXO Jamie

  37. Yep, same for me. Haul out the clay, and the world brightens. It’s great, isn’t it?

    Hope hubby is doing well, and that you try and post a little more often.

  38. Hi, Cindy!

    I just wanted to let you know personally how much I appreciate your work, your teaching, your support and that I try to apply and have applied it to what I’m doing. But I was looking at something else here and by “coincidence” found this older topic of yours about learning and teaching and “being a child with a head full of dreams”.

    I am crying right now and very hard, too, because I have been struggling with this issue without even up to last night when I posted these photos on Facebook, of my latest sculpt.

    When I was a child, I wanted to be EVERYTHING! Writer, actress, director, artist, painter… I wanted to see and create beauty everywhere and make everyone comfortable and happy. But it was not good enough. I was told in high school writing was good enough for a hobby but I was too intelligent to not have a REAL career like in the math and sciences.

    The first music teacher I had said I had no aptitude for music because I could not read notes even though I had never been taught them so how could I play the trumpet like Herb Albert?

    Art school was just for “lazy people” who couldn’t do REAL work or it was just too much fun and a hedonistic thing to do when there was so much poverty, etc., in the world and one should really “help” people.

    I was too shy and lacked self-esteem to ever be an actress. What was I going to do for money because that’s the bottom line, anyway….etc, etc., etc..

    I know that this constant brainwashing (plus life circumstances) has led me to where I am today. Fifty six and all I’ve ever done is retail clerk and secretarial. So much for intelligence, skill and talent, eh?

    Well, my life circumstances have changed drastically in the last four years. And this clay thing…well. I am in a position where it’s sink or swim for me as far as proving to myself that I and my talents have a place in this world.

    I decided to try to start a business with this and have been investing all my energies in that direction. I also seem to be fighting myself every step of the way and wanting to throw in the towel time and time again.

    I had such a struggle finishing this last sculpt and posting it. And I realized last night it was because I was afraid to hear all these comments again. Because then I would just slink away like I always did before. Because of the whim or jealousy or beliefs of people who… lets face it… never lived my life with me anyway.

    So you can see how your story has affected me right now, because it is that precious little girl in me, too, that needs to love and accept and encourage and protect herself. And you echoed that in me so much this morning. I will remember this next time I hear the voices… which will probably be in the next five minutes or so. LOL

    Anyway, all I wanted to say was thank you and you keep doing what you are doing and keep getting better and better all the time. THAT’S what it’s about. Becoming Master or Mistress of your own destiny. I have had teachers and bosses like Willow’s French teacher who would have me believe that was the truth of life. And I was such a sucker, I believed it. Willow is fortunate to have such parents who teach her differently. You are a strong and brave and beautiful child woman. Thanks for coming into my life.

    If you would have been my student at age 11 and I would have read your work, I would have thought “What a beautiful light that child has within her! What a way to express color and form! I can see it all so clearly in my mind’s eye. It is my duty and privilege to guide her as best I can into bringing it forth for all the world to share.” So it goes. Maybe it has been the challenge for us, to shine forth and value our own selves so that others may value our gifts, too.

    Love,

    Andrea

    • Andrea,

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and struggles and realizations with us. It is stories like this that bring clarity and perspective to what Doug and I are envisioning for the Polymer Clay Tutor brand. It’s so much more than just offering tutorials and instructions. There is definitely a higher purpose unfolding… to empower greatness and self-confidence in those who choose to become involved. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of this blossoming PcT community. You are great!

      Love ~Cindy

    • Dear Cindy! What an honor! It is just so hard to find people… or at least it has been for me… who understand what a vision like yours and Doug’s IS and who are willing to do the work to bring it forth. I have the same vision, maybe executed differently, but the same nevertheless. It IS a greater vision and a MUCH higher purpose. And no matter what tools are used, humanity has been envisioning this expression from the beginning. I have wanted and want VERY MUCH to contribute to that empowerment. I will do my best.

    • Andrea, your post brought tears to my eyes, too. I was the same, though, I “found” insurance as a career, lol. At least I felt I was helping people understand their medical policies, and learned about it for my own needs.

      Having experienced the same issues in childhood as you and Cindy, it was a long journey. But, the one benefit of the insurance paycheck was that it allowed me to find a great hobby….polymer clay.

      Later, once disabled and home for good, this medium is my stress relief sanity and Cindy’s site and tutes are the light of my life.

    • Oh Andrea, do not fear or be afraid of what others think or say. If you have enjoyed making something, put your heart into it and overcome the difficulties, you shine. I love your sea themed dragon, the colors speak to me, the expression looks satisfied as if he/she is saying “Thanks Mum for bringing me to life. Has it a name?
      Everyone has their own perception of “ART! My younger sister was a wonderful water color painter. She painted the most amazing elves, fairies and birds and nature. Then she attended a famous Art College in London. It destroyed her natural flow. I am not sure how or what she was taught but her work thereafter became just ordinary. The heart had gone out of it. She does not paint much anymore, but I treasure two of her early paintings. Sometimes you can learn too much, become afraid you are not good enough. Looking back at some of my early PC pieces I laugh at how ugly they are but somebody loved them? Cindy is a wonderful teacher and we have all learned lots of lessons, but she is NOT rigid. She says “put your own spin on it, choose different colours, experiment, and that’s what ART is all about. Pushing the boundries, trying new ways, taking advice but doing your own thing. Remember someone somewhere will love even the ugliest warty toad……cheers xx……..

      • I find your comment about your sister’s art losing its ‘voice’ after going to art school interesting Elaine.

        I think sometimes with all this push to legitimize and elevate the medium of polymer clay, that people who teach tutorials like myself, are often thought to be ‘unqualified’ to bring value to the artist community. That only the true trained art professionals and those with art school backgrounds have the right to be leaders or instructors in this industry. That untrained or self taught teachers are indeed ruining the artistic viability for other artists. At least that is often the impression I get from some of the more well known people in this niche.

        Frankly I find that a load of bologna! Art isn’t only about color theory and art history courses. Art is about expression and passion. It is about a creative vision that is given form by using materials to bring that vision into reality. But before you can make that happen, you need to understand how the materials will work, to bring your ideas into fruition.

        In my opinion, tutorials are great for that. You learn about the art material, which in our case is mostly polymer clay, and you make it into something. If you like it, you take it further… if you don’t, you change it or move onto something else. What better way is there to discover your own artistic voice than actually making something with your own hands?

        We have seen some wonderful examples right here within our own membership. Sue Fisher making Faux Cast Iron as a twist on the Faux Rust tutorial. Lynda Dunham-Watkins using the Faux Raku technique as an aged skin for her Elephant Sculpt. Andrea Paradiso using a variety of tutorials in her gorgeous Ace of Cups sculpture and you Elaine… using your poetry to bring your own artistic flair to this site, when you are unable to work with your clay.

        Thank you for saying that I am not rigid as a teacher. I have tried very hard to teach in a way that makes it ‘all about you’ and what you want from the experience. There is no point in me pushing what I feel are the rules of how your piece is to be made or how it should look. I show you how to use a material, give you some ideas if you need them and let you run with it how you like.

        Any way, I just thought I’d chime in here and give my two cents on the topic since it is something that I feel very passionate about! :)

        • Well said, Cindy! I was just thinking about art and what it really means. You hit it right on the head! Art is like the old phrase: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I actually never wanted to sell my art because I thought I wouldn’t want my art to “increase” in value after I pass. I knew I would “sell” it for a reasonable price but I didn’t want anyone to “get rich” because they bought my work after my death. Art is to be shared not profit from. Does that make sense? I guess that is why I rather give my work away than sell it.
          Art has been a part of my life since I was three years old. If I were to ask someone to describe me most will say something about my artistic abilities. Sometimes I felt people I met thought being artistic was a cop out. People would ask what I studied in college and I would tell them I was an Art Major and they would say how easy it must have been. As though Art was an easy “A” and not reason to pay big money to earn a degree.
          How different our lives would be without art. It is everywhere. Teachers like you, Cindy, make it look easy. But if it were easy no one would need to be taught. I always say to people who think they are not talented, “Talent is only 10%. 90% is practice, practice and practice!”
          Sometimes only a small word of encouragement is needed for people to succeed. And one word of discouragement to crush someone’s inspirations.
          I love the positive atmosphere here! That alone is a great tool for improving creativity and artistic abilities.

          • You make some great points Catalina! I love the positive atmosphere here too!

            As far as making money with art, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, if that’s what you want to do. It is not required that an artist needs to be a Starving Artist, for their work to be good.

            Money is neither good nor bad. It is merely an object that is used to represent value. If an object has enough value to someone, (intrinsic, sentimental, rarity, or whatever) then they will exchange more money for it. I once saw an auction when someone paid $700 for a Pez Dispenser. Was it a better piece of art than the painting at the gift shop for $100. No. Should the guy selling it given the guy who bought it most of his money back, because it was just a stupid piece of plastic? No. It was rare and the purchaser wanted it bad enough for his collection.

            The thing I think about Art and the process of making it, is that it is important what YOU want out of the experience. If you want to spend hours and hours making something using expensive materials that you enjoy doing and then give it away, then that is perfectly alright.

            If you want to create business where you make something quick, that sells well and brings you a good profit, then that is fine too. Neither is smarter or more honorable than the other. They are just different reasons for doing things. That is all.

            It is up to you how you go about your creative life. As long as you are not hurting anyone (like stealing their work) then Your Journey is Your Journey… And who am I (or anyone one else for that matter) to say otherwise?

      • Elaine, I get the cramping, have seen it happen. For some reason, the way they are taught just closes off their natural work. Not sure why. Friend I saw it happen to recognized it and blamed it on required nudes study. I guess it can happen, right?

    • Wow a kindred spirit
      I am Bi-Polar and as such highly creative but have to struggle to complete tasks, I am properly medicated and so don’t have many high or low episodes but when I get excited about an idea and do I have ideas,I am told to check my ” levels ” I am not allowed to just be happy and creative, without someone getting nervous, I keep a list of famous talented people who are and were bi-polar to remind myself that I am not ” mentally ill ” but have an electrical problem that is treated with meds. Like most with my condition my IQ is very high and it was a Dr. telling me that which helped me to believe in myself, My family never liked me I knew this even when I was a small child, My father was an envious bitter man who decided that since he did not have an education he would deny me mine, so from the age os 14 I learned on my own and became self taught. I guess I gave off an energy they just didn’t understand and their way of coping was to tell me that I was broken and would never be any good as a person or in what I might try to accomplish. I have always been an artist, I write,paint, design and make clothing, do wonderful mosaics and intricate beading and now have found polymer clay I often combine some or all of these things and have learned that I am what is known as a ” mixed media artist ” But the lack of a formal education always made me feel like a phoney and that I had no right to the title. Self esteem was zero and then I met and married a wonderful man who found something beautiful in me and told me that I was his strength and security the rock that made him whole. He has supported me and loves all that I do. Our children are so proud of what I do and tell love to tell their friends who admire something that I made for them that ” Mom made it ” I don’t want to be an artist because I say so I want to be recognized as an artist because I am one and your site helps me to get the professionalism I need to believe it myself, that old lack of esteem never really goes away and it is important to have the tools to combat the beast when it rears its ugly head, it is my dragon to slay and I will do it as often as the need arises.
      this is where my problem comes in concerning self promotion but I will slay that critter too in time. Thank you for providing my with the weapons I need

  39. Wow, I’m speechless. The video, your story and all the stories and comments in this thread resonate so much with me. I’m also teary-eyed. Thank you for this today and of course, all you do for us. Perfect.

  40. Hi, All!

    Haven’t been able to get here for awhile…and I find I’m in the headlines once again thanks to Doug! LOL! Forgive me for making light of it, but it’s only because I’m tearing up again, too.

    All of you are just incredible. I cannot tell you how your words, your stories, your expressions…both in clay and in words…feeds my soul. And you have to KNOW that…you need to be told. I am so BORED with meaningless conversations…even about clay…and tweets that have become a part of everyone’s mode of communication even when they aren’t on Twitter and people hanging up in the middle of a conversation or leaving my FaceBook chat box without even saying good-by. I am bored and tired of it. To ACTUALLY be able to READ something someone TOOK THE TIME TO WRITE FOR ME TO READ…what a refreshing pleasure! Someone actually wanted to communicate with all of us about a part of who and what and why they are. And, on top of that, they are WILLING to take the time to actually sit down and read what I and others might have to say and share and even respond to it. To ACTUALLY create a REAL and meaningful conversation with people which isn’t about bacon-wrapped hot dogs or their latest hair style snaffu…as fun as that may be! Fancy that!

    I stumbled into the “polymer clay community” much like I’ve stumbled into a lot of things…happy and enthused and wide-eyed innocent. And it all felt great…the sharing, the joy, the lifting one other up. A little later, when people started asking to buy my necklaces, I remembered that dream I had as a child and for many years after of being an artist and actually making it my life’s work as well as passion. But it is not so easy for me, sometimes, to just go ahead and do things. For me, before going right ahead there were all these internal issues I had/have to deal with. And rightly so. As Cindy says, Your Journey is YOUR JOURNEY. And I had to find out what I wanted My Journey to be. If I am to do this thing, what do I want to stand for and where do I want to end up? That question is always in my nature to ask. And that is why Cindy’s response to my comment, and all of your comments as well, was just as overwhelming to me as her original story.

    It is true I have not been here lately because I’ve had some major loose strings that needed tying up before I went ahead with even any more clay work at all. But it is also true that I have taken some time to withdraw a bit from the groups I found myself in because I needed to investigate deeply and consider who and what I want to align myself with at this crucial time, who and what I want to allow into my life, who and what nurtures me and accepts nurturing from me and who and what I invest my energies and resources to. This is the beginning of this adventure for me. I don’t want to be Pinocchio and go willyy-nilly in the direction that any wind blows or align myself with people that may be detrimental in the long term to me and to the community as a whole for the sake of “my business” or “my reputation”. I’ve waited too long to give it all away, I’ve seen what that path has done to too many people I’ve known, and it means too much to me personally in more ways than one. It means as much to me as this group and Cindy mean to Jocelyn. I want to do the very best that’s in me to do. And if it doesn’t work, well, then…I’ll sing along with Jim Croce.. “like a fool I am and I’ll always be…I got a name!”.

    Last night, I had to make what was for me a hard decision about leaving a FaceBook group I had just recently joined at a person’s suggestion. My first mistake was in not investigating before joining and taking this other person’s suggestion without finding out for myself. But everything is so easy and carefree these days! I just assumed it was like all the other groups I was in. You just click on the “Like” button or the “Friend” button and off you go. Well, it isn’t like the other groups I’m in, including this one. There is an administration clique. And there are rules. And there are phrases such as “you shall post it this way and not that” and “shall not be tolerated” and “shall be determined” and “will be removed without warning” and “such-and-such a post looks ugly” and “to avoid repetition of such comments as ‘cool’ and ‘wow’ and ‘hello'”, and etc.. Now, there is nothing wrong with this in itself as it is their group and they have the right to run it as they chose (even though it is listed as an open group and I’m not sure it quite fits that description). Except that, for one, this group has set themselves up to unite the ENTIRE “polymer clay community” under ONE roof…namely theirs…mainly because the main administrator “is tired of having to post her work in 10 different groups” all the time. I will be sarcastic enough to comment that it probably has more to do with the fact that she has to follow other people’s rules and not hers. If you DO care to see the rules, you have to take the time and make the effort to download their pdf file. If you want to see who all is in Administration, you have to take the time to look for that, too. And, of course, they can change and post the rules anytime they want to. They can decide who or what comes in and who or what gets kicked out and why and who can or can’t be an Administrator. The group started out sometime in 2012 and had a hundred or so members and in the last month or so has upped it considerably. It seems there may have been a massive sign-up campaign going on of which I was a part. Five people administrating the entire polymer clay community, dictating the rules, changing the rules, and if anybody else wants to be in Administration, they must ask and be permitted in. My, my, my.

    I know what you might say to me. You might say “Andrea! Why are you taking it so seriously and letting this get your dander up? Just walk away and PICK your battles. Stop wasting time and go start up your so-called business and play like a good little girl with your clay dragons and have a good time! It’s just jewelry and stuff! It’s JUST FACEBOOK anyway! Who cares?” I know you might say this to me because I said it to myself.

    And I might answer you, “I DID just walk away. And I am NOT going to stay in the group and fight the authority someone took for themselves without earning it or asking the group if it was alright to do so. And I AM working on my business. This IS my business…and it is I that cares FOR IT.” Why? Because this is the beginning of what Elaine and Catalina and Cindy have all discussed. The start of the clay experts and the qualified teachers and the leaders and the icons en masse…the start of THE INSTITUTION. And that is happening with the clay, too, because NOTHING is exempt from this natural evolution. Nothing. I have seen it happen in the so-called new-age era with the creation of new Tarot decks over a twenty-plus year span; I have seen it in the natural health field over a forty-year span, and I am seeing it here in the polymer clay niche, as Cindy refers to it. People will set themselves up to dictate to others what, when, how, good, bad, ugly, oughts, ought nots, shoulds and shouldn’ts, how much, how many and never at alls. They will set themselves up as “experts in the field” even though they may have invented one technique they are famous for and will repeat that technique over and over again without learning or trying anything new after it and people will OOOh! and AAAh! and pay thru the nose for a trinket with their name on it forever because they are so-and-so.

    Yes, Catalina, you are right. After they die it will be worth tons more. And, yes, Cindy that’s alright because that is commerce and free enterprise and I myself will also pay a lot more than something might be worth just because I want to posses it and someone I admire made it. But if it goes too far, if the cramping gets too tight and can’t be relieved, the joy and innocence of the clay will die. And it will just be clay-by-rote…dictated form and not life. Cindy says bologna, and I say I have never, EVER liked bologna. Yes, I am in “The Community” and this is how I shall be in it. On my own terms, just like Cindy is, just like the rest of you are. Because that is what ART is. And that is what LIFE is. If you do not do that…then you might as well shut your mouth and slink away and let others do with your life and with your work what they will. I WILL NOT lend my energies to cramping ANYBODY’S style. Loving, supportive, joyful, gently critical, uplifting, attentive, supportive, instructive, a bit of a goofball sometimes, talking too much and getting on your nerves? DEFINITELY! But rules to make things nice and neat and pretty and to shut up everybody’s mouth and stunt their artistic expression so we can all be cute little sheep and feed somebody’s ego? Sorry, not for me.

    It was my plan to work on my clay this morning and not rant and rave on “My Polymer Clay Tutor”. LOLOL! If I have offended anyone, it was not my intention to, so I hope you will forgive me. But I ask you also to be sure to let me know and tell me where I am wrong in my thinking or perception or if my facts are not accurate so that I can discuss it with you and consider this further. I am asking you all to just be careful. If you wish to preserve the beauty of what this expression has become so far and of what you TRULY are and what you wish this precious seedling to grow into…make sure you know what and who you are investing in.

    I said I was in the process of determining the people and groups I am aligning myself to and, most importantly, to what extent. As far as Cindy and Doug, their family, and this group is concerned, my decision is made. If you still want me, you shall be seeing me and my expressions…both of them…a lot more often.

    Love to all of you and thanks again for letting me bend your ear…bend it A LOT!

    I am off now…to play with my dragons!

    Andrea

    • Andrea,
      I just want to let you know that you are not alone in having been in a group….Didn’t even know I was a member until I tried to make a comment and was told that if I had not been a member I would have been unable to make the comment. I just wanted to lend a small encouragement to a lovely artist who is talented and seems to worry alot that she is having no success at selling in certain venues.

      At the time I felt that it was good to be a part- unknowingly- but apparently invited to this group. I was encouraged by another friend to submit a picture of work for commentary… very afraid to do so… old images of non acceptance surfaced… I heard the mantra in my mind again that “you are not good enough” . My friend wrote back that I would be surprised at the response and acceptance of the group and it would be a good thing. I waited for a few days before I felt I could submit a photo. I waited with baited breath to read the comments. Scared of the power that this group holds to build or tear down self confidence. Somewhere in my mind I thought that maybe my work would be acceptable and that through that, I too, would be acceptable in the group of the mighty who hold the power to say that you are a part of this clay community. Much to my deep sadness I discovered that my photo had been removed, and a terse note in its place saying that this was not a group to display your recent work. I was deeply chagrined to see that the administrator removed the photo and left the note without first seeing if I realized it was a critique group.

      Yup, I knew that.

      It has taken me awhile to get over this. And I’m not sure I am yet. I seldom even post anything on my own status because I am a relatively private person. I have learned not to seek personal attention in my life but sometimes it just comes
      to me.
      This small experience has taught me that if I am happy with my work it is going to have to be enough.
      Success can be had in different ways and I am surely blessed with what has come my way through avenues other than high profile in the community of clayers around the internet
      I have secret joy in knowing that my art has been where none of theirs has yet been. Therefore I am a pioneer in that! I want to shout “Beat that venue”! Bet you cannot. Well, maybe. But I was first. LOL.

      • Dearest Karonkay—

        The time and care and emotional effort it may have taken you to write about this incident shows me what kind of a person and artist you are. It also tells me that you are still struggling internally to resolve a conflict that seems to surface every so often in spite of your efforts to quell it and work around it.

        Yes. I know the Dragons. “You are not good enough”, “you’ll never do it”, “why are you doing that for?”, and the pip of them all “Andrea, you’re such an A-personality (insert cute but uncomfortable smile here)!”. I know about waiting by the phone to see if whoever I wish would be on the other end will finally decide to come down from their Olympian throne and throw me a crumb of bread and pat me on the head…give me just enough crumb and long enough minute to make sure I keep wagging my tail and clicking along at their heels. And I also know what it’s like when the call doesn’t come. Ever. And about quelling and justifying and working around the myriad of feelings that surface with every incident. And about finally calming the feelings down and getting them under control and thinking it’s finally not emotional quicksand anymore under my feet when…son of a gun!…there! it happens again! I’m sure this sounds awful to those that have never experienced emotional manipulation. That’s because it really is.

        I wrote about these situations and so have many others here after Cindy started the ball rolling. I also know about the power that an individual or a group can hold over another individual or even the masses with the grand illusion that they themselves have created. Witness, for instance, two examples: Hitler and the Wizard of Oz. Rather different creatures, wouldn’t you say? And yet, if you ponder the stories carefully—and I will let you do that for yourself, if you care to—you will see they arrived at their false power and authority in the same way. It was initially handed over to them freely or with little struggle and, once given, was hard to regain. I put it to you that maybe it is time you finally took back what you gave away so freely and unknowingly in the first place.

        When you saw that note posted and your heart fell like a lead balloon to your intestines, Karonkay, what was it you knew EXACTLY? Did you know the ACTUAL rules? Did you REALLY KNOW…HAD YOU BEEN INFORMED IN CLEAR TERMS—what the rules REALLY were so you could decide FOR YOURSELF if you cared to be in the group or not and what to post or comment or not? Or are you saying that you knew because you’re thinking that maybe you must have known what the rules were but you shouldn’t have posted that picture anyway and you really knew this would happen and why did you do it in the first place and you REALLY DID know the rules and you did know how it was going to end up because that’s the way it always does and you SHOULD NOT have broken them and therefore you are quite a NAUGHTY LITTLE GIRL and you deserve to be PUNISHED for daring to make an unknowing mistake ON PURPOSE OUT OF PURE SPITE! and a terse note is just what you need to PUT YOU IN YOUR PLACE and others JUST LIKE YOU and who do you think you ARE bursting into MY GROUP and breaking MY RULES post that terse note immediately and then—OFF WITH HER HEAD, I SAY! OFF WITH HER HEAD!

        My goodness…I am quite out of breath!

        Now look, kid. Here’s the way I…in my own twisted mind…THINK it MAY BE. You are telling me that you are a private person. Okay. I love the time I spend with myself, too…I’m the best playmate I ever had and never hang around too many people, either. BUT…you also say that sometimes attention comes to you uninvited. May I ask you to do something for yourself…will you seek deep inside you and ask to know when and thru whom that attention comes. And THEN, you might ask WHY it comes anyway if you don’t seek it. Wait patiently and listen and I promise the answer will come to you…if you dare to accept it without denial.

        If you do that, I would ask you to do something else. And this, I ask for you to do for yourself as well as the rest of humanity. I want you to ask yourself if it REALLY IS ENOUGH for only YOU to be happy with your work. I am not asking you to say you want a high profile or even to stay with that group or any other or even do anything at all ever again. BUT…would you consider that perhaps the blessings you’ve received are crying out to be EVEN MORE abundant and more abundantly SHARED with the rest of us if you didn’t keep yourself and your beautiful expression as such a…((secret)). Are you being put “in your place” by someone OR are you just helping them along by conveniently beating them to the punch? Don’t abandon yourself because someone else did long ago.

        If you are a pioneer in one venue, you can be in many. There is no limit to THAT or what God and you can do together. And sure! Yeah!…in Cindy’s words—HOLY CRAP! And beat THAT! And DANG it…I WAS first and I’ll be first AGAIN, HA, HA, HA! If the intent is clean and true, that is the pure spirit of competition. And if you win this time, the rest of us that competed with you will be grateful for the opportunity you gave us to sharpen our skills and use them to the fullest. We will be most joyful to cheer you and reward you and cherish you. And then, we will wait eagerly for next time when, perhaps, we will best YOU and win the Coup Feather for ourselves.

        Remember, Karonkay…you yourself picked your internal Dragons. And you will pick them over and over again until you have made friends and allies of them. Your strengths are not to be used AGAINST you. They are to be used for your behalf and on behalf of all of us that love and support you and for the highest good of All. Enough is never GOOD ENOUGH…at least not for me. But then…I AM an A-personality, after all.

        You have choice. And it is yours and only yours to make. And whatever you chose will be the right choice for you. You just have to make sure you know you HAVE choice and that it is only YOU that the choice belongs to. Make sure your choice is based upon your highest good and not on the ego of another or because you are afraid to best your deepest fear. It is obvious for a mile that you have great courage…you posted your work in the first place, even knowing that it would put you thru emotional agony for days! And you have made your experience and opinion know here for us to read today. WHY? What did besting these challenges mean to you? Why did you put yourself on the line? If there is so much courage in you…then KEEP ON using it! Best the next challenge…AND THEN THE NEXT! Don’t abandon yourself because someone else did long ago.

        Then…on the other hand…all I have said here could be totally, disasterously, erroneously, catastrophically WRONG. Maybe it IS only a stupid group and silly old FACEBOOK! and who really cares anyway? Lets just walk away and go clay!

        If I have transgressed on anything sacred and private to you, my deepest, deepest apologies. It’s been a wild week for me, too. You see, a fifty-six year old Dragon I though I had bested unexpectedly dragged me into the ring again and what can I possibly do but give her a mighty scuffle? Mighty scuffles are the only treats old Dragons really relish anyway, and she is mine to keep happy after all.

        And…besides all of that, Karonkay…heck! I would REALLY love to see your artwork posted all over Creation and your sweet, smiling, proud, winning face shining just Everywhere for All to see!

        Andrea ;) <3

        • Dear Karonkay—

          A practical point here. Was this group you refer to on Facebook?

          It was very silly of me not to have made the connection til now but, this morning, I saw on my “Groups” listing that I belonged to a polymer art critique group. I remember someone posting and asking if anyone would be interested in such a group and I said I would be. That was a while ago. But I don’t remember ACTUALLY asking to be invited to this group, or seeing the group page and I don’t remember getting the message back that I was accepted in. It is a SECRET GROUP and does not show up on Public Facebook listings and so there’s no way to be in unless you know about it—OR ARE TOLD BY A FRIEND ABOUT IT—and you ask and are given permission. Because of all that’s happened this week, I decided to message the group Administrator and ask if I had indeed asked to be a member or there had been a mistake. She said that in order to be in the group, a person first had to “Friend” her and I had. Also, I had said I wanted to be in the group, so she had put me in. At least, this is how I understand her reply.

          I checked to see when i had been added in and the info by my avatar said “about a month ago”. Every other member I saw listed on the first few pages said the same thing. I would not be surprised that I had forgotten that I was a member except that I only belong to four groups, and I’m on them (even a few minutes) everyday. I find it very odd that I would miss seeing the group on my “Groups” listing for a whole month, not visit and not make any comments on any of the posts.

          Also—the rules are posted on the top. It says the group is for critique only and not to post your latest works unless you are okay with receiving constructive criticism about your work. IT DOES NOT SAY TO NOT POST YOUR LATEST WORK. AND IT DOES NOT SAY WHAT WORK IS PERMISSIBLE IF LATEST WORK IS NOT PERMISSIBLE. It does not say to not post anything else. The last two posts, however, by the same person post no work at all and just make commentary about her current status.

          Of course, it is quite possible this is NOT the same group that you are referring to, Karonkay.

          Even so, folks, but my gut says something is afoot on Facebook regarding polymer clay groups. There is clout in numbers in that land. Just watch yourselves and protect what you’ve worked so hard to create.

          Boy, have I got a Facebook headache! LOLOL

          Andrea

          Oh, no! I’ve been watching too much James Bond!!!

  41. Excuse my language, but Holy Crap Andrea… YOU NAILED IT! And so quickly too! It has taken me almost 6 years to realize that trying to be ‘in the cool group’ was something that I probably didn’t want to be in anyways. Never wanted to be in that group when I was in high school, so why was I trying to do it now? It is way more fun, (and easier btw) to just be yourself and do things your own way anyways.

    You are so very welcome here!! Nothing is better in my opinion than someone who is not afraid to be themselves. To be sweet and supportive. And just a creative free spirit. You are an enormous asset to this PcT family.

    Thank you for your amazing comment!

    • Andrea I so agree with your recent perceptions, especially joining groups and forums with enthusiasm only to find out it’s a prom queen contest. Psyche!

      Cindy provides a professional, interesting, researched and enthusiastic point of view when teaching. She is a jewel. Think her contributions to the polymer clay world should make folks um, skip! Even if you haven’t in awhile.

      • Thank you, Jocelyn, for your commentary. I am glad to know that sometimes others see what I see happening and that my perception is not totally skewed.

        Cindy is indeed a jewel and we are all lucky kids to have her!

    • Well, I don’t know if I love YOU, Dixie Ann…I’ll have to THINK ABOUT IT.

      Hmmmmnnnnn! Let’s see…Dixie Ann….Ho, hum, ho….

      I love her, I love her not, I love her, I love her not…

      I LOVE HER, I LOVE HER, I LOVE HER!

      A lot of MUAHS! to you, too, you lovely thing you!

      Andrea

      • BTW, Dixie Ann—I replied to your lovely compliment on Facebook about my sculpt, but don’t know if you saw that I did. I post things there but still don’t know where they land. I just don’t want you to think I missed and/or ignored your comment.

  42. My Darling Cindy—

    Holy Crap is RIGHT!

    But therein lies the power of ILLUSION!—I nailed it so quickly, Cindy, that it took me almost FIFTY-SIX years to do it! Record-breaking time don’t you think?

    Funny you should mention high-school because that is PRECISELY an experience that came to my mind this morning before I wrote my ‘article’ above—what did that group experience remind me of so far?

    HIGH SCHOOL!

    Aside from being a TOTALLY UNATTAINABLE GOAL, gathering all polymer clay artists under one roof was presented in a childish, bullying way. My only hope is that there are no unhappy experiences there and that “Administration” doesn’t cramp, squash or deter anyone from proceeding free and bright in their expression. What could I have been thinking of when I clicked on that button?!

    One thing is clear: I have said it before and will say it again—you are a sweetheart!

    Now get your head IN the clouds, loosen up your knuckles and get down to art!

    MUAH! MUAH! AND MUAH!

    • I very much support your beliefs and values Andrea, and I think it would be good to add the following, so everyone knows where I stand on this issue…

      Now just so no one takes it the wrong way, I myself am not against that particular group or any other polymer clay community for that matter, whether I have personally been accepted into it or not.

      I however, do not like the feeling of being excluded or controlled in my own artistic journey, and therefor, have not followed the same path as many of the pioneers of the polymer clay niche. As a result, I haven’t been accepted by everyone out there. It is important to note, that they have every right to continue their artistic journey’s however they choose. I am not against them… I just don’t feel aligned with them in some respects. What I have recently come to grips with is, maybe I just don’t need to. It is not necessary that everyone likes me. I only need to like myself (and you guys of course!) :)

      I do appreciate what some of the leaders have tried to do in this community. I also feel that some are worried about being forgotten, so they have set some pretty hard fast rules about where they want the community to go. But what I don’t think people realize is that art and the people creating it are much like a flowing river… the bigger it gets the less you can control it.

      Sometimes you just need to let the river flow where it wants to go…

      • Dear Cindy—

        I totally agree on all your points and would not judge anyone for being in any one group or another. Everyone must judge for themselves…that, I think, is a given. Being new in the arena makes me probably even more sensitive to being “accepted” or not. I understand that, as in any community, there are many issues involved and there is much history here of which I am not a part of and never will be. I also understand that all of us have had our own experiences and deal and react to them in our own way. Even at different times in our lives, after having processed an experience, we come up with different reactions to it than we did years earlier.

        I am certainly not against ANY clay group and many artists I have had the privilege to talk with and have received warm welcomes from as well as help are involved in several groups and have been for some time. Of course, that is why I said these folks have a right to form their group and run it as they chose. Perhaps my “dander” was aroused more so against myself, because I did not check first to see what I was agreeing to and what I had decided to become a part of and found myself feeling uncomfortable with the hasty decision I had made. The simple cure for that is to always check thoroughly before clicking on that “Friend” or “Join” button so the rest is naturally avoided.

        It is true: I only need to like myself and whoever I chose to come into my life or whatever group I chose to align myself with. I believe that is one of the most important points in your original article and that is why it moved me so.

        I so much appreciate having been allowed to “vent” here today about what was an unfortunate incident for me and which I probably DID take too seriously. Perhaps it pushed too many old buttons that need to be retired and put away. Please know that that is something with which this group is helping me to do.

        Enough philosophy for awhile! Dreary old, dried up stuff it is! And enough cleaning ovens, too!…except for making fresh for our clay!

        I will turn this over to My Jolly Old Self and meet with you soon on our next clay adventure! I need to see the tute about air pockets because I sorely need the instruction! Cindy, as always you are right on time to rescue me!

        Love you all! You are the best!

  43. Have any of you guys thought of taking up writing as a 2nd career? This site has some of the best writing out there. I read endless numbers of books and many of those authors could come here and take lessons. It’s so fascinating to read what all of you are writing that I can’t get anything else done. Cindy, what an amazing group of people you have gathered together !!

  44. Actually, Fran, English is my second language (Spanish being my first) and writing was my major in college with theater arts as my minor. I have my BA in English Writing and my plans were to be a playwright because I was told that I didn’t have the guts to be the actress I had always yearned to be since I was five and fell in love with Tony Curtis and decided to marry him.

    I never did anything worthwhile with writing because I was told that my writing is so long and involved that I bore people and lose their attention. Understandably, I grew quite afraid of rejections slips. I have also learned to keep my mouth shut (until recently, as you can see) because I have been told that I talk too much and I bore people and lose their attention there, too (on a FaceBook page, I was actually nicknamed “Seemore”). I mention these facts because they are all very pertinent to this discussion and part of the basis for which I wrote to Cindy in the first place about her childhood experience.

    And…alas!…I never did marry Tony Curtis, either.

    But I DID get the stove cleaned today and that is saying something because with all my squawking I haven’t been getting much done myself! Perhaps, some things are more important between us.

    Yes, Cindy certainly HAS gathered quite a tribe and I am one lucky kid to have found it! Thank you, Fran, for your very lovely compliment. You can understand now how it has made me very happy today.

    I’ll leave you with just one more squawk:

    When Elton John was a child and wanted to learn to play the piano, he was told by a piano teacher that he could NEVER play the piano because his fingers were too short and stubby. I am sure the teacher is now a multi-millionaire and Elton is sweeping sidewalks for a living.

    Bruce Lee was terribly, awfully nearsighted and had one leg shorter that the other. He took both obstacles and turned them into stepping stones, fighting close to his opponent and developing a stance from which to throw incredibly lethal kicks. He also developed the famous one-inch punch, where he could punch an opponent from the distance of an inch with such concentrated force that the person would literally fly backwards several feet. You can see it on YouTube…it takes but a minute and will leave you breathless. He is, was, and probably will ALWAYS be the Grand Master of Martial Arts. When asked what martial arts system he employed, he replied, “The system without a system.”

  45. Dear Doug—

    Deep, deep in the chronicles?!

    YOU DEFINITELY should have been a reporter!

    Love to you, too! I never forget you, even though you are behind the scenes! DEEP, DEEP behind the scenes…and not to be missed!

    LOLOLOL

    • Unfortunately… or perhaps fortunately… you missed my first choice of words in that banner. It was all (very) proper English and all… but read quickly… especially if you weren’t wearing your glasses… the phrase could have been misconstrued. Cindy and I shared a laugh before I did a quick edit to the version you just referenced in your comment above. That’s all I can say… ;-)

      Thanks for your kind words and for choosing this friendly, fun and empowering community as your PC home away from home.

  46. Dear Cindy,

    I read your letter and it made me cry. As a child, I was classified as functionally deaf. I had 20% hearing in one ear and 30% in the other. I did not learn to read phonetically; in fact, I wasn’t able to read at “grade level” until I was in college. (My hearing was corrected with surgery, and now I hear like a bird.)

    I endured many of the same comments from teachers you did… but there were one or two, thankfully, who saw me as a gem. I think they must have been gems too. We tend to recognize our own, haha.

    I was the weird kid. I can only imagine that I often responded to questions that were never asked because I couldn’t hear the actual words. I was supposedly very good at reading lips, but if you have ever seen the movie “The Other Sister,” the phrase “Olive Juice” looks just like “I love you” according to the lip movement. Yes, I bet I did seem odd.

    The arts were my outlet. I guess they still are. I hold three degrees. A BA in Mass Communications, a BA in Fine Arts, and a Masters in English Ed. I always said that I earned the first to make a living, the third to repay a debt to my own teachers, and the second, so I could enjoy myself along the way.

    As a child, I drew, and drew, and drew. I also imagined. Did you know that the old time, plastic flowers (replaced by silk today) could become princesses when dismantled–their petals becoming rich gowns, their centers, crowns? I did! I saw it in my mind. I think sometimes that the isolation I experienced was actually fairly fertile ground for an artistic mind. Kind of a blessing in a way.

    Anyway, here’s to the weird kids! The artists, the geeks and the dreamers!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Gina

    • Gina your story is beautiful! Thank you for posting it. Cheers to the weird kids! The artists, the geeks and the dreamers! They should be celebrated never cast to the side.

      When the kids were little I always told them, be yourself… why would you want to be like anyone else? You are Willow and Fisher Lietz…. you are one of a kinds… there is no one else quite like you!

      Same goes for you Gina… your deafness and your creative mind, makes you unique. A one of a kind! A true asset and wonderful compliment to the world and our sweet little PcT Family! So glad to have you here!

      • Oooops, ooops, ooops, I accidentally implied that you are still deaf Gina, which of course you are not anymore since your surgery. I am sorry. What I should have said was that your deafness and your creative mind MADE you unique. Your experiences and challenges made you who you were then and who you are today. And that should be celebrated. Hope that makes more sense. :)

  47. Looking back in history some of our greatest artists have been, well, weird, deaf, strange, odd or just plain bonkers. But they all had ONE big passion, to create, daub, write, carve etc.That gnawing urge that keeps you working all hours, forgetting responsibilities (perhaps) neglecting to look after yourself, going without food or heat so you can buy supplies.

    To be rejected, misunderstood, excluded and shunned is our lot. Sometimes this is good and those pent up feelings are carried over into our work and we create a masterpiece
    .
    It gives me a “glow” when someone likes my work enough to possess it and will pay the price I value it. I have loved some of my work so much that I have put a ridiculous high price on it not wanting it to leave me. it is my “baby”. Will it have a good home? Or will I see it discarded in a skip or on sale later for a few cents in a charity shop? It is sometimes difficult to let go. But let go we must if we want to grow.

    In a small village in the hills there is a tavern. Young art students “always broke” bring their works of art and hope that the landlord will like their work enough to give them a few beers in exchange. He hangs the pictures all over the walls, even upstairs in the Ladies and Gents!!!!
    Occasionally if a rich tourist asks the price he would say this artist will be very famous one day and his work will command thousands if not millions.
    The tourist will pay the high asking price, hoping that he has secured a future masterpiece.

    The locals will chuckle as they have seen it all before. The art student will regret he has practically let the Landlord have the piece for the cost of the canvas and oils. As for the Landlord, he enjoys running his public house. His walls are always full of all manner of weird and wonderful “creations”. The conversation is always lively as customers either praise or hate the paintings and don’t hold back on their comments.
    My question to you is? The paintings upstairs in the Ladies and Gents?

    Are these the paintings that the Landlord hates, so are hidden away. Or are these the ones that the Landlord thinks are true works of ART so are elevated to the top floor? What do you think? ………….cheers xx……………………………………..

    • Dear Elaine—

      I agree that some of our greatest artists have been plain bonkers. But so have some of our lesser politicians, mediocre small business owners and lousy athletes. And many of these have shared the same sort of gnawing urge to do their thing…especially if they did not have biscuits with their tea.

      It is true that to suffer has brought forth great masterpieces, many which have not been recognized as such for decades or even centuries. But so has the experience of joy, love and the beauty of Nature. I am not sure that I would agree with you that to be rejected, misunderstood, excluded, shunned, or starved is the artists’ lot or a pre-requisite for being an artist with any degree of talent or even no talent at all. It may be that society ACCEPTS WITHOUT QUESTION what the lot of the artist is based on some of these examples in history and without allowing room for the ample evidence which exists to the contrary. Perhaps society also accept this as the artists’ lot because it gives the trade a certain romance and mystique and, for some reason, imbues the work of art ITSELF with the aura of suffering, which humans have always valued as priceless. Furthermore, this view point has been an ingrained tradition at large for a very long period of time and if anyone were to WANT to change it, it probably would take an equal amount of time to do so.

      I wholeheartedly understand about letting go of that which I have put my heart, soul, skill and time (and suffering!) into. It is a hard, hard, HARD thing to do. But if the artist pays for a work herself by upping the price so another won’t/can’t buy it and she does it often enough, there will be a time when the artist herself may have to sell it for a few cents just to make room in her home for the abundance of work she is bringing forth. It is like living alone and baking too many cookies day after day. Art…food…any type of abundance is meant to be cycled. Otherwise the energy gets stuck and stagnation, then constipation, and finally death of the energy flow ensues. That is the law of Life. The more you open to it, the more will flow. But you cannot hoard it in any wise or it WILL dry up. And you with it.

      In the village you mention, the landlord’s operative is one that has been worked ever since someone thought up the word ‘commerce!’. It is the same operative all over the world even though it may come in many guises. And, I am sure, all the players are quite wise as to what their part in the play is and what the wages are at the end of the day. It is the mundane part of the sublime.

      As to answer your question—I do not know and have no idea what the Landlord thinks of the paintings in the Ladies and Gents. On the one hand, one may not think that the Ladies and Gents is prime gallery space. But on the other, if you truly want the work to be seen, these are the very rooms that command a high volume of traffic. On the one hand, he may put them there because he knows these are rooms where time sitting alone encourages the contemplation of a stimulating wall. On the other hand, he may just think they’re a load of crap and, therefore, that is precisely where they belong. Only the Landlord knows for sure..

      Cheers back, you beautiful and charming thing, you!

      And, please…don’t forget to have biscuits with your tea. ;)

      xxx—–Andrea

  48. Hello again everyone! I just thought I’d come in here and say a few words…

    My heart goes out to all of you who have struggled with your confidence and artistic voices. I know it can be hard and that it can sometimes be devastating to be rejected or harshly critiqued by anyone… especially those who you consider peers or masters in your field. Believe me, I have struggled with this myself. Everyone does at some point or another when they ‘put themselves out there’.

    We can never control what happens OUT THERE. But we can control what happens IN HERE.

    This blog and the PcT Community is here to support YOU. We celebrate our differences… our unique qualities… our differing opinions… and our ability to learn together.

    We don’t need to have the same beliefs on religion/culture or the same interests or fashion sense to have the same philosophies on life.

    I believe each of us has the right to be ourselves… no matter what that looks like. That we each deserve Love, Respect, Kindness and Encouragement to improve. That it should be an ENJOYABLE experience to learn something new, not an intimidating one (or boring for that matter).

    There will be no judging or criticism here. Just a creative, excitement to learn new things together. CRITIQUES will only be given to lift a person to their potential. Not to tear them down or make someone else feel superior.

    We all come from different places (quite literally actually). We have different skill sets, different tastes. Different abilities and different things that hold us back. No one here is better or worse than anyone else… only different.

    Those who disagree… Need not apply!

    (Or hang around here… you know what I mean.) :)

  49. Cindy I have said it before and will probably say it again many times. You are truly Blessed.
    Your dreams are your Blessings. As I also feel I am for finding you when I did, very Blessed. I don’t believe in luck I believe in Blessings. This glorious long list of posts, so many stepped on as a child. Dreams that no one has a right to take away from any of us. If you are Blessed you can find yourself living your dreams everyday as you and so many others have here. I am so happy I have been a part of your unfolding story. Being a part of you being able to live your dream and make the best of it is indescribable. I wish I could put into words what your talents have gifted me with. Teaching is easy but being good at it is a dream come true. Your dreams have come true because you made them work for you out of love and determination for your students to bloom just like those flowers. You have put the color in our petals and weeded and watered our minds with true inspiration. You love what you do and you enjoy working hard at it because you want the most for not just yourself but everyone your path comes across. My tears flow hard out of happiness. Your unfolding story touches the hearts of everyone you have taught. Not just your students or members of the blog, you have the talent of teaching in a way that impacts everyone you know. If a person enjoys and puts a little of their dream in what they create then to me that makes them a very talented artist. Thank you for being who you are and allowing yourself to come out and touch us all. To all those teachers who stomp on the dream of a child, I wish they could read your story. Thank God for the teachers like you who give courage to all those dreaming children. Thank you for turning my black and white dreams into full colored dreams.
    My thoughts might not count for much to some but I see nothing wrong with wanting to grow up to be a dreamer when your dreams are as talented as yours.
    Sending many Uuuuugggs

    • Thank you Peggy for your kind and loving words. You mean a lot to me. It has been the kindness and support of you and so many others here that has made it possible for Doug and I to persevere through the long hours and surprising obstacles it takes to aim for our dreams. I am really excited that we will get to finally meet you and the other Iowans (if that is a correct term), this summer on our second PcT Roadtrip! I can’t not wait to give you a hug for real!! Uuuuuggggs back!!

  50. Dear Cindy, This is exactly what happened in my life. I am a passionate polymerbeader now and very happy with it. Thank you for this story.

  51. Wow ladies! My heart breaks for the experiences you’ve all shared! It certainly causes me to appreciate this community at a whole new level. I am not a professional artist but thoroughly enjoy working with clay and the outlet that it has given to me therapeutically to just have fun —making something unique in the process. I would be floored if my work was critiqued at the levels you’ve discussed here. My husband and I are soon to open a website with something we’ve creatively applied polymer clay to and to think that someone like me could make what were going to sell was never in my mind. (except for the fact that my husband was the encouraging force.). If any of these poo-pooed my work, I would never bother. Sure, my work is not “up there”, or anywhere near that of lifetime artists, but what the heck….! made it and it’s an expression of ME. (and everything Cindy has taught me!) My skills are a work in progress. I guess that’s why art critiques can be so hurtful your work is YOU. I think that whole critiquing FB site seems quite counter productive .

    Proud to be a small part of this community!

    • Dear Christine—

      I am sending you my best vibes for your new endeavor! And my congratulations for your choice in having married such a man and friend who has encouraged you to proceed a little further than you may have imagined. Not only that, but he is to join you in this venture. Absolutely wonderful!

      As you never may have imagined that you might be able to sell what was an expression of yourself, you may be able to hear critique from someone who is considered a “lifetime artist (etc., etc, etc.)” who poo-pooes your work and find yourself saying, “Why…thank you for that enlightening critique! I will certainly file that away for further consideration.” And then you will go on about your business playing with clay.

      I may have not expressed myself clearly…even though I sure popped off my cork like a bottle of champagne that’s been shook up and is still foaming at the mouth! So I will try to do it now…and edit myself as much as humanly possible (!!!).

      I am not against CRITIQUE in any way whatsoever. Having been a retail salesperson for 35 years, I have had to learn to steel myself against objection, rejection and outright attacks from the customer base. And, believe me, the GP (general public) doth love to critique! I am not against any group that critiques…IF the critique is constructive and done in the spirit of helping the artist (in whatever profession) hone his skills, take some distance from himself and look at what he has created with a DISPASSIONATE eye. Folks such as Michelangelo and Davinci and Van Gogh knew they had to do this FOR THEMSELVES. Witness all the times they destroyed their own work and did it again…and again and again. Especially, after public opinion lifts you to impossible heights and you can do no wrong, you need to do this and take care that you do not become such an impossible critic of your own work that you ruin YOURSELF or that you shut yourself off altogether. That is a problem, too. You may be celebrated to such a point that anything and everything you do is wonderful, great, fantastic and you keep on doing IT and nothing else. I guarantee you…as much as a person may hold back from facing criticism and rejection because he has experienced them so many times before, so a person that has been coddled into believing he is already the best he can be will shrink away from it. Because he cannot bear the thought of criticism, either, and deep inside him knows that he will have to face that someday and is not prepared for it. Many of us have seen the Golden Boy or Golden girl in our high school class end up working part-time at Burger King because they were coddled into believing that the work-a-day world would receive them with the same open arms as his school family and life was in the bag. I did and it was heartbreaking…to see someone who had so much talent in so many areas so crippled that it took him years to stand up again! These are both sides of the same mirror. The one side shows us to ourselves as poor victims who can do nothing right in the eyes of the world and therefore we must hide away and the other makes us see ourselves as so goshdarn wonderful that we can do no wrong and the world can’t live without us. Both views are imbalanced and exaggerated and it is up to those that IDEALLY should be looking out for our highest good that need to help us learn how to get the true reflection of who we are. That would be our parents, family, teachers, spiritual leaders, community leaders and friends. As you may have found out by now, it is not the ideal world we wish it were and none of us are ideal humans. Unfortunately, there are some people…looking out for their own self-interest and not willing to do the work themselves or walk their own talk…who take advantage of other people’s Achilles heels to beat the competition before the competition even has a chance to compete. And that is NOT right.

      I myself battled (and still do, on occasion) victim consciousness and still, on many occasions, think the world cannot live without my opinion…as witnessed by the large amount of champagne foam all over this chronicle. When I hear some stories or see people taking advantage of others and doing to them what I’ve had done happen to me and then I see these people throw in the towel and walk away before even giving themselves a chance…well, tell you the truth I get ANGRY. I know it’s not a nice word or politically correct and so on, but there it is. THAT’S when the cork pops off. Never used to be that way, mostly because anger is an emotion that is regaled to live in the deepest corner of your dungeon if you want to be a “nice person”. Now it IS that way with me and I am learning to balance those emotions, too, because if not released properly after so many years of suppression, they can be very harmful to everyone, as you know.

      In that regard, I have to thank Cindy and Doug. To be very frank, from my experiences in the past, I expected this chronicle to be “shut down” in some way, attention diverted to something else, freedom of speech quashed. Especially after some of the feathers I might have myself ruffled this past day or so. I was indeed surprised and exceedingly glad this morning to see that, rather than sweeping things under the rug, Cindy and Doug opted to take this discussion from a headline position to featuring it right on the front page. And in Cindy’s usual innovative way, too, by explaining what this was all about and giving us a CHOICE as to whether we wanted to wade into deep waters or not. Because THAT IS what teaching is about…THAT is what CRITIQUE is about and freedom of mind, speech and expression. NOT to hurt each other or separate each other, but to uplift each other and help us see that each of us is a winner when we use our individual and unique talents to the fullest, for our own good and for the good of the whole of Creation. That is why WE were created, after all.

      Cindy and Doug have shown their courage. And I, not having experienced this too many times in my life before, am quite a happy little creature this morning!

      Hmmmnnnn…from the length of this one, seems the foam might be pooping out. Thank God for that…I was beginning to drown in it myself!

      Christine, have a wonderful time with your husband on this new adventure and make lots of great memories. I will be looking forward to seeing you and your lovely husband “out there”!

      • Andrea,

        The only time we may choose to “quash” Freedom of Speech at this site, is if the intent of the message is hurtful, condescending, malicious or just downright mean.

        Differences of opinions are absolutely fine… even welcomed… especially when they are well thought through and articulated with intelligence.

        Oh… I guess the other times we may quash Freedom of Speech is when someone tries to blatantly hijack the site for their own personal gain… especially when they are promoting completely unrelated offers. You would not believe how much time is spent behind the scenes keeping this site clean from spammers, trying to disguise themselves as clayers, in order to get links posted to a coupon site they are promoting… or worse. On bad days, I have to sift through and trash 100’s of messages.

        Finally… there are some cases where a legitimate members comment might get moderated… but this would only be when the topic is relevant to that individual persons membership account (i.e. when the topic really does not concern anyone else). But these comments are NEVER ignored. They are just taken offline and managed via email.

        Make sense?

        • Dear Doug—

          Makes PERFECT sense. But, of course, that rule of thumb is not applied everywhere. Unfortunately, when you experience too many negatives, it is hard to accept the positive at face value. You get hard and crusty and suspicious and all-together yukky-uk.

          It takes a while to get un-yukkied out.

          I appreciate your work and true toil behind the scenes. I have worked there as well and it is often a truly very demanding and exhausting position. It is another instance where it sometimes may seem as all your are doing is defending what is yours against everybody and everything. I suppose these kinds of situations call for us to learn to achieve a balanced perspective, which is sometimes hard to achieve when you spend so much of your time and energy fighting, defending, protecting and uncovering (disguised spammers, for instance).

          THAT is precisely why it was so good to see that you both encouraged this discussion, determined the boundaries of the commentary and joined in yourselves. In so doing, you helped ME balance MY perspective as well as my experience.

      • Cindy, If profits from sales pay for our ever growing sushi cravings…..I’ll, er uh…WE’LL be happy. 80). I’ll be sure to add our URL where you indicated. Thanks!

    • Thank you for sharing your story Christine! That warms my heart to hear that you have the support of your husband in your new polymer clay business! (Not everyone is as lucky as you and I to have support and someone who believes in us.) Good luck in your new venture! Do let us know how it goes for you. Don’t forget to add your new business web address to the space provided for your website when you comment, so we can check it out when it goes live. Have fun and prosper!

  52. You struck a serious cord! I was the only one in my small lass of 30 that for eight years was given check marks for insufficient application. I made decent grades but was always told I did not apply myself adequately. Now I realize I am a show me learner. If I see it once, I own it! If I have to read the instructions I become overwhelmed and want to quit. If I hear the instructions, I buzz out. Your tutorials are perfect for me and as a result of having the ability to tap into You Tube, I am holding my own in retirement with no huge source of income. I worked my tail off for a Master’s in Counseling and almost enjoyed my career. I make memory beads now and I love my life.
    Thank you for opening this door. You gave me something priceless. You shared with me the freedom of choice to be a creative individual. My marks for insufficient application where because of the artwork. I would create on my test papers and homework; the desire to have justified lines and drive for neat presentation. I was never messy. I was judged as applying myself too neatly!! I am your mirror!! Thank you for being my teacher. I am 66. And proud to be your apprentice!!
    Steph.

    • Thank you so much Steph for sharing your story with us. It means a lot to me to hear that you are finding your way in your creative endeavors and are enjoying the journey. It doesn’t matter when you discover that all you ever needed was already deep inside you… it just matters that you finally do. It sounds like you have done that. I am very proud of you!

  53. Cindy,

    First of all, thank you for sharing. I knew right away when I discoverd your website that I had found another woman with a passion for flowers! This article and video really touched me … it’s like I was meant to read this. Here’s my story, I apologize for the length.

    A year ago, at 12 years old, my son was diagnosed with severe social anxiety disorder. It came on out of the blue near the end of sixth grade. Up until that time he had been a normal student, happy in his elementary school, where I was PTA President and busily involved on a daily basis. I knew the students, office staff, teachers and principal well, and really loved our experience there. All of a sudden my son could not bring himself to attend class anymore, and Jr. High School was out of the question. We are now homeschooling, utilizing an online public charter school.

    I have spent the last year trying to turn my thinking around; public school is not the only answer, and may not fit for every student. I have felt nervous when running into people I knew from school, fearing we would be judged and feeling as though I would have to defend “homeschool.”

    My son is math/science smart like his architect father, and loves computers. He does not play sports, but bowls on a youth league now. He has made alot of progress with the social anxiety, but still doesn’t want to attend public school. So we will continue the homeschool for many years, and I am o.k. with that now.

    THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS ARTICLE AND VIDEO, it confirmed for me that we don’t have to conform. I will stop thinking, “how would they handle this in public school,” because we now have the freedom to handle his education in a way that is best for him to learn. I will continue to nurture my son in whatever way that works for HIM, not in the ways that have come to be expected by a system that is broken.

    • You are more than welcome Michele! Isn’t it interesting how life seems to present to you, just the things you are meant to hear, when you need to hear it? This post has been here for more than a year now, but it now is speaking to so many. (Of course it was re-introduced when Andrea Paradiso unearthed it again, and Doug put it in the banner at the top of the page… but still, it had been there all along.)

      Don’t worry about how it will all turn out with your son’s education. You listened to your heart and did what was right for him. That is what is most important here. The whole point of an education is to raise individuals that will contribute to society in a positive manner. To make a good life for themselves and the people they surround themselves with. To grow, learn and develop into responsible, mature adults who add more to this world than take away from it. How a person gets to that point, it does not matter. For some that is through a traditional education system and for some that is not. You have all you need inside you to help him get there (and if you don’t, you will find what it is that you need.) Good luck and enjoy your journey together!

  54. Wow. It’s like you were writing about me. A creative genius or a mad artist…the line blurs.

    I know the pain of feeling like I was never like everybody else. It’s only NOW, this year really, that my talents are suddenly blossoming and the young girl that had her head in the clouds and was told being an artist wasn’t a real job, is finally coming full circle.

    I have never commented before but have often wanted to. I have been a subscriber for a long time (longer than my account shows~I switched banks and the lapse lost my other years…) anyhow, it’s nice to get to “know you”. Now I feel a kindred spirit when I watch you. Very moving. You moved me to tears.

    Thank you for all you do. You are absolutely divine.
    Emily aka Gaia Copia Dreamer with her Head in the Clouds. My clouds are made of PC, MC, beads, paint and metal!

    • Oh Emily, don’t you just wish those that say it can’t be done… would just get out of the way of the ones that are doing it? It is such a sad and disabling thing to do, to hold back someone who is a dreamer. Dreamers are the ones who bring us so much joy.

      Speaking of joy, I just went to your site and saw your incredible work!! To think that I could be of any inspiration to one with such a talent is very humbling. I could learn so much from you as well. Your sense of style and design is simply Divine! (I hope you don’t mind if I borrowed your word.)

      I am tickled that you have decided to share your journey, with your head in the clouds, with me! Don’t ever come out of those mixed media clouds… you know exactly what to make with them!

  55. Hi Cindy,
    Loved the post.
    I have to add that I’m more than likely a little further down the road of life than you may be,
    but I think that we all may start to see that brave and daring souls that we once were we we hit about 45 or so. Then the question becomes- where did that all go? At least it did for me.
    Like you I was always doing my creative thing as a kid. The best present was a new box of crayons- nice sharp ones-oohh!
    And I could never color within the lines.
    But I always was doing my thing creatively. It may not be painting portraits that I wanted to do at 18, but always something. Be it tiny dollhouse miniatures – that’s were polymer clay came into it all- to painting anything that stands still.
    I’m back sorta to that brave and somewhat daring soul again. I have to say that I missed her and didn’t even know it.
    Your post made me give her, and you, a big hug and a wink in the mirror. Thanks

  56. Thanks so much for sharing all of this Cindy. It makes me very sad to know though, that as long as teachers belong to unions, the school system will always be a “system”. We need teachers who teach for the love of it and not for the payoff at the end. Teaching should be its own reward, just as art is its own reward.

  57. All I have to say is that I am very glad to see so many people writing in relative to this post. To all of you…some of you who have endured more hardship than I could imagine…and have conquered all of it, much love and joy to you. You have earned every single coup feather on your bonnet…and they are all YOURS!

    Keep going! ;) ;) ;)

  58. I loved this posting! From everyone! I feel the same as all of you do. I also feel that to be a true artist, your work must come from within and not from outside pressures or others’ ideas of what you “should” do. I think that is just copying and is not true art at all. Here, we get the opportunity to learn from a master (Cindy) and take it from there. Nothing we create from these videos will be exactly like Cindy’s or anyone else’s and that’s the point.

    I have just recently realized that if I had been more confident in myself, less self-conscious of myself and my abilities, and had ventured to try producing art maybe 30 years ago, what a difference it could have made in my life. As it was, I found Cindy and polymer clay I think about 3 years ago (time flies in my head, so I am not sure). That would make me 52 years old then. I may not have success with all the projects I try, but I still try, and I have allowed myself to call myself an artist. That’s a great feeling!

    And remember, Van Gogh was a failure during his lifetime. :)

  59. Andrea,

    Wanted to share one Facebook site, Polymer Art Critiques, which I am learning to love. Folks post a picture of a work in process or finished item and asks for feedback.

    It’s a well balanced group, plenty of artists who do a fine job critiquing concepts (there is a handout if choose), and plenty of regular learning trying folks too, whose comments are equally enlightening.

    They provide amazing support and some excellent feedback. The work presented is consistently good quality (if I saw it I would buy it, lol). Some have started to work through designs letting the group suggestions dictate direction. There is always new work to oogle.

    It is a really cool site. Love going there with a cup of coffee, and participating.

    Hope someone some day comes up with a formal jury program, so once your work is vetted, you get some type of label, status, title, certificate or something. It seems to me, that if you are completely skilled and knowledgeable of the medium and art, it’s almost Masters Degree level, isn’t it? I would so like Cindy and Doug to try this in the future. Most of the skill tests are already done in the tutes.

    Fondly
    Jocelyn

      • Dixie Ann—

        You need to friend Barbara Poland-Waters and ask to join the group because it is a secret group and is not listed by Facebook. Then, when you are a member, go into their “Files” section. You will see a file that is a score sheet you can use to critique the work posted. You do not necessarily need to use the score sheet but I thought it was quite useful. It was submitted by one of the members as a possible tool.

        I have not had time to be active there yet, but the work is indeed beautiful and inspiring. Hope to see yours amongst it, Dixie Ann.

        Love ya!

    • Jocelyn—

      Thank you so much for the above information. It sounds like you are having a lovely time there and that it is a worthwhile and promising website. And that you are having a great time while drinking your coffee and participating.

      That is quite a good idea to have a formal jury program that would count towards a degree of some sort. From some articles I have read, it seems that the polymer clay community has been trying hard for some time to be accepted by the artistic community as a legitimate member. I suppose this is the hierarchy we humans establish without without fail and there is no escape. LOL Although in this instance, we DO have choice of whether we want to belong or not.

      Cheers and I may see you there!

      Andrea

      • Andrea, I would be delighted to sit at a table with you and enjoy a cuppa, lol. I enjoy folks who are well spoken and tackle issues head on….it’s a life skill for success, in my humble opinion.

        The critique site is new, and growing pains are to be anticipated both in perception and reality, lol. But, from what I have seen to date, it shows wonderful promise.

        Of course, you do need to find Barbara on FB and ask to be added to participate in the closed group, but I think that restriction will lift once everyone gets comfortable and settled in. I found the site by accident.

        Also, it is choice driven….you ask to join, you put up your pics for feedback, etc. Not every site is my cup of tea, as you know, lol. I do give this site my support at this stage. Needed in our industry whether you are an artist or a crafter or a buyer or a seller or a learner or a teacher and it can be a minefield out there just googling for support randomly. And for new artists struggling with “is it good enough, can I sell it, how can I improve, etc., ” it’s a great start.

        All best always
        Jocelyn

        • Dear Jocelyn—

          I would love to enjoy a cuppa with you, too—perhaps with a slice of deep, dark chocolate cake? That’s MY choice! I would be curious as to what dessert YOU would pick. LOL

          Thank you so much for your compliment. Communication is indeed a skill. Often I say far too much and other times, when I should, I say nothing at all. I’m working on honing that skill to even my general impact on people out a little. But it took many, many years for me to open my mouth in the first place so some setbacks are to be expected. LOL

          Since you enjoy my being head on, I will keep going. The group you mention is the group I ALSO mentioned…the one I was not aware I had joined. I believe this may also be the one that Karonkay posted here about, which left her with a bad experience and deep and hurtful feelings she is still working thru.

          A little bit of background on my position, if you will bear with me. I am not the sort of person who worries much about security issues. I understand the need for them but am not a secretive or paranoid person by nature. End of last year, I joined FaceBook because of an incident involving a rather famous philosophical writer whose “fan” I have been for over forty years and an accident he was in. Because he is an exceedingly private individual and does not like media coverage, his family announced they were going to do a closed group setting on FB to post news of the state of health to his “family” of readers. This was by invitation only, mostly directly from his personal site. Strange things started happening “behind the scenes” and I did not catch on until it was rather late in the game. Apparently, this gentleman had already gathered to himself on his own private site outside of FB a…well, you may call it a harem…of older, susceptible, often depressed, single or divorced women with little or no family. With them, he shared his personal and private e-mail address(es), exchanged e-mails for long periods of time (especially in the wee lonely hours of the night), referred many of them who were struggling to be published to his (or other) publishers, and encouraged them to visit him at his private island home as…get ready for it…they may be the real and true, one and only love of his life. Things started to come together in my head when I became personally involved with a member of his blood family and found out later that I had been jipped out of both a lot of time and (fortunately) a little money under the guise that we were all working together to protect his best interests against his ex-wife. We had all been encouraged to dislike his ex-wife from the day of the accident, having been told that she was taking advantage of his assets and was the one depriving us (his “real family”) of his private website (the place where we all gathered together away from the world and could be the “real family” we were) by shutting it down and forcing us to go to FaceBook. This all happened very quickly…in less than a weeks’ time…so we all rallied round to be supportive and did not have the chance to step back and get a clear picture of what was happening. Of course, a lot of it was happening in the dark…and it would be me that stumbled in it. Thru the FB page, I had also started corresponding personally with a rather distressed woman who was totally devastated by his accident and the e-mail history she had had with him. There was another woman I chated with, too, and that turned VERY nasty VERY quickly. Another started her own website, invited me to leave the FB one and when I questioned her about it started getting defensive. She was using an alias so I don’t even know her real name. There were several others, too, and ALL of them approached ME to be personal friends. I suspect that they were trying to see where I lay in the harem’s pecking order. The whole thing turned very ugly for my taste and I left the group…twice, because I doubted my judgement the first time when I did not have all this evidence and joined again. There were many other things I found, too, outside of FaceBook that added to this not very pleasant picture. But that was not the end of it. He himself finally showed up in my personal e-mail and things were not pleasant there, either. My only satisfaction is that I let him have it…and have it right between the eyes. Sometimes, when you go searching for the truth you wish you had never found it.

          So. Here I am a few months later. True to character, I joined polymer clay groups with my usual enthusiasm and innocence, if I may call it that. There is a polymer clay community. It is wonderful, shares everything and is exceedingly supportive. And I went along with not a worry and not a care in the world. Last week, I learned thru her own page, that Lindly Haunani was the victim of the idea she is probably the most famous for being stolen by a Chinese manufacturer to make earrings selling for something like $1.50 a pair. ArtSista Fotini, another artist, also posted in one of the groups I belong to, that her ideas had been stolen by a woman who had an entire Etsy site set up for selling merchandise copying her work. Fortunately, she shut herself down when found out, but by then the damage to ArtSista was done. Other artists commented to her and on Lindly’s page that they were also victims of theft. One artist posted that her work was actually stolen OFF THE WALL during and exhibition. Following this up, I discovered this is a very hot topic. Harriette Estel Berman is quite involved in issues regarding this and so are many members of the community. We were all encouraged to police the streets, as it were, and report any incident to the artist suffering the theft. Even on this site, Doug Lietz commented the other day that a large portion of his time is devoted to having to defend it against infiltration of spammers and so on.

          I did a little more digging on the critique group last night due to a little scuffle that was going on between a member and the administrator. I really started to feel rather uncomfortable about the parallels to the incident earlier in the year and, even then, talked myself into observing and waiting it out and giving it a chance. The group is SECRET…top SECRET. Nobody gets in or out without being the administrator’s “friend”. She has already stated to a member that it is her group and things will be done her way. She wants nothing other than pictures posted and not other info, no links to other sites, no discussions whatsoever except critique. In other words, she wants to control members and info coming in and out and no one outside of it to know or have control over the content. I…and I believe Karonkay also…don’t remember actually clicking on the join button. And I have an excellent, and unfortunately, very long memory. I remember a conversation I had with another member on one of the ONLY TWO groups I am in and this group’s administrator popping in to ask if we would consider joining a critique group and both of us saying we would be interested. BUT I DON’T REMEMBER CLICKING THE JOIN BUTTON AND NEITHER DOES KARONKAY. We both just remember being asked by someone if we would be interested and suddenly being member of a group. What difference does that make? You tell me.

          Further, last night, while playing Sherlock and trying to find the original conversation to see what I had actually said, I could not find this groups’ administrator as a member of either of the two groups I am in. I could not find the convo in this woman’s and my “Show Friendship” page. I could find nothing other than she is a member of the IPCA FB page. I just joined that a few days ago and have not posted or commented there yet, so I could not have talked to her there. Where did she and I and another woman have this conversation? Admittedly, FB is a maze and I may be missing something very obvious. But why so much secrecy in the first place? She certainly has a right to privacy and to run her group the way she likes but I have a right to know what’s being done with my page and my photos and my rights to join a group or not. I have already posted photos of my work without watermarks. It is out there. I know it is very, very difficult to control these things, but I have not even taken the very simple and logical steps to protecting myself and my work in the first place. That is what I am working on now before I take another step or post another photo.

          I am not accusing or blaming anyone. We all have our own histories and motivations as to why we do what we do and how we do it. And I admit freely that I may have wrong information or not enough or even that I joined the group and don’t remember. But, in the end, I have to honor my feelings that there is too much here that feels too familiar, so this morning I left the group. And I am sorry for having to do it, because I think it’s a marvelous idea and the work from such talented artists there is exquisite. But the execution of the group, per se, is not for me. As I said before, I left another group the other day. The only way to avoid this wrangling for myself and not appear to be a disgruntled or contrary person to others, is to check individuals, groups and group rules out before liking or joining them. But then, I can’t check a group out and decide if I don’t even know I’ve joined already. Put this way…it is as though somebody took my right to vote and used it for me. At least, that’s the way I feel.

          In any case, I TRULY hope this group works out. And that you keep enjoying yourself in it. It indeed is difficult to head such an endeavor. I don’t know if I would take that on myself as there are so many issues involved and so many people to please.

          Well, darlin”…keep on claying! I’m going to do a bit of it now myself. We’ll make arrangements for that cuppa soon …what do you say?

          Andrea

  60. Andrea

    Love this discussion. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    When I joined the critique site, I merely asked and was added very promptly, I knew no one in the group nor the administration. I do note that there have been some quick joins/leaves and scuffles between folks there, but, I am hoping that as the administration and membership learn and grow, and refine their intentions and needs, these will be reduced. I do see that many of these issues might be due to cultural differences, language differences, and general misunderstanding. Takes time to work out the kinks.

    FB and the internet in general can be scary places. Folks “catfish” by making up personas or promises they have no intention of fulfilling. It takes me awhile to trust new folks and sites, but, for anything beyond greetings or good luck postings, I stick like glue to private messages, emails or the phone.

    Quite a lot of background information can now be found on google.com. I encourage everyone to go there and google all combinations of their names, and search their images, to make sure your information is being properly used. Also can use this technique to google others for information prior to interaction, and it does help. For artists publishing pics of their work, you can copy a pic over into the google search image box, and it will check the database for duplicates of the image. Obviously a useful feature, especially if you find the image on sites you do not want.

    I am so sorry that you and Karon had those experiences. I hope in the future, you might reconsider and rejoin. You are both excellent communicators and artists, and your voices there would only add to the developing excellence of the site.

    There are definitely ways getting information and communicating on the site could be improved and I expect they will be.

    Now, when do we get together? LOL! I am a chocoholic, so your choice sounds perfect.

    • Jocelyn is another chocoholic?!

      Well, I’M free next Thursday…elevenish? LOLOLOLOL

      Thank you, Jocelyn, for giving us so much wonderful information. I had no idea! And this will come in quite useful as I do my research.

      “Catfish” is a new one on me! I wonder how that name came about? I was given another term, too, but have since forgotten…thinking I wold never need to know it. LOLOL yet again

      Facebook was/is my first experience with an internet community. I never felt I had a use for it before. I see now that it has the potential of being a great tool. And, as all tools, it can be used in many ways and for many purposes. I still do want to participate and have not lost my enthusiasm or my admiration for so many wonderful people I have met and who create such beauty for us to share. I just realize that I need to knuckle down first and get the “security” in place. You are wise to keep to the phone although the e-mail and chat box were downfalls for me. Never in a million years would I have thought…oh, well. Turn that stumbling block into a stepping stone, too.

      Thank you for all your lovely compliments and I will save a table and a large, triple-chocolate torte just for us if I get there first…;)

      Andrea

      • Andrea, go and google “catfish” for more links and info. It started as a documentary of one person’s experience when they actually searched out their “heartmates” on Facebook and found duplicity and fraud. MTV picked it up as a reality program for a season. Honestly, scared me to death.

        • Oh, Jocelyn!

          Thank you, I got such a laugh from googling that I think it might be even better than the chocolate torte!

          You have to admit that at least I’m taking it with good humor, although my “incident” earlier in the year was not fun in the long run. So I suppose I was “catfished”. And for a very, very long time. LOLOL
          However, nothing is ever a total loss. Learned a lot and has become extremely useful.

          Thanks again and lots of xoxoxo

          Come to think of it, I don’t have MY picture up, either! Oh, no!

  61. Wow. Thanks for that Cindy. I really needed to hear that today. I am going through some tough thought processes and your story truly touched my heart and helped me to focus on what is important to me. Thank you again.

  62. Hi my name is Fatima. I am new to the website so i thought i would tell you a bit about me. I am 18 years old and i live in the uk. I am totally blind and have been since the age of 3. I hope to learn as much as possible from here as i love polymer clay.

    • Hi, Fatima!

      Wow, a new friend in the UK! I am very much looking forward to seeing your work posted here. I think you will enjoy this experience very much indeed!

      Hugs from here in Pennsylvania,

      Andrea

    • Welcome, Fatima! I often wondered if I ever lost my sight if I would still be able to enjoy playing with clay. Well, I guess you love playing with clay and with your insight on how you tackle your projects would be educational for us all. Please post pics of your work. And enjoy the awesome fellowship here!

      • Hi Cindy
        Here is a challenge for you and it would help Fatima and others with little or no sight. When I was making ceramics (used to attend classes) I made some Braille tablets to make a necklace for a friend. Her name had 9 letters. I got hold of a Braille alphabet, poked holes in the terracotta clay squares and inserted little balls of clay. This was long before PC. The necklace was very heavy but she loved it. Since you are the design queen it would be great if you could figure out a way to make Braille jewelry that was pretty to look at but amazing to touch. Most people with limited sight seem to develop their other senses especially touch. I thought of pushing the bumps from the back, but that seemed a little complicated. My amazing uncle who lost his sight in WWII taught himself to play the piano. He was always in demand at parties and used to play in his local pub so never had to buy his beer ! I have a couple of ideas but know you could come up with a better one………..cheers xx………..

        • That’s a unique challenge Elaine! I haven’t yet been asked to come up with a way to put Braille on polymer clay. I did think of something though… What if you made small molds or stamps using the metal embossing technique I used in the Embossed Metal Stamp Tutorial?

          I think it could work great! You press in your dots into the metal (the patterned would need to be reversed) so that you could then use the stamp to make the raised bumps on the surface. You could either make each letter individually and/or you could make some words. Other molds or stamp options could work as well. It would be a fun thing to try. Is any one up for it?

  63. Hello Fatima

    I am Cindy Peterson from Hillsboro Oregon. My family has 4 people legally blind now. It us all in our late 30’s and is a progressive eye disease, We all have less than 10% vision, only center vision left, but their are blind spots in the center for some us. Eventually we will be in the dark, or with very little to see. It is called Retna Pigmintosis or RP or for others to understand tunnel vision, Anyway we all still love our art and craft and trying to use what we have left. My cousin is totally blind and she does very well and her motto is I’m blind and one of a kind. she is 29.

    I Love Polymer clay and you can do anything to it and with it, it has endless possibilities. I was told at a Gem fair that another person was creating jewelry and she had someone pick out the colors so she can continue designing. With polymer there are so many things that will be very easy to make with no sight. I just learned how to mae lave beads that would be really easy for you and they come great. Take two carpet furniture coasters, they are small circle or square. They have the spikes in the middle. Then roll a ball of clay, what ever size you want, place clay on center with the spikes. Place the other one spikes facing the clay and start rolling the clay between the two coaster. They can come out all different. They could also look like brains if you use a translucent clay and a touch of pink. My 10 yr old boy s I watch thinks they look great.

    Anyway Welcome to the group and we can help each other. i am a mother of a 14 yr old daughter who critiques my work or me.

    Another thought is to you fabric paint that dries raised could be used for outline if it is something you want to repeat and you are not using cutters. Like if you want to make a swirl the same size every time. Use the puffy paint and that will give you something to follow.

    Thank you for joining the group You can do it still!

    • Wonderful welcome to Fatima, Cindy and kudos to you and your family! I remember the video Cindy and Doug did on you and your neighbor/business partner.

      I think all of us that do so much with our hands and eyes think about such possibilities, so it is very inspiring to hear that your spirit has not been thwarted from shining thru.

  64. Cindy thank you for the tips i do ask for help with colours but my sisters are all younger so its hard to get them to sit with me until i finish a piece. Anyway im in the proses of finding a way of labeling my colours.

    • Another thought I had for cutting canes was to put raised puffy paint or staples on a stick or ruler if you don’t have a ruler for the blind. then you could mark your clay and know where to slice and maybe get them even. I still have problems with the even thing. I just tell people it is handmade and not perfect. With family and friends I just stick in the Well I Blind person made it. LOL i take all of this in stride and I am sure you have lots of funny stories like I do. You probably know braile so you label items in braile.

    • Those braillers are not cheap either. Seems like everything a blind person needs costs thousands and insurance doesn’t cover it. Hang in there Fatima

  65. Welcome Fatima! So encouraging to see you mastering this medium, I salute you! Do you use Braille? Think polymer clay is a great way to use Braille, you can add messages or sayings to your clay that others can read tactilely….if that is a word, lol. Wish you the best of luck!

    • Hi Fatima.
      First welcome to our clay family. I posted a suggestion to Cindy to come up with the best way to make Braille jewelry. I agree with you that any equipment that helps disabled people to live normal lives is so expensive. Lets hope you can get your brailler mended or that some kind soul will offer to repair it for you. Do you have a guide dog?

      A friend of mine takes on the puppies that are bred for this task and she has them for six months before they go on to the Guide dog training school She always sheds a tear when she waves them goodbye but after a couple of weeks they deliver a new puppy for her to train.
      What do you find most difficult when using polymer clay? We would love to hear and perhaps figure out tips etc. to help you
      . A few years ago I taught a group of blind and partial sighted teenagers to make mosaics. We made seven large panels depicting interesting places round our town. we got real messy but had loads of fun and they turned out pretty good too. Good that you have your family to support you…………………cheers xx…………..

      • Hi Elaine first thank you for coming up with the challenge i will do some experimenting myself today. Now to answer your questions, i am terrified of dogs so i don’t have a guide dog. As for clay, i only have difficulties with colours. Weather its getting the right block out of my draw or mixing colours. I find it realy hard to mix colours because there is no way of telling if you have finished mixing or do you have to carry on mixing. Lastly i kno i have my family to help but i would not depend on anyone because like i said before they don’t sit with me untill i finish and they get angry if i ask them too many questions. If only there was some sort of camera that could tell blind polymer clay artists the colours of clay. Mind you it would be expensice just like everything else for the blind.

  66. Hi,

    I’ve been blind almost seventeen years now. I’ve got MS–no fun, I tell you. But it sure released a creative monster in me. I think I would have lost what sense I have left if not for yarn, storytelling, metal, beads, and clay.

    Hey, if I do something that looks horrible, folks whisper, “She’s blind, poor thing.” if it looks great, I hear them whispering, “Hey, she’s blind, too!” They’re going to say something, I just do what I do and keep going.

    Either way, I’m still on the top of the sod.

    • I have RP or tunnel vision and I just keep on doing what I love. I think I have a god attitude and I will say ” Well the Blind Lady did it so it is a little wonky but that is my art.”
      i don’t pay attention to others to much because I am happy with what I am doing. I do the best I can and I see art and potential in what ever I do. If the colors didn’t come out right I just finish it so it looks like it was planned. I have some questionable natasha beads and I am going to heat them up and slice them into heshi beads. Learned this technique from Cindy. So Joy you are an artist first and happen to be blind and have MS. There is alot you can do with polymer and it is all art’

      The Other Cindy

  67. I think you’re right. We’re saying the same thing. As for art, it’s amazing how many things lend themselves to the creative process. Maybe it helps when you’re not invested in how the rest of the world sees things…

    If I went on with that thought, I’d be dangerously close to a soap-boxy rant-ish monologue. And who needs that?

    Basically, I’ll see you around the playground, figuratively speaking. *grin*

    • Hello Fatima,

      I suppose, like blindness in general, it’s subjective. I have MS and the first remarkable symptom for me was blindness. I’d wake up one day and only see gray, or only see white. This happened more than once, with my vision deteriorating more each time. Eventually, I was left in the thickest white fog you can imagine, sometimes it’s gray now, but I can’t really see things. I tell people that if they were 10 feet tall and on fire, i might get a good look… * grin *

      Sometimes I can “see” movement–it all depends on the light and the background. Certain colors (usually neons) and certain patterns really hurt my eyes–something about the UV reflection and the remaining functional bit of my optic nerves…

      Either way, I can’t tell what colors things are. Still, certain colors are “friendlier” to my eyes.

      Also, whether someone can see or not, we all have comfort colors. I’ve been blind for about 18 years now. Among other things, I taught various things to blind and sighted adults. Even the students who’d never had any vision had colors that soothed them.

      I know you didn’t ask most of that, but I felt the need to share.

      LOL what can I say? I talk too much.

      Joy

      • Haha its ok i think i talk to much too. Im just wondering now how do you know what colour the clay is. Im just asking because i find that difficult. Fatima

  68. i purchase all my clay at michaels,joannes and polymer clay express sometimes at hobby lobby
    i squeeze it when before ipurchase it to see how long its been in the store if its hard i don’t by it
    usually it soft especially premo that works really good

Leave a Reply