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Hot Clay, Cool Friends a Success

retreat_logo_smallDuring the week of July 10, 2011 almost 100 polymer artists came together for the IPCA Biennial Retreat Hot Clay, Cool Friends. The Retreat revolved around the themes of Education and Community


On Wednesday afternoon, July 13, Retreat attendees started checking in for the Retreat and received a tote bag filled with close to $100 worth of goodies including clay, magazines, tools, clay friendly materials, catalogs, molds and even a cosmetics travel bag compliments of Lisa Pavelka. As soon as the last pre-Retreat class ended, attendees began setting up their 'homes' in the workroom. Some attendees brought minimal tools and supplies, while others set up elaborate work areas including display space for items to be sold.

That evening, we joined the Metal Clay World Conference attendees at their Gala Opening Reception. Held in the atrium of the Indian Lakes Resort, the event featured a wide variety of finger foods and beverages. Polymer and metal clay attendees swapped charms, news, and compliments throughout the evening. As the event progressed, MCWC attendees were welcomed into the IPCA workroom and many left amazed with the quality and variety of work they saw. Many of these attendees come from traditional metalsmithing backgrounds and polymer was a new material that definitely piqued their interest. The IPCA attendees were very generous with their knowledge and appreciation for both clays, which furthered the metal clay artists' appreciation for our work.

The vendor hall was another community meeting place where artists from both groups could mingle and talk about tools and supplies, both shared and separate. Wilma and Rob Yost from Polymer Clay Express had a great selection of clay tools, and Wilma spent a great deal of time demonstrating their new clay frames, the DREAM machine, and the ACE Extruder.

Sharing event space, as well as events, with the organizers and attendees of the Metal Clay World Conference was a wonderful experience for all involved. Opportunities to share events with like minded groups will definitely be considered for future events.

"This group was just amazing! Absolutely the nicest, more welcoming people I have EVER met. I was very impressed with the friendliness and camaraderie."


Many polymer and metal clay artists took advantage of the pre-Retreat classes taught by Loretta Lam, Mari O'Dell, Ronna Sarvas Weltman, Ponsawan Sila, and Bettina Welker. In addition to the optional pre-Retreat classes, attendees learned new techniques and tips during the 15 scheduled demonstrations and make & take sessions. This doesn't take into account the on the spot demos taking place at attendees' workspaces and Christi Friesen's non-stop clay fun taking place in the back corner of the workroom.

MarbleGuest Artist Bettina Welker dazzled everyone with her marbled clay technique utilizing transparent clay and white inks from Viva Decor. Later in the event, she demonstrated her method for covering metal bracelet blanks to perfection.

Polyform Products' head chemist led a lively discussion with attendees about recent product developments and several Polyform designers presented demos using new products and techniques. Gerlinde Karg from Staedtler addressed the group and revealed new pastel Fimo colors that will reach US shores this coming Fall.

As a bonus, all Retreat attendees will receive a DVD containing the photos and video files of the scheduled demos, along with video highlights of the Closing Banquet and Live Auction. Kudos to Demos Chair, Kathi Briefer-Gose for organizing the demos and for the hours she's dedicating to editing photographs and video files.

"I had a great time this year, and learned SO much! I think it is important to provide demos for both the beginner and experienced clayer. The give aways were fabulous. Kudos to all of you who organized this event."

Giving Back

Karen Woods' efforts to secure donations for the Retreat were, bar none, the best I've ever seen. Through her hard work, she accepted so many donations that every attendee was able to win a door prize and we had a very hard time choosing which items went into the ticket auction on Friday and the live auction on Saturday night.

Saturday's closing banquet featured delicious food, an amazing auction with lots of laughs thanks to auctioneers Lisa Pavelka and Christi Friesen. One of the highlights of the evening was the auction for the 2011 Retreat Bead Strand. This amazing collection of beads from the attendees went to an anonymous Retreat attendee for the astounding winning bid of $525! 

Before the Retreat started, the IPCA Board decided that the proceeds from both auctions would be split between the IPCA, a donation to the Racine Art Museum, and a scholarship fund for future IPCA events. 

Of course, the winning bid for the Bead Strand wasn't the only surprise of the evening, the Banquet attendees were also treated to the first ever polymer flash mob.

Best Regards until Synergy3!

Barbara Forbes-Lyons
2011 Biennial Retreat Chair