President, Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild

How would you describe the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild?

Our guild is in its 23rd year.

Our Clay ConneCTion the Home Edition was a condensed 2 day version of our retreat which is normally 4 days where we take over a college campus. We set it up as a free event this year since so many folks were out of work.  On an average we get about 70 attendees but for the virtual event we set a limit of 50.  Normally we have demos running all day long 30 mins to an hour each in a separate room.  We limited it to two 1 hour demos per day and took advantage of the fact we could get people that might not normally be able to come.

Zoom Meeting Image from Clay ConneCTion

It was this guild that started The Bottles of Hope in 1999.  We still had our Bottles of Hope contest but only had one people’s choice award given instead of our many category awards.

How was the workshop received?

We had Ginger Davis Allman start off our weekend strong and energized! Followed by Laurie Mika... folks were all enthralled, and both ladies gave us a studio tour.

Kathryn Corbin  kicked off day 2 ( after some pleading with her to do her first full demo!)  By that night some of the guild members were already posting pieces they designed using what Kathryn taught them! The finale was Syndee Holt (since she was going to be our guest artist this year already). I loved that I could see everyone literally on the edge of their seat and many times jaws dropped!

At the end of each day we had breakout rooms randomly split up about 10 per room and as they dwindled down everyone came back to the main room which we kept open until around 11 pm so the night owls could get their claying time together! 

Describe the Zoom opportunities that have continued following the (your conference), how they were conceived and the benefits for participants, both planned and unexpected.

While in these breakout rooms the idea was born for a group challenge. I believe it started with Debbie Goodrow, Amy Sutryn and Lori Michels. Amy had just finished her 100 day challenge most of us felt overwhelmed by that so it started the 8/20 challenge as a weekly self set project/accountability group. Every Saturday during the month of August we would zoom together to see how our projects were progressing. Many folks said it was the most productive and creative they have been in years!

We have changed the group to be called the Creative ConneCTion Challenge since everyone enjoyed the August 8/20 we wanted to continue.  It is now held twice a month on Saturday nights.

Then the next day people were asking so many caning questions Denise Fitzsimmons said she would also love to learn more cane techniques as well, so the weekly Thursday night cane challenge came about.  Debbie Goodrow looks for cane techniques from YouTube and then Sharon Mihalyak (one of the founders of the guild. Diane Villano and Sharon would rotate as President and VP for the last 22 years!) would email the group the tutorial links as well as the Zoom link and reminders to all the challenge meetings. Debbie contacts the original people that posted the tutorial to ask if we can use it and to invite them to come to the meeting if they would like! 


Would the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild consider offering this format again in the future whether or not we were still in pandemic mode? Why?

Our guild, long before the pandemic hit, was already learning how to use Zoom since several of our very active members moved away to Florida and we did not want to miss our time with them.  We have discussed how this has forever changed the way we will hold guild meetings in the future.

I have tried to make lemonade from these sour 2020 lemons we have been force fed, so at our regular monthly meetings I have reached out to other folks besides our members to do demos or be a guest host for the day!  Our 1st one is in October and Loretta Lam will discuss her wonderful new book Mastering Contemporary Jewelry Design! 

Is there anything else you would like members to know?

Even though we are the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild we have members very active for years that don’t live in Ct. One beloved member takes a train all the way from NYC to come spend creative time with this group of warm wacky wonderful souls.

This is my first year as President( I already had big shoes to fill before the pandemic) and Helen Wyland- Malchow is the new Vice-President, and just one of the many wonderful people that keep this guild going. Team effort does not even touch on it, I know we all have each other’s back not JUST through creative polymer clay but through any challenge we might face. The first meeting I ever went to 7 years ago when I got home my hubby ask “ how was your meeting?”

With tears of joy welled up in my eyes I replied “I found my tribe”.

For additional photos, visit the guild on Instagram @Scpcguild or their FaceBook page, Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild.