Corny Connections

Cynthia Toops, Red Sample Necklace, 1998Having given birth to this website exactly a month ago, and having nursed it through its formative days, I’ve gained some unexpected rewards.

To get the site up and running, I’ve had to review thousands of slides that had been sitting in boxes as well as taking new photos of my own polymer art collection and Nan Roche’s as well. Looking back at all those pieces through the telescope of time has allowed me to find amusing associations I had never made before.

Lori Feiss, Indian Corn Bead Bracelet, 1995Last week, while re-examining early examples of Lori Feiss’s beads, I came upon this delightful bracelet in Nan’s collection. I remember being charmed by Lori’s Indian Corn beads when I saw them at the 1995 International Bead conference. For me, These were just as compelling as her translucent bead which inspired Kathleen Dustin.

Cynthia Toops, Red Sampler necklae, detail, 1998

Then yesterday I ran across an image of the Red Sampler Necklace by Cynthia Toops, which dazzled my eyes in a show at the Craft Students League in the spring of 1998. Before I could whip out my credit card, Amy Zinman snatched this one up for her own collection.

Amy was kind enough to lend us this necklace to show at the MUSE conference in 2001 where I curated the exhibit “Illuminating a Medium: A Retrospective on Polymer Clay.”  And so while I couldn’t own the actual piece, I did manage to acquire a slide of it.

Taking a closer look at this one bead on Cynthia’s sampler, I was struck by how similar this “corn-shaped” bead was to Lori’s, both covered in tiny nonpareils of various colored clay.

Distraught to have missed owning the red sampler necklace, I beseeched Cynthia to make me a sampler necklace of my own. I had to wait more than a year but she came through for me with a wonderfully personalized rendition which Rachel will discuss in an upcoming post.

And Amy truly “earned” the right to own the Red Sampler as you will understand when you read the upcoming post about “Lizardo Diablo.”

I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in looking at art, talking about art and the making of art. In 1990 I earned a Phd in art history at the University of Maryland. My first experiences with polymer clay were in 1992, but I consider my real work with the medium to date from 1999.