MIPCES Exhibition: Steven Ford

If you are a new visitor to Polymer Art Archive, you can find background about this event in the 2 posts, Past, Present Future and All About MIPCES.

THREE OBJECTS from a group

14”, 9”, 6” in diameter

For the MIPCES catalog, Steven Ford wrote:

“With this group of sewn forms, I was trying to think of the clay in a new way. I transferred drawings to make ‘yardage’ of material, then cut it out, and assembled it with an ordinary sewing machine using a zig zag stitch. I wanted a pile of geometric forms that hold their own shape but are softened by the unique qualities of this material.”

Here’s how Steven responded to several questions recently:

Steven Ford with his installation at the MIPCES exhibition

Was the piece made specifically for this show? “Yes, it was made specifically for this show, an answer to exhibition’s challenge to show what else polymer clay could do.”

Where did the idea/inspiration for this piece come from? “A couple of sources; I was an apprentice at the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia, and saw there some soft constructions that were like Claus Oldenberg’s collapsing sculptures.”

What makes/made this piece special for you? “I wanted to make something bigger than the caned jewelry we were doing at the time. For me it also represents a recurring interest in adapting techniques from other media–an idea that was later explored as the theme at the Making History conference at Arrowmont.”

Do you know where this piece is now? Who owns it? “Ford/Forlano still have them in our Philadelphia studio.”

Where there any noteworthy technical hurdles that you had to conquer in making this piece? “Stitching polymer clay sheet on a sewing machine without breaking the clay with the line of perforations. There was a lot of trial and error, a later piece was made in a similar way for a show of teapots at SOFA/NY by Mobilia Gallery. It used fabric backing to reinforce the seams.”

What connections do you see to the work you are currently doing? “Soft, homemade geometry is a consistent interest. Nothing too hard, cold, absolute, rather, organic geometry (like a bee’s honeycomb). That’s still an interest and turns up again and again in our work without trying.”

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.