Adaptive Thinking

Adaptive Thinking
City Zen Cane (aka Ford/Forlano), shibori collage polymer sample, circa 1995

The term “adaptive thinking” came up frequently in my recent discussions with Steven Ford and David Forlano about their sources for inspiration.  Each artist had stories to tell about traveling; of seeing an example of traditional native or contemporary craft and of wondering how that technique might be reinterpreted in polymer.

Steven explained:
“I taught at Arrowmont for many years in the early 1990’s.  I was interested in what was happening in the other studios, and wanting to expand how people thought about polymer technique, I started working with the teachers there on some experimental applications to polymer clay.  Anne Hirondelle, a potter from WA state threw polymer on a wheel.  Joan Morris, a shibori expert from VT taught me about the mathematics of building patterns and repeats thru folding–much like the caning technique from glass as applied to polymer.  Michael Mode from NH turned cured polymer clay on the lathe. This concept of “masters from other media” as applied to polymer was the basis for the first conference sponsored by the National Polymer Clay Guild at Arrowmont in September of 1997.  I co-chaired that event with Jeanne Sturdevant from Texas.”

Upcoming posts will explore how “adaptive thinking” influenced the work of Ford/Forlano as well as other artists.

Elise Winters is an art jewelry designer who has worked for the last ten years to promote polymer clay as a recognized medium for fine craft. Additional information can be found on the Mission page. You can see examples of her award-winning jewelry and learn more about her background at Rachel Carren is an art historian and an artist who is devoted to recording polymer history, promoting polymer as a valued medium for fine craft and to the making of distinctive polymer jewelry. To learn more about her background and her unusual blend of skills see: