The story of how polymer originated generally begins with Fifi, her mother, Kathe Kruse, and a by-product from oil production late in the 1930’s. Kathe Kruse, a well-known German doll maker, had experimented with the strange new compound in hope of finding something new for her doll heads, but found it did not suit her needs- so it was set aside. A few years later in 1941, Kruse’s daughter, Sofie, rediscovers the discarded substance and began to re-examine its properties. Sofie adds both plasticizer and color to the material and eventually developed an easily workable modeling compound.
It has been a while, so here are some current “happenings” related to polymer art. Read a synopsis of “The Broken Telephone Project” conceived and orchestrated by Dan Cormier and Tracy Holmes in the upcoming issue of Ornament magazine (vol. 36. no.4). Cormier first presented this take on a well know communications game at the IPCG’s Synergy 3 conference in Atlanta, GA in March, 2013. The article written by Cormier leads the reader through from conception to realization. Eight artists participated: Cormier, Cynthia Toops, Meredith Dittmar, Kathleen Dustin, Sarah Shriver, David Forlano, Celie Fago and Maggie Maggio.
Looking back sure does give us some interesting perspective. Recently I ran across the 1992 Exhibitors Catalog for the American Craft Council’s annual show in Baltimore. Only 3 polymer exhibitors were listed there: Martha Breen, City Zen Cane (aka Ford/Forlano) and Grove&Grove. Although each of those exhibitors made jewelry, they were found under the mixed-media category, rather than jewelry.
Elise Winters, Denim Cascade RUFFLE Neckpiece, 2010 as seen on models during Cynthia Rowley's Fall 2010 runway show last Friday during NY Fashion Week.
Cynthia Toops, Metamorphosis, 2009 1 3/4″ x 1/18″ x 92″ polymer, rubber cord Cynthia Toops’ Metamorphosis, pictured above, could have been a good highbrow title for the standing-room-only panel discussion held last weekend in the Great Room at the Fuller Craft Museum, as part of its opening ceremonies for the Sculpting Color: Works in Polymer Clay exhibition. Literary allusions aide, the hundred audience members were treated to an extended afternoon discourse about art history, technical breakthroughs, experimental modes, the place of polymer art studies in college curricula. Led by moderator and show curator Kathleen Dustin, the panel included Bonnie Bishoff,…