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PCC Chats With
Sarah Shriver
Special Thanks to Sunni Bergeron for the Transcript

Click Here to Download a ZIPfile of this Chat

May 14, 2002:
SUNNI - Ok folks - let's begin!! I would like to take this opportunity to thank SARAH for coming tonight after struggling all day with hers and her neighbor's computers!! thank you star and DESIREE for getting her here!
SARAH - yes, I'm on my gracious neighbor's machine and they have only one phone line
SUNNI - oh eek!! Nice neighbors!!
SARAH - This is funny to a novice like me
DINAUSTIN - SARAH.. what is your latest project… what are you working on?
SARAH - I am still being kinda a one trick pony with the kaleidoscope canes. I have been teaching quite a bit as well and traveling with the teaching as some of you know
MERRIE60 - Are you planning on teaching any classes in the Boston area?
LIBBY3456 - Or anywhere in the North east?
DINAUSTIN - I'm new to this cane of yours, but what I've seen is pretty spectacular
MLKSTAMPER I love the ones I've seen that were posted in a message on the board… amazing!
SARAH - I would be happy to get guild info or suggested sites
MERRIE60 - Well my guild is located in Burlington Mass, but there is also a guild in Worcester MA and NH
SARAH - It would be great if you'd e-mail me directly and I could follow up from there
SUNNI - Is the teaching your main source of income?
SARAH I do craft shows and teaching about 50/50
DINAUSTIN - SARAH… how do you decide on the colors in your canes?
SARAH - I spend most of my thinking time working on color
DINAUSTIN - do you have rules? do you grab ideas from the real world?
DESIREE    - SARAH, do you select one specific color palette for the year?
SARAH - I have always worked intuitively and use paintings often as a source
SUNNI - paintings? How so?
SARAH - I use the colors. graphically I break them down and interpret them and then try to work them out in clay
DESIREE - SARAH, you have a background in textile design?
SARAH - sorry about every other comment I make I seem to loose so I get better
DINAUSTIN - ok. That's going to take a little explaining…
SUNNI - reminder to the crowd - SARAH is a slow typer and a chat beginner, so please be patient waiting!!
SARAH - ok from paintings I look at a painting with colors that I like and kinda take a close up look to see what colors are really in there. often it's not what you see at first
SUNNI - so you actually pick it apart down to the strokes.
SARAH - yes.
SARAH - Because you can learn so much from what other artists have done
CORGI - A very unique approach
SUNNI - Almost every color of the palette can be used in a single painting. How do you pick the ones you end up with? Intuition?
SARAH - intuition yes and what I like - sometimes I think I am influenced by fashion and that whole world more than I would have copped to. also I'll work with the skinner blend just discovering how a color moves from one thing to the next
SUNNI - Do you have a textile design background?
SARAH - I do and I first began by using textile repeat patterns
DINAUSTIN - Seasonal Colors?
SARAH - Yes, colors!
DESIREE - SARAH, when and how were you introduced to polymer clay?
SARAH - I used to work in an art supply and fabric store and was the button buyer for the store
SUNNI - Uh oh - buttons!! Sneaky way to get bit
SARAH - We would have little evenings where we got to play with something from the store and one night it was FIMO
SARAH - I was hooked as I know you all can relate to
SUNNI - Yup. Downhill from there.
DESIREE - Oh yes.
DINAUSTIN - can't stop… I'm a big black hole trying to get all
SUNNI - Did you launch right into cane making?
SARAH - my neighbor is interrupting me to see if I want a plate of spaghetti
SUNNI - grin
SUNNI - it's good cold! Heeheehee
DINAUSTIN - yeah, but heat it up later..haha
SUNNI - or fry it in butter!
SARAH - Yes, I began with canes and really have never even experienced anything else. I see all kinds of cool things but I don't have time to get there
DINAUSTIN - You are focused…I wish I could - I see it everywhere
SUNNI - you are definitely a busy person!!
SARAH - I really worked with bold graphic pattern until Judith put forth her lovely blends then color became my main interest
DESIREE - a great blend technique, that skinner blend!
SARAH - I am very interested in the process as well - it's almost as important to me as the product. It thinks like I think, unlike this machine
SUNNI - *grin* what is it about color that holds your fascination so? Contrast? Compatibility? Mood it stirs?
SARAH - I build canes that take a long time in the planning lots of drawings and manipulating before I even begin to build- I think we all have such a connection to life through our experiences with art that we like.  I see all the time how subjective those choices are So I choose the colors that move me in the moment and I do think the world of pop culture influences those choices
SUNNI - so actually cane making is more a journey than an end product for you?
SARAH - yes, it's a journey luckily!
DESIREE - SARAH, have you made a cane where you liked the plan but didn't care for the cane?
SARAH - Usually I've put so much energy into the building of the cane that I don't really care if the graphic components work literally because, as you probably know, I do that Kaleidoscope thing and it all becomes pattern in the end. I work hard finding colors that have interesting relationships to each other so they may be a little strange but usually interesting
SUNNI - so you never really have "bad" canes you're unhappy with?
SARAH - Well I think we can all find a lemon or two but there is usually a place for the worst of it you just have to look further- I cut canes apart and add missing colors to make them more interesting
DESIREE - Yes, I learned that from you SARAH. Thanks
SUNNI - When you cut the canes, is it along the full length?
SARAH - yes, I cut from stem to stern
SUNNI - I'm one of those idiot children who loves the bad canes and cane ends.
SARAH - Just as a matter of interest, I'm finding that people really miss seeing actual images in my canes. I'm so gone into pattern I forget that pictorial images are so popular. anyway I'm working on a new elaborate bug cane to satisfy me and them
SUNNI - Oh cool!
SARAH - I have two helpers in my studio now and they do a lot of the blending and most of the sanding bless them
SARAH - My studio is in my backyard and I'm doing open studios this weekend
SARAH - I'm happiest with Fimo but I've seen all the clays work with pretty good results. There is a rubbery quality to Fimo that is not in any other clay that I've found. I like the qualities that most people hate. It's stiffness. it lets me make very specific and small shapes and responds with what I call memory
MERRIE60 - Curious, do you bake your stuff in … a convection oven or a real oven or?
SARAH - Convection
LIBBY - do you work mostly in Fimo or use other clays?
SUNNI - Have you tried the Kato Polyclay yet?
SARAH - I have tried Donna's clay and it seems very similar to Premo to me. I think it might have less of the smudging quality for cutting
ANNIE527 - could you elaborate on cutting the cane from end/end and why and what you do this for? Thank you.
SARAH - I'm always working with a mirror in mind so when I change the cane (i.e. add a color) I do the exact same manipulation to the full length
ANNIE527 - thank you, I now have a better image of what you were speaking of
SUNNI - So when you slice a cane to take a peek and don't quite like the outcome, you add color.
SARAH - Yes, I add color not so much because I don't like it but more to diversify a group of canes or highlight a certain aspect of the design.
SUNNI - I see I'm going to be eyeing my canes a little differently from here on out…
DESIREE - SARAH, can you talk about your June retreat in Marin county?
SARAH - Barbara McGuire and I will be doing a two day retreat in Marin county at the Marin Headlands Institute
SUNNI - How fun to work with Barb!! When is the retreat?
SARAH - We'll be teaching a class together combining her stamping and finishing with my caning techniques
SUNNI - Wish I could be a bug on the wall…
SARAH - it'll be from June 14th eve till the 16th
SARAH - anybody interested in coming to the retreat can e-mail me at in fact anyone who feels like they have questions after this can do the same
SUNNI - Thank you SARAH!! everyone whip your pencils out!
SARAH - I usually make one large (8lb-ish) cane and then cut it up into different areas so one area will feature one color group and maybe another will have a different feeling…
SARAH - What I notice most in my class is that the biggest difference between my students and me is that I'm willing to move a lot slower than most of them.   I'm not sure who will be there to back me up but it's sure to be fun. - I have the confidence to move slow because I trust the process
SUNNI - So the attention to tiny details is mostly the reason for going slower?
SARAH - I think most people have the skills but not that many have the patience.
MERRIE60 - Are you also moving slow because you are into detail and precision
SARAH - yeah, I build so much detail into the original cane
DESIREE - SARAH do you notice a difference between children and adults when teaching canes?
SARAH - I haven't really taught kids.
SARAH - well yeah, lots of big kids. My favorite students are the ones who really don't get it at all and then have an epiphany.
DESIREE - LOL = laughing out loud
SARAH - Oh, I was wondering what that meant.
SUNNI - hahahahahah!! I love the light bulb moment
SARAH - I guess I just had one
SUNNI - *grin*
SARAH - Well let's see what else might you want to know?
SUNNI - lets go back to your backyard. What is open studio?
SARAH - Open studio is put on in this case by the Marin Arts council. Everyone interested in this geographic area can sign up and have the public come visit your space. So I have registered and will have the public showing up for snacks and art on Sat and Sun
SUNNI - Oh how fun!! Will you have your worker bees there blending and sanding while you demonstrate?
SUNNI - do you have any books out or videos?
SARAH - I'm really quite a talker and not such a hot tapper
JENNYPAT - I missed some of the chat, did you mention how you market your work?
SARAH - I mostly sell at craft fairs but when I teach I often do as well as a show and its so much easier. no booth no travel - well maybe travel, but not with a booth
JENNYPAT - How many shows do you do a year?
SUNNI - do you sell raw canes or finished product?
MERRIE60 - How do you finish your work, sand and buff or Varathane or something else?
SARAH - I do about 6 shows and teach about 4 or 5 times. I sell some beads and mostly finished jewelry. I sand and buff every *&$@^%@$% bead 3 grits of 3M foam sanding pads and 2 speeds on the buffer
SUNNI - *cringe* my sympathy on the sanding…
DESIREE - Ain't that fun!
JENNYPAT - Do you use a scumbuster or anything like that to help with the sanding?
SARAH - no scum buster cause I have these little dots on everything
SUNNI - Dots?
MERRIE60 - What are dots?
CORGI - Oh like lampwork?
SARAH - yes sorta like lampwork I think, little dots stuck on to the surface for decoration
SUNNI - ah. Ok. Thx!
JENNYPAT - Did I see you mention that you have worker bees working for you? How many?
SARAH - 2 worker bees and a third in the wing. The trouble is keeping up with them. There are so many parts that I personally have to do I find myself making some less than efficient decisions just to keep them working
LJCSWARTZ - Could you offer some basic tips that would be most helpful to the "just beyond a beginner' cane builder?
SARAH - I think some of the most useful info for a beginner ... hmmm - let's see - keeping order to the chaos surrounding you - keep things clean and don't let your workspace become confused and distracting. I'm always in the process of redesigning things for more efficiency but I rarely get around to putting the ideas into effect
JENNYPAT - gee how do you manage that??? The workspace thing??
LJCSWARTZ - I do need to clean the area… you are so right
SUNNI - do you have any books or videos out there or in the making?
SARAH - I don't have books or videos now they are on the "list"
SUNNI - good people, don't hesitate to jump in and ask questions!! Just wait for the answer since SARAH is a slow typer.
1PAULINE - Do you ever have classes in the northeast USA (Rhode Island)?
JENNYPAT - Or Minnesota??? Please!
SARAH - I taught in New York and Washington last year. I'll travel again
FIMOMEELMO - or Houston?
MERRIE60 - No Boston, please please
1PAULINE - Boston's good
KELLIEAK - Alaska would be nice too SARAH!
SARAH - Well I was actually speaking to someone in Houston.  I have the name of the education contact there
SARAH - All I need is an e-mail or a phone call and I'll be happy to respond. I'll be teaching at the Palos Verdes Art Center in Oct. if anyone is interested down south
SARAH - O definitely Minn.
JENNYPAT - Really Minn! When? Where?
SARAH - ummm - Well I have many people there, though no calendar dates as yet. I'll definitely keep you informed
JENNYPAT - Do that, I will send you an email later, so you can add my name to your list, although it might be on it already
STARGAZER - SARAH, you can "work" through me if you like to get the word out…
SUNNI - SARAH - do you have a calendar of your schedule anywhere online?
SARAH - no, I'm a virtual ludite and a website is on that illusive "list"
SUNNI - I would be glad to host it on my website if you need a place
SARAH - Hey that's neat Thanks!
SUNNI - I'll cobble it up and everything, you just keep me up on the dates, or work thru jean who keeps me informed!
KELLIE - Hopefully you will be at Ravensdale
SARAH - yes that was Great.  If I get accepted I will be teaching at Ravensdale
KELLIE - my fingers are crossed
SUNNI - fingers, toes, eyes…
SARAH - I work most of the time for very little but I feel pretty lucky just the same
KELLIE - that is a great attitude
SUNNI - lucky - as in sharing with such interesting people?
SUNNI - how did you get into the teaching aspect of your cane artwork?
SARAH - In the beginning, 13 years ago, there was such a curiosity about the medium that I fell into teaching automatically.  the timing was great for it and I found so many interested folks
SUNNI - I see that curiosity hasn't abated. Is there a checklist you use when you put together a class?
SARAH - Usually I just wonder what to teach because I really do what I do and don't have a lot of variety in what I ask from the clay.  I know people like Gwen have so many techniques up their sleeve that they just keep addressing new ideas but my ideas are only interims of depth from where we started. so in terms of developing a class structure I'm left thinking about how I can break down only certain aspects of the process to really look at those things closely. the trouble is that everyone wants the full picture at once
SUNNI - there is never a lack of interest for learning the older techniques or precision caning techniques!
CORGI - That's the truth!!!
SARAH - I am usually just looking for what lurks underneath what I have already discovered does that make sense?
SUNNI - yes
CORGI - yes it does
BABDU - Will you be coming to the East Coast to teach this year? Where? When?
SARAH - I don't have an East Coast trip planned for this year, but I'd love to set up one for the beginning of next year
SUNNI - so Bette, contact your guild!!
BABDU - Actually I'm the pres of the S. NH PC Guild - - but we're really small so it takes a group of New England guilds to afford a teacher from the west coast
FIMOMEELMO - SARAH, when you make a cane, how big do you make them, average? Length and diameter? If you've already discussed this… sorry… I came in late
SARAH - about 8 lbs or 4-5 inches in diameter
FIMOMEELMO - lotta clay!
SUNNI - and that allows you to make several varieties of canes?
SARAH - I often make the initial canes triangular because of the mirroring potential then I cut this big cane into many smaller canes each a little different from one another
JENNYPAT - when you say cut the big cane, do you mean across the width or along the length?
KELLIE - How may canes do you make in a month?
SARAH - I can make a really fancy and well thought out cane in about a month and I can repeat a few canes that I now know by heart in about a week
SUNNI - Wow!! That's definitely attention to detail. My longest cane construction is only 8 hours!!
SARAH - a black and white graphic cane that I have made many times and have a tech drawing for how it goes together can actually be made by my worker bees
JENNYPAT - Does that time frame include the mixing of all your colors? Or is that after all the colors are ready to go?
SUNNI - or is that from concept drawing to finish?
SARAH - well that's not working straight through but taking time to think and look at ideas slowly this also includes the color development not just building time
MERRIE60 - I don't understand what you mean by cutting the cane into smaller canes and each one would be different?
SARAH - I have an intricate large cane and I might reduce part of it to about a 1" diameter & cut a piece off. Then with that piece I might stand it on end and cut it so that I have two separate pieces.  each piece would incorporate a different part of the image and go together differently.  finding variation, endless variation is somehow outrageously satisfying to me
FIMOMEELMO - were you good in math??
SARAH - I feel connected to math and special relationships but I was never a good student
JENNYPAT - I think I really really NEED to take your class!! This sounds right up my alley!
SUNNI - Interesting how claying has a lot to do with mathematics
SARAH - There are so many math and medical people in my classes
SARAH - many mathematicians stop by my booth and want to talk fractals with me. I love it
PIXIEMARG - can u give us some tips on how you choose colours?
SARAH - I most often find a painting that I like and use it for color source
STARGAZER - so SARAH, how do you actually have your work area organized? (for those of us who create amidst clutter) hee-hee
SARAH - I have clutter too, but I know when I want to start a project the first thing I have to do is clean.  I try to put to order the many things pressing on me and I really try to work clean edges square etc. I have found the mirroring to be a primal thing with people
SARAH - I have a couple of fantasies for my future and one of the is designing fabrics with my designs and anybody know anything about that?
SUNNI - I would love to see some "Shriver Silks"!!!
SARAH - so would I
FIMOMEELMO - quilters love mirror symmetric fabrics
SUNNI - not just quilters
SARAH - they can take something they are not at all interested in and cut it in half and mirror it and they can't believe how much they love it
FIMOMEELMO - so you have another job, SARAH? And if so, what is it?
JENNYPAT - and if it is not being to nosey, do you have children? At home?
SARAH - this has been my full time occupation for 13 years. no kids and I don't know how mothers do it!
KKEPHART - Pray for naps… LOL
MERRIE60 - Don't you also do another technique that looks like kaleidoscope with a sort of x across the top. I saw pictures posted on pcc
SARAH - I like to try to work with the things that seem like universal primal ideas for people. pattern is certainly one of those things.  I do call the process that I do kaleidoscoping
SUNNI - which is some serious patterning!
SARAH - when I first started I used the fishbone image and people resonated with it for a number of reasons it was exciting to connect with so many people and still have my own ideas about it.
SUNNI - when you were learning your textile design, did it give you any ideas for contacts to implement those designs into cloth?
SARAH - I have so many ideas about the fabrics but no real technical know how or people to ask
SUNNI - hmmm… we may hafta send up a flair to see if anyone in the claying community does…
SARAH - Thanks
JENNYPAT - Would you want someone else to print it for you? Or are you interested in doing it yourself?
SUNNI - or learn to make the fabric yourself?
SARAH - I would like to design it and not do the labor
JENNYPAT - I know someone who had her designs printed into fabric for quilters
SARAH - Who? I'm trying to think of my fast approaching old age and something I don't have to make every part of
JENNYPAT - I met her about 3 years ago, I will see if I can round up her info - a gal from Minnesota Darlene Zimmerman, Fairfax Minnesota
MERRIE60 - Usually the fabrics are printed abroad in places like Thailand although there are still a few in the US you can call a fashion design house or a textile house to get information
JENNYPAT - SARAH I am going to be at a quilt show in June, a number of the vendors there dye their own fabrics, I will ask around, and see if I can come up with any information for you
SARAH - thanks lots
SUNNI - Did you start into an artistic career by accident or did you set about it at an early age
SARAH - I went to art school but as I said I wasn't a very good student and I got out and found myself a nice lucrative job in an art supply store
SARAH - my dad was a builder and had a shop at our house. I think he influenced us all. my brother is a furniture maker and the other one is a painter
SUNNI - ah, a family of artisans! and everything else is history. Hmm? Did you begin your teaching career at the art supply store?
SARAH - no I taught at a sewing school and bead stores to begin with
SUNNI - interesting!
SARAH - I was coming in as a button maker. Buttons were having a heyday back then
SUNNI - seems like buttons are coming back into fashion - and if you have matching buttons to textile…well!
SARAH - My friend was this big old hippy dude with a button manufacturing biz in Oregon and he brought me to his buyer. I was able to quit my jobs soon after that and just got cracking on those buttons.
STARGAZER - Do you still have any of those early buttons?
SARAH - I still do a tiny bit of biz with those guys but the company has been bought three times and it's kinda dead in the water.  the truth is I make much better $ with jewelry and I'm more interested in it! I sell the buttons for a buck apiece and, of course, that same thing can have an ear wire on it and sell for $20.
JENNYPAT - What type of jewelry? Pins, earrings and pendants?
SARAH - I make pins bracelets earrings pendants etc. the usual spectrum
POLYCLAYNUT - And you do such a lovely job!! I had some PC folk in the gallery who went straight for your work yesterday and were stunned at how beautiful the pieces are
JENNYPAT - do you have pictures of you jewelry put together? I have only ever seen pictures of your beads
SARAH - I think there are some pictures linked to this chat
SUNNI - please check the following links: workshop-SarahShriver.html
http://www.npcg .org/Activities/muse/museArtists5.html m/guild/shriver0402.html

DONNABECK - SARAH, do you ever use precious metals with your beads?
SARAH - I have tried to do that but it needs refinement.  I will be taking a class in Mendocino at the Art Center in a couple of weeks on different mold making for metal. I hope it will give me some tools.  I really feel my jewelry design is a weak.  I have a sense of what I want but I'm very clumsy in the execution spot. I try to look at books of beautiful ethnic jewelry but how to get there is tricky.
JENNYPAT - have you ever considered teaching not only cane making, but a class on HOW to put the end product into jewelry effectively?
BLYNMOON - SARAH, will you be doing any classes in the South East? As in NC this year?
SARAH - I don't have anything planned but, if you have a contact person with a guild, let me know and I'll be happy to respond
BLYNMOON - thank you
POLYCLAYNUT - SARAH is there a trick to using elastic for your bracelets. The glue I use keeps eating the elastic and breaking it at the knots but the bracelet I have of yours is still in one piece after much wear.
JENNYPAT - There's a question! What type of elastic do you use for your bracelets?
SUNNI - and do you knot it or glue it?
SARAH - round elastic cord from the sewing store
POLYCLAYNUT - maybe the elastic in New Zealand is different or something
CORGI - Petra glue eats throught the rubber in the elastic
SUNNI - ladies and gentlemen - our time with SARAH is up. I would like to take this opportunity to once again than her for her Herculean efforts to make it tonite, and her neighbors for letting her tie up their phone
JENNYPAT - I think you need to train someone to teach your method, so you can be in more places!
SUNNI - if you would like to stay on, please feel free to do so!
MERRIE60 - Thank you SARAH
POLYCLAYNUT - Sorry I came in so late Thanks SARAH
SARAH - Thank you all for being so patient with me I hope it was as least entertaining in some way
PIXIEMARG - what is your e-mail addy please??
SARAH - my email is
JENNYPAT - thank you SARAH, this was very interesting
SUNNI - definitely it was entertaining!! THANK you ! I've had a great time!
CORGI - thanks SARAH
ANNIE527 - thank you very much SARAH!
SARAH - I'm going to have a glass of wine now! email me about the elastic and I'll tell you all I know.  hey thank you so much for your help STARGAZER and SUNNI thank you too! I hope it wasn't too crazy
SUNNI - I was just worried you would be burnt out before you got here - Star and DESIREE were the wizards
STARGAZER - it was definitely a long day - Yes! DESIREE is my hero!
SARAH - oh yeah! Thanks also to you DESIREE!
CORGI - much thanks to your neighbor too!
STARGAZER - if it weren't for DESIREE we'd be barking up the wrong tree…
SARAH - boy Star, you respond before my type even hits the page, you are good!
STARGAZER bows most humbly (hee-hee)
SUNNI - *grin* Star is part mindreader and the fastest typer at PCC!
STARGAZER - SARAH did you know that you had folks from all over the world in this chat?
SARAH - no idea
STARGAZER - Surprise!

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