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Your Company Name: Noel Classics
Email Address/Web Page: rdykes4297@aol.com
City & State: Delmar, Maryland
Type of Craft: one of a kind art dolls

Tell us in your own words, how you discovered polymer clay and how long have you been using it?

Have used polymer clay for 6-7 years. First tried it when my brothers, sisters and I tried to make a Father Christmas for our parents. It was pretty bad, but we thought it was great. Kept working with it until other people offered to purchase the pieces. A few years ago I started Noel Classics.

Are there any special artists that you can attribute your interest to or that have inspired you?

Initially I thought this was a new idea, but quickly learned otherwise. Since then I've thoroughly enjoyed reading everything I can get my hands on about artists working with this clay ... or any clay works. I took a class from Jack Johnston, so naturally I've been interested in following his work. The greatest inspiration I believe has come directly from the human face. I frequently find myself studying people (which is not a good thing), so I've now bought a book of models -- some nudes -- all ages -- closeups of hands, faces, ears, feet -- poses. It's all very helpful.

What is your specialty?

My specialty figures are Father Christmases and contemporary Santas, but over the last few years I have done some commissioned work and a few pieces that have crept in my head and refused to leave until they were "born". I'm finding that to be the case more and more often.

Can you tell us why you find polymer clay the expressive medium for you?

Polymer clay has a memory that I don't find in the more natural clays. Facial expression, skin tones and folds are possible to a much greater extent. I so often hear comments relating to how real a character looks -- how one expects to hear them speak. Hands can be formed with transluscent appearing fingernails and joint creases that appear realistic.

Have you published any polymer clay books or do you have any in the works?


I know it is very difficult to express, but have you won any awards for your polymer clay work?

I have never entered my work in competition. My work has appeared on television, but in commercials only ... commercials not sponsored by me, but rather by the shops that sell them. Our community holds a Festival of Trees each year, which is a large benefit for our hospital, and this year my three foot seated Santa Claus from the previous year was used as an opening spot for their advertisement. I was pretty excited when I saw it.

What are your expectations for the future? Where do you hope to be 5 years from now?

I have a "real" job now -- you know, the kind that pays the bills, but my heart remains in my workroom every day. I'd like to say I'll be operating Noel Classics full time within five years, but that remains to be seen. Each year I can see where my skills are improving and my list of orders increases, so, with fingers crossed, I'll keep moving in that direction. I do have a workshop scheduled for February through our local art institute. I also hope to make molds of a few pieces.

Do you have any advice for the beginning polymer clay enthusiasts?

Play with it, read articles written by people who are successful with it, and play with it some more. Take workshops. Try different kinds of polymer to see which suit you the best -- even mix some together.

Are you a member of any Polymer Clay group,or any other craft organization?

No, but there is a clay guild forming in a nearby town, but I'm waiting to see if polymer clay will be accepted.

What brands of polymer clay do you prefer and why?

My preference is Cernit for my characters. I also make 4-5 inch angels using white Sculpey. The Cernit is wonderful to work with and provides a softer look. I also frequently use Promat for special items and to strenthen hands.

Last and most important can you tell us all about you? Your family, your training?

I am basically self-taught in this venture, with training coming through trial and error, reading, and the class from J. Johnston. I've been married for 28 years; we have a son who recently married his "childhood sweetheart" (and she is!). My husband, John, finishes the bases for my characters, and builds most of the wood and wire frames I use for the bodies. He and his family and my family have been wonderfully supportive. I would like to thank the people responsible for providing this system of interviews. It's really great to find a connection!

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