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PATRICIA BARNES

Your Company Name: Patty's Pyrographics
Email Address/Web Page: pbarnes@local-net.net
City & State: Three Rivers, Texas
Type of Craft: Wearable art

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

While taking a design class in college for a BFA degree, I needed to create a 3D scene to illustrate a movie. This was in 1987 and I bought my first pound box of Sculpey. I made the character which Richard Pryor played in The Toy. Several years later I found the colored Fimo and Sculpey with a couple of how to booklets and I was hooked. I've been teaching art in the public school systems  for 5 years now, and I always include at least one lesson on the use of polymer clay to create either jewelry or sculpture. With the advent of Premo, my students happily create original works for themselves or family. It is most gratifying to see them wearing their work and asking where they can buy their own supplies. One student received a 2nd place ribbon at the local junior college for her sculpture during the area high school competition.

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

I have bought just about every book on the subject I can find and have to admit that The New Clay by Nan Roche became my bible until I mastered some techniques. Of course when I met Marie Segal last year at the Bead and Button exposition in Austin, TX I was impressed with her enthusiasim and creativity. (I used here idea of including spices in translucent clay and made 'gingerbread bears' as pins for Christmas gifts.) So thanks, Nan and Marie.

What is your specialty?

My specialty seems to be creating jewelry which I give as gifts. Unfortunately, this means I seldom have enough stock on hand to build up my business.

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

My BFA and MA one person shows were both involved with expressive use of color. My BFA utilized colored glass in the creation of 3D masks, both leaded and fused. Since 3D is my preferred method of working, the beautiful colors of the clay inspire me to combine them in different small sculptures as jewelry.

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

As a school teacher, I have little time available to spend writing books. However, I do write lesson plans for both student and teacher use incorporating a variety of techniques to be used in the classroom.

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

Again, because so very much of my time is spent involving school, I haven't attempted any shows. I have received recognition in the past for other sculpture in both wood and glass, but have not attempted anything with the polymer clay.

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

Five years from now I hope to have organized a polymer clay guild here in the south Texas area. To my knowledge there is none available. If there is, I'd like to join. For my personal work, I would like to get productive enough so that I can retire from the classroom. I would still like to teach, but only at workshops. (No discipline reports or grades to deal with, just the joy of sharing ideas and information.)

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

Read, read, read! Experiment, experiment, experiment! Dont't throw away your mistakes. They aren't mistakes, but learning experiences. Find others who share your interests or start your own group as I plan to do. Don't be afraid of competition in the market place. It will only spur you on to bigger and better creations. Be sure to learn the basics (clean hands, clay conditioning, baking temperatures and proper storage) and then let your imagination soar.

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

I just joined NPCG yesterday. (I only recently got onto the internet.) I live in a rather isolated area so the internet has been slow coming to my area. I am a member of the Coastal Bend Art Education Association where I demonstrated polymer clay techniques to other teachers last fall which was very well received. I am also a member of a Silk Painters Guild.

What brands of polymer clay do you prefer and why?

Premo has become my predominate clay of choice because of its easy of use. However it is not available widely in stores here yet, so I use both Fimo and Sculpey III as well.

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

Oh, where to start?! Many, many years ago (back in the olden times) I dropped out of high school, got married, had 3 sons, got divorced, married again, had twin daughters and another son. Then finally got a GED after doing secretarial work off and on over the years and later self-employed as a contract carpenter for 6 years. (Yes, I've done everything from tying rebar, working cement, insulating, sheetrocking, taping and floating, to cabinetry, tile laying and roofing.) After getting my GED, I entered the local junior college and fell in love with my first art class. A sculpture professor encouraged me to take his class, but when I protested that I couldn't afford to take courses outside my degree plan, he suggested I try for the college art club scholarship. Well to my surprise, I won. My first sculpture class got me hooked so I changed my degree plan and went on to complete a BFA in fine arts and a MA with an emphasis in art and psychology. Since I needed to sup! ! plement the family income, I then completed the required courses to teach art at the secondary level. Before I started work at a nearby school, I taught art appreciation at St. Philips Jr. College in San Antonio as an adjunct professor. My children are all now grown and I have 5 grandchildren who I don't see nearly often enough. I teach art to jr. high and high school students and try to work on my own art when I can. My husband and I live on 50 acres about half way between San Antonio and Corpus Christi in an old farm house which we completely remodeled with the help of our three youngest kids. I built all of the cabinets in the kitchen and pantry as well as in the master bath. We did all of the work ourselves except to have an electrician knowledgable cousin check out our wiring efforts. We've also built four above ground concrete water cisterns for household use because the well water here is so full of sulpher. I have a 19' by 20' studio where I can create almost any typeof art.

I have a kiln for glass fusing, one for ceramics, and a centrifugal caster for casting metal for jewelry. Room for my silk painting frame and two drawing tables plus a large table to hold my polymer clay work. And of course there is my computer to keep books on and for correspondence, email and designing. I use my drawing tablet for both silk and polymer designing. It doesn't give true color on the screen, but it allows me to quickly try different color schemes in an idea. I read a great deal in all areas of art and subscribe to a variety of arts and crafts magazines. I especially like Jewelry Crafts for their frequent articles on polymer clay. I have had a chance to experience a variety of life's happenings and each and every one has led me to the next step. The secretarial career led to woodworking ( I made some woodburned plaques for departing staff and it was suggested I sell them) which led to a job working in a woodcrafts shop which led to the carpenter job, which led to the college sculpture class, then to the art degree and becoming a school teacher. All of the crafts I used to do with my kids and the Bible school teaching helped prepare me for school as well. Now, if I just get busy and get my business working profitably, maybe I can retire from teaching school someday.

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