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Your Company Name: Joyful Greetings
Email Address/Web Page: jensaks@attbi.com
City & State: Portland, OR
Type of Craft: Polymer Clay

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

I discovered Polymer Clay (Fimo brand) when I was a university student (1967-74). I have a degree in graphics and fine arts, but discovered Fimo on my own. I was looking for something I could use to make some Christmas gifts and ran across Fimo in the art store. My art professors at that time sort of scorned "crafty" things in favor of the "fine arts." grr. I'm sure that has changed by now. I think it must have been a brand-new product when I found it, and for years I was the only one I knew who knew about Fimo. I made things for people, and they were always so amazed at the material. Now people are much more aware of it (although there is prejudice in the art world, I notice). In answer to your question, I suppose I've been using polymer clay for around 32 years now.

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

I became re-inspired after discovering Nan Roche's book "The New Clay". And Pier Voulkos--how does she DO those things she does? She is my "polymer clay hero". I see what artists like Voulkos have done and become inspired to keep at it! I'd love to take a class from her if she ever comes to the Northwest.

What is your specialty?

I guess the things I'm most proud of are some figures I made--a St. Nicholas, a Befana figure, and a Hansel and Gretel witch. Although I loved doing them, they took literally hundreds of hours each. (They were done for gifts for my parents). I have long been looking for something I can market, and don't want to put that kind of time into something to sell. (Plus, I get too attached!) I quit polymer clay for a year or so, but started up again recently. Lately I've been perfecting several sorts of canework and patterns, incorporating that into beads and other jewelry. There are so many new choices in polymer clay now that make life easier for the clay artist!

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

Color, first and foremost. I love color, and the possibilities are endless with polymer clay. I never thought of myself as a 3-dimensional artist, but I'm finding with polymer clay I really am. Also, there are a lot of ways to combine other art forms and mediums with the clay...I just love the versatility and possibilities. PLUS, it's very portable...you can carry a bit of polymer clay with you anywhere and work on something when you get a moment.

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

No...don't I wish!

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

No, I've never entered any shows or submitted anything. I love the creating part of art, but have a difficult time with promotion.

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

I hope to continue discovering new things to do with polymer clay. I want to perfect some of the things I'm doing, and although I said above that I have difficulty with promotion, I really would like to be selling some things. People encourage me to all the time, and I think I need ot listen to them.

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

Yes, get Nan Roche's book. Peruse the Web...Polymer Clay Central has a LOT of great information, demos, etc. Read a lot, and then just dive in! Oh, and something that really freed me up is the idea that nothing needs to be wasted. If you have a scrap clay, or a cane that looks bad, etc., use it as the core for something else. I only recently learned this, if you can believe it! Now I don't worry so much about making mistakes. Above all, just play with it and don't be afraid to try new things.

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

No, I'm not. My plan is to join the Polymer Clay Guild, though.

What brands of polymer clay do you prefer and why?

I keep coming back to Fimo, probably because that's what I started with. The new softer Fimo is a pleasure. I mix a bit of that with some of the stiffer Fimo sometimes to make it easier to work. Sculpey is nice--really good colors--but a bit soft for a lot of what I do. I've recently started using Premo, too. I guess I like them all, but it depends on what I'm doing. I like a stiffer clay for canework and sculpture. Lately I've been doing a lot of combining of clays, and it's worked just fine.

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

I have a degree in graphics and fine arts from University of Oregon. I've been married to Kraig for 28 great years. We have had 3 children, but lost our middle child 6 years ago--he was born with a rare genetic disease and lived to the age of 14. Our other two are growing up...our daughter just graduated from university (journalism and sociology) and our son from high school. He's heading off to become a computer engineer this fall, so I guess I'll be rattling around a lot this fall. My family have always been my best supporters...they cheer me on and encourage me to keep creating.

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