Have you ever looked at a tool or product and said to yourself "Now why didn't I think of that??" At Polymer Clay Express, not only do Wilma and Rob see solutions to problems, they make them happen! We asked Rob if they would give us some of the background of how they developed their line of Professional Polymer Clay Tools, and now we share his story with our members...
During the 80's, Wilma was a full time mom with 4 young children when she discovered a new medium to express herself. She discovered polymer clay while visiting The Torpedo Factory, a huge gallery and artist studio in Alexandria, Virginia. She came home so enthusiastic about this "new clay" that didn't need a kiln, that I was almost sucked in, even though I knew she had several kilns for ceramic clay in our basement. Wilma was a ceramic clay major in college, and I had no idea how much this "new clay" would change our way of life. I soon discovered that polymer clay is a very addicting medium, and immediately Wilma began sculpting and designing wonderful pieces. In no time, Wilma started selling her finished polymer clay work and then, to my surprise, she wanted to start a polymer clay supply business of tools and embellishing products. This business is known as The ArtWay.
Mass production of the dies used in the extruder was not a simple project, even though she had started designing the dies long before the extruding tool was completed. It all came together with the discovery of a laser cutting machine and computer software which gave her the ability to easily perfect new shapes.
Each die became a Design Shape Disk that was a solution to a problem in her polymer creations. Simple sculptural shapes evolved into design disks available in 2 sizes for the extruder. She created disk designs to assemble cane patterns to decorate the surfaces of bracelet extrusions. Wilma's desire to extrude a bracelet shape with holes or a placement for stringing elastic or cording started with a simple bracelet disk she named the Double Hole Disk.
The Angle Jig tool was a way to cut extrusions into a bracelet to fit more comfortably around the wrist. This tool helped to cut and create nesting wedge shaped beads out of any of her extruded bracelet profiles. Soon to follow was the EZ Jig tool, giving her the ability to make a straight and precise cut of a disk extrusion for a necklace or bracelet.
This machine proudly offers scraper blades that are easily removed and reinstalled for easy cleaning. This was an issue that was always a challenge with a pasta machine. By taking a pasta machine apart and using clay in it violated the warranty. This is NOT so with Wilma's D.R.E.A.M. Machine. Ten thickness settings, more than other machines, thicker and thinner settings than what were previously available, and an optional strong sturdy motor, not stressed by the viscosity of the polymer clay. These were seemingly simple considerations, but we learned the pleasure and the pain of manufacturing a new tool.
Wilma stands by her machine and will make it right with the help of many engineers.
Those of you who have a D.R.E.A.M. Machine have made a significant investment with a quality professional grade tool. Congratulations and thank you for your patience and support in the beginning and now as we continue to improve. As I've had the pleasure to travel this road with Wilma, there is one thing I know I have learned from Wilma: If you have a dream, go with it and don't be deterred. Be true to your convictions and sometimes the experience of the process is your reward."
by Rob Yost
©2011 Text and Photos
Polymer Clay Express