Rose Gauthier, Lynn Orriss, Joyce Grenon and Pat Hart of the Mid-Island Polymer Art Guild — A.K.A the Clay Mates — are here to show that modelling clay isn’t just for kids crafts.
“There’s probably more time put into it than a painting,” said Orriss, who herself is a painter. “Yet it’s still seen as more of a craft than an art form.”
This year, the group is holding a show at the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply. On display are decorative boxes, pieces of jewellery and wall hangings of all shapes, sizes and colours. The main attraction, however, are art journals filled with acid-free paper and fronted by covers sculpted from clay.
“There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into these,” said Bonnie Luchtmeijer of the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply.
In particular, the Clay Mates use a polymer clay. This pliable substance can extruded, moulded or sculpted into pretty much anything, explained Gauthier. She also said that this particular clay doesn’t need the high temperatures of a kiln to set. Instead, the artists simply put their pieces into a regular kitchen oven at around 250-300 degrees.
Orriss also added that the clay is versatile in the fact that one can put glazes on it, polish it, paint it before or after firing it. It also lends itself well to other media. In fact, many of the Clay Mate’s show pieces include beads, wood, metal, wire, paint and more to augment the clay.
“The techniques are endless,” said Grenon.
The Clay Mates started learning all these techniques around 10 years ago when Vickie Turner brought the group together and introduced them to polymer clay, Orriss explained. Although Turner has since moved to Eastern Canada, Orriss said the group is still going strong.
“She really got us going,” said Gauthier.
Orriss said while the group varies in size depending on the season, she, Gauthier, Grenon and Hart (who hail from Parksville and Gabriola Island) continually make up the core of Clay Mates. They get together once a month at one of their home studios to share new ideas and projects. “It’s something we really enjoy,” she said.
The Clay Mates will be at the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply until the end of January. The Gallery is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Luchtmeijer also said that the Gallery will be closed Dec. 25-28.