Saturday, February 27, 2010

synergy, day 3

Day, 3, Synergy. Attended the panel discussion (Tammy, Lisa Bayne, Robert), led by Jeff Dever, Robert's presentation (what a creative kick start to the right side of my brain), and Cynthia's 10 Trends presentation (as usual, Cynthia is spot on!)

This afternoon the manufacturer's panel (I'll be Tony), tonight, the book signing and the banquet.

Friday, February 26, 2010

synergy2, day 2

Synergy 2 is humming along in Baltimore. Seminars, panel discussions, polymer shopping for supplies and artwork and jewelry. The exhibit is up (could not take pictures but I believe you can see it on the IPGA website).

Tammy's class was very good and very informative - I've not worked with metal clay for a while so, it informed me that I will probably stick with silver, silver clay and not try bronze and copper for a while. Of course, this is if I I ever clean my worktable.

The panel discussion was wonderful - as a community we seem to be ready to discuss art versus craft, craftsmanship, elevating our medium. The Racine Art Museum will be the first to house a permanent collection of polymer art - very exciting. Panelist Bruce Pepich is the curator of R.A.M.

Here are pix from Synergy, Day 2!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Here we are in Baltimore! Tuesday Leslie Blackford had her class and Wednesday, Bettina taught her rings. A very good time was had by all.

Last night was the presentation by Ford and Forlano, although I was wearing my camera, I managed to not take a single picture of that but I did shoot a few of the get together sponsored by Polymer Clay Daily! I will be better.

Here is a presentation

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fine Silver Metal Clay

Photo: A Dali's Summerhome ring, by Kate McKinnon. fine silver metal clay, drybuilt, with an imbedded ring shank.

Hello, it's Kate McKinnon, writing from Tucson, where it's sunny, cool and fresh from a deep desert rain. I've been doing some filming this week, and I wanted to share a video with you that I just posted to YouTube.

I've spent the last 12 years working with fine silver and fine silver metal clay, and in that time I've thought a lot about its potential to allow one to maintain a clean, safe metalsmithing shop. Working in fine silver, for example, I can usually skip the soldering, fusing my connections only with fire, and in metal clay, I can work as cleanly as a cat. Several of my CraftEdu classes will focus on things like drybuilding, which is a clay term for letting your pieces and parts dry before you assemble them. This will allow you to make your joins with just a lick of water, instead of added slip, and will save you time, join cleanup, and mess on your bench.

In the video, I share a series of tips designed to help you have a cleaner, safer metal clay shop, and have some suggestions for instructors, studios, and shows. I hope you enjoy it, and, if you work with metal clay, I hope it gives you a few new ideas for working cleanly!

I recommend that you hit "Play," and then, when it starts to go, hit "Pause," so that you can let the whole thing load before you play it. Otherwise, it will stop and start.


Yesterday, Darlie and I spent trying to get from Colorado to Baltimore. We made it with only one small hitch called Chicago. Anyway, todays' blog is a repeat of yesterday's - as Gracie's broadcast wouldn't play (hmm, probably my fault). We'll straighten it out and she will play today.

Cheers, Donna

Monday, February 22, 2010

meet Grace Taormina

"Gracie" and I met through the craft industry - this was in the "good old days" when artists and crafters jammed booths, sharing what they did and made with show attendees. We were, through organizations like the Society of Craft Designers, a tight knit bunch. Both of us were regulars on The Carol Duvall Show so we would occasionally meet up in Burbank, in studio, too. Times have changed, I'm just glad I was working in the industry then and at the same time as Gracie.
Grace and I both shared the same publisher - Watson-Guptill and the same editor, Joy. Gracie and I were following parallel career tracks in different media. With Watson Guptill, Grace has published two great books on the art of rubber stamping.

Now, Gracie is an artist of great humor, compassion, generosity, maturity and kindness. She's a great talent who gives of herself with no expectation in return. I, and many others, learned a lot from Ms. Grace Taormina - about the industry, about the way we should try to conduct ourselves within it.

She is one of those people who I felt very close to very quickly - I always went looking for Grace at every show. When we could, we would have a drink or snack and catch up with what had happened in the months period between our last drinks and snacks!

I'd have to say that working with Gracie on CraftEdu is the realization of a dream I've had for a long time. And, now, after all these years, we are. I am very happy.

Saturday, February 20, 2010



Thank you very much for following this blog. If you've read the posts, you've gotten to know some of our faculty members a little better and that's the goal. I've decided to post entries Monday through Friday. This is a very common practice so weekends are free!

Go have a snowball fight. Maybe see a movie (Avatar is worth about 4 or 5 times, I think). Curl up on the sofa and watch the Olympics. Call your mom. Hug the kids, the dogs, the hubby or significant other in your life. Or, do laundry and pack for Baltimore!

Whatever you do, hope you have a great one.



Here's something beautiful to see from faculty member, bead artist Sherry Serafini.

Friday, February 19, 2010

meet Bettina Welker

I met Bettina at the first Synergy conference in Baltimore. Now, Synergy isn't a hands on conference, the goal of Synergy is intellectual and artistic. Presentations about the process of creating art and the related issues. Bettina came all the way from Germany to attend this conference - making a commitment to her art and the medium she has chosen to express herself through and with - polymer clay.

Bettina is lovely - dark haired with a "husky" voice, quick smile and an even quicker wit. I liked her immediately. Then, I saw her work and that knocked me out, too. Last year, I taught in Germany to the guild. I enjoyed the over the top hospitality of Bettina, husband Christopher, son Noah and three of the most beautiful round headed cats I've ever seen (Maddie, Gizmo and Winnie). It was there that I learned Bettina also cooks. Lord, is there anything she can't do? Impressive, I say.

Bettina brings years of work as a graphic designer - no wonder her work is so perfectly designed! We are so fortunate to have this artist who elevates our medium. She makes us reach farther, try harder and with her expert instruction, students will get better at what they create.

The polymer clay world is growing by leaps and bounds. Ever more innovative artists are coming to the fore and Bettina Welker is one of them. Bettina brings a precision and attention to detail and finish that is as natural to her as breathing. Polymer clay is becoming a great international phenomena and the influence and contributions of artist like Bettina (Germany), Natalia (Spain), Carol (England) make our medium and our community a very robust, rich place to be, indeed.

Oh, I almost forgot...she sings, too. Ms. Bettina Welker is the total package.

Now, for a real treat, enter the world of Bettina Welker!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

meet Heidi Rand

Grace Taormina led us to digital artist, Heidi Rand. She skillfully and, I might add, joyfully joins her love of nature with her knowledge of computer programs and technology!

Her original photos become intricate kaleidoscopes, collages, wall hangings, one of a kind fabric for purses that she sews and jewelry she creates. Shoot, add a some computer magic, twist this, turn that, print this, assemble and you have the art of Heidi.

I can't begin to understand how she does, what she does. It's all very amazing to me. Thankfully, Heidi is ready to let us in on her processes here at CraftEdu!

And now, here's a bit of Ms. Heidi Rand.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Books are a little like Babies

I often compare my experience of writing and editing books to what it must be like to be a midwife…It’s my job to nurture and guide the idea, then help it come to fruition. There are ups and downs just like any pregnancy, and the last few months before a book is born can be quite an emotional ride.

My latest bouncing baby is named Steampunk Style Jewelry (2010). It’s a beautiful book that provides not only the how-to information for 20 unique jewelry-making projects, but also sidebar information on all aspects of Steampunk, a trend that was so nicknamed in science fiction circles in the 1980s that has spread to fashion, art, and theater. Just think “Mad Max meets Jane Austin” and you'll get the picture...

I’ve got another book in the works now, too. I can’t divulge too many secrets, but I can tell you that it’s filled with Crystallized Elements by Swarovski and contains 20 over-the-top, very glamorous, intermediate/advanced beadweaving jewelry designs. Get ready for the red carpet in Fall 2010! Here’s a sneak peak at one of the designs to give you a taste. This one's called Marilyn.

CraftEdu feels like another project I’m standing by to help deliver, too. This is, perhaps, one of the most exciting teaching platforms I’ve ever encountered, and paired with the amazing faculty that Donna Kato has gathered, I expect this delivery will be extraordinary! I feel so honored to be in the birthing room of this baby, and I hope you’re there with us to celebrate!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Meet Margie Deeb

I'm thrilled to be teaching with CraftEdu because I can get so many more people as excited about color, beading, sketchbooking and doodling as I am. These are life-changing endeavors when you pursue them as such. I've completely overhauled who I am through my creative expression, and its the most fun I know.

As a professional artist I've logged in years as a graphic designer, art director, painter, jewelry designer, author, teacher, lecturer, and color expert. And non-professionally as a musician. I publish color information specifically addressing the challenges presented by glass and beads. I've published 4 books, including the popular The Beader’s Guide to Color and The Beader’s Color Palette, which the Library Journal voted the Best Craft How-To book of 2009. I discussed my approach to color on a 2008 episode of the PBS TV show “Beads, Baubles and Jewels.” My lucky day... that's where I met Donna Kato!

I conduct color courses for artists, interior designers, and beaders throughout the US. My art is featured in galleries across the country and in many books.

My free monthly color column, “Margie’s Muse,” is available on my website, Subscription to my free monthly e-newsletter is also available on my website.

My articles have appeared in Bead & Button and Beadwork magazines, and I write a regular color column in Step-by-Step Beads (make that "wrote" as they are now part of Beadwork) and the Softflex website.

I hope to see you online in a CraftEdu class!

Margie Deeb

Note from Donna:

I asked Margie to write this for the blog because I did not want to forget or leave out any of her many, many accomplishments! Margie is a true artist who packs 48 hours into 24. She creates art, she writes about art, she teaches art. We are so lucky to have her as a member of our faculty. I was the lucky one when we met!

And now, revel in the color and the amazing world of Margie Deeb!

meet Lesley M. Polinko

I first came to know of Lesley Polinko through a challenge sponsored by Van Aken (makers of my clay). It was all about boxes, polymer clay boxes and she was a late addition. As I said, I didn't know about Lesley - it was Connie Donaldson (fellow CraftEdu faculty member) who suggested I invite her.

Boy, am I glad I did. Lesley's box was a woodland celebration. Fairies (or is it "faeries"?) and smiling mushrooms scampered around its exterior. The inside was like being inside a mushroom and the lid was a white spotted mushroom cap in whose center lay a sleeping baby fairy. Wow! All of us were very taken with its charm and its technical excellence. The vote came in and Lesley's entry was the Grand Prize winner.

Over the years, I did become much more familiar with the considerable talents of Miss Lesley Polinko. It's enough to make me want to give fairies and dragons and mermaids a try. In her hands, they spring to life - they are alive - taking us to places full of mystery and adventure.

Watch at her Gallery presentation and let the adventures begin!

make the most of your workshop experience

Over the years I've taken -- and then taught -- art and jewelry-making classes, I've learned to recognize an unconscious notion that many students carry with them into the classroom: They hope maybe they’ll be “discovered” in this class. I think sometimes students hope their teacher or their fellow students will not only recognize their talent, but be absolutely blown away by their phenomenal artistry. Glory will soon follow. Admit it, we’ve all been guilty of thinking that. Myself included. The problem is, if you’re busy worrying about how your work is going to look to your teacher and fellow students, you’re going to be very, very careful. You’re going to try to minimize mistakes. And there is no creativity and no learning without mistakes.

Every time I talk about this to my students, they laugh when I talk about everyone’s secret hope they’ll be discovered, and I gently remind them that it doesn’t happen in jewelry classes. And they laugh even more when I suggest that some may not only be hoping they’ll be discovered, but their secret hope is the upshot of being discovered is they’ll finally get to quit their day job. And then something magic happens. They totally get it. Everyone sort of breathes a sigh of relief, and then gets down to the business of working, playing, and discovering.

With CraftEdu classes, I don't go into that because I know you're not thinking about impressing me or any fellow students. You're not worried about what you're wearing. (Okay, just among us friends, let me describe what I'm wearing as I type this: soft waffle-weave nightgown, old lavender-colored terrycloth bathrobe and soft, cozy booty slippers. Point made?)

As an artist, I love creating. Often people are surprised to learn that I get the most joy from teaching. But what is creativity if not creating something of use, of beauty, of joy? And every time I teach, my hope is that I will ignite a spark in my students which will help them deepen their artistic voice and go on to create -- and share -- beautiful art. As a student, I'm excited to jump into all the classes this rich tapestry of techniques and projects has to offer. As a teacher, let me welcome you to CraftEdu. Thank you for bringing my classes -- and those of my fellow teachers -- into your home. I look forward to many years of joyful collaboration.

-Ronna Sarvas Weltman

City Girl

This collage is definitely one of my favs at the moment! Layers of paper, ink, watercolor, acrylic, and pastel make City Girl colorful, messy and chaotic...just like me...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Meet Jean Campbell

Good day, friends!

Today's post introduces you to one of the first faculty members to sign on to CraftEdu, Jean Campbell. Her wisdom, talent and great good cheer have been invaluable to us and to our project. Jean's one of those people who easily moves from creating art to writing and teaching about her passion - Beading! Jean has written 45 books (I struggled mightily to write 3 - I don't know how she does it and does it so well).

Jean also works with Swarovski as a Crystallized Elements Ambassador, pens - a beading blog and works closely with Interweave Press. Let's just say, our Jean Campbell is very energetic and very organized!

This March, she and fellow faculty members, Maggie Meister and Marcia deCoster (founder of the event) will teach new off loom techniques at the first Beading by the Bay in San Francisco.

For a look at the wonderful world of Tucson awash in beads, beaders, new products and why I will not miss the show next year, here is Jean's blog.

Now, for a glimpse into the wonderful world of Ms. Jean Campbell, we present her Gallery of Artwork. Click on the thumbnail, and the presentation will begin.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dreaming up Classes

Well! How exciting. Here I am, blogging at CraftEdu!

I was invited to join the faculty earlier this month, and I'm very pleased to be here. I'm busily thinking up a whole series of Free Basics that I plan on posting- how to crimp properly, how to make ring shanks that work and fit properly every time in metal clay, how to edge bind beadwork. It's exciting.

And, of course, I'm dreaming up full classes I can post as well. Lately I've been exploring a simple combination of stitches I'm calling the Corset Stitch, because of the corset-like ribs that are formed from the right angle weave strips. This will be one of my first classes posted to CraftEdu. You can see an interesting variation of the stitch on my blog today. It's a combination of a right angle weave strip from my Groovy Cuff (which Beadwork magazine decorously named the Modern Art Cuff when they published it this past December) and a stepped overlay of Corset Stitch. I named it the Egyptian Mixed Stitch Sampler.

Other classes that I plan on posting for the site opening are a Skyscraper Ring, in pure fine silver, and a great beginner's project- a set of irresistible stacking rings in PMC3. Follow along with us- you can even become a fan of CraftEdu on Facebook!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our new blog page,

Welcome to our new blog page! I tried Wordpress - it was a total mystery to me. I couldn't figure out how to do anything - Blogspot is so much easier to use. So, while I did manage to get the blog up, we'll have to present interesting things for you to see and read.

The first blog is about a new venture that we've been working on for about 2 years now. How and why there is a CraftEdu. It began after one of those horrendous travel days. Delays, delays. Missing a flight and then having to beg husband Vernon to drive to Denver (2 hours each way) to get me (or spend the night in the Denver airport). I love to teach, it's just what it took to get to my students and home again that was really getting my goat.

So, I whined (yes, I whined) "Vernon, pullease help me. Can you figure out a way I can teach from home? Pleeeease?"

Now, I'm married to a man who has the gift of making things happen. I may have some great ideas, but he's the one who knows how to turn an idea into something concrete, something real. So, he began working.

Initially, our project would be all video. I'd done a lot of video work. Thanks to Carol Duvall, I could handle myself reasonably well in front of the camera and I instinctively understood how to step out and design a project presentation. We bought three cameras. We bought a mini job. We bought lots of lights, monitors and mics. We turned our garage into a shooting studio and it looked really good.

We shot about 10 projects, then turned them over to our editor. He edited 3 and the remaining footage is still on his hard drive. What we did discover is that video production, well done, is extremely costly and not always the best way to present in depth information. It not only depends on the presenter, it depends on the skill of the crew. It is a time consuming, expensive, difficult way to teach. We still could have done it, but things didn't go that way. So, we turned our attention to other ways of teaching online. Initially, we were going to go the downloadable pdf route. It seemed very doable.

By a stroke of luck, we found a company who had designed and spent about 2.6 million dollars on a teaching platform. This platform made it possible to include self generated video, text, still images, narration and even annotation onto the images (this is the John Madden football thing, red lines, arrows).

If I were an athlete, I'd play football or basketball, not singles tennis or golf. By nature, I like being part of a team. I like to surround myself with great, talented people. So, I then sought to put together a creative team - a Pro Bowl of artists! Artist/teachers like myself, who travel and teach (and might wish to spend a little more time at home).

Happily, there are many innovative, wonderful, artist/instructors who like to play football, too. Together, we are a team, a powerhouse of creativity. We bring hundreds of years of perfecting our media. We will bring what we know and what we do, to our students. This is CraftEdu. The place where possibility becomes reality. The place where the journey is the goal.

I hope you join us on our journey.