Featured Artist ~ Desiree McCrorey

podapendantsm.jpgIf you have been working with polymer clay for any length of time, you are most likely aware that our community has its own Michelangelo…an artist who is also a scientist at heart.  You may have posted questions on forums that she answered, or you may have visited her website for tutorials and information.  Or perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to take a workshop with her.  Either way, Desiree McCrorey has proved herself to be not only an artist and inventor, but also one willing to share her knowledge.


Q:  What is your polymer background?

A:  In 1992, I'd been complaining to a friend of mine that I couldn't find more of the kind of jewelry I liked at the time - miniaturizations of real objects like furniture, animals, etc.  She mentioned Fimo because she had an interest in doll houses and such and knew about what she'd done with it. Been playing with polymer clay ever since.

Q:  You have spent a great deal of time researching and posting tutorials...what motivates you?

A:  There are a couple of complimentary motivations behind this. The nobler one is I really enjoy helping to facilitate people to explore their creative side. There's nothing finer than to see someone literally light up when they create something beautiful with the own hands. The second reason for some of those tutorials is memories, or lack thereof. Certain projects are full of steps that I'm likely to forget. If I document them well, I don't have to remember how. Plus the process of documenting the project helps me remember it better.

Q:  What are your favorite polymer techniques/styles?

A:  My favorite technique is usually the technique I just learned. My head will buzz with all the possibilities! With a little longer to think on this, I'd have to say canework and faux are my long running favorites. I think my favorite styles have been "ethnic" (whatever that means) and mixed media. I appreciate most all styles; I love variety, but I think I gravitate the most towards styles that are earthy, warm, rich, complex, a little asymmetric, aged, solid and with a touch of wildness or unexpected surprise.

Q:  What do you feel is the most interesting aspect of polymer clay?

A: Flexibility, color, ease of use. It really is a true consumer product. One doesn't need to invest on a lot of expensive or complicated equipment to start using polymer clay. I've seen many people who thought they couldn't be creative turn that pattern upside down once they got their hands on a little polymer clay. It seems to have so many properties that make it much fun in endless different ways.

Q:  What is your craziest polymer story?

A:  This one isn't crazy so much as it illustrates polymer clay acceptance in the art world. I'd made a woven wire bracelet with a faux lapis lazuli focal bead in the shape of a heart. The instructor who showed me how to wire weave worked in a nearby bead shop. So I took my bracelet to the shop to show her what I'd done due to her inspiration.

She mentioned she'd been trying to explain to her co-workers about polymer clay and what could be done with it. Consequently, she was pleased to have , IMHO, a good example. Apparently there was one woman who nothing good at all to say about polymer clay, so she targeted her first. We were careful to not tell her what the bracelet was composed of, at first. The instructor started by saying, "This is Desiree, one of people I had in my wire weaving class. Here's a bracelet she made."

The co-worker remarked how nice the bracelet was, then the focal bead caught her eye. She asked where I had gotten the lapis stone because she'd never seen a heart shaped one. That's when the instructor proclaimed it was not real stone, but a polymer clay imitation.

Now I was expecting the typical reaction, "Wow, I didn't know you could do that with polymer clay. That looks so real!"  

Instead, her face turned dark and annoyed - almost angry. She let out a huff, turned on her heel and stormed away. The instructor and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and snickered quietly. I've never before or since seen anyone react that way. Seemed a little crazy to me!

Q:  Any other ideas, thoughts, inspiration etc. that you'd like to share with readers?

A:  Over my 15 years of working with polymer clay, I've heard lots of discussions, sometimes extremely heated and passionate, about polymer clay's status as an arts&craft medium. Polymer clay is so darn easy to access and use, it's a very democratic material. Folks of all ages and skills, incomes, languages can get a block or two and make something almost immediately. It's also, for various reasons, considered a toy.

So many who are unfamiliar with polymer clay, usually see beginning, untrained attempts and associate that with the medium. Many artists proclaim, "Polymer clay isn't a true art medium."

That's where the defensiveness and heated debates spring up.

Well, I say don't waste your energies arguing to defend polymer clay. Spend your energies perfecting your work. So when you run into someone who proclaims polymer clay is a toy, not worthy of use in art, etc. just show them your breathtakingly beautiful work. With any luck, those set on being prejudiced against polymer clay will let out a huff, turn on heel and storm away in embarrassment.  ;-)

- Desiree McCrorey, December 2007

Photo:  Poda Pendant, D. McCrorey