That's where I was this time last week... the 5th International Precious Metal Clay Conference held at Purdue University. Back in 2002, I attended the very first conference at the College of Wooster and have attended all five. Metal clay has come a long way since then - and it's been pretty amazing to be a part of its evolution.
The speakers and presenters were excellent. Linda Darty's keynote address started us off with some wonderful inspiration - I really enjoyed seeing so much enamel work (as you may know, enamel is near and dear to me). She shared how various events in her life had been a significant influence on her work - the interpretations were wonderful. The second day, Bruce Baker spoke to the group the with lots of energy and insight into the business of craft. He knows the business inside and out and his observations were so interesting. Alison Lee of Craftcast spoke on the third day with a delightful presentation about her "Life in Code." She reminded us how our experiences shape our lives - that when we look back we can see where they have influenced us. And how those of us who have pursued art (for hobby or profession) may have shown some interest/aptitude as children. I could relate to many things she shared about her childhood, specifically the influence of creative parents/grandparents and being given opportunities to try things that sparked even more creativity.
The conference featured some great presentations and demonstrations by many accomplished metal clay artists. I was honored to be among the presenters. And I was sorry I couldn't attend everyone's presentation - we had to choose which ones to attend - and that was really a challenge. The whole time I kept wishing I could be in two places at once!
There was an excellent show titled "Cultural Messages." Well, I heard it was an excellent show... I didn't even get a chance to see it. I kept thinking I'd get to it when I had enough time to see the whole thing but then I never found the time (insert a big frowny face here...). I think the images of the pieces will be online at some point, but it won't be quite the same as seeing it in person.
A new FASTfire BRONZclay was released as of the conference. I haven't fired anything with this new version bronze clay from Metal Adventures, but I've handled it - it has a great texture and consistency. The real advantage is that it will fire in as little as 2 hours!
PMC Pro from Mitsubishi was announced at the conference. There was a lot of buzz about this new material. It's supposed to be stronger than sterling... I tried to bend Barbara Becker Simon's bracelet (she invited me to) and couldn't get it to move. It's 90% silver, which makes it a lower silver content than sterling (.925). This brought a lot of questions about what that remaining 10% might be. Suggestions ranged from copper to germanium to platinum and even aluminum! It may be some combination of the above. We won't know until closer to the release date (October)... the formula is a closely guarded secret - at least until all the patents are in place.
At the 2004 PMC Conference I was privileged to present two seminars. One was on Small Scale Mass Production and the other was on Enameling on PMC. Presenting and preparing two seminars wore me out, so the next two conferences I just attended with no responsibilities. This year, my love of water etching inspired me to offer a Tech Expo presentation on the process - specifically Water Etching on Hollow Forms (another favorite of mine). In addition, I was invited to be part of a demo team during one of the lecture sessions. Sherry Fotopoulos and I had fun demonstrating "Creating with Coils."
It was so wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones. That was so much fun. I love connecting with artists from all over the world. The people I've met through metal clay are pretty amazing. I'll be counting the days 'till we meet again.