This is the second part of a three-part review of the Polymania event in Bristol (13-15 March 2015).
On Saturday we managed to get to the hotel in time and on this day our group was taught by Bettina Welker ,who showed us how to create her swivelling necklace. Just like Cara’s style, Bettina’s designs are instantly recognisable by her colour palette, the often geometric shapes, the way she finishes her designs and the careful construction. I wasn’t sure about this project when I saw the photo in the workshop advert, but creating it wasfar easier than Cara’s pendant. Before she showed us the first steps to create the separate pieces, she told us that she didn’t want anyone to take photos (or film) of her teaching – her main reason being that she didn’t want this circulating on the internet. Bettina obviously spoke from bad experience with copyright infringement and I certainly sympathise with that. From a student’s point of view I thought this was actually good, because it is annoying when people click away or film and are in your view and you can’t see the demonstration! Bettina allowed us to take photos of her project notes. I didn’t do this, but my friend Valerie Anderson did and e-mailed them over to me.
For the project we mainly had to create skinner blends in different colours and use texture plates. I also managed to finish the back of Cara’s pendant. While the pieces were in the oven, Bettina showed us how to make the striped canes for the buttons and how to use silver foil. Mine didn’t work well as the foil didn’t come off easily and because these pieces needed to be drilled later I made a few more buttons then needed – just in case. This was a good idea as I could share them out to anyone in our group who needed those spare buttons. We also had to paint the baked pieces with special oil paint which dries quickly when baked.
I spent the lunch break at the tutor’s table and was able to talk to Donna and get to know her a little.
After lunch Bettina showed us rather quickly how to create the fastening bit for the Buna cord, this required the use of a popper. She actually prefers magnets as a way to secure the buna cord, but magnets of that size are hard to come by and the buttons were a cheaper alternative.
Once these pieces were baked it was time to use the drill. Not everyone had drill bits (I certainly didn’t) so we had to share one at our table between 7 people.
All the while it got hotter and hotter in the room. I actually had a migraine and asked for some ice cubes, which I stuck into the back of my neck!
I think I finished the project at about 7 pm, when my husband arrived. All in all I like the look of this necklace, though because I rushed the gluing a little I wasn’t careful enough and the glue showed on the buna cord. I tried rubbing it off with alcohol which didn’t work and painted over it with permanent marker. I already have ideas in my head of how to change the necklace and make it my own design. I also had to carve bits out which surrounded the popper, because I couldn’t close it at first.
The only thing I missed was a handout. Cara and Donna had handouts – we were also given a nice pen and a proper little notebook to make extra notes. Though I was far too busy to jot anything down! When you work against the clock you really can’t write stuff down. I also haven’t been able to take many photos and the light in the room wasn’t really good for photos.
After 7pm we all shared our beads we made for the bead swap. This was rather time consuming as we had to find all people on the list who joined the swap and tick them off the list. I think this took over an hour! I ended up with 43 or 45 beads – and some beautiful beads too.
I also introduced my husband to Donna and they ended up having a long discussion about politics and the state of the world. After a fairly uneventful drive home I ended up checking my goodie bag, which we received in the morning, and all the beads. And then it was time for bed.
I hope you enjoyed reading this second part of my impressions of the Polymania event. Please feel free to share, comment – and don’t forget you can also subscribe to my newsletter here.