Canberra’s Contemporary Craft Retreat 2018

Artists and creatives everywhere are moved by colour, by shapes, smells, touch, anything tactile. We are moved to express. We are storytellers through our art.

I like simple designs. Art says a lot through its spaces.  Without space there would be no art. I also love time worn jewellery…the kind that speaks to me of ages gone…and what it brings to the surface in terms of feelings and intuitions.

Most of all, I love love love colour! That’s what always drew me to chalks and paints and flowers ever since I was little…it’s what drew me to polymer clay as an adult just when I needed colour the most. Creating with colour is a very healing, fulfilling process.


So when Lex Sorrentino heard I was claying again after a few years hiatus, she asked me if I’d like to teach at Canberra’s Contemporary Craft Retreat next year…and I just I KNEW I’d be making something with both colour and bling… and something that was meaningful too, something that each student could make uniquely their own.

I was firm on the idea that I wanted to teach people how to work with both silver clay and polymer clay to make unique one of a kind jewellery. Polymer is a champion chameleon clay…using the right techniques, you can mimic the look of just about anything. Amber, turquoise, bone, wood, rust, ceramic, beach glass….really…just about anything. In this case, I wanted a bone/ivory look for the base, so I created a cane from polymer clay by layering different coloured white, translucent and ecru sheets together, rolling them through my pasta machine several times till the lines where very soft striations that mimic the look of bone.

There was this beautiful bracelet I bought in Ubud, Bali to remind me of the soulfulness of this deeply spiritual place. It’s made up of silver beads inlaid with turquoise and coral and agate. To make imitations of all three stones out of polymer is not difficult, but for a one day workshop which includes a fine silver bed cap and bail component made from silver clay, we wouldn’t have time for this. So instead, I opted for impressing patterns into the ivory-like base and brushing them with pan pastels. Such fun! Then attached them to the silver bead caps and bails I made previously from a fabulous silver clay called PMC Flex and voila! The perfect project for those new to either of these contemporary clays, as it’s not difficult, just very effective!


What I love is that these pieces speak to me of ages gone with that look of old ivory…and as I also grow older, I can appreciate the beauty that time bestows on things. The ‘bling’ of the silver puts to mind the glint of light coming from behind the crinkles and wrinkles. So very grateful to have ‘bling’ in my life, in all the ways it shows up.

Details of teachers and projects for the Canberra Contemporary Craft Retreat are coming in March. Check it out here

I’m also available for private tuition and group retreats anywhere on the east coast. Grab a few friends and let’s create something wonderful together!

Oh…and for those who like to keep up with my various house sits, these pieces were made in Mullumbimby, the best little town in Oz.  Here are some pics…


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Showing 6 comments
  • Avi

    gorgeous Mel…I love these pieces xxx

    • livelif5

      Thanks Avi, always so encouraging hearing feedback.

  • Suzanne

    Lovely pieces and sentiments? It is a beautiful thing to hear the motivation behind creativity!

    • livelif5

      I’m so pleased to hear your feedback Suzanne. Thank you. Art is not made in isolation without some story behind it and I think it’s so important to tell the stories through, and of, our art.

  • johanna howard

    Beautiful jewellery! Do you have a retail/mailorder business? My sister Anke and I would probably order
    something.. Nice to know someone in our family is so talented.

    • livelif5

      Jo, how lovely to hear from you!! Truth be known, we are ALL talented, just some of us have created more space for the talent to show up! I have only just got back into clay these last six months and am currently building up my workshop examples. But when I have spare, I will add a shop to my website. Will let you know when I do. xx

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