May 19, 2013

International Polymer Clay Swaps on Facebook

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There are many Art related Groups on Facebook including for Polymer Clay. Last Fall I created a Swap Group for trading our handmade themed Art.

You may ask that while this sounds like fun ‘what’s in it for me?’ What’s in it for the ‘established’ or even professional Artist? There are no short answers. To say ‘it’s fun’ is too general. There are many reasons why swapping may actually benefit you. Yes, benefit! But in short… It’s not just a ‘Gift Swap’ and you are trading with competent clayers.

More than 12 years ago when I joined a Canadian Yahoo Group called “Clayamies” we had a lot of fun sharing not only our knowledge with monthly lessons, but there was a weekly Monday night chat via MSN, we held virtual ‘Partays’ which included welcoming new members and celebrating birthdays. Close to Christmas we would celebrate Winterfest by sending a partner some kind of polymer clay related gift, then we’d all meet online at a chosen time, we’d write a wish on a piece of paper, burn it (so it would come true), open our gifts, chat and laugh. We also hosted a lot of swaps. The website is still up, so you can have a look around. I had hosted the bracelet swap in 2002, the Matchbox swap in 2004 and Beach Pebble swap in 2007, and also one of the Christmas Swaps, but can’t remember which year. swap a giftMost of the original members are now full-time artists or are pursuing other work/art and the group has become very quiet although the annual Christmas Swap still happens. I think the last swap I participated in was in 2008 mainly because I have many ornaments and don’t decorate so much now that our kids are grown and family is spread out far and wide.

Gift swap those are fond memories of swaps, but WHY create such a group on Facebook? Facebook has a lot of Polymer Clay related Groups and call it an epiphany…but I wanted to reach out to International Artists, to not just chat or show photos virtually about what we ‘do’ or how we make or what we sell, but what we can create and ‘share’ via snail-mail, by trading something handmade and then chat about it. I do think a lot of Artists are a bit afraid to join in a Swap. Afraid? Yes…I think it’s mostly the afraid of being disappointed. See that look? lol If THAT is YOUR fear…if you join our Group you will change your mind (you don’t have to participate in every swap, only if something interests you) The banner above shows a few examplesGift Disappointment

This is more like what we experience: Like!


Perhaps the professional artist worries being viewed as not being a ‘serious artist’ by participating in a swap. Or worried about being partnered with an individual who may not be up to their par? Or may even have the feeling that their item is worth too much for swapping? Valid fears, right? Really? STOP!!!…there already other Professional Artists that have taken that step before you and joined the Group. A more valid reason is that Artists may be too busy, but EVERYONE is busy. Yes, right now I’m overwhelmingly busy with wholesale orders, consignment orders, prepping for markets, preparing new tutorials, handling my Etsy/ArtFire, the Groups, my family, household as I still need to cook, clean, do laundry and the list goes on… and it’s taking me days to get to this post and it’s already nearly 2 a.m., lol . Ok, so even though we lead such busy lives, Swap THEMES are a GOOD creative diversion, not only from the repetitive

repetition 1

of the making and the selling of repeats, from the ‘must do’ and the ‘have to’, but it allows oneself to create more freely (in more that one way), it gives ones Muse ROOM to roam, if you will, instead of being imprisoned in that daily routine of things. We all try to fit in or have a niche which is important, but sometimes we just get lost in that maze…and things even though there is so much to do!…get stagnant.


How often do we ask ourselves when the repetitive ‘task or tasks are done “What new thing am I going to make now? I don’t feel inspired! I’m so busy, but this is boring to me!” This is because our Creative spirit and energy gets sapped and the tank runs dry by repeatedly doing the same things over and over. Sometimes our energy may be stuck, with only a few ideas that don’t ‘click’ and then we’re not quite sure HOW to take it to the next level. So, with being given the occasional

diversion road sign

with a challenge and a theme in hand, and the task of trading or swapping can open up a whole Valley to envision something new. Plus…you have almost a MONTH to get something made from sign up to mailing.

With our Group rules and guidelines… we must create something that we would WANT to have ourselves and then give it to a Partner who in turn gives us the same. Instead of just making something in a hurry, we are challenged to make it special, as if gifting our very best Friend. The bonus… we are making new Friends, not just Facebook Friends…(insert smile)

So, what kinds of Swaps have we done? I’ll give you our last Swap as an Example and what I traded with my Partner Ilenia Moreni who lives in Italy. Ilenia’s business and blog are Leggende Segrete which means Secret Legends. I think it’s very interesting that Ilenia is a Referee in Renaissance re-enactment fairs, very much like Lord of the Rings. For our Swap, the Theme was “Pens & Twinchies”. A Twinchie is an Art Tile that measures 2 inches square and is the larger version of an Inchie which measures 1 inch square. We recently decided that we’ll make this a collectible item within the Group and will include the making of a Twinchie with every Swap Theme. Here are the Twinchies we made for each other. I chose an Egyptian theme and Ilenia created an interesting fabric-like background with a cane slice, faux turquoise and bone.

Twinchie by Tina HoldenIlenia Moreni Twinchie

And these are the pens we created for each other.

Pen & Twinchie Swap Tina Holden 2013Ilenia Moreni Pen and Twinchie Swap

Past swaps include Window Ornaments, Fairy Doors, Hearts & Textures, and Journal Covers. Our Group is a closed Group which means one can join after accepting some guidelines and answering a short questionnaire. A new Swap is also starting with sign ups open until May 24th.The Theme is:

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Perhaps you already received an invitation, but if not, find us here and request membership:

To explain the theme…Fantasy Vessel: a container of sorts...your interpretation of Fantasy, whether it involves sculpting, caning or other technique as long as it is a 'container'. This may include covering a tin such as an Altoid or other metal tin or your own box made from multi-media (matchbox) and covered with clay, could include covering a locket, may have hinges, screw cap, snap lid etc. Should be no larger than a covered Altoid, but no smaller than a match box and may or may not involve a metal tin as long as it is 'sturdy'. And of course the Twinchie which I already explained.

Hope to see you there!


Vanessa said...

Great post Tina! I like that you gave some background to the swaps and how you decided to start this group. I think you blog is getting a few readers as we have 2 new member requests this morning.

Beadcomber said...

Vanessa, and of course I'm grateful you are helping me run the Group. Couldn't do it without you.

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