When we went to the UK recently, we arrived there with no more plans than to see all our friends and family and meet our new grandson. I didn’t expect to be enjoying any time with polymer clay. I was hoping, however, to explore the craft store options they have there and maybe even find someplace that specialized in polymer clay. But I had no idea where such stores would be. So I did what any modern social-media minded person would do in this situation. I asked my Facebook page. And boy did I get an answer!
One of the readers of this website, Jayne Rozario, immediately contacted Penny Vingoe of Clayaround in Wales. And Penny immediately contacted me and offered not just a visit, but to stay with her for a couple of days AND that she would organize an impromptu Clay Day so that I could meet some of her “girls”. Well. I was not going to turn this down! I honestly couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do than sit around with a bunch of like-minded people and play with polymer clay.
After a long drive across the country, we arrived at Penny’s home in Wales late in the day. She had supper waiting for us (she’s an excellent cook) and immediately made us feel at home. We started talking. And talking. And talking. At one point my husband interrupted us to tell us to get to bed. It was nearly 2 am and we were still talking! Penny is funny, she kept looking at me and saying, “Oh Ginger, there’s just not enough TIME to share it all!!” We did, indeed, have everything in common and so much to talk about.
The next morning, the clayers arrived and we made our introductions, excitedly talking about our techniques and workshops and sharing our jewelry as we laid our creations on the table for show and tell. And it’s a funny thing about meeting other clayers. We always seem to hit it off like we were best friends in another life. When else is it completely normal to walk up to a stranger and start petting their jewelry? Oh come on, you do it too, don’t you? Everyone was wearing some wonderful creation they made and everyone shared and shared and shared.
See, that’s the thing about the polymer clay world. The sharing. We share ideas, we share our stories, we share our homes. When we’re all together working, we share our tools, our materials, our advice and our experiences. Get a group of clayers together and you’ll hear “anyone have a square cutter” as often as “would anyone like some coffee, I’m making some”. Materials get shifted around and everything seems to find its way back to the right person. People will gather around as one person shares an idea they’ve come up with or shows a new way to do a technique. It’s always such a fun environment.
My 15-year-old daughter, Lanie, hasn’t worked with polymer clay since she was a preschooler, but she wanted to join the fun in our clay day. Even though space was tight, Penny found a way to squeeze her into a corner and even made a sign for “Lanie’s Corner”. And these wonderful women took her under their wing and taught her how to make a kaleidoscope cane. I think it turned out great, especially since it was her very first one.
Penny shared a lot of information about her business with me and I got to see how conscientious she is with her stock and her customer service. Thanks to the generosity of the Clay Day group, I was able to spend some glorious time shopping in the shelves of Penny’s store. (What a surprise! They were so thoughtful!) You see, Penny owns an online polymer clay supply business, called Clayaround, that supplies both the UK and Europe. She carries Premo, Fimo, Kato, and Pardo. She carries every color of Ranger alcohol ink, every color of Pearl-Ex, texture sheets, Fat Daddio cutters, every shape of Kemper Kutters, and she also has the new Lucy Tools. And it goes on and on. Shelves of stock have completely taken over her house. It was like being in heaven for a person like me! And if you’re in Wales or the West Midlands, it’s really worth a trek to come visit Penny when she has Clay Days.
But the time came when we had to say good-bye. It’s always hard to leave when you meet people who you really enjoy and very much have a connection with. Penny has said that we’re always welcome to stay with her and I will definitely make sure we make her lovely world a destination on our next trip to the UK. In the meantime, email and Facebook and these electrons you’re reading right now are the best way to stay connected, all over the world. Thank you, Penny, for your wonderful hospitality. And thank you to the wonderful group who shared your Clay Day with me. I enjoyed every minute you shared with me!