I don’t do cute. I admit it. There are no stuffed animals in my world. I don’t share cute memes on Facebook. I even resent the little bit of lace trim and ribbon that they always seem to put on women’s sleepwear. Katie Oskin, on the other hand, loooooves cute. She’s the creator of Parker, the cute little yellow teardrop character that lives at Kater’s Acres. She puts cute, adorable stickers all over her daily planner pages. And she draws cute cartoon characters on her takeout box when she goes out to dinner. Katie and I couldn’t possibly be more different in this way. And unsurprisingly, this spills over into our polymer clay time as well. I like clean lines, layers of color, and lots of angles. Katie likes adorable fantasy creatures that live in the forest. But we both have one huge thing in common. We both love polymer clay.
Katie and her husband drove from Pennsylvania to my house in Missouri so we could spend time working together in the studio. We wanted to play with clay, of course. But we also collaborated on a project that explores how different our personal styles and polymer clay voices are. We’re calling this project “Explorations in Voice”, and the idea is to see how we can be so different from one another and at the same time enjoy working with the same medium. We asked some of our favorite polymer clay suppliers to create identical “mystery boxes” for each of us. We sat down in my studio, side by side, and used the contents of our boxes to create. For two days, Katie made cute things while I made “Gingery” things. It was an intense and wonderful time, that was over all too soon. Here’s what we learned.
Different Voices, But Still the Same
As expected, Katie and I made very different types of things for this project. We both dug through our mystery boxes with squeals of delight and talked about the kinds of things that we could make with each item. Of course, we both immediately thought of completely different ways to use all the products. But once we pulled out the clay and started to create, it was really funny how similar our craft experience really became. We spoke the same language. We used the same tools, baked our things together and gave each other lots of suggestions and ideas as we worked. Our voices may be completely different in what we create, but we’re still working in the same medium. I learned so much watching Katie work, and I know that she had the same experience watching me as well. We both had so much to teach each other.
Different Voices are Equally Valid
Humans are funny…we are always drawn to others like ourselves. And that, unfortunately, means we can sometimes be rather dismissive of people who are not like us. It’s very easy to do this with art styles, too. It’s easy to appreciate artists and voices that resonate with us. But remember that everyone has a different set of tastes and values. Just because you might not like fairy doors, miniature food, jewelry, polymer babies, or journal covers doesn’t mean that they are any less valid or important than the voices and styles that you do enjoy. I know there can be competition between the enthusiasts in various sub-groups of the polymer clay community. But I think it’s unfortunate when we take an exclusionary mindset like that. As Katie and I found when we worked together, we all can learn from each other.
Spend Time with Someone Different from Yourself
Remember how I said that Katie and I are different? Well, we really are. We’re at very different places in our lives, personally. We like different things. We were born in totally different (non-adjacent) decades. If a mutual love of polymer clay hadn’t thrown us into the same community, our paths would never have crossed. But we had a fantastic time together, working side by side for three days. Our husbands – total strangers, really – found lots to keep them busy including a trip to Bass Pro Shops and a day out kayaking on a local lake. What’s the takeaway here? Open yourself to getting to know people who are very different from yourself. Reach out to local clayers and get together for an informal clay play day. The internet is wonderful for connecting people and you might even find a new friend!
Try New Products and Tools
Another really cool thing that came out of this collaboration project was that we both were challenged to use materials, tools, and products that we might not have chosen for ourselves. This means that we had to look at things a new way and stretch our creative muscles. What does this mean for you? Challenge yourself to try creating with materials you don’t normally use. Push your boundaries and try creating in a style – exploring a voice – that is new to you. No, you won’t change who you are. But you will learn new things that you can bring to your more familiar style of creating. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
A Word About Voice
It’s difficult to discuss artistic voice because it overlaps with style, genre, and craft. We always seem to think that voice is something that we have to find. But in reality, it’s actually something that you have to uncover. It’s already there, within you. It might get covered up or hidden, or it might be a small voice at first until you get more confidence. But like your handwriting, it’s there. In fact, others can often see your own voice before you can see it in your own work. You can read more on this subject in my article How Do You Find Your Artistic Voice?
What Katie Created
What Ginger Created
Many Thanks to our Sponsors
Our fun collaboration was made possible by generous contributions from these sponsors. We used everything in our boxes to create what you see above. Take a look at each of our projects and try to find each of the following products in them. And note how differently we each used them.
- Brass stampings and findings
- Renaissance Mold
- Gearical Mix
- Beady Lil Eyes
- Random Textures Sheet
- FX Powders in Glamour and Crash
- Border Mold – Au Naturale
- Exotique Texture Stamp
- Butterfly plunger cutter
Thank You Katie!
And finally, I have to thank my friend Katie Oskin. I really didn’t know what to expect when we started this project, but she has got to be the single most inspirational person I have ever met. You can’t be around Katie without getting excited and being happy. That’s just who she is. It was a wonderful three days and I can’t wait to do it again. If you want to be part of Katie’s fun world, head over to Kater’s Acres and of course, don’t miss her Parker’s Clayful Tutorial Club where you get to learn SO much each month.
15 thoughts on “Explorations in Voice”
You and Katie ought to do this again, with 6 (?) years experience gained, I’ll bet you both have much more in depth things to say.
Probably true. We’ve hung out several times since then. Obnoxious guffaws always break out, too.
Your comment that others can often see your voice before you do in your own work really resonated with me. My original medium is metals, and I often wondered if I’d ever find my “style”. But others have told me that they definitely see “my style” in my jewelry. Hidden from me in plain sight
That’s a good way to put it. I guess we get so used to the view we have in our own heads, we don’t see ourselves as others do. And our art is an extension of ourselves, after all.
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bonjour, je vous lis et je lis aussi Katie. vous êtes des artistes de styles très différents et c’est agréable et pas étonnant de voir ce que vous avez réalisé avec les mêmes fournitures et c’est surtout très inspirant pour la novice que je suis.
Sounds like you two had a blast! Wish I could have joined in the fun! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
As always, thought provoking and well written. Thanks for pointing out another reason to love polymer clay–it really does connect us to people whose paths we might not otherwise cross–and what a shame that would be. What a fun experiment! I love what you both created in the time you were together.
Loved all the beautiful pieces here! You’re both amazing artists and it shows. Will you be doing some deep dives on the things you made? I’d love more details and closeups.
As I was scrolling through the pictures, I was wondering, what if you both collaborated on a single project?! Might be kinda neat!
Is that something that readers want to see? If so, we might be convinced to write a bit more about each one. I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone! And yes, a single project would be neat. Even though we both have very different voices, our working style is quite similar. It might be quite fun.
Great Article and sound like it was truly fun, inspirational and appreciative collaborative 3 days of sharing…gotta put one in my Bucket list…
What a wonderful collaboration and challenge! I love seeing how different are the things you each created from the same set of supplies.
You know, it’s taken me a good long time as an artist to learn that I can appreciate other artwork without having to Like it. 🙂 Not being dismissive of work that doesn’t immediately appeal to me, but taking the time to consider it all has made my work deeper and richer as a result.
Why didn’t they teach this in art school? (Or if they did, maybe I missed it, lol.)
This was SUCH a wonderful journey. It was a sheet JOY and honor to collaborate with you. I can’t WAIT to do it again!
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