“I never planned to have an own product line.”
Interview: LISA PAVELKA
As a kid, Lisa Pavelka was playing with an air drying clay. Today she is an author of several books, teaches around the world and is totally in love with the polymer clay and develop her own products for working with this medium.
How and where did you find the polymer clay?
I found the polymer clay in a local craft store when my children were very small. I was looking for a medium to create in; one that wasn’t expensive or dangerous to my children. Mediums I was working in before starting a family were too dangerous to kids (stained glass) or dried up when I had to walk away to change a diaper or feed my children. Polymer clay was a miracle medium in my mind and I was addicted from my first block.
You are known for having your own products and tools for working with the polymer, what‘s your story? What was your idea about your own products before they were started being sold successfully?
I never planned to have a product line. When I couldn’t find textures, products and tools that I wanted, I began making them for myself. The cost of prototyping was expensive and often required mass production. I wanted these items so badly for my own use, I hoped that others would too. At first it was just to cover my costs, but things took off. In the early years, I created my web store and started to cooperate with other retailers. The CEO of a button company (Jay Barr of JHB Buttons) contacted me unexpectedly with an offer to design a button line in polymer clay. He sought me out after seeing my work at tradeshows. He brought me to their headquarters in Denver, Colorado for a demonstration of the techniques that would be used in reproducing my designs. He noticed that some of my proposed designs used items like my stamps and foils. I had approached other companies before with my products only to be turned away. It was Jay who saw their potential and offered me a licensing agreement. I own the designs and intellectual property for my products, but they took over manufacturing, packaging and distribution for the sales of my products in over 60 countries. A few years ago, Jay retired and sold my license to my then marketing manager, Lisa Lambright, who still handles my line through her company, The Great Create.
What do you say about the polymer community? Does it seem to you that the number of people working with polymer is growing? How was it before?
I think the polymer clay community is an amazing collection of talented and giving people. I wish there were more men getting involved in clay. But people today, especially younger ones, seem to be infatuated with technology. More people would rather spend time surfing the Internet and checking updates on their social networking sites than making something. This addiction to devices also seems to be resulting in shorter attention spans for some. Don’t get me wrong, I love my gadgets, but I don’t like not being a slave to them. My wish is that younger generations discover the joy, therapeutic benefits and the personal fulfillment that creating can bring to their lives.
Is there anything you would like to achieve in the polymer world? Do you have any unfulfilled dreams?
I have a three-ring notebook filled with sketches, photos and notes of things I’d like to try. These are patterns, color schemes, shapes and textures I’m working my way through. I am always adding to this book. I know that I will never get to try everything I hope to in my lifetime. Inspiration will continue to come faster than the time I have to create. One goal was to use polymer clay as portrait medium. I just completed my first attempt at it with a portrait of my dog Dexter. It’s a mostly two-dimensional image with noticeable surface texture. I’m pretty satisfied with the first attempt. I believe that my technique will only improve with future portraits.
What does your family think about your creative activities? Do they support you?
My family is incredibly supportive and proud of what I’ve done in my career as an artist. My husband Allen is my rock. He and my kids have always encouraged my dreams, been willing to pack kits, proofread articles and even work some of my events. I’m fortunate my Mother had lived to her 80’s and could see much of what I’ve done in my career as an artist. From my earliest memories she encouraged my creativity, so that is incredibly special to me.
What can we look forward to from you at the moment? Are you planning anything new?
Well, the portraiture work is definitely something I expect everyone will see more of. I also hope to continue expanding my used of mixed medium concepts with clay. Perhaps another book is in the works. You can definitely expect more online videos.
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