I had reluctantly accepted that our family calendar was just too rammed full for me to indulge myself with a visit to the Hobbycraft Show at the NEC, despite reeeeeeaally wanting to go. And then as if a crafty-fairy God mother was granting me a wish a lady at my work had some spare tickets going cheap decided to sod the to-do-list and go and join the fun.
Anyone who’s been to an exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham will know how exciting…and tiring…that long walk is. From the train station to the exhibition hall takes about 15 minutes to walk, anticipation building all the way. You see others speeding ahead of you, eager feet propelling them towards the joys that lie ahead. The mutual understanding with complete strangers, a kind of geeky obsessive urge to get right in the thick of it. Just the joy of feeling that atmosphere of being among like minded people, creatives, crafters, addicts.
There was so much to see, so much to get sucked into, card making demos, sculpturing and painting, cross stitch (which I had to try and stay away from for fear of being wooed!)……but most importantly of all, jewellery making and polymer clay. The main draw for me was visiting the British Polymer Clay Guild stand. I’d already checked out their website, already knew I wanted to join their website members list but I wondered what kind of people they were, are they welcoming to new members? would they snigger at my feeble attempts at clay work compared to their professional looking pieces of art?
The Guild members I met were lovely. Friendly and open, willing to share their techniques and tips and most inspiring of all….they had that same geeky excitement about polymer clay that I have. So that settled that, I’m definitely going to become a member of the British Polymer Clay Guild………..can I get a whoop whoop!?!?
The rest of the Hobbycrafts show was good too, I visited two other clay related stands. Which gave us two very different experiences. The first were the new and only UK distributors of a make of polymer clay called Cernit. The ‘Guild’ ladies had said that since Cernit changed their formula they have started to recommend the Cernit brand for the type of ‘cane work’ I do, so I was intrigued. I had a really long chat with the lovely couple and bought some Cernit clay to try out and I treated myself to a new pasta machine for my clay work as the one they were selling had extra wide rollers, something I’ve been looking for for a long time!
The other polymer clay stand we visited was run by a couple of clay artists who sold their jewellery and ran demos and workshops on various clay techniques. Some of their work was lovely, I was interested in the high gloss resin finish they were using on their pendants. But I found myself in a very strange situation standing at their table. Some of their work didn’t seem to be as good as my own. I couldn’t quite believe it, and looked very carefully at their work. How can they be at this huge exhibition, visited by thousands of craft enthusiasts yet some of their pieces were, in my humble opinion, of fairly low quality. The cane work was not very sophisticated, there didn’t seem to be much thought put into the design of the canes themselves, and the finish of some of the jewellery wasn’t as ‘fine’ as I would have expected. Perhaps I am a perfectionist in my clay and jewellery work, perhaps that’s why I sometimes feel frustration and disappointing. But having seen the fantastic quality if the work on display at the British Polymer Clay Guild, compared to the other pieces displayed….I know where I would rather be heading.