Monday, February 25, 2008

Synergy: Moving Forward, Looking Back

I am back from the Synergy conference. I am exhausted and overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas. The conference spread over three and a half days, if I count the registration and gallery set-up on Wednesday. The seminars (three a day) were scheduled from 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM on Thursday and Friday and 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM on Saturday, with a Gala Banquet and Closing Ceremony after that. In between the seminars, there were other events, such as panel discussions, teacher and vendor fairs, and other presentations. The information shared and discussed during the conference covered such topics as craftsmanship, business, design, new products, available classes and techniques, history of polymer clay, and many other. No wander, by the end of day 3 people were sleeping in hallways to catch some rest.

I attended two seminars on craftsmanship, three on business, and two on design. Every presentation was excellent – both in the amount and quality of the information shared and in the way it was presented. I was very impressed with the way these presentations were organized. For example, instead of having people crowded around the table to see the hands-on demonstration, it was projected on a big screen through a video camera, so that everybody could see what the instructor is doing from their chairs in the audience. Overall, the entire conference was organized extremely well at every step, which is a great accomplishment of Judy Belcher, the president of National Polymer Clay Guild, and the synergy teem volunteers.

My personal biggest impressions, however, were not from anything new I have learned at the conference (although I learned a lot), but from the people who attended the conference. It was very interesting to see not only the famous works I have seen only on the Internet and in books before, but the artists who created those works. There were lots of talented people, at various stages of their polymer clay career, but all with shared love for what they are doing. For me, it was very inspiring to see all these creative people with different personalities and styles of their polymer clay work. Many of them came to polymer clay from other backgrounds, and many are with scientific background, like myself...

The conference was a very rewarding and thought-provoking experience in many ways, and I hope to be able to participate in many more similar gatherings in the future.

Here is the picture from the conference with Carol Duvall and the conference attendees who appeared at her show. Carol was a guest speaker on Friday. It was amazing to see how many people responded when she asked to raise the hands all those who were introduced to polymer clay through her show...

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