Monday, March 08, 2010

"Polymer Clay" versus "Polymer"

If you do not know about it yet, there is an on-going discussion, initiated at Synergy-2 conference and continued on-line, about possible renaming of  polymer clay into simply polymer.

People talk in length (and quite emotionally!) about it in their blogs and in forums, and I was about to post something smart myself. Like, how I see two separate reasons for this name being an issue – one is coming from the traditional ceramists, who are (supposedly) unhappy with polymer clay artists using the word clay, and the other is from our potential customers, who are (also supposedly) confused with the polymer clay being used for art, because it makes them think of the stuff their kids are playing with.

I could have also talked about the definition of the word polymer based on my chemistry background...

Or how realistic it is to make all the polymer clay manufacturers to rename their product AND change their marketing strategy at the same time (after all, if they start calling it polymer, but continue selling it as the material for kids – do we really gain anything?).

But before I had a chance to write my post, I found one comment on discussion, which summed it all for me. I am sorry, it might be a bit harsh, and I do not know who is the author of this comment (she just signed it as Jules), but I admire this person's sense of humor. This is what she said:

“? And saying only “peanut” avoids confusion with normal butter? Interesting theory.
It’s not about the name, it’s about what you do with that stuff!
I mean…the clay, not the butter… ;D”

Yep, this really sums the whole discussion for me.

I am voting for leaving the name alone. Let's better concentrate on our art and stop talking.


surfingcat said...

I agree completely. Love that peanut butter quote!

If they want to change the name they should be looking for something that fits better. Polymer makes me think of plastic boxes and nylon tights not the stunning creations people make with polymer clay.

m.e. said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post. I agree,neither "clay" or "polymer " alone accurately describes the medium.
People who are familiar
with the "stuff" readily recognize it . People who appreciate Art for arts sake probably don't care what the medium is called. The rest of the folks often require explanation regardless of what we call it.I find people who purchase jewelry especially want to know "what is this"?

After all is said and done ,how much will the name matter?
Much more important that the artists who work with PC continue to bring forth an ever growing body of Quality art .
m.e. :)

Anonymous said...

Totally, agree with you is what you do it..what you create. It will always be polymer clay to me.

Anonymous said...

Евгения,здравствуйте! С интересом прочитала Ваши мысли по поводу переименования материала , с которым мы работаем и хочу сказать - а знаете , для России эта тема не так уж несущественна , как может показаться на первый взгляд. Я на протяжении двух последних лет приняла участие в примерно 6 выставках , и поняла что у нас это важно. Вот шарахаются у нас от слова полимер.И реально мы здесь в России озабочены тем , как правильно назвать материал. Сколько раз видела на выставках одну и ту же картину - вертят в руках работу , восхищаются примеряют , и цена - устраивает . А как только спросят - из чего это и услышат слово Полимер - откладывают в сторону. Не так давно в русскоязычном сообществе с моей подачи мы обсуждали эту тему .
В настоящий момент я готовлю для русскоязычного форума "Осинка " обзор Synergy2, прошу вашего согласия сослаться на вВаше мнение.

Eugena said...

Here is translation of the comment above (in Russian) for my English-speaking readers:
Hi, Eugena! It was interesting to learn your thoughts about renaming the material we are working with, and I want to say – you know, for Russia, this is not as insignificant as it may seem from the first glance. During the last two years, I participated in about half a dozen of craft shows, and I understood that the name of the material is quite important here. People are scared by the word “polymer”. We really are anxious here in Russia about the right name of this material. Time and again, I've seen the same scenario: people are looking at your work, touch it, try it on, they are happy with the price, and admire the piece all together. However, when they ask what is it made of and hear the word “polymer” - they immediately put your work aside and walk away. Not too long ago I initiated a similar discussion among Russian-speaking polymer clay artists:
Right now, I am working on a summary about Synergy2 for our forum “Osinka”. I am asking for your permission to reference your opinion.

Eugena said...

Here is my response to tavostia:
By all means, feel free to share my opinion. I am afraid there may be difficulties with translation though, since peanut butter may not be as widely known in Russia as it is here (LOL). Seriously, I totally agree that material's name is important for many potential buyers, but I am also 100% sure that renaming it into “polymer” will only complicate the matters.
By the way, your comments inspired me to finally put together a post I wanted to write for a long time. It is related to the issue we are talking about here, but in a broader way, so to speak. Look for this post later today.

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