Feats of clay
Polymer clay jewelry maker
Temperance, Michigan, and
New Port Richey, Florida
MERIWETHER LEWIS AND WILLIAM CLARK could not have
imagined that 200 years after their expedition they would serve
as the catalyst for a very different kind of journey for quilter
Marion Coleman. For years she made quilts for family and
herself to satisfy her love of sewing.
In 2002 Coleman saw a call for quilters to submit works celebrating Lewis and Clark’s famous trek. Coleman, who had studied
history in college, made a quilt focusing on Clark’s slave, York.
The jury accepted her quilt, and for the first time she had proof
that, as she says, “someone besides my family likes my work.”
The Bay Area Costco member learned to sew from her grandmother.
Because of her height (5 feet 10 inches), which made it hard to find
that, as she says, “someone besides my family likes my work.” A stitch in time
with polymer [clay]. Basically I design running through it. Canes
AS THE DAUGHTER of an
artist, Kimberly Arden says there
was never any question she’d
be an artist too. It just took her
a while to find the right medium.
Arden worked with fabrics,
taught painting and made dolls.
Then, while she was attending
a sewing convention in the late
1980s, she explains, “I came
across a woman making buttons
with polymer [clay]. Basically I
stalked her for three days—in a
friendly way. I was trying to learn
as much as I could from her.”
THERESA PATERSON: OUT OF THE BOX PHOTOGRAPHY
Arden says her “mind was
blown” by the intricate and
When she got home she made
her first cane, a log of clay with a
design running through it. Canes
are created by combining sheets
or rods of clay to make patterns or images. When the cane is sliced, the
image or pattern is revealed. Even though the effect is created by using colored clay, Arden says people still ask at what point she paints her jewelry.
ored clay, Arden says people still ask at what point she paints her jewelry. and her husband spend their winters in Florida, while their summers are her company’s CEO: “Carry Everything Out.”
“It’s kept my attention for more than 25 years,” says Arden, who went on to
teach polymer clay classes for 15 years without once repeating a project. “I’m
always getting better; it still challenges me. I can’t imagine living without it.”
Arden has made her sole income from her art since the mid-’90s. She
and her husband spend their winters in Florida, while their summers are
spent living the life of what she calls “a glorified gypsy.” The couple travel
to fine-art shows in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Texas and Florida,
selling her jewelry for $24 to $375. She likes to joke that her husband is
her company’s CEO: “Carry Everything Out.”
Clay, she says, is a “fantastic, colorful medium that I would eat if I could.
I love this stuff! The drive to create is just as strong as ever, and I still put
my heart into each piece.”—SEP
clothes that fit, she mostly made her own clothing. It took a visit with an
aunt, also a quilter, for Coleman to realize, “you know, I think I can do this.”
Around the same time, about 20 years ago, technology evolved to allow
quilters to print photos on fabric, and African-print fabrics became readily
available. Coleman also left her job as a social work counselor to home-school
her son and a nephew. She used her afternoons for sewing and began using
fabric, photos, vintage clothing and other nontraditional materials to tell stories.
“I have more ideas than I’ll ever be able to get done,” she says.
In the 10 years since she made the quilt about York, she’s made quilts
that have served as public art in her community and nearby towns. They’ve
also been displayed in places such as the Quilters Hall of Fame in Indiana
and as part of an exhibit in Yokohama, Japan. She also teaches incarcerated
boys and girls how to quilt, holds classes at the local library and community
centers and has been featured in O magazine.
“Every quilt tells a story,” says Coleman, speaking of everything from traditional log-cabin quilts to crazy quilts made by assembling fabric scraps in random
ways. She adds that quilters stitch together bits and pieces, “so other generations can know where we’ve been and maybe where we’re going.”—SEP
clothes that fit, she mostly made her own clothing. It took a visit with an aunt, also a quilter, for Coleman to realize, “you know, I think I can do this.” Around the same time, about 20 years ago, technology evolved to allow
MARCH 2013 ;e Costco Connection 31
3/13/13 11:02 AM