“I clay to my own drummer,” starts her story Ellen Deskin-Wellingson, “my own eye for color, my hands for designing shapes, my own sense of style or what I think looks right, and a wing and a prayer that others will like what I create. When I start a new set it always starts with the colors but I never have any idea where those colors will take me. It is a magical mystery ride, and I call it My Happy Place.”
Ellen was a passionate artist from a tender age, fearlessly exploring various mediums, but it was jewelry that truly captivated her at the age of forty.
As Ellen designed and collaborated with jewelers, a deep yearning for unexplored artistic endeavors remained. “It was satisfying but there was still something missing, unexplored,” she recalls. Ellen discovered the enchantment of polymer clay at a friend's house. Within minutes of creating a small piece together, her curiosity was ignited.
Determined, she delved into polymer clay literature, ordering numerous books from the local library. She acquired her first block of clay, embarking on a transformative journey. “I was 68 years old and about to find the craft love of my life,” she remembers. The sensation of manipulating the clay brought her immeasurable pleasure: “Oh the joy of feeling the clay in my hands was something indescribable! It was like nothing I had worked with before! It gave me a sense of being able to manipulate it to my will, strong but not immovable, bendable yet sturdy, velvety smooth or accepting of intricate patterns. Pure heaven in my hands!”
When creating jewelry, Ellen approaches each piece with a blank mind, allowing her creativity to flow freely. After selecting the colors and conditioning the clay, she experiments with different arrangements and combinations of shapes and colors. Hand-cutting the designs, she meticulously assembles them, ensuring clean edges and captivating patterns that complement the overall composition. Ellen's inspiration stems from her love for the world and diverse cultures, influenced by her experiences living in various countries. The pieces often take her in unexpected directions, leading to unique names that add intrigue. After carefully selecting the appropriate findings, the jewelry is double-checked before baking in the oven. While a part of her is anxious, the joy that follows upon seeing the finished, cooled pieces is immeasurable.
“For someone new to clay,” she says, “if asked I would say do your homework by reading the wonderful books on the subject out there that offer the advice of the forerunners in the industry who developed the techniques that bring you the wide world of clay and teach you how to manipulate and attain a high form of artistic beauty. Although polymer clay has been around a very long time now it is still an infant to be explored and manipulated to perfection!”
Throughout her clay journey, Ellen has encountered both challenges and triumphs. Reflecting on it now, she can confidently say that it has been an incredibly fulfilling choice, perhaps even an addiction. Clay has provided her with a gateway to unleash her creativity, allowing exploration of nature's wonders and embracing countless additions, techniques, and styles. Beyond jewelry, clay offers limitless possibilities in sculpture, boxes, bowls, wall art, canvas decoration, and more. It empowers you to bring forth virtually anything you can imagine. While intricate techniques may present a learning curve, experimenting with different approaches allows mastery to swiftly take shape.