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A self-taught artist who lives in rural Indiana in the USA, Angela Thompson found polymer clay in 2006 and quickly became obsessed with the medium.

“It's a wonderful way to express yourself creatively and there's no limits to what you can make. I love to combine polymer clay with mixed media and make one-of-a-kind wall art or sculptures,” Angela shared with us, preferring to make art to surround herself with, that is displayed throughout her home and office.

Her polymer journey led her to a class with well-known polymer class artist and instructor, Teresa Pandora Salgado. The two artists quickly became friends. Pandora launched a yearly polymer clay event called IndyJam in 2018, a weekend of polymer clay activities held in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Angela was first an attendee, then an instructor and collaborator. Pandora relocated to the West Coast in 2022, making her yearly event no longer feasible. She graciously handed the reins to Angela and the event was renamed “Polymer Clay Peeps Conclave” to align with Angela’s own Facebook group focused on polymer clay, Polymer Clay Peeps. The plan is to continue a yearly Conclave three-day weekend in the fall each year, with the first annual event being held on September 29, 30th, and October 1st of 2023.

The name for the inaugural event is ‘Welcome to the Jungle. The theme provides a framework of ideas that Angela will incorporate into the classes that she'll teach. The projects were designed with the goal of expanding skills, showcasing alternatives, providing hands-on guidance and suggestions, and helping bring the vision of the projects to life. Many of the attendees are long-time polymer clay artists themselves, but there will be also those who are "clay-curious" and haven't used the medium before or have used it in a limited manner.

“There's always something wonderful that happens when you bring polymer clay artists together,” Angela says. "The vibe and energy within the group is tangible and I always learn from my students, just as they learn from me. Online tutorials or videos are great tools and opportunities, but they don't compare to the learning environment that comes from being together in a room, working on a similar project, and watching how others do the same thing that you're doing.

It can be something as simple as the way another person holds a tool that can be an "A-HA!" moment for a student. Everyone does things their own way, and seeing that in person offers something you don't get from a video or written tutorial!”

The event is a great opportunity for attendees to try the medium without investing in all of the often overwhelming choices of tools, products, and clay items that are on the market

The materials to make the projects are included in the event fee. “The students will take home all the items they make and a few items that are essential to the classes, which includes a set of unusual sculpting tools and one tool that I make myself,” concludes Angela. That sounds like fun!