Joyful Polymer Art by Kate Foley
Hi, I’m Kate Foley the creator of Joyful Polymer Art. I am very fortunate to live and create in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, a beautiful place that offers an abundance of inspiration. My husband and I moved here from Canberra three years ago, after resigning from our tedious desk jobs.
Polymer clay is a modelling material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and liquid plasticiser, rather than natural clay minerals. It can be sculpted, carved, stamped and textured, to create sculptures, mosaics, pictures, dolls, beautiful veneers and stunning jewellery. The possibilities continually amaze me.
Polymer clay is cured (permanently hardened) at temperatures between 110°C to 150°C. This temperature is significantly less than mineral clays, and allows me to use my home oven.
The clay comes in a wide range of colours and special effects, such as metallic, stone, pearl, translucent and glow in the dark. I enjoy mixing my own colours and adding chalk pastels, mica powder, wire and gold leaf. Sometimes I finish with gloss, or hand sand and buff the piece to achieve a smooth semi gloss finish.
I apply a variety of techniques and tools from different disciplines including cake decorating and ceramics. I enjoy experimenting with texture, colour and different styles, therefore each piece is completely unique. Generally I work when I am happy and relaxed, which comes through in my pieces. I begin with an idea and then it usually becomes something else along the way.
For me, creating is a journey of learning and self discovery. Art is all about the experience, not just the process and end result.
My work is feminine, colourful and often floral. Currently I am concentrating on brooches, pendants and decorative vases. However in the future, I would like to create more wall sculptures with soft flowing movement. I would also like to incorporate resin in my work. The possibilities are endless.
How long have you been working with Polymer Clay?
I first discovered polymer clay in 2013, though didn’t start fully exploring its potential till 2015, not long after moving to the Sunshine Coast.
How did you get started?
I stumbled across polymer clay in an art shop, while looking for something new to try. I had no idea what to do with it at first. Though the more I learnt the more I fell in love. Progress was slow initially and there were many frustrations. It is not a popular medium in the Australian art scene, and it was difficult to find fresh polymer clay of a professional quality. Curing was also difficult to get right, many pieces either cracked too easily or burnt. Eventually I found some great resources and began exploring the multitude of techniques and possibilities.
In March 2017, I began selling my work at Makersville in Montville, and now here at The Handmade Exchange. I had my first joint exhibition in October 2017. A fantastic experience!
What is your greatest inspiration?
I draw inspiration from many places, particularly nature. Flowers often feature in my work, as they allow me to explore amazing colour combinations. The natural textures of the Australian bushland and the movement and energy of the beaches, can also be seen in my work. Though continually evolving, I would describe my style as feminine, whimsical and sometimes abstract.
There are also many International and Australian polymer and mixed media artists I follow closely, who have encouraged and inspired me to explore a range to techniques and push boundaries.
What is the greatest challenge to owning and operating your own business?
I have deliberately chosen to keep my art as a passion, rather than build a formal business. The money from sales goes towards paying for my materials, tools and learning. This way I can continue to create from the heart and keep each piece unique. If I was doing this to earn a reasonable income, I would need to create duplicate copies of simpler, cheaper items and spend significant time marketing and selling. I feel that this approach would compromise my ability to explore and push my creativity.
What is the best thing about owning your own creative business?
Sharing my work with others brings me great joy. It is also a wonderful way to encourage and inspire others to get creative. Working from home is also fantastic!