us would say that our early work was nothing to write home about. But
us didn’t start with polymer clay before we were teens. Emma Ralph, a
artist from Surrey,
loved beads from the time
she was a pre-teen. When she discovered that beads could be made from
career was launched.
on Emma worked mostly
with Fimo, which is more readily available in the UK.
She has also used Formello, a
European clay. Emma has tried all of the
clays and finds things she likes and dislikes about each. “I tend to
as it is the clay I know best and seems to work best for me.
As far as teachers and
mentors go, Emma is self-taught. “I have
not personally had much opportunity to network in real life with other
The British polymer clay guild has a bi-annual retreat, although I
attended.” She has met a few other clayers including Candida Woolhouse,
the author of Polymer Clay Greetings Cards.
many of us Emma has belonged to an on-line discussion
group for years. She and I started off together on the early
Clay and have stayed with it through OneList, Egroups and now
PolymerClayPeople. She had a lot of fans when her first article was
in a U.S.
idea that others were
working in polymer clay was a revelation. “After some initial pouting,
this to be quite cheering news actually.” It was shortly after this
found the Internet groups.
“I have written several
articles for both British and American magazines and am on the Advisory
for PolymerCAFÉ and my first book, Polymer Clay in
a Day is out from
Northlight.” (Look for a review elsewhere in this issue: http://www.pcpolyzine.com/2004sept/book.html.)
asked about how her
book came into being Emma replied, “I felt there was a real lack of
books available on polymer clay in the UK. I wanted to write one
jewellery specifically and I approached New Holland Publishers in the UK
had seen their other craft books in the stores.” And as the case has
in the states they were not interested because “they had always
as a serious medium!”
They liked Emma’s proposal but
wanted a more general, beginner title. Guess what? Now that the book is
has been picked up in the U.S.
by Northlight, she has been asked to write another one!
We all have our favorite
artists and are inspired by others and working in isolation has both
and minuses. “I don’t have much clay work by other artists” says Emma,
have a few inspiring pieces: An Elissa Powell heart pendant, a stunning
pendant by Dorothy Greynolds and a gorgeous tassel doll by Pörrö
Sahlberg.” She continues, “bear in mind
I have only ever seen photographs of most other artists’ work. I think
Dustin’s work is astounding and would love to own one of her pieces.”
Wouldn’t we all!
Emma’s work is known through
the Just Beads auction site. “Finding Just Beads has allowed me to
of my polymer artist beads and provides the opportunity to reach
appreciate polymer clay as a medium and the time and effort I put into
is best known for her
“Illuminare” bead series. According to Emma, illuminare comes
classical Latin, meaning to “adorn or embellish”. Each bead features
of metallic, shimmer or cane work built up to form the piece. You can
beads at www.JustBeads.com.
bead styles she makes are “Moulded Collage” and Klimt inspired face
When I asked Emma about the
Just Beads experience, as one who is kind of intimidated by the whole
she told me that the whole site was very user friendly and that Bob and
Bettina, who run the site, would probably love to do an interview for pcPolyzine.
So stay tuned.
What does the future hold
for Emma Ralph? She loves what she is doing and hopes to do more
teaching and to design lots more beads. Look for some Precious Metal
creeping into her repertoire.
jewelry photos by Emma Ralph.
Photo of Emma Ralph by Mr. L. Head.