LINK OF THE MONTH:
This month's Link of the Month is Glass Attic, maintained by Diane Black. Glass Attic is one website that appears in almost every post responding to the question "Can I do X with polymer clay?" It's considered the Polymer Clay Encyclopedia and should be bookmarked by every polymer clayer, newbie and professional alike. With over 400 pages of information, the site is a virtual Library of Congress for polymer clay.
I asked Diane to send me some information about her wonderful site, and she forwarded the following:
What's at Glass Attic
I think of my website, Glass Attic, as a kind of polymer clay "encyclopedia." Though it isn't finished yet, there are presently over 60 categories (400 pages) of information relating to polymer techniques, problem solving, supply sources, tools, etc., as well as to polymer business, photography, teaching, creativity, etc.
Each category contains many links to photo examples and often to lessons as well. At the bottom of the home page are instructions for how to search for any subject or word at the entire site. Just beneath the search is an explanation for finding most of the "lessons" linked with the site.
I will eventually add many photos, diagrams, demos, etc., to each page -- *that* will be the fun stuff for me. So far though I've tried to discipline myself to uploading all the text first, though I do have links to many hundreds of photos already. (See below for a full listing of the categories.)
Why it's called Glass Attic
When the DH and I decided to get our own domain name as part of creating a website, we tried to think of a name that would be suitable for his part of the site as well as mine (there will be things from my sister, nephew, and son there as well). We decided on the name Glass Attic because I wanted my "attic" of collected information to be fully visible to anyone who wanted to see into it -- my DH's musings will also fall into that category. (When I get around to it there will be a drawing of an overflowing attic with a bank of windows, which I'm hoping will make the reason for the name more obvious.)
Why I Did It
The information at Glass Attic comes from all of us. Though some is mine, most of it came from years of reading the polymer newsgroup, rec.crafts.polymer-clay, and the old AOL polymer message board. I'm hoping that through my archives of our information, we can continue to help others and ourselves, even long after a particular question has been answered. I also want to prevent the problem of people having to continually reinvent the wheel, particularly for those who are isolated.
I'm also hoping Glass Attic can serve as inspiration for some of what is possible and help solve problems any time they come up, 3:00 a.m. included.
When I began learning about polymer clay online in 1995, I was really confused. I didn't understand what certain words meant, and I felt like I was missing great tips and explanations. My first solution was to save those little tips for later when I could eventually understand them and needed them.
After a while, I had the sense to begin sorting the bits of information into categories, though it was mostly because I was beginning to lose the ability to find anything!
Later, rather than writing a long answer to each request, I began e-mailing individual Word category files to people who were interested in a particular subject. I began thinking that one day I should just make the information more accessible by putting it on a website. Various things forced me to do that sooner rather than later, but health and the sheer volume of the information has sometimes made it slow going.
I opened the site sometime in the spring/summer of 2000, and since then, it's definitely been my main project. I have some physical problems, especially an ulnar neuropathy in my left hand which has kept me from actually claying, so it's been easier in some ways to make myself useful with the site while I can't clay. (Unfortunately too much time at the keyboard is bad for the hand too, so I have to avoid the longer stints at the computer. Oh well, just keep pluggin'.)
Anyway, here's to us and our power to help each other!
To Do List & Least Favorite Parts
The *least* enjoyable parts of compiling a site such as this are slogging through all the technical details that have to do with changing Word files into formatting for the Web, and dealing with the incredible volume of information involved. Just remembering where everything is can be challenging.
There's a lot of organizing, categorizing, highlighting, creating of hyperlinks, etc., that I still have to do to get all the categories up, and I also need to finish the Table of Contents page which will list all the categories and their sub-categories for browsing and searching.
Somewhere in there I need to learn more about website design before I can upload photos and diagrams. (Then there are all those saved but uncategorized tips lurking in the deep dark recesses of my files -- somewhere about here my head begins to spin, and I think longingly of getting to the photos and demos.)
I don't really have a specialty in polymer clay except that I just want to *understand* everything. So I guess my specialty is in being a generalist and an information-gatherer. I'm reasonably good at organization and analysis, and I have the pack rat gene, which comes in handy for this kind of site. :-)
I don't sell my work, but I have done a number of polymer and other craft projects over the years myself and also with the kids at my son's school (it's a parent participation school), as well as with a few adult groups. I've given as gifts most of the finished things I've made, but I did take photos of most of them, which I encourage everyone to do!
I discovered polymer clay around 1994, but had never stopped being fascinated with some millefiori beads I'd bought in Morocco back in 1971 . . . I never stopped wondering, "Just how did they DO that?!!"
Other major interests for me over the years have been photography, quilting, science, health, psychology/philosophy/sociology, making anything that needed making, cooking, and most of all, just trying to figure out the world . . .
Am I Still Adding Information?
Yep . . . every day. I still have entire categories from my Word files to finish and upload, but I also daily add new bits of information from the polymer groups I read.
Here are all the categories at Glass Attic (they're listed on the home page; the few with asterisks aren't organized and uploaded yet):
--General Polymer Clay Information (overview of polymer uses, websites, groups, and where to find more information for newbies or anyone)
--Everyone Please Read Once (why I created Glass Attic and disclaimers)
--(& my non-polymer things)
Diane Black (Diane B.)