Clay Artist
syndee holt
An interview
by Marty Woosley


If you haven't met syndee holt (yes, that's how it's spelled!), you are missing a great experience. Once you meet her, you will always remember her style and smile. syndee is a middle-aged single mom who definitely doesn't fit that stereotype.

syndee works full-time at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) as the Business Officer and Assistant to the Director of Health Sciences Communications (who puts up with her disappearing to travel the country for Polymer Clay and always welcome her back). syndee is also President of the San Diego Polymer Clay Guild, former Vice President of Membership of the National Polymer Clay Guild, and a member of the Spanish Village Artist Association in Balboa Park, CA.

syndee is an independent artist/designer for Polyform Products and teaches, demonstrates, and writes for them. She is also a frequent guest on HGTV's Carol Duvall Show and Home Matters, and Discovery Network's Our Place.

syndee's classes have been offered through Michael's Arts and Crafts stores, the UCSD Craft Center, Arts Methods and Materials in Pasadena, CA, the Amsterdam Art Show in San Francisco, and at HIA 2000 in Anaheim, CA. She is the author of numerous polymer clay articles and the book Polymer Clay for the First Time, published by Sterling/Chapelle.



The Interview:

I recently had an opportunity to interview syndee, and the insight into her life gave me a feeling of happiness. My motto is "Success is being able to enjoy your life in your own way," and when you know syndee, you know she is successful!

How long have you been working with Polymer Clay?

Eight years.

How did you get started with clay?

My husband left the boys and me, and I suddenly found some extra time to recover a life for myself.  I saw a necklace in the Craft Gallery at UCSD where I work.  The artist was Z Kripke, and she told me to learn the easy stuff and buy her fancy beads.  My babysitter and I got The New Clay and went to work.  A year later Z said,"Hey, there's a National Guild, let's start a local Guild".  Ta da!

Who has influenced you the most in your work with the clay?  Why?

Easy! Z Kripke, our first teacher and Marie Segal, our resident Master.

What are your favorite projects?

Whatever I'm working on is my favorite.  I have to say right now, my favorite technique is a transfer technique that I've taped for Our Place.  My most frequent canvas is the light switch plate, of course!!

Do you plan a project or just sit down and see what comes to you?

If I want to make a complex cane, I go through the whole building process in my head a couple of times before I actually start.  Some geometric canes, especially in a demo, just have a life of their own.  All other projects are thought out, but most likely are embellished as I go along - especially the overall construction features.

Do you feel color mixing is very important? 

I have a degree in Color Theory for Photography - you know, transmission vs. reflection, etc.  I was a print retouch artist for many years, so color matching is second nature.

List four of the most important tools one should have to work with polymer.

Sharp blade, pasta machine, work surface, texture.

Your favorite tools?

I have a "magic tool" I use for everything. Carol Duval was so fascinated by it, she sent the crew out to find out what it was. It's a soldering tool, but it comes in some kit and we haven't been able to find them separately.  I accidentally left it at Polyform one time after a show and they sent it Overnight Express to me before I had even missed it!!  My other favorite tool is a round sandstone rock my boys gave me for texture.

Where do you see yourself with Polymer Clay in five years?

Good question.  This time two years ago, I was thinking "Six magazine articles last year, how am I going to top that?" Last year it was "A book - now how am I gonna top that?" This year it was "18 TV shows - how am I gonna top that?"  Any ideas???

Anything you think might interest our readers?

Enlist the aid of your non-clay friends and family to give you ideas - both for design, color and cohesion.  My two best non-clay friends both gave me items for Christmas that can be translated to clay and they knew it when they selected them.  My sons are invaluable, as I'm sure you are all sick of hearing.  Their friends become my "focus group" when working on clay kits or projects for kids.  They are clever, intuitive, and honest, and they just glow when they see their input matters.



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