Posted by: cassymuronaka | October 7, 2009

Sandy Camp 2009

It’s always interesting to see how polymer clay artists approach retreats. There are the socializers, the networkers, the marketers, the party animals, the people who come solely to learn, and the people who sit down and actually produce something in clay. Most of us fall into several categories.

Silver Maple pod earrings

I usually spend way too much time doggedly applying myself to some project I could execute just as well at home, wasting the opportunity for visiting, and missing the majority of the technique demonstrations. At this year’s Sandy Camp in Warner Springs, California, I promised myself that I would get up from the table and move my big derriere around.

This was the 11th Sandy Camp sponsored by the energetic San Diego Polymer Clay Guild. The first one actually was sandy, as it was located in a several-story motel at Imperial Beach. Most of the time the 4-5 day event has been held at Warner Springs Ranch, a rustic resort once owned by crooner Bing Crosby, set in the high desert. It’s a terrific location, and I was mightily grieved to hear that it might be sold and turned into yet another wilderness casino.

Sandy Camp is an amazing bang-for-your-buck escape. It is particularly revered by those of us who are not able to afford or attend Ravensdale or one of the international guild gatherings. The Southern California retreat has grown steadily, no doubt to due its affordability, its superb organization, and the star-power it continually draws. The increase in attendance also might be due to the high quality of the snack table and the goodie bags, too.

I did manage to get plenty of work done. The first day I made a bee, a mold of a bee and then a bee on honeycomb. The sculptor group sitting right in front of me – Dawn Schiller, Kathy Davis and Carolyn Potter — were very nice to me about my adequate little insect, despite the fact that they know I eat their dust. This is easily seen when you compare my bee with one of Kathy Davis’ much-admired koi fish. I purchased the koi mold, added the clay and and then embellished the fish with metallic powder.

sculpting comparisons

I love molds, and brought a bunch with me to the retreat, using them to produce beads for an necklace I eventually will make. Some of the molds were of silver maple pods, which recently were strewn all over the parking lot of my son’s junior college. I used them to make a pair of earrings one day at camp.

My last flurry of activity resulted in more earrings, because I haven’t made any new ones in a while. These were constructed with a variety of different cane patterns using the same minimalist color palette. One of my retreat roommates, Nancy Ulrich, convinced me to “add a little bling” to them with a couple of those hot-fix glue rhinestones. I don’t usually go to the glittery place — I even had to think about it overnight –- but the earrings looked great with the additions.

Caned earrings

This set of four pairs of earrings turned out to be an unexpected source of amusement. My workspace was placed right near the snack table, so I did not lack for visitors. Most of them gasped in shock upon viewing the scores of canes on my table, initially believing that they were produced during the first two days of camp. After deadpanning that, yes, I was an extraordinarily quick worker, I let them in on the truth: the canes were made months ago.



  1. It was a wonderful weekend!! Loved having a table close to yours- and listening in on your many conversations!!
    Thanks for the compliments about my sculpting- but I equally admire your canes and your ability to manipulate them in so many interesting ways!!
    Talent was all about!! Great time!!

  2. I was sitting across the table from Cassy at Sandy Camp. And the collection of canes was truly awe inspiring. As a non-caner I was very impressed. Heck, even if I did cane, I would have been impressed.

    It was really funny to see people’s eyes bug out when they saw all the canes on Cassy’s workspace. And they’d ALL ask the same thing…”Did you do all those HERE???”

    After the 5th person asked the same question I nearly choked on my snack when Cassy first said (with a great poker face), “Yes, I did.”

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