Monthly Archives: August 2018

The Time Has Come to Join AMCAW

Metal Clay Is Our Shared Passion

AMCAW’s mission is to encourage a flourishing international metal clay community by nurturing artistic and instructional excellence and providing resources to inspire, engage and support artists of all levels. AMCAW will help to unify us, regardless of brand or formula preference, experience level, or location. The organization will introduce metal clay to new users and bolster its reputation in the greater arts community.

This is the Mission statement for the new metal clay community, the Alliance of Metal Clay Artists Worldwide.  It’s Board is truly international, with members from the UK, Canada, Belgium, Romania and of course, the US.  Go to: http://www.AMCAW.org to read about this wide-reaching alliance, and join. Here’s why (aside from what they have in their own words):

We need a valid, professional community that works for the advancement of metal clay as a medium, one just as important, just as proper and respectable as fabrication, fold-forming, casting, chasing/repousse, etc. In order to do that, we have to organize. We have to hold brand-neutral conferences and have a brand-neutral certification program that prepares our artists to produce pieces based on high standards. We need oversight on our manufacturers to make sure that the products that are being offered are a positive representation of our medium, and products that work the way they are supposed to.

Yes, I know I have this other hat. The Art Clay World USA, Inc. hat. And I wear that one proudly. But, to be honest, the big manufacturers of the original brands of silver clay are widely removed from us, the end user and artists.  They support us, but they are not as interested in metal clay the same way we, as the makers, are.

Case in point. Rio Grande is a great company. Make no mistake about that. But their decision to drop certification was a bad one. And they didn’t appear to be interested in reorganizing, to put the onus of certification on the instructors, as does Art Clay World, USA. They just stopped, giving everyone the impression that they didn’t value certification, that they didn’t value the importance of creating highly educated, highly skilled instructors who could pass the knowledge of silver clay to the next generation (or even the same generation!). In fact they, by omission, have said to the world that “certification just doesn’t matter” in the US. Remember, it’s only Mitsubishi’s US distributor that has stopped certification. It continues in the rest of the world.

Flipping back to my metal clay artist hat, it’s time for the manufacturers of metal clay to stop this decades-long feud that has kept us from uniting under a common goal and passion. I am certainly aware that, in the end, the bottom line is sales and if there aren’t enough sales of metal clay to warrant its manufacture, either Mitsubishi or Aida Chemical Industries could stop production. But what they don’t understand is that to have INCREASED sales there must be NEW students, new artists and renewed energy and interest in metal clay as a whole. The entire burden of that can’t be put on the shoulders of the small business like Art Clay World USA, Metal Clay Supply,  Cool Tools, Metal Clay Revolution, Hadar’s Clays and the like to pay for the promotion. They need to start investing in the future of metal clay. With support for Advertising in the broader market. Not just the narrow market of bead journals and jewelry magazines.

If you use metal clay, you  need to involve yourself in it’s future. You need to speak up, be a voice for change, for growth, for the future. Join AMCAW, be active in its directives. I would like to see an AMCAW Board Member on the board of the National Art Education Association. I would like to see metal clay taught regularly in Community Colleges and universities alongside other jewelry programs. I would like to see metal clay discussed on talk shows as proof that women are able to be a powerful force within the jewelry community. Now is the time to propel ourselves out of the shadows, to speak loudly with pride about an incredible product that allows creative versatility and diversity. Not just in the jewelry world, but in the art world as a whole. Sculpture, functional and non-functional art.

Now that the original patents have expired, why is there just one silver clay being made in the US (as far as I know, it’s 5 Star Metal Clay)? Why hasn’t Aida Chemical Industries begun production in the US, as well as Mitsubishi? Wouldn’t that be cheaper? What can we do to regain the ground that was lost in 2008 when silver prices soared and artists couldn’t afford to work in precious metals any longer.

Aida Chemical Industries, I’m speaking to you, Mitsubishi I’m speaking to you. We need your involvement, your commitment to the artistic process, not just invoices to be paid for product that is nearly too expensive to purchase.  We are on the cusp, and we are asking for your help.  We need to break out of our small community and scream it to the world at large. But we need your big, world-wide voices. And if you want increase in sales, help us to reach more people. Support AMCAW with yen, dollars or product!!! Support our non-branded efforts to enter the next phase of growth. Forget the previous air of competition that has stiffled our unity and prevented us from moving forward as one, united industry.

So, are you just going to read this and agree (or not) or are you going to stand up and join us in a revolution of metal clay art? We need to reach the millions of people who have no idea that metal clay exists! To do that, we need you. Manufacturers, distributors, artists and hobbyists alike. In 1994 Mitsubishi and Aida Chemical Industries started something wonderful and groundbreaking. What will we do now??