This time Jana and Lucy decided to have a conversation about Jana’s polymer clay career and experience with its community.
Hello Jana! I assume that many members of the Society already know you but for those who are not familiar with your artwork, how would you introduce yourself and your polymer clay art?
Hi Lucy! Tough question in the beginning. I am from Czech Republic, creating jewelry and small objects, teaching workshops and enjoying life. My artwork is often based on geometry principals.
Geometry is definitely one of your characteristics. Do you think that from your polymer clay beginnings you were always into geometric style? How would you compare those times with your current artwork?
Yes, I was always obsessed with squares and circles. You can find stripes and bargello patterns in my creations from the beginning till now. I feel comfortable in perfection. And I find it in geometry. When I compare my current pieces to my older ones, I can see that my older work was more playful, and recent work seems to me more complex.
What about colors? How do you think about them in your creations?
I think the most important thing is contrast. I often use black and white as contrast colours. Together with them I use another solid colour or skinner blend. In my colour mixes I follow the basic colour wheel with red, blue and yellow. Not a big deal.
I remember that you fell in love with Premo clay. Is this still the main brand you work with? What do you like the most about it?
Yes, it is still true. I love Premo metallic and how firm they are. They are kind of different - they don't show dust and fingerprints. I also like the mica and pearl effect. I use the pearl clay instead of white or I mix them together.
Metallic colors are definitely another characteristic part of your art. Many people from all over the world admire those patterns you create, and the color palette you use. Can you mention anyone who has inspired you significantly during your polymer clay career?
I think everyone is inspired by other artists, sometimes you see the inspiration immediately, sometimes not. But everyone gets inspired. In my creations I see the strong influence of Elise Winters. But also thousands of others. And not only polymer clay artists. Art is art, no matter the material. My colour palette is not very wide - I don't like thinking about colours, so I mostly use similar mixes. And everything else is the beauty of the clay itself.
Did you get any experiences from master classes and workshops of teachers from different countries?
Each class I took gave me what I expected. I have a strong technical feeling so mostly I see the process before I start to create the piece. But every class gave me at least some tricks tips leading me to something else. I also like to watch other artists to teach, everyone has a unique teaching style.
What about your own classes? You traveled to many places where you shared your knowledge with other enthusiasts.
I am blessed that I had the opportunity to teach in many countries around the world. It is the best part of it - meeting people, traveling, seeing places, and being the “star” for a moment. Last year I taught online classes and it was great, too. I am happy that the worldwide situation opened it fully. It is the best way of learning, especially for those who are not able to travel. Live events have something more into them, and offer something else, as well.
When you compare these two, live and online events, which one would you choose and why?
Another tough question. For a student who wants to learn the most, I would recommend an online class. Especially those recorded ones. Possibility of replay, pause or skip is just great. For someone who loves meeting people, I would recommend live events, with night parties and chatting and eating together. For me, as I am quite an introvert, it is a bit better online. Both - teaching and learning. What is the best? When I close the computer, I go to my own bed. I am getting older! Still I can't wait to travel again. It has been a long pause so far.
I think you experienced a lot of traveling, so it’s obvious that the online form is more comfortable for you and there is also not that much of stress that we experience when teaching a live workshop. But how do you feel about the fact that there is not much happening in the real world? For example it Czech it seems like the community of clayers kind of disappeared.
It is happening everywhere. The same as the fact that many artists weren't able to create when the pandemic started. We are still connected - thanks to online events, but many guilds and learning groups all around are paralyzed with rules that make every event start unsure until the last moment. People have doubts about organizing live events now. And groups have doubts, too, if they even still exist...
How do you feel, especially in the Czech community, about people devoting their time to different artistic mediums and the polymer clay kind of step aside? We saw many ladies here changing the polymer clay to the wool and knitting needles.
I have also changed polymer clay to needles, I started doing so many different things - even if it looks like the opposite. So I think it is normal to switch time by time, or maybe stay longer or even forever with a different artistic medium. Anyway - I don't feel like I'm part of the Czech community. I disappeared a few years ago and I feel comfortable being a part of the world polymer clay community.
Would you like to explain it a bit more? I know it might be personal, but in the end I feel it’s important to realize that all business things and those online stuff we share on our social media are highly affected by personal reasons and not many people understand that.
It is not personal, opposite - I realized that in our small Czech community I am not able to make a living with polymer clay. So I stopped translating my tutorials to Czech language, and stopped teaching here - it just wasn't worth it. And for some people here who don't speak English I simply disappeared.
I did the very same with the Polymer Week Magazine and I received a lot of negative feedback about that and not a lot of understanding. How do you deal with something like that?
I don't feel it so much, because as I said - I disappeared. Some people ask me from time to time if they will understand my workshops in English and I think it is quite easy these days - there are so many online translating apps. So I simply answer that they can buy it in English.
When running your online classes, do you have any experience with beginners and new faces falling in love with the polymer clay?
There are many new faces but also people who are coming back for another workshop - which is good. Teaching complete beginners is quite hard, however I think real beginners just look for YouTube tutorials. And if they decide to buy my workshops when they want to learn more - they are not complete beginners anymore. I taught complete beginners a long time ago and it was not a nice experience.
Do you have any goals for the rest of this year or perhaps the next one?
We have an old wooden porch in the weekend house and my summer goal is to renovate it. I know it is not a polymer clay goal, but I barely plan or make goals. I just let things flow and they happen. And - you wanted to talk about the book we plan?
Yeah, should we reveal it to the members of the Society?
We just did :-D Now you should push me even more so I finish it….
What will readers find inside the book?
Of course there will be all sorts of trick tips and tutorials, a lot of photos for inspiration - jewelry and veneers. Probably there will be something about my life and my point of view.
Can’t wait to see the final publication! Thank you for a nice interview Jana!