Artist: Cindy Lietz
Business name: Polymer Clay Tutor
Website & Blog:
Polymer Clay Tutor blog
Bead Videos, video library
Cindy, how do you describe your work?
I would describe my work and my style of teaching to be easy going, friendly, nature inspired, a little rustic, sometimes quirky and a whole lot of fun! I consider myself your partner and guide in the learning experience rather than your master, hence the name Polymer Clay Tutor.
What is your creative process like?
My creative mind is always whirring...think several hamsters on wheels trying to outrun each other. And it is a good thing it is that busy, because I have made the commitment to come up with a new polymer clay or jewelry making tutorial each and every week for my students. As well as creating new techniques and samples for the tutorials, there are a lot of non-creative tasks that also need to be done on a daily basis...so there is a lot of multi-tasking going on during my creative process.
My laptop desk and clay table are up next to each other and in an L-shape formation. That means that while working on the computer, blogging, reading emails and answering questions, I can spin my chair and work on an idea or project whenever inspiration strikes. You can always tell when I have been sanding beads while working on the computer, by the white clay dust on the keyboard and mouse!
What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I am a self taught mixed media artist and polymer clay instructor. All my training has come from making tons of stuff, in a gazzillion types of mediums and making a whole lot of mistakes.
I believe that mistakes are not failures...they are just learning tools. It is a very satisfying process to be able to figure out solutions to problems in techniques that didn't work the way you wanted them to.
Some very cool techniques have come out of an experiment that went 'terribly wrong'. You could never be done learning and improving your skills, there are just too many cool possibilities and not enough time to try them all. It's a journey of constantly working on better ways of doing things while improving and enjoying the process along the way.
As far as when I became a professional craft instructor, my very first teaching experience was actually on television. A friend and TV Producer saw some of my work done with recycled materials and wondered if I'd be interested in doing my own 1 hour Christmas Craft Special for a public television station here in Canada. I was, and we filmed it a couple months later.
The show was called The Sophisticated Scrounge and it aired nationally. I got pregnant shortly after with my daughter, and felt the Television "guru" lifestyle wasn't going to work for me and my new little family. So I transitioned into teaching local workshops in the Continuing Education system (Evenings and weekends).
Things eventually progressed to a completely online video based teaching strategy that my husband Doug and I now run full time. Not your normal way of going about starting a craft business but one that has worked well for us.
Is there a tool or material that you can't imagine living without?
Besides the obviously critical need for polymer clay and an oven to bake it in, my most used tools are a pasta machine and a sharp clay blade. I suppose I could 'live' without them, but I wouldn't want to.
What inspires you to create?
Life around me is what inspires me most. Flowers in the garden become inspiration for beautiful color palettes and stunning shaped beads. A sunset becomes a Teardrop Blend. An etched glass plate makes for wonderful textures when pressed into clay. A quirky little doodle of a Skull and Crossbones becomes a fabulous polymer clay cane. Inspiration is everywhere... you just need to open your eyes.
What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Running your own business based on your creative passions, may look like sunshine and butterflies to a lot of people, but you and I both know it is not an easy path. You need to sacrifice a lot at the beginning as far as income and free time. Plus the workload and stress is way heavier than most people imagine. Then as you begin to succeed, the 'haters' come out of the woodwork. That can be a hard thing emotionally to deal with, especially if you weren't expecting it, like I wasn't.
If you have a vision and just stick with it (usually past what friends and family think is wise to do), you can make it. And I tell you there is nothing more rewarding than having thrilled customers writing you long letters about how much joy your tutorials have given them. How they feel excited to get into their studios and create. And the freedom it gives them from their stress and in some cases, physical pain. Those touching letters and comments make every grueling hour it took to get where we have with our business, completely worth while. It is so much bigger than learning how to make a great polymer clay bead...it is about living an inspired life!
What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Just keep making stuff. Try everything...even styles and techniques you didn't think you'd like. You're going to learn something new in the process. It has been said that you will become one of THE experts in your field when you have spent 10,000 hrs on a particular subject. They didn't say you needed to be a genius... they said you need to put in the time. Just keep working at it. You can only get better with time!
What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Customer service, writing blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, answering questions, technical issues, etc., etc. Basically I spend 80% of my time on the computer and 20% creating new tutorials and products. Same goes for my husband Doug. It will be good when we can hire some help so that we can free up more time, to do what we are best at. For me that would be creating more content and for him it would doing more marketing and sales (as well as shooting more video). That too, will come with time...soon I hope!
What's your favorite comfort food?
My two favorite comfort foods are Steak and Cake. Nice thing is they rhyme, so it can't easily be forgotten when my Birthday comes along. ;-)
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