Last Thursday through Sunday was the bi-annual PMC Guild Conference at Purdue University. It was a time to come together with hundreds of other PMC artists from all over the world, learning and sharing ideas about this metal clay stuff. I was fortunate to get a ride from a couple ladies from MD & DE, and of course we spent the 12 hour trip in both directions talking about teaching and selling and working with metal clay, so that made it all the better.
You may have been to conferences before and seen attendees with their goody bags and hometown-bearing nametags. One thing notably different about this conference was how easy it was to strike up a conversation with a stranger simply because of the jewelry she was wearing. It was like jewelry was a social lubricant, an easy discussion topic (followed closely by people asking me, "Where in Virginia is THAT?").
Another neat thing about the PMC Conference is that attenders are encouraged to make PMC charms to swap with each other. That is fun enough to see in itself, but this year they went a step farther and donated charms to create bracelets to raffle for charity. Well, from 380 people at the conference, an incredible 34 bracelets (!) were assembled from donated charms, and over $12,000 (!) was raised for the Cancer Society and Bone Marrow bank as a tribute to a PMC artist who had died waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Several of the raffle winners were cancer survivors themselves. I was so touched how this metal clay community dug deep and pulled together for something really meaningful.
Another thing that struck me about this conference is that conversations would skip over get-to-know-you stuff and dive right in with, "What do you think of the new Bronze Clay?" or "How long do you allot for a beginner class and what do you cover?" It was so great being in a place where everyone knew what it was like to be a jewelry artist and/or instructor, knew the right questions to ask, and had an opinion about different products.
Of course it's going to take a while to decompress and process the information I gleaned, both from conference speakers and from conversations outside of the events themselves. I had a great time, but it's good to be home.