THE ART OF POLYMER CLAY
Fran Abrams, Rockville, MD, has an undergraduate degree in art and architecture and a graduate degree in urban planning. In January 2000, after making a New Year’s resolution to return to her roots as an artist, she began studying and working with polymer clay. She retired from her day job in July 2010 after 41 years of public service in government and nonprofit agencies in Montgomery County, MD. She then helped to establish the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery and Music Room in the Silver Spring Civic Building in downtown Silver Spring, MD, serving as manager from 2010-2012.
Her medium, polymer clay, is a man-made substance that begins as blocks of solid colored clay-like material. The clay colors blend just like blending paints. Like many polymer clay artists, Fran uses a pasta machine to condition the clay, to blend colors, and to achieve complex designs. Her work is unusual because of what is not there. There is no paint. All of the colors come from the clay itself. The focus is not only on blending the various color clays, but also manipulating the results to express the themes of the pieces. Fran’s work includes pieces designed to be hung on the wall like bas relief as well as sculptures intended to be displayed on a pedestal or shelf. The works that hang on the wall are presented without glass in the frame, allowing the viewer to see the intricacies of the designs.
Fran’s work is shown regularly at Foundry Gallery, a cooperative, artist-run gallery in Washington, DC, where she served as president from 2014-2018. She also speaks to local artist groups about how to get their artwork into galleries and exhibits. Her work, in competition with more traditional mediums, has been juried into and won awards in numerous exhibits in the greater DC metropolitan area as well as in other parts of the country including Brooklyn, NY. Naples, FL, Baton Rouge, LA and Wichita, KS.
Fran’s artwork also has been juried into national exhibits of polymer clay art in Lexington, MA in 2010 and in St. Paul, MN in 2013. In May 2014, her piece titled “Warmth of the Fire” won Best in 2D Art in the International Polymer Clay Awards competition that included entries from artists around the world. That piece is now in the collection of Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin.
In January 2020, Fran celebrated 20 years of working with polymer clay. She continues to explore the possibilities of this remarkably versatile material.