General Info
Retreats (national, regional)
Get-togethers, mini-"retreats"
Special Shows



There are all kinds of polymer clay retreats, conferences, and other get-togethers held by various groups. 
...The National Polymer Clay Guild has large ones, usually held annually or bi-annually. These are called conferences or retreats, depending on their structure and fees (all instruction included, or pay basic fee then pay separately for each class).
...Some of the regional guilds have either large or smaller retreats/conferences --sometimes it's not clear what they offer structure or fee-wise without specifically checking it out.
...Individuals from regional guilds (or anyone) sometimes do small “mini-retreats” which can be organized at any time (see below for “impromptu” retreats which can be held at in-between convenient geographical areas or just at a local motel …for any individual clayers who want to attend).

Attending a huge polymer clay event is an unforgettable experience.
...Your brain is overloaded almost immediately, but somehow you keep absorbing more than you ever thought you could (even if you are a relative newbie).
...There are people you've met only on the internet, names you only know from books and magazines, plus a lot of people who don't spend much time on line (*gasp*) so they aren't familiar names.
...Not only are there classes, but there are lectures and slide presentations and exhibits and a store (at some events).
...You don't hear the television or the radio or see a newspaper for a week - that alone practically makes it worth the price!
...If this sounds overwhelming, start with a smaller bite to whet your appetite.... many regional guilds host weekend retreats at very reasonable costs... They're much more low-key than a conference, but there are new people to meet, names you recognize, and lots of great polymer clay stuff to learn and share. Irene

National Polymer Clay Guild
......has more info on some specific retreats and conferences from this page:
......they also list some "classes" and some "workshops"--which they define as one-day or more-than-one-day classes held by a particular guild with a single teacher who has usually traveled to the guild)
.."Polymer conferences and retreats (organized by the National Guild, at least) are very different birds.
Conferences (like Ravensdale and The Muse) are organized into structured classes guided by  marvellous teachers.
Most retreats (like ShrineMont) are structured mainly by the dinner bell (no pre-organized classes), though of course scheduled demos are offered by the participants, and there are a few organized activities such as the Raffle and the Silent Auction  (they are principally for clayers to have unbroken space/time in which to work, share ideas, and be inspired). 
Both kinds of events are wonderful, and they are quite different: for me,
.....a retreat is a place to explore techniques I already know;
.....a conference is a place to acquire new ones
.....Of course there is overlap -- many of the other artists at a retreat are highly skilled and generous with their techniques; and conversely there is time to sit and work and integrate what you learn at a conference. (I've heard conferences described as trying to drink from a firehose; but I find retreats extremely stimulating too.).
.....We also hope to find members who would like to put together NPCG retreats in other parts of the country;
and we hope to put national conferences every other year. . . but that is still on the drawing board" Georgia Sargeant 

During the Arrowmont conference, I wanted so badly to go but it wasn't an option then.
.. So I decided the best way to deal with it was to do my own clay conference at home.
.... I gave myself permission to spend as much time as possible claying for the duration of the conference. An "I'm not going to Arrowmont" swap had started up and I signed on.
....Now my story gets interesting because I swear it felt like the universe was trying to help me. . . . I was a woman on a mission! I lived polymer clay and especially Liquid Sculpey for most of my waking hours! The whole basis for everything I've done since then, a lot of my basic LS techniques, germinated in that window of time. might want to try something like that. ...And the swap idea is still great. The work that was produced for that one was especially inspired.. Jody B.

STUFF TO BRING (prob. more info on this below too)
...I actually just finished writing a story on what a first-time conference attendee should bring and expect. It probably won't run until after this big conference, but I can pass on a few bits of info that I heard over and over from people.
.....Bring earplugs, comfortable shoes, a seat cushion, alarm clock, special food if you have dietary needs (or make arrangements in advance for that food to be available), ditto on your medicines, band-aids and first-aid ointment, table cover, extra towel, special soap if you need it, personal pllow, Walkman and headphones. (Most of these involve personal comfort, which is what most people apparently do not consider when they are packing.)
......In addition, empty Rubbermaid container to store unfinished work, small containers (a daily pill dispenser is fantastic for small amounts of powers).
......When you get there: remember that your 10 pm may be someone else's 1 am, so try to be considerate about noise.
......Last but not least, exercise that right arm before you go because pasta machine motors are generally not allowed and you are going to have to get out that hand crank again. Cassy
.. keep a journal ...bring a digital or analog camera ... and personal or business cards so you don't have to keep writing out your info. Seth
... and bring twice as many as you think you'll need.
........Add to that, some swap items. Swapping goes on all over the place. They don't have to be big and fancy items, just something small and well done i.e. tiny pins or pendants, colorful beads, small covered tins, etc. Some people hesitate to bring things because they believe they are not advanced enough for anyone to want to trade with them. Well, come on by my table, I'll swap for anything! Dotty
...bandaids are also useful for the blisters on my heels from not wearing the REALLY comfortable shoes!)
.......other must-haves: a week's supply of Ambien (for sleeping) I get too wired and I need my sleep! ...a phone card or money for phone calls, money for coin-op washers if you want to pack fewer clothes, and either take some laundry soap or plan to get some on campus. and my credit card because the opportunities you have for buying the work of other polymer clay artists at the store (and auction) is not to be missed! And swapping, too! Sherry

a table cover is for the community room. Every person who is enrolled at EoPC has a spot to work, if he or she wants it. When you hit the sack at night, it might be a good idea to cover your work area. Cassy?

some work stations (surfaces, clay, tools, etc.) in use... at Shrinemont


(see more"conferences" below in "Retreats")

Ravensdale is a week-long event that will be held in the Seattle area next August. It is generally held every 2 years.
... There are workshops, sales rooms, artist displays, a work area for every person and we will be at a college with individual dorm rooms.
....Many of the most well-known polymer artists attend and many of these teach classes.
...I went to Ravensdale for the first time several years ago. It was an intense week of learning, laughing and claying. I would not miss it for the world. ...You have a year and could begin saving your money now! jayne
...The actual figures aren't out there, but I'd plan on something along the lines of $650 (more or less) for room and board for the week and then more for your classes and the Ravenstore. For myself, I usually plan on $800-1000 for each R'dale to cover room, board, store, classes, and anything else that may crop up. I usually come in underbudget, but if I see something awesome in the store, I want to be prepared. These figures are not carved in stone but a ballpark figure. caneguru
...At my first R'dale (1998), I took constant classes and exhausted myself. In 2002, I paced myself better. A couple full day classes, but also some days with either a half day open (to play in the community work area or take pictures) or maybe some demos. Half day class + demo is a good way to go too. Not too exhausting. You have to remember to rest and to eat, or by the end of the week you can be a real mess. I also deliberately schedule in a day off after the event, so that maybe, just maybe, I will get unpacked and get a little rest in before returning to work. In '98, I didn't completely unpack my clay stuff for weeks. LOL! caneguru
...Both Tory Hughes and Marie Segal are offering "beginners-start-up" classes at Ravensdale 2003. Tory and Marie are expecting absolute beginners in their classes and will bring you along at a reasonable pace - with no pressure to create "great" artworks in class. They are excellent teachers and I can't think of a better way to get a good foundation in polymer clay. Quite a few other Ravensdale classes are geared towards beginning and/or all levels of students. Frequently you can learn a new technique without being required to have a lot of experience beforehand. Linda
...We're expecting somewhere between 120 and 150 students for Ravensdale 2003. Twenty two instructors will be teaching, including Debbie Anderson, Meredith Arnold, Jody Bishel, Dan Cormier, Jeff Dever, Dayle Doroshow, Katherine Dewey, Gwen Gibson, Lindly Haunani, Tory Hughes, Susan Hyde, Patricia Kimle, Judy Kuskin, Margaret Maggio, Barbara McGuire, Ann & Karen Mitchell, Nan Roche, Marie Segal, Judith Skinner (inventor of the Skinner Blend!), Sarah Shriver, Pier Voulkos and Elise Winters. Some of these folks are "big names" already, others are on their way up - it's a nice mix of teachers and classes. Linda

Keep in mind that it's a good idea to pace yourself.. .whether it's your first time or not.
...It might be tempting to squeeze in as many classes as possible, but past a certain point, you may find yourself suffering from mental vapor lock, totally unable to take in another idea. The way my schedule at the Muse worked out, I taught for five days straight and I was very tired by the end of it. As the week wore on, I could see that my students were having a harder time too, so I tried to slow down and choose my words well so they could absorb them. Trina

The workroom is a wonderful place to relax, meet people and learn an incredible amount about polymer from your fellow clayers.
....... It gets really interesting after the first batch of classes are over and everybody brings in what they have been working on!
...So take care of yourself, sleep well, fuel your body and when you feel yourself getting punchy, go out and watch the clouds for a while. Jody
...Take some fundamental classes and a few demos. I usually take one or two full day and a half day and some demos. You actually learn a whole lot just by being in the workroom with the others. Lots of impromptu demos there. Trina

lots of info on what it's going to be like at "Courting The Muse" ("a conference") 
The 2001? 2000? Muse was fantastic. Bryn Mawr College is gorgeous -- "educational cathedral gothic" I think somebody called it, but Jody Bishel had it on target -- she called it "Hogworts!" (Harry Potter fans will know exactly the ambience implied!) Huge old trees draping to the ground with pruned caverns underneath sheltering benches. Stone buildings with carved owls here and there. Pointed arches everywhere. Huge metal studded carved oak doors. Really amazing. 
The food was good. The rooms were in dorms, and were fine considering that. (At least they had AC, more than MY dorm had!) (It was hot and horribly humid -- especially Saturday when the humidity was inches deep and accompanied by at least two witnessed lightning strikes!) 
The hills and stairs were hard -- it was an exhausting week, physically, and almost as much so (for me anyway) emotionally! (It's wearing to be all fired up for seven solid days!)  But of course the polymer clay was The Best!
I had classes with Gwen Gibson (silk screening on clay), Pier Voulkos (tube beads and clasps), Jody Bishel (Liquid Sculpey), and Susan Hyde (elaborate canes.) All were great and to varying degrees, things I intend to continue to use, now that I know how.
 Almost as much fun was wandering around asking "how did you do that?" which got me at least as much new information and tips as the classes! If you have never been to a retreat or other event, be aware that the mixing and mingling is really wonderful as everybody shares what they know. (And sometimes will even swap their work for your work!) 
The evening programs were pretty good -- Tracy Holmes (Dan Cormier's significant other) once again MC'd and (being an improvisational actress) was hilarious!
The Friday auction was great for me at least -- you probably heard my ear-splitting shriek wherever you were when my bid won the Cynthia Toops pin I so desperately wanted! Sherry Bailey 

The Evolution of Polymer Clay (Created through science, Explored by all ages, And elevated by Artists!)
June 20th – June 27th, 2004 in San Diego, CA



What a week it was! I went to Shrinemont based on the encouragement I received from all of you and have to say "thanks!" I've been claying for only five months and didn't know a soul when I got there, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience.
.......Most people were so friendly, and very willing to share their expertise with interested newbies.
......The setting was beautiful, the food was good and even my bed was comfortable!
.......The question now is, "Can I actually put into practice everything I learned?" I feel like the boy in the Gary Larson cartoon who raises his hand in class and asks, "Mr. Osborn, may I be excused? My brain is full."   Carolyn
...I only wish finances would have allowed me to take the time off and be able to afford to attend Shrinemont again this year too. I really like the laid-back interaction of it! But, I'm so looking forward to my first structured event too...Jean/PA  


Chicago Area Polymer Clay Guild Annual Retreat ..... October, outside Chicago
...can go for the weekend or a long weekend
.... my daughter invited me to join the CAPCG's clay retreat ...It was a most wonderful weekend.
...I have  done a few clay things but nothing like the people there were doing. I felt very inadequate (at first) but was told by all of the people there that they had all started somewhere, and with a lot of practice they got where they are today.
They shared their experiences and mistakes. They showed me from beginning to end how they  created their beautiful beads, eggs, transfers, blending clay,  mixing colors, smoothing the clay, sanding, buffing, and on and on.
One gal gave me a beautiful bead, another a xmas ornament,  another the rest of a face cane, another 2 gold pens to cover,  and a some gave baked cane pieces to look at when I came home and much more but most of all they gave me encouragement.
I moved from Chicago to a retirement area in Tennessee. There are not any clay people here so I depend on my computer to find out more about this medium. I really like the web sites that give a "how to" for their projects, and after the clay retreat I now know what they are showing me. I hope someday you can have the really great experience that  I was privileged to enjoy.  Diana R.

Clay ConneCTion (Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild) 
...The CT retreat is 3 days every two years. We have demonstrations galore - Jody Bishel, Marie Segal, Leigh Ross,& Dawn among other wonderful artists gave demos and answered questions. The demos were ***FREE*** !!
Also, videos were on hand and you could wander around and ask people about techniques. We played with clay from the early AM until as late as you wished - sometimes people stayed past 1 AM. It was wonderful. I don't know if all retreats run the same way. H2OBaby

Karen Lewis (Klew) often has a retreat in Arizona

Sandy Camp is held in Southern California (a four or five day seminar)
... Sandy camp is put on by the San Diego Polymer Clay guild. It began in 1999 I believe and has been going great guns ever since. It's also comfortable rooms and beds in a beautiful deserty/mountain area located between San Diego and the Inland Empire. It's filled with clay demos and tutes, and a wonderful chance to see what all everyone else is doing. Check out the 2003 Sandy Camp at: ...So if you have a chance, by all means join us. We always have a great time! DottyinCA
...Sandy Camp is several days in the southern california sun with tequila, (chocolate), clay, kindred spirits and LOTS of laughter. you will come back worn out from being renewed!! sunni
...This year (2004) there will be a new, very large square tent covering 2/3 of a tennis court, equipped with enough electricity to light up a small city. We'll have a couple of 10' by 20' Easy-Up tents for the demonstrations. There will be the Family Feast on Saturday night. The rooms will be at a better rate, $98.10 per room (tax included) - and as many as four people can share the room. If you don't have anyone to room with, the facility can put you into rooms with someone and you will make new friends! Each room has a small fridge and a fireplace - you can buy wood or bring your own Presto logs. There will be plenty of food available in the Clay Tent, since you you can bring your own munchies, and the resort has an excellent restaurant. The café across the street is great. The resort offers the hot springs and two Olympic-sized pools fed with the spring water. A hot soak after a long clay day is fantastic. DottyinCA

Clay Camp in Washington state... Northwest Polymer Clay Guild (members + others if space available)
...The big craze this time was making our own texture sheets, (great fun!), and covering branches in polymer! Last year we covered rocks, so, now we are getting REALLY sophisticated...  ;). . .  People on The RAVE exhibit committee for Ravensdale decided to use the branches as display devices for The RAVE, so you'll see them all at Ravensdale 2000. They are actually very beautiful and amazing. Meredith

Orlando Clay Fandango (Orlando Polymer Clay Guild) ....(formerly Florida in February)
4-5 days in September ... Lake Yale in Leesburg, Florida
...can be used as a retreat only, or pay more and attend the workshops (if space available)

Polydelphia ... Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild... May!%202007.htm,GGLC:1969-53,GGLC:en&q=Polydelphia+clay

Maureen Carlson's retreat center near Minneapolis Minnesota. She offers classes there and has a bed and breakfast type dorm upstairs. It is very nice! I have stayed there! ... Jenny Pat
..."Our facilities are available for individual or group retreats or day activities. Plan your own retreat or sign up for an activity planned just for you. These could be Sisters Weekends, Friend Get-aways, Mother and Daughter Weekends, or Interest-related groups."

One of the Colorado guilds also holds a seminar too. Dotty

... 3rd Annual Retreat at Daytona Beach, FL

ClayAThon (Columbia Gorge Polymer Clay Guild)... no longer being held?
2-day, open, clay event, featuring demos, work time, sales, etc. 


I just heard yesterday from Alison Gallant that the BPCG (British Polymer Clay Guild) have set the polydays dates for next year. It will be 4-6 April, 2003, and will be at Loughborough University again. Costs for accommodation and workshop will be £170. It was great fun, and I'm sure the next one will be just as good! . . . . If you want to see some picys of the last polydays I have them stored at the Yahoo ukpolyclay e-group You do have to be a yahoo member and join the uk group to see them though. Shelley McLoughlin

Impromptu, or Mini retreats

Clayers could arrange to meet somewhere in-between their cities-towns for a bit of claying time, at someone's house, or in a motel room/suite.

What a great idea. . .an impromptu retreat! 
The cost would only be the hotel room and food.  Humm this is an idea with some possiblities!   Dawn:)   

The hotel idea is fantastic. T'would be similar to a little sleep-over party w/clay! …Lol. . .  It sounds like fun! Braysgirl   

I'd say we all get rooms at the same hotel then we can pick one room to clay in.
....we could come up on a Friday, and stay one or two nights... what do you all think?  Tess

Anyone else out there in the vicinity who might want to do this? Tess
.....(ask around in the various online polymer groups

I think our first order of business should be to rough out a bit of a time period for this gathering to take place.
....Do we want to spend a day doing this, or *days*?
....Also, we need to agree on *when* we are going to meet. 
....Once we have these important details decided, we will be able to gauge how many people will attend.
Then, we can move on to make a bit of a tenative schedule for what type of claying, crafting, etc. we want to do. Meghan :)

I"m thinking of looking for places we could stay for days -cheap
... girl scout camps sometimes rent, or other similar places. Tess
....I'll get in touch with theChamber of Commerce, and see if there are any facilities like a Civic Center, (or a library,) or someplace else with a room & tables we can rent, or even get for free. ...It would be bigger than trying to clay in a motel room
...... they might also know about a place we could stay cheaper. It's worth a try! Tess
..How about checking with the motels? ....some of them have meeting rooms availible. Jenny P. 
..or check and see if any of the motels have suites.  ...You could rent the suite, and everyone could chip in the difference in the cost. Some motel suites are quite large.  Of course it will depend on how many of you actually get together, if you will all fit into a suite. Jenny P.
...We might consider finding somewhere (like some vacation spots) where we could rent a wee cottage or something like that. -It might turn out to be a bit less expensive then staying in a hotel, and I think the entire experience would be much nicer. Braysgirl

I have an RV I can drive up there... that would save a little on hotel bills since it can sleep 6 fairly comfortably. Earthmother

Of course, the participants don’t have to be far away from each other!
.....clayers in the same area could simply all go to a motel for a weekend together, and do all the same things, just to have some time to go away and just clay, clay, clay…

I have a group of friends in a 3-4 state area that tries to get together for a clay day whenever we can.
...sometimes it's all of us... sometimes just a few of us.

If one of us has something specific we'd like to do... we try to build a project around it.
...we kind of make a list of everything we'd LIKE to do during our visit.. prioritize it... and then try to do everything on the list.
...BUT... we do it at our own quixotic pace... and if we don't manage everything on the list, no biggie. One or two of us may go off on a tangent and work on something completely different too... it's all a learning experience. We stay pretty casual and wander off on field trips, or take naps.
...I think we get more done and go away more satisfied on the visits where we work at something new though. Excitement gets VERY high... and very contagious... when you catch on to a new thing. it's amazing to watch how different people treat a new technique... seeing what comes out of someone else's creativity well is an amazing thing in itself. Joanie

I am on fun overload!! I just got back from a Polymer Clay Marathon with 2 friends of mine... It was SO GOOD!
...we met in Virginia at one's girl's house, and did nothing but play with clay for 4 solid days!
......(we did take one day off and go to the new Polymer Clay Express store WOW-- they have EVERTHING!)
how we set up our marathon:
.....we each brought a "Top 10" list of techniques or canes we'd been wanting to try
.....we told each other ahead of time clays needed for each ...and pre-conditioned all clays so no fun time would be wasted!
.....if a technique on your Top 10 list called for inks or other "special ingredients", you had to bring enough for everyone
....we didn't get to all of those on the list by the time we were through, but we got a lot of them done.
..There was one major rule...NO COOKING ALLOWED! --only quick foods! ...pre-washed salads, lunchmeats wine, ice cream & chocolate, and coffee.
..What a blast!!! We got so much done. We DID NOT want to stop! There was one day when we never made it out of our PJ's. We started early and went until we were so tired we had the giggles.
..It brings out so much creativity! ......I highly recommend you try this
..If no one in your group has a house big enough, rent a motel room for a few days.
..We are already setting up our next was a long drive for me --but so worth it! Gail in Ohio

How about having a sort of virtual reality, Internet retreat??
....One of the participants could open up a yahoogroup (or one could be available for mini-retreats all the time and be operated like a time share, erasing all previous photos), announce the retreat and what might be on the agenda, then everyone could participate for periods of time by e-mail and posting photos.
....These could be on a single topic, or be just as a general get-something-finished-with-friends-and-help . . .and a time limit! Maybe think of it like a lo-ong chat <g>. Diane B.

Actually now there can be webcam viewing + chat between two or more people
... each person who has a webcam can broadcast to all others images of what they're doing
... and everyone can either text chat (with a messenger service) or actually speak via computer.
(see Groups-Online > Chats for more on using webcams with YahooMessenger, etc.)


A 3-day show for beads, buttons, polymer clay, handmade jewelry, and embellished wearables. . . . see, learn and shop (in the exhibit hall…more than 100 vendors from across the country selling finished art projects, necklaces, clothes, findings, one-of-a-kind handmade art objects, instructional books, craft supplies), as well as attending classes on all these topics, plus special exhibits, contests, lectures, free demos, tours

(see also Groups--Guilds, Creating Interest/Finding People, )