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  • Writer's pictureKOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH

"Everything has its pros and cons" • Lucy Štruncová

She started young. Lucy Štruncová was only eleven when she discovered the charm of polymer clay she pursues to the present. Since then, she's spent more than half her life creating, teaching, and sharing know-how in the Czech Republic and abroad.

Immerse yourself in a new interview with talented artists we regularly publish on our blog and take inspiration from this story of a young artist. With Lucy, we discussed a balance between creating and entrepreneurship, beginnings in art, and the world polymer community, which jointly pushes the boundaries of possibilities and raises awareness about this material forward.

Hello Lucy. Do you remember your very first beginnings in fine arts? Were you, as children, encouraged to do any creative/artistic activities in the family? Did you take lessons at art school or something similar?

Hi! Yes, I have two younger siblings, and the three of us were exposed to art from a young age at art school and elementary art school as well. Besides, our mum has an incredible sense of art and design that she passes on all our life.

When you were little, did you like drawing, or do you recall having colored pencils just stored in a drawer and preferred working with clay, modeling clay, for example?

It was more drawing and painting, I guess. That's where everything begins. With time, I discovered other creative techniques in my childhood, such as the charm of paper and ceramics. I think I also played with modeling clay here and there, just a bit of everything.

How did you get to work with polymer clay?

Around ten years old, I caught a glimpse of polymer clay here and there, in a stationer's shop, at my friend's and cousin's place… till I persuaded my parents to bring me a few cubes of clay from Germany, the origin of the polymer.

It's been quite a ride since then. In the polymer community, we all agree that even though a person works for years with this material, there's still something to discover. Compared to other clay, the polymer is unique in its colorfulness, where the pigment is already added to the polymer base. Every creator can play with their own color palette or mix clay with other art media. Endless possibilities!

Personally, what do you enjoy the most about the polymer?

If a person has an imagination big enough, they can create anything that crosses their mind out of clay. For me, polymer clay is a medium that can embody my ideas, whether I need a product that is flexible or vice versa, firm, thin, thick, colorful, and even translucent. I like thinking and creating in 3D. After curing the clay in an electric oven at the right temperature, I can keep layering it and baking it again, playing with its shape as I need.

How do you create with polymer or any other clay? Before you start creating the physical form of some object or jewelry, do you sketch? What's your procedure?

Yes, unfortunately, I can't do otherwise anymore. “Unfortunately,” because it was easier in childhood but with a worse result (laugh). I sat at a table and created. After a few minutes or hours, I was done and moved on. Now I know what to do and how, and sometimes it takes weeks to reach a final result.

Sometimes, I have an idea in my head that I draw into a sketchbook and look for its most suitable variant. And sometimes, I don't have any and calmly sketch shapes of various kinds in space and perspective, which always helps me.

Which art supplies are a must-have in your atelier?

In addition to all polymer necessities, I'm partial to sketchbooks in black covers with quality paper. In our studio, we have several drawers reserved for colored and classic pencils, and other Koh-i-noor products, and we all enjoy working with them!

I have a soft spot for watercolor pencils, with which you can splendidly switch from drawing to painting, and sketching with them is very quick. For my polymer work, I like acrylic paints, with which you can create beautiful motifs on polymer clay using silk-screen printing. Acrylic paints from Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth are beautifully rich and dry very quickly on polymer clay, which doesn't always apply to other brands.

Will you tell us something about your story and the creation of Polymer Week? I know you started entrepreneurship in the art field as a student. I think your journey could be motivating and inspiring for many young people.

Everything has its pros and cons. I'm very grateful for discovering my passions at an early age, which soon grew into entrepreneurship. But I don't like setting it up as an example. I know how much it cost me and how much was sacrificed to the detriment of work. It wasn't completely worry-free.

But perhaps there's someone among us who has it or had it the same as me. Someone who, as a child, preferred building up and creating something to playing video games. Who had few friends, more time, and was able to spend it alone. It's how it went for me since I was eleven when I fell in love with polymer and enjoyed creating every day, discovering what polymer clay could do.

My hobby soon progressed into business, a family business, and, eventually, Polymer Week was created, a project that connects polymer enthusiasts, publishes, organizes international events, shares know-how and inspiration, and supports artists from all corners of the world. It means a great deal to me. I live and breathe it.

What would you say you enjoy the most from the wide range of projects you work on?

A bit of everything. In recent years, I switched from the handicraft to the work part, which mostly takes place only on the computer. I'll turn it around this year, I hope. It's time to create more and find the right balance so that everything would work exactly how it's supposed to, and at the same time, I would have enough room for my own work.

I like it when something new comes into existence, and I know it's only up to me to give it a shape and direction we, as a company, will take. It's an excitement and, at the same time, a responsibility for many things and people around.

Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs who are just starting?

Be able to distinguish between what's worth saying to others and what's, on the contrary, better to keep to yourself. Sometimes we feel that the more people we tell it to, the more support and understanding we get. Quite often, however, it's the other way around. Sometimes it's better to work in silence and save your energy and determination for your ideas and dreams.

You work with artists from around the world. If you had to say which work or artist took your breath away, which knocked you flat on your ass, as they say, who would it be?

I had a lot of role models as a child, and, with shining eyes, I watched artists from abroad doing magic with polymer and inventing their own techniques for creating jewelry, sculptures, handbags, paintings, and furniture.

In recent years it surprisingly changed. No more am I that impressed by concrete people and their work. What gets me is the humbleness and behavior that the top artists in this field either have or don't. And if we're on the same page, it's almost impossible not to become friends :).

And you, which of your works do you value the most?

Again, I can't answer, but it's because each of my works depicts some part of my life, and when I look back, I recall concrete moments and situations that were happening in that period. It's hard to choose the best one. It's yet to come :).

How large is approximately the community of people who fell for polymer clay?

In the Czech Republic, possibly only a few dozen people know each other and share a love for the polymer. But worldwide, thousands of creative souls found each other either in local classes and workshops or online. Many new people heard about polymer in the last two years thanks to social networks. Unfortunately, it's also a matter of time how long it will last for new creators.

I firmly believe we're going in the right direction as a community. People change, come and go, but the core of the community full of polymer lovers is beautiful. Everyone inspires and educates each other about the possibilities of this material we jointly push forward.

I know you draw a lot of energy you need for your exacting program in nature. Is it where you come up with your work concepts?

Yes, I think so, but there are days when I can't get out much, and I'm forced to think up as I go along. But outside, it's the very best. It's very relaxing for me just to walk in the fields and forest. Something always enthralls or inspires me, whether for art itself or business. I have it all quite connected.

Actually, I wish to appeal to it a lot. It's rarely talked about among people and young people. Everyone clears their head differently, but during the last busy weeks, I suddenly strongly felt how things were changing in my head for the worse. I plan longer walks daily, primarily when I work the rest of the day. And I feel every time much much better!

You also like traveling. Is there any country that completely enthralled you?

Scotland and Edinburgh, always! It's like a journey back in time to places today within architecture so beautifully and effortlessly connected. Nothing hits you in the eye, and that just warms the cockles of every perfectionist's heart :).

What are your plans for the coming year?

Huge! And I have absolutely no idea if I'll manage them, but I'm going for it with a smile and clear-headedness. After years I know how to. Often, I tell myself that it's only in my head and my management skills. No more do I break down over things that much, and I can fight for what's important. It wasn't that easy before, and it hurt a lot.



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