Making the most with her hands

Rebecca Martinez loves creating with polymer clay
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal features editor
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Rebecca Martinez doesn’t do dainty. Sure, you can fit one of her polymer clay creations in your hand, but those seemingly small pieces pack a wallop. “It’s not for everybody,” Martinez said of her polymer clay jewelry. Martinez said some people expect their jewelry to be fine, delicate. Her creations don’t fit that profile. “It’s more for a bigger person,” she said. Martinez creates many of her necklaces in sets. “If you wanted to wear all three and be out there and flamboyant, the polymer clay is light enough that you could do that,” she said. Martinez is one of three September featured artists at the Auburn Old Town Gallery — also in the spotlight are Jan Rosenberg and Judith Monroe. Stop by the Auburn Old Town Gallery and check out Martinez’s new collection, “Artifacts,” which she said is based on relics from the past and inspired by retablos, which are Latin American devotional paintings. “I guess I was looking for some sort of spiritual meaning, and looking to your past is a good way to do that,” she said. Martinez, a Colfax resident who works in Auburn, has been a member of the Auburn Old Town Gallery for three years. She’s been working with polymer clay for about a decade. It all started with a workshop. While her hands took a beating — the clay isn’t necessarily easy to work with — Martinez was hooked. “It’s very therapeutic,” she said. “I really never intended to choose it as my medium.” Being able to work with her hands — “These are your best tools right here,” she said — is just one of the many aspects Martinez appreciates about working with polymer clay. “You can blend them and get almost any color you want,” she said. “You can file it, drill it, sand it, polish it. It’s just so versatile. It’s very easy to cure, you don’t need a kiln, you don’t need a glaze.” Martinez is also a big fan of quilting, which, like the clay work, satisfies her interest in colors and design. “I love color,” she said. “I can honestly say I’ve never met a color I didn’t like, as long as it’s paired with its buddy.” Martinez said she never knows when and where an idea will surface. “We were cutting this rhubarb … it has this wonderful blend and you don’t think of beautiful colors when you go from green to red,” she said. “You never know where I’m going to find inspiration, but I just go with it.” Martinez’s clay creations range from $2 buttons to to jewelry that starts at $15 and goes up past $100. Angela Tahti, PlacerArts executive director, has owned a pair of earrings created by Martinez for a few years, and she wore them earlier this week. “The possibilities in polymer are endless and Rebecca has a great flair for color use,” Tahti said. “Much like the maker, her jewelry is colorful and light and fun.”