Did you make it to You Can Make It? by Joy Funnell

Petra and Stuart – our wonderful hosts

“Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, the best weekend ever” “I’ve been to lots of metal clay conferences but this one stood out for me for the warmth and enthusiasm of the delegates” “It was just magical, everyone was so welcoming and friendly” “When I left I felt like I’d walked back through the door from Narnia” “I learnt so much and made so many new friends, and was still buzzing when I got home”

These are just a few of the comments from the attendees of the inaugural ‘You can make it’ event, who left at the end of the weekend feeling inspired, happy and with lots of new friends!

The YCMI Conference Tutors

You Can Make It 2017 took place in Wareham, Dorset, UK on the 24th – 26th March 2017. It was the brainchild of Petra Cameron Wennberg and was organised by her company Metal Clay Ltd. When Petra first approached me in 2016 to see if I might be interested in teaching at it I jumped at the chance. There hadn’t been any kind of large metal clay gathering in the UK for quite a few years and we were long overdue one. Petra was quite clear. She wanted to organise an event, but to be sure they could make the pricing viable they were asking if the tutors would be prepared to give their time for free – of course I said yes, and so did everyone else! We certainly weren’t going to miss out on it.

And so it was that I arrived by train with a very big heavy suitcase (lots of tools, very few clothes!) and a great sense of excitement on the Thursday to set up ready for teaching. There had been various ticket options available, one of which included staying on the Thursday night before everything kicked off with the optional Masterclasses on Friday. I expected to see a few others checking in but people were arriving en masse! It turned out about 80% had decided they were not going to miss a thing either. There was much hustle and bustle as rooms were readied and transformed into workshops and the full Metal Clay Ltd team of staff were on hand, ably lead by Petra and Stuart, making sure we had everything we needed. After dinner, the bar area was buzzing.

With large tables and lots of seating areas, everyone was soon getting to know each other. Newcomers, old hands, those who had arrived with a slight fear at not knowing anyone else, soon all were mixing and chatting, and that was one of the most amazing things. Since the last UK conference, social media has grown apace. So many people actually did ‘know’ other people, as ‘friends’ on Facebook in the YCMI 2017  group. Walking around there was much checking of name badges and shrieks of laughter with  ‘Ohh…you’re so and so’, and that really set the tone for the whole conference. No one was excluded or made to feel uncomfortable, all were welcomed with open arms.

Friday started off with a full English buffet breakfast (the food was lovely all weekend!) and then straight into Masterclasses. There were six full-day workshops; Anna Mazon – Night Scene Pendant; Tracey Spurgin – New Mokume Gane; Julia Rai – Adding Colour to Metal; Carol Douglas – Marine Mammals; Wanaree Tanner – Spinning Mandala Earrings; Joy Funnell (me!) – The Missing Link, chain making. Beautiful pieces were made on all the classes and there were many excited people by the time they finished who were amazed at what they had just created!

Julia Rai’s Master Class

At the end of the day the conference proper started so everyone had to finish promptly to make sure we were all there for the Welcome Reception. With complimentary drinks in hand we all listened as Stuart welcomed everyone. We had nearly 100 attendees from around the globe! From furthest afield were Kuniaki Iwahasi and Dice Minagawa of Aida Chemical Industries Co. Ltd, the makers of Art Clay, who had come all the way from Japan. Aida were one of the main sponsors of the conference and not only was Kuniaki teaching workshops and giving demonstrations throughout the weekend, but Aida had also very generously given all the metal clay and other materials for the workshops!

Other attendees came from the USA, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Cyprus and of course the United Kingdom. There was much clapping and cheering as each country was called and people popped up to be identified.  Petra then gave a short, but very thought provoking, keynote speech on Fact or Myth. Raising the question on if we know what is fact and what is myth (or possibly personal opinion) when it comes to techniques, tools, materials, and products. Definitely something we should all think about when posting our thoughts online, especially with all the new metal clay products we’ve seen in the last few years. Many of them require experience, or experimentation, or maybe that we ask the retailer or manufacturer for advice (or give them a chance to rectify any problem), before posting something negative online!!  As we headed off to dinner we were each given a goody bag, and wow…it was stuffed FULL of wonderful things!!! They included a limited edition template from Cool Tools, metal clay from Prometheus, a complimentary copy of Making Jewellery Magazine, Efco samples and texture mat, Town talk polishing cloth and lots of other fun stuff all presented in a gorgeous printed linen bag supplied by Metal Clay Ltd. After dinner some people headed back to the masterclass workshops to do more finishing up and then of course, it was more socialising and proudly showing off creations.

Carol Douglas’s Masterclass
Wanaree Tanner’s Masterclass

The format for Saturday and Sunday was shorter hands-on sessions and talks/demonstrations. There was an amazing amount of choice with fourteen hands-on sessions each about three hours long and nineteen hour long talks/demos over the two days. As well as the tutors who had taught on the Friday, sessions were also given by Kuniaki Iwahashi, Anna Campbell, Grainne Reynolds, Leigh Armstrong, Kim Paige, Amberlee Gurr, Shayna Bowles and Petra Cameron. The hands-on sessions included Fuchsia paper clay earrings, Adding Colour, Bezel Making, ACS950 Rings, 3D Butterfly, Ceramics with metal clay, Playing with Paper type, Make your own stamp, Soldering, Magical Moulds, Efco Enamels and Design. Phew!

Saturday evening also saw a Meet the Makers round table event with more demos and a chance to talk to various tutors about their work and how they create it, and of course lots of amazing work was on display to be ogled at! Then there was the charm swap!!! Well that had already got to frenzied level in the Facebook group before anyone even arrived! The most amazing and inventive charms had been created and were swapped, (Wanaree said “best charm swap ever!”) and some resorted to little pots of jam and Nutella, and even IOUs to ensure they got some swapping done!!!! I came home with the most wonderful collection of charms that I’ll be turning into a mobile to hang up and inspire me when I’m working 😀 Maybe I’ll add my little jam and Nutella pots too once they are empty!

Shirley won the kiln!

All through the conference there was a Market Place where Metal Clay Ltd were joined by Shangrila Gems, Elsilver, Silhouette and Efco, so there were LOTS of wonderful goodies to buy. And of course no conference would be complete without a raffle or even two! Yes, we had two and they really got everyone very excited. Firstly was a handmade bracelet with a charm made by each of the tutors – fourteen charms in total. The second raffle was also awesome. Prometheus had not only sponsored by giving clay for the goody bags and two of their PRO 7 kilns to be used at the workshops, but they had also donated one of those to be a raffle prize!!! There was much discussion all weekend as to who would win the kiln – and there were also many other fantastic prizes in the draw including 50g packs of Art Clay Silver from Aida and Metal Clay Ltd and a Stampmaker kit from Photocentric. Both raffles raised an amazing £1,390 for charity and some people went home super happy with their winnings!!!

Tricia won the bracelet!

As the event drew to a close on Sunday afternoon there were many goodbyes and even a few tears. It was obvious to see that long lasting friendships had been created and everyone was keen to know – will there be a YCMI in 2018? As for Petra and Stuart and their team who worked so tirelessly throughout the event, everyone was in awe at what they had created and all the hard work they put in. Kudos to them all, I know I speak for all when I say we are very grateful to you for creating such a magical event. And events like these just do not happen without significant financial support and generous sponsors and contributors so a huge thank you to Metal Clay Ltd, Art Clay, Prometheus, Pebeo, Town talk, Efco, Photocentric, Metal Adventures, Making Jewellery Magazine, Docrafts, Cool Tools and Metal Clay Supply.

Will there be a YCMI in 2018? Well I have it on good authority there will be! If you are interested in going then make sure you sign up for the newsletter on the home page at www.youcanmakeit.co.uk and join the Facebook group ‘You Can Make It’ http://www.facebook.com/groups/YCMI2017 so you are one of the first to hear about it – it is sure to sell out very quickly!!! And if you want to see more photos from this year’s event just search for #ycmi on social media.

Joy Funnell
Joy is passionate about colours and textures in her work combining traditional enamel with silver to create vibrant, unique and fun pieces. She delights in the privilege of being able to impart knowledge to others. To see a rainbow will always bring a smile to her face. She tries to be – Joy by name and Joyful by nature.

Joy lives and works in Hastings, East Sussex, UK, and is known for her colourful ‘joyful’ work.  She teaches from her base, as well as nationally and internationally, and has taught at various metal clay and enamelling conferences around the world. Her award winning work has been featured in many magazines and publications.  www.joyfunnell.co.uk

6 Responses to “Did you make it to You Can Make It? by Joy Funnell”

  1. Cindy Sing

    Thank you Joy Funnell for such a wonderful article. Kudos to you!!! I also want to say thank you to Petra and Stuart and their team for all of their hard work and the contributors that made this wonderful symposium possible. #YCMI2027. It was so much fun with friends from Facebook meeting for the first time and also seeing other friends from symposiums over the years and reconnecting. It was a wonderful venue and a wonderful event.
    Bring it on YCMI 2018

  2. Tricia Marcotti

    Great write-up, Joy, everyone is still buzzing about the fantastic time we had. As for me, having won that beautiful bracelet, I have only received envious comments from everyone I’ve shown it to since the conference. Roll on next year!

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