Personality: Wendy Wallin Malinow

Each newsletter I'll interview a metal clay personality. Get to know this artisan and how they stay creative! A dose of inspiration!

Date started working in metal clay:

I think I started around 1999. My first class was with Celie Fago, at Embellishment in Portland, Oregon. Was completely hooked. A previous Ornament Magazine article in 1995 by Tim McCreight was where I first heard about metal clay coming to the US.

Accomplished in what media in addition to metal clay:

Have a fine art background in painting and sculpture. I'm not sure if I'm “accomplished” in these areas, but have made a pretty good living from watercolor, gouache, and pen and ink illustrations. Have done a fair amount of traditional metal fabricating techniques and also love to work with polymer clay and mix it all together.

Website and Short Bio

A very much under construction, fledgling site:,

Received BA in Art & Business, Lewis & Clark Colllege. Raised in a family of artists. My father was an architect and painter who always invited other architects and artists over for dinners and parties. First childhood encounter with hippy “love” beads. Also an art historian aunt who collected fantastic beads from many cultures. Our house was always kneedeep in art projects. Trained in drawing, painting, and sculptrure. Worked as an art director for about 10 years and freelanced illustration up to present. Have illustrated many fortune 500 campaigns, gift markets, and about 15 childrens books and gift books. Started working in polymer clay and metal around the late 80s. Designing jew- ellry with metal, polymer clay, and other mixed media became a way to continue sculpt- ing in a smaller format and further explore my lifelong fascination with beads and adornment. The arrival of metal clay was a fantastic new opportunity that allowed me to work in many new ways that I couldn?t before. Won three Saul Bell Design Competitions (two in PMC, one in Swarovski Create Your Style) and am currently a contender this year in the PMC category again. Have received other awards over the years, contrib- uted to many craft books, taught a few classes and shown in various galleries and mu- seums. Have recently joined permanent collections in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Newark Museum, and The Racine's Art Collection. Combining different media of varied values, lots of color, and different emotional connections into a piece that reso- nates to the viewer is my goal. Using old and new, expensive and cheap, silly or dark, hopefully forms complex layers of meaning and value.

What is your inspiration now? Do you have a muse?

Inspiration always seems to come at unexpected times and from so many different sources. It can come from my two wild boys who continually inspire me with their black & white, un-"sold out" vision of what is Art. I have two studios in the woods in Portland, Oregon with lots of windows looking out into several wooded acres, across from a big state park. Nature surrounds us and is a constant inspiration. Many friends inspire in different ways: their varied spirits, personalities, features, comments, their oral and written stories and anticdotes, their own artistic and musical projects. My husband's songs... Any kind of childrens' art - such freedom. Skiing, winter wonderlands.... nighttime star points of light and stardust... anything having to do with water, tidepools, especially diving and swimming in tropical, turquoise oceans.

Oh yeah, and Dr. Seuss, the Wizard of Oz, any zoo, trolls, human anatomy, weird sci- ence (4 MD/PhD 's in the family....), the "chaos" theory and resulting documentation visuals, anything retina/eyeball/spectrum of light, shiny objects, whether glittered, spangled, or icy, and always, always, candy.

I have had several personal muses in my life. My first was my father who was an architect and painter. As I get older, I increasingly realize what a really great artist he was. With his sketchbooks and journals, he truly lived the fully integrated artistic life. Also, my musician husband, Sebastian who comes from a very surreal South American heritage (think Garcia Marquez) and works in both music and visual arts. Another, a fellow art director, with whom I enjoyed about 17 years of artistic give and take - we completed each others' artistic ideas and concepts, like others complete each others' sentences. I so miss her, but still consider her to be a muse as in what would S think or come up with?

What is currently on your bench/workspace?

I don 't think my alloted column space allows for the extensive list of all of the stuff that exists on my bench and adjacent worktables. Even though I have two studios with a ton of space, my workspace seems always to be confined to about 24" square inches. Ugh. Please, someone needs to come dig me out...

Favorite things on my bench/drafting table: old, recently inherited jewelry/lapidary tools that belonged to my rockhound grandparents, a new redmax Nortel torch for glass, a new series of hollow metal clay forms that I 'm excited about, old metal pieces waiting to be reclaimed with ancestral connections dear to me, lots of rocks and shells for future inspiration, a pile of Oregon sunstone that I “mined” last year in a very remote corner of Oregon.... old arrowheads that my father found when he was young, polymer sculptures by a few colleagues that continually inspire me, a really weird collection of snowdomes, old anatomy drawings, strange antique lab equipment from my father in law, some hunks of lapis that a friend brought back from Chile, bones, various animal skulls, fragments of Native American beading, cougar and baby teeth, old antique, amazingly cut diamonds from Argentina, on and on....

What project/direction are you working on now?

The idea of closed, encapsulated narratives is still inspiring me. Working with hollow metal clay forms and filling with assorted objects, sculptural forms and layered images, texture and color into each form. Still working on merging illustrative images with three-dimensional forms.

How much time do you average at the bench each week?

My bench time wildly fluctuates each week. From zero to 60 hours, depending. I split my time between commercial illustration, jewelry, sculpture, and pizza (we own a restaurant). So maybe a bench average would be 20 hours a week - I wish more. I am trying to commit more time to jewelrymaking and recently opened an Etsy shop.

What is the average time that you spend on a piece?

Again, wildly varied times. From an hour to several weeks. I just finished an enamelled metal clay necklace for the Saul Bell Design Award competition that took about 2 whole weeks to complete. Also, ideas sometime seem to percolate for a long time before even beginning a piece.

Do you sell your work? Where?

I sell my work mostly to private collectors and friends. I'm not that prolific and could never be a production artist - I can 't make more than two of anything. I also have an Etsy shop (eyefun) that I'm slowly starting. Several times a year, I am part of a few group shows at the Mobilia Gallery in Massachusetts. Other venues are various museum and juried shows around the country and occasionally, internationally. I also have a studio open house once or twice a year.

Where do you get your new ideas?

(See above inspirations/muses) Many places, things, and people. A lot of my ideas seem to swirl continually around in my head - kind of a creative soup that occasionally spits out something. I have been questioned repeatedly about what goes on in my head and I really don 't know - things just pop out sometimes. I don 't have a grand, articulate explanation for it. I 'd like to say that every piece is well thought out and beautifully documented and rendered in my sketchbooks, but usually I do some chicken scratching and the pieces often eventually change completely from the original vision.

Do you keep a sketchbook and how do you organize it?

(see above) I have several sketchbooks going at once. Not too much organization, just lots of random sketches from life and the soup in my head. When I was a child, my father did not allow coloring books or pencils and erasers. I thought that was very unfair and uncool. Sketchbooks and inkpens were always available, though. My sketchbook imagery used to be very detailed and polished, when graded in art school! Now they are more stream of consciousness and very abbreviated - kind of a visual shorthand.

Are there places or things you avoid that zap your creativity?

Places of negativity come to mind like overhearing or being involved with a negative dialogue/conversation. That 's pretty draining. Although, some life experiences that were originally awful, might eventually emerge as powerful narratives. I can 't watch a lot of violence on the news and/or movies - violence seems to upset, shut down, and turn things to gray. When time gets too fragmented with too many obligations, I feel like I need re-energizing.

Do you have a ritual before you begin to create?

Wine? (kinda kidding...) I have to fuss around a bit in the studio to settle down. Maybe organize a little, or shuffle things around. Sometimes I go for a trail run. Yoga is always great. Skiing also helps, although the benefit is delayed since I 'm usually far from my studio (but not from my mountain cabin...) I also space some and drink some tea/ coffee. I put all kinds of stuff around me to inspire and then I say "OK, just do it". Over-used and corny (hey, I do live in Niketown, afterall), but I gotta say it.

What do you collect?

Besides what was already listed on my workspaces.... Big collection of snowdomes, probably about 1,000. Polymer clay objects from friends and colleagues. Huge collection of jewelry, from Cynthia Toops, Sherri Haab, Kathy Waterman, Susan Lenart Kazmer, Pier Voulkos, Robert Dancik, Kristin M Shiga, Pipa, Roberta & Dave Williamson, Lisa Fidler, Max Malinow, etc. etc. A collection of Native American objects like arrowheads, weavings, stone bowls and pestles, beading. I also collect shells and seaglass. OK, those are the ones that I'm going to mention. I'm a bit of a packrat. (did I mention a really big collection of shoes?)

How do you rejuvenate your creativity?

Usually yoga, dancing, and/or running. Going to shows and galleries - although I wish I went more often. Another big one is various art conferences and retreats. I love the PMC retreat for meeting kindred metal clay artists. Every summer I go to an artists' retreat in the Colorado mountains where we all work in a big open studio for a week. The energy of other artists always recharges me. I also enjoy teaching and taking classes at the Art & Soul Retreats and at various schools. I think I learn more from my students than they from me! I also meet semi-regularly with several groups of friends for art nights and escapades - they always inspire me. Portland has a wonderful. young and vital art community that continuouly inspires us old folks.

What would your perfect creative day be like?

I would wake up to fresh berry scones and espresso, made by my husband. There would be no school commutes. The sun would be out, filling my clean, fully stocked with supplies, and organized studio with wonderful light. No phones, or interruptions. Great playlist on my sound system. A full morning just to design and think, a gourmet lunch break and then a full afternoon of producing into the evening. After dinner, more late night work with hopefully one of several bands playing that I share studio space with. Heaven!

What's New in 3 of our Categories

Click on highlighted index categories to go see those website pages


Beading Supplies and Chains

  • Sticky Bead Mat
  • Caprice Sterling Bracelet

Books, Magazines and Calendars

  • Metal Clay Artist Magazine #3
  • Art Making & Studio Spaces
  • Simple Soldered Jewelry & Accessories
  • Compendium of Curiosities Idea Book
  • Polymer Clay Color Inspiration
  • Jewelry Inspirations with Sherrri Haab
  • Leather Jewelry
  • Where Women Create
  • Mixed Metal Jewelry with Mary Hettsmanberger
  • 500 Gemstone Jewels
  • Contemporary Copper Jewelry
  • 100 Ideas for Creative Reuse
  • Nature Inspired
  • Jewelry Inspiration
  • The Complete Book of Polymer Clay
  • Totally Twisted
  • Enchanted Adornments
  • Encyclopedia of Contemporary Jewelry Techniques
  • Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay & Wire Jewelry


  • Cindy’s Wire Weaving Finishing Technique
  • Claying Around with Lisa Pavelka
  • Simply Solder Techniques for Creating Swanky Soldered Art
  • Cold Connections and the Power of Found Objects
  • Exploring Resin Jewelry Making
  • Beaded Viking Knit Bracelet
  • Metalwork Making Cold Connections with Rivets
  • Metalwork Wire Fusing & Other Micro-Torch Techniques
  • Faux Bone Jewelry: Tools and Techniques


Win Tools, Supplies, Books, Clay and More

Did you know that we give away tools, books, clay and more, once a month on our blog, All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on any or all of our blog posts. We want to hear from you! Want more chances to win, all you have to do it Tweet it, Facebook it, and or put it on your blog and send us a link to and we’ll get you double the entries!

Yesterday we started the new challenge on our Master Muse blog. Barbara Becker Simon started off the challenge with a bang! The challenge for Barbara, Vickie Hallmark, Patrik Kusek, Angela Baduel-Crispin and Anne Mitchell was to apply torch-fired enamels to copper or CopperClay and combine that with metal clay of their choice. The tutorials are rich with technique, style, and fabrication tips!

So join us at to participate in the blogs. This month we are giving away an Opaque Enamel Kit! Wouldn’t you like to win it and play with us?

5 Creative Exercises

Need to give your brain a jolt of creativity? Play along and try this exercise:

Set the timer for 60 seconds for each exercise.


  1. List 7 major cities that start with “M”.
  2. If you were going to start up a team of lady hockey players, where would they be from and what would they be called?
  3. Name 10 delicious flavors of ice cream.
  4. Imagine the sound of waves crashing or rain on a tin roof. Now explain what that sounds like to an imaginary new friend who has never heard it before.
  5. Name 10 things that smell wonderful.

When you engage the 5 senses before starting your creative day, you will heighten your creative output! Try it. When engaging the senses, you engage your entire being. When you can do this in your booth or classroom, your students and customers will be more engaged also. Light a candle, put on music, pet the dog, get up and dance, drink your favorite tea or coffee, etc.

Suggestions? We Want to Hear Them!

We'd love to hear from you if you find this newsletter insightful or if you think it needs improvement. Tell us what we could do to make it better. Have an artist that you would like to have interviewed? Let us know! Have a request for a product to be shown in our video tutorials? We are always wondering what products need to be demonstrated to be better understood. That's what spurred the tutorials in the first place. We are open to your suggestions and comments. Send them to

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