Allegory Gallery Blog

Interview: Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue Bottle Tree


Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue Bottle Tree's Faux Lampwork Donut Beads


We recently had the pleasure to sit down with
Ginger Davis Allman here at
Allegory Gallery in Ligonier.  She was traveling through Western Pennsylvania and stopped on her way to see Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater.  Ginger Davis Allman is the writer and teacher who creates the popular polymer clay website, The Blue Bottle Tree. Her specialty is eliminating the confusion and making polymer clay topics easy to understand. When she's not traveling through Pennsylvania, Ginger lives with her husband Gary, too many cats, and three blue bottle trees in Springfield, Missouri.



Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue Bottle Tree


You can find out more about Ginger and her polymer clay adventures on her website:
https://www.thebluebottletree.com/. Don't forget to stop by her online store to see all her fantastic tutorials:
https://www.thebluebottletree.com/shop/. Please also stop by and Like her Facebook page:  
https://www.facebook.com/TheBlueBottleTree/. Can't get enough?  She also has a growing Facebook  group called Polymer Clay Success, that you can find by following the link:  
https://www.facebook.com/groups/polymerclaysuccess/


Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue Bottle Tree's Rustic Beads and Components


Allegory Gallery:

How did you get started? Do you have an interesting origin story?

Ginger Davis Allman: As a kid, I had three passions. One, I wanted to make things. Two, I wanted to know why things worked the way they did. And Three, I loved art and color. I found myself being equally pulled toward careers in art and science. It was neck-and-neck for a while, but ultimately science won and I got my education in Microbiology and then worked doing molecular biology research. Science was fascinating because it fulfilled my passion for understanding “why” and I loved the artistic elegance of complex biological systems. But life is life and when kids happened, the science career ended. I had always been a serial crafter, so once I was home with the kids, I got them hooked on crafts, too. Soon we found polymer clay. They weren’t impressed, but I was. It was an obsession. That was back in 2001. In 2012, I started The Blue Bottle Tree, a website that supports the inquiring polymer clay artist. Now I use my science brain to bust polymer clay myths and help others understand how to get the results they want.



Photo by Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue Bottle Tree


AG:

 "The Blue Bottle Tree".  That's an interesting name.  Where did that come from?

GDA:  Here's the story behind them.
https://thebluebottletree.com/blue-bottle-tree/
AG:  I can relate.  My early creativity was fueled by escapism.  We didn't have a lot of money growing up and there were some family issues, so art was my way to craft my own reality.  I could turn a cardboard box into a fortress and a box of pebbles into a treasure chest full of riches!  For so many people, art is their savior and their own "blue bottle tree".



Photo by Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree


GDA

:  And there's another aspect of the origin story. This shows the constant pull inside of myself between the science and the art. You can read more about it here:  
https://thebluebottletree.com/morning-sun-on-glass/


Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree's Faux Seaglass Rainbow Colors


AG:

 So, do you think that's what really lights the fire under you to create? Is that the core inspiration behind your work?

GDA:  I’m insanely curious. I always want to know why things do what they do. This is the motivation behind many of my articles. I use my science background to design experiments and tests to learn how polymer clay and other products behave, then I show them in my articles. I don’t do as much creating artwork as I wish I could. My website and tutorials keep me pretty busy!



Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree's Organic Scallion Beads


AG:

 The duality between science and art is definitely something that drew me to your website.  I particularly enjoy how you use your background in science to demystify the materials and processes, empowering other artists to create their visions.  I feel like polymer clay is one of the more "accessible" materials out there.  Folks might not be able to plunk down money for stone-carving equipment, a kiln and torch for glasswork, a lathe for wood... etc.  But a lot of people have access to the basic polymer clay tools and materials. Polymer clay is the great "chameleon" and you show people how to best tap into that magic.



Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree's Faux Ancient Roman Glass


AG:

 Speaking of being busy, what are you working on now?

GDA:  I just wrote a 90 page guide to using pigments and powders with polymer clay. As of August 1, I will have finished a 100 Day Project where I made a different polymer clay veneer every day.



Cover of Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree's Powders book


AG:

 Wow!  I applaud your stamina!  Not only do your examples show the beauty and versatility of polymer clay, but keeping that up is a major project.  I'd probably get ten days in and then things would get all sporadic and sputter out!



Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree's Veneer Example: Day 54


GDA:

 I’m  now getting ready to write a book on “Practical Color for Polymer Clay”.  Color confuses people and I believe the way it’s taught makes it harder to understand. I hope to make it more approachable and accessible for those without a fine art background. The photos of my work show what polymer is capable of. Most people, for example, don't realize it can make convincing sea and Roman glass.



Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree's Veneer Example: Day 82


AG:

 Color is such an important tool in any artist's toolbox!  I DO have a fine art background and still find it can be a tricky, fickle beast.  Sometimes when I start a new project, I'll make a new color wheel or inspiration board with different magazine clippings, textures, and important words that best encapsulates the tone and feel of the project.  They help ground the new work in how I'm relating to color in that exact time and space.  I feel like color is such a personal thing and one's color sensibilities are always evolving and changing.  I think the veneers are a great way to explore color and get to the bare bones of polymer clay color use.



Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree's Veneer Example: Day 55


AG:  

Do you have any exciting plans or goals for the future that you'd like to share?

GDA:  I have trouble thinking too far in the future. I have so many things that I want to explore, figure out, and share that it can be overwhelming at times. Most of the time I have a full plate just oiling the squeaky wheels!



Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree's Faux Lampwork Headpins


GDA:

 But ultimately, I want to bring the incredible versatility of polymer clay to crafters and artists who don’t yet know what it’s capable of. There’s a lot to polymer clay and because of that, newbies often run afoul of its quirky nature. I’d like to help them overcome the quirks and use it with confidence. I’d like to change how polymer is seen in the world.



William Jones, Ginger Davis Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree, and Andrew Thornton at Allegory Gallery in Ligonier, PA


Ginger really is an important voice in the polymer clay community.  She works hard to inspire and encourage people interested in polymer clay and expand the working material knowledge of the material.  I encourage you to sign up for her newsletter if you get a chance.  Her email list isn’t just about polymer clay. There’s also a lot of creative inspiration there as well. You can sign up at
https://www.thebluebottletree.com/emails/. It’s not spammy and is well worth the read.


Her tutorials are well-written and investigated.  I recommend her Rustic Beads and Components Tutorial for beginners, as well as her Organic Beads Tutorial. If people like glass, her Faux Glass Effects Tutorial has some of the most convincing sea glass out there and it also includes tutorials on how to make an utterly convincing Roman Glass from polymer clay. (Which is one of my obsessions!)  There are also projects on how to make faux carnival glass and Czech glass beads. There’s also the Faux Lampwork Tutorial which shows how to make polymer clay look like lampwork beads and pendants. The other tutorials are more for people who want to know more about polymer itself. The Powders book has info about mica, pigment, and dye powders that go well beyond polymer clay.  Stop by her website for more information and to connect with this amazing polymer clay guru:  
https://thebluebottletree.com/

Want to read more about Ginger's trip to Allegory Gallery?  You can take a tour of the shop through Ginger's eyes (and discover a special offer for readers of her newsletter) by following the link: 
https://thebluebottletree.com/allegory-gallery/

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