Fran Abrams, a resident of Rockville, MD, holds an undergraduate degree in art and architecture and a graduate degree in urban planning. In January 2000, after making a New Year's resolution to return to her roots as an artist, she began studying and creating with polymer clay. She retired from her day job in July 2010 after 41 years of public service in government and nonprofit agencies in Montgomery County, MD. She then helped to establish the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery and Music Room in the Civic Center in downtown Silver Spring, MD, serving as manager from 2010-2012.
Fran’s polymer clay work, in competition with more traditional mediums, has been exhibited in regional and national juried solo and group shows around the country, including Brooklyn, NY, Naples, FL, Baton Rouge, LA, and Wichita, KS. She has received numerous awards for her work. She also has had work juried into national exhibits of polymer clay art in Lexington, MA in 2010 and in St. Paul, MN in 2013. In May 2014, her piece titled "Warmth of the Fire" won Best in 2D Art in the International Polymer Clay Awards competition that included entries from around the world. That piece is now in the collection of the Racine Art Museum in Racine, WI.
I am attracted to polymer clay as an artistic medium because it has elements of both painting and sculpture. Polymer clay is a manufactured clay-like substance that begins as blocks of solid-colored material. It becomes soft by kneading. Like earthen clay, polymer clay can be shaped, carved, and textured. Unlike clay from the earth, the colors of polymer clay can be blended just like blending paint. That is, mixing together blue and yellow polymer clay yields green clay. Also, polymer clay bakes at 265° rather than in a high-temperature kiln. Like many polymer clay artists, I use a pasta machine to blend colors and achieve new designs. There is no glaze; no color is added; and no paint is used. After the work is baked, the shape and colors are permanent.
I create work that hangs on the wall as well as sculptural pieces. For the wall work, math and geometry are essential because each piece of artwork consists of baked clay shapes that, when complete, must fit together on the canvas. My use of geometric forms is inspired by my training in architecture and urban planning and, I readily admit, I love the math required to create the art. For me, the creative process is both a left-brain and right-brain experience. I mount the pieces of baked clay on canvas that I have covered with fabric to bring out the colors in the work. The work is presented without glass over them allowing the viewer to fully enjoy the intricacies of the work.
I am fascinated by the wide range of color, texture and form that can be created with polymer clay and the sense of exploration that comes with mixing the colors, creating designs and shaping the sheets of clay yielded by the pasta machine.