Painting In Space

Polymer Clay works
by James Lehman

Keepin' It Real
Sep / Oct 2003

Up Close With Some Local Talent
by G. Thomas Downing

When someone says rubber, what comes to mind? That would truly depend upon the situation at hand. In this case, we are talking Akron, Ohio. If you are one who still thinks of Akron as "Rubber City," then we need to get you caught up with the times.

That reference would parallel stating that Martin Mull was Ohio's most recognized talent. Does the word polymer mean anything to you? We're not ashamed to admit that as of July 10th, it meant very little to us. Since then, we have found out that Akron is the Polymer Capital of the world and is doing what it can to get away from the tagline "Rubber City".

That being said, we would like to introduce Ohio's premiere polymer clay artist, James Lehman. James lives here in Akron and his work is on display at the Municipal building and the lobby of the 4th floor atrium in the Ohio building in Akron, to name a few of the more recognized locations. Stating that James is Ohio's premiere polymer clay artist minimizes his credentials and talents. You will be able to see six pieces of his work featured in a new, full-color coffee table book titled "400 Polymer Creations," published by Lark Books. This book will showcase the best polymer clay artists the world has to offer and is scheduled to hit the shelves in 2004.

"Arrogant, argumentative, impulsive, impatient, obsessive, rebellious, stubborn, reclusive and naive best describe the negative attributes of my personality that degrade my relationships with other people," states Lehman. "I try very hard to be aware of my tendencies and compensate for them. Thank God there are a few people around me who really love me anyway!"

"But when it comes to making art, at least the kind I make, these aspects of my personality actually work for me. The act of making art is a very solitary endeavor. So, fully exploiting these passions as a source of energy and direction cannot possibly cause any other person harm. For me it's about mental power over matter, forming thoughts into real objects. Sometimes a bad attitude is just the big hammer I need to get the job done."

"Now if I may, I would also consider myself to be honest, analytical, driven, dedicated, dependable, compassionate, skillful, intelligent and creative," he continued.

Could you share with our readers what art is to you?

"The word 'art' might mean something different to everyone," he explained. "Many people's ideas about it may all be contradictory and still all be correct. I think that is very much a part of the real definition of the word. Art is human."

What is polymer clay and why is this your chosen medium?

"Polymer clay is attractive to me for many reasons," asserted Lehman. "It is amorphous color, pigment in my hands, semi-solid paint. The use of pigmented clays is thousands of years old. Polymer clay represents cutting edge technology, near perfect control of hue, tint, shade and tone. It's translucent, opaque. It sparkles, it glows in the dark. The work I do with polymer clay can be compared to only a few other artists, not thousands or millions. The only drawback to the newness of polymer clay art is that most people don't understand the time and effort that goes into it or how to place value on it."

To contact James Lehman or to see more of his creations, visit his web site @