Midcoast artist Linda Leach has won the coveted 2017 Niche Award in the Polymer Jewelry category, thanks to a new etching alternative technique she created for making polymer clay jewelry.

The annual Niche Awards have celebrated excellence and innovation in American and Canadian fine craft for 28 years. The competition is open to professional craft artists age 21 and older who reside in America or Canada and are actively involved in the design and production of craftwork supplied to galleries and/or craft stores.

Leach is comfortable in many media, working in clay, oils, metal and digital photography. Unlike texture sheets that utilize commercial designs, her new etching technique enables the artist to use his or her own designs. She hand-etches the design on copper plate using a permanent Sharpie as a resist, followed by a soak in a bath of ferric chloride. The design can then be overlaid with a combination of liquid polymer clay enhanced by the additions of acrylic paint, mica powder and alcohol ink to create designs that are truly unique.

An example of Leach’s award-winning etching alternative technique may be viewed in a necklace she calls “a wild new piece that I know is over the top” at polymerclaydaily.com. Her own website, dancingdragonflies.com, showcases jewelry creations using this new and unusual technique, as well as her other original and eclectic multimedia artwork.

Leach will be a speaker at the International Polymer Clay Association’s Synergy4 Conference in August in Valley Forge, Pa. She teaches her new technique at the New England Polymer Artist Guild, viewable on Facebook, and will hold classes at Synergy4; future classes will be announced following the conference. Leach co-owns The Maine Lights Collection with Sandy Clement.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.