Ahhh... the holidays. When despite all the hundreds of other things I have to do, what I want to do is create. Something about the holiday spirit just inspires me... whether it's to create something yummy in the kitchen (pumpkin gingerbread & snickerdoodles) or to create something artistic in the craft room (Christmas cards & polymer clay gifts).
If you're similarly inspired & are looking to make some polymer clay Christmas ornaments, you might want to check out Maria Maestri's "Simply Ornaments and More: 1002 Designs in Polymer Clay" CD. Available for $19.95 (including shipping), this CD has step-by-step instructions for almost 300 polymer clay Christmas ornaments, plus pictures of hundreds more to use as inspiration.
This CD has a nice range of ornaments, including angels, snowmen, Santas, and more (check out the Table of Contents). It also has a generous policy allowing you to sell the items you create based on these instructions. In fact, it includes a lot of good information for folks selling their work -- things like how to work production-style, how to personalize your items & make items that appeal to different customers, and how to create your own designs.
Since the policy specifically mentions craft fairs and the like, I sent an email to the author asking if online sales were also acceptable.
Her answer: "I don't mind where someone sells what they make using my instructions. I have always said, no one's work is exactly alike and their interpretation of my designs has proven that. It would be nice to get acknowledgment for my designs, but I don't require or expect that." A refreshingly generous attitude!
The thing that really makes this CD unique is its wonderful use of step-by-step photos. Not all of the projects include written instructions, but they all include multiple clear and detailed photos that make it easy to follow along (see examples here and here). The author said this CD has 3,000 photos... out of the 30,000 photos she took! She obviously put a lot of work into creating these wonderful pictorial tutorials.
Including all those photos does have a down-side, though. I found the CD very slow to use -- it took almost 2 minutes to start either of the two volumes on the CD. It performed better once it loaded, but the initial delay was annoying while I was exploring the projects. What I did to fix this was to copy the two .exe files from the CD to my computer's hard drive. Since it was no longer pulling all of the data from the relatively slow CD drive, the program started much faster (5-10 seconds).
The only other place I found this CD lacking was in its instructions for creating the ornaments' eyes. From her finished photos, it appears that she paints on the eyes after baking -- but I didn't find that specifically stated anywhere. A couple of paragraphs in the intro discussing eye options, and explaining how she does her eyes, would make this CD more complete.
Still, I am very impressed with this CD. The instruction quality is good, and the huge number of projects makes this a much better value than a similarly priced book. I would recommend this CD for any beginner- to intermediate-level polymer clay artist looking for Christmas ornament ideas -- or for anyone that wants tips for making and selling craft show products.
- Title: Simply Ornaments and More: 1002 Designs in Polymer Clay
- Price: $19.95 (includes shipping)
- Huge number of projects
- Excellent step-by-step photos
- Generous tips for selling your work
- CD is slow & clunky to use
- Doesn't include any information on making ornaments' eyes
Update (4/9/2014): The Simply Ornaments tutorials are now available in PDF format on Etsy.