July 14, 2011

I've mentioned my local polymer clay group, the Central Oklahoma Polymer Clay Guild, a few times. We started the group about five years ago — and even though I'm not generally what you'd consider a "joiner," I've found it to be beneficial to me in many ways.

I recently wrote a couple of guest posts for Deluxe, a local indie craft fair, about my experiences starting the group:

I'll add one little extra note... if you're looking for a place for your group to meet, try your local craft stores. We've been very fortunate that Hobby Lobby has allowed us to use their classroom for free. And I just saw a post saying Jo-Ann also allows groups to meet in their stores (sounds like there's a fee, though). If you don't have one of those nearby, member's houses are always nice... and as a bonus, you usually get get to peek at their creating space!

If you've ever considered starting a group — whether it's polymer clay or another favorite craft — I hope you'll check out my articles. Good luck!

February 21, 2011

portrait_1298348404967.jpgSome of you have probably already seen this site. It's part of a promotion by, where they let you create a claymation-style avatar of yourself. (There's even a contest where you can win hotel stays, trips, etc.)

Course, I'm blogging about it because using their little widget can be a helpful exercise for a clayer. As you play with it, consider how the changes in the position of the eyes, eyebrows, nose, and mouth affect the character of the figure. Think about how you might make some of the features in polymer clay. If you're feeling ambitious, recreate your avatar using polymer clay. Then use the widget to make 5 other interesting characters (try the "randomize" feature), and recreate those in clay, too.

What a fun way to practice making faces! :-)

January 13, 2010

To Do List by °Florian

I know it's late to be posting New Year's resolutions, but I'm the type who has to let ideas simmer a while before I decide on them. Goals are too important to rush into! :-)

In the tradition of one-word resolution replacements, I'm choosing simplify as my word of the year. I'm feeling overwhelmed by the physical clutter around me, so that's part of the incentive. But my life also feels busy and cluttered. While some of that busy-ness is good (book deadline, That's Clever episode, and a little boy who now has his legs under him), some of it's unnecessary and negative. I want to focus on simplifying the things I can, the things that add stress and complication without bringing joy.

One reason I mention this is that Craft Test Dummies wrote a useful post about de-cluttering your craft space, including tips on charities who would appreciate unwanted supplies and even finished craft projects. Purging the craft room is a little ways down on my list, but I thought I'd share the link for any of the rest of you who are de-cluttering or cleaning as part of your New Year's goals.

Anyone else doing a word for the year? I'd love to hear about it!

October 6, 2009

Photo by WordRidden

Hubby and I knew we wanted to instill a love of reading in our little one. After the second or third time we'd read Sam all the books on his bookshelf, though, we decided it was time to visit the children's section in our local library. But where to start? I realized pretty quickly that I didn't know much about children's book authors. Sure, there was Dr. Seuss. But how did one discover other good books and authors?

I decided to do it the old-fashioned way... alphabetically. I picked a row in the library (the S's, oddly enough) and started checking out one book from each author. I did a similar thing back when I was a teenager. If I remember correctly, I started with the A's and didn't make it past B or C (of course, those were much longer books). Anyway, if Sam and I like the book, I make a note of it and get more books by that author. I don't know how realistic it is to imagine we'll make it all the way through the alphabet, especially once Sam is old enough to have his own book preferences. But I'm enjoying the variety. The best part about it is feeling that I'm discovering authors. It's pretty clear (and a little sad) that some of these books have never been opened before, much less checked out.

I tell you all this because yesterday's book was a real gem.

Continue reading "Setting Limits: Lessons from a Children's Book " »

June 30, 2009

After surveying the site's visitors, Polymer Clay Central has changed the rules for all future challenges. Now you can enter by sending them photos of your work — no more costly trips to the post office required! I think this is a great move on their part: it'll make it much easier for folks like me to get in last-minute entries. I also like that they're keeping a mail-in option for folks who aren't comfortable taking their own pictures. You can read the new rules here.

Here's a list of the upcoming challenge themes:

  • September - GLITTER & GLITZ
  • November - CARVE IT UP
  • December/January - RING IN THE NEW YEAR

Polymer Clay Central has held challenges since March 1999, with July marking their 110th challenge. Not only do the winners get bragging rights, but the top 3 vote-getters also win generous prizes. If you haven't entered one of their challenges, give it a try!

May 30, 2009

"Work more hours than the average factory worker." - Robert Genn, "Artist for Life"

Lori Woodward Simons recently posted a challenge to herself and to any fellow artists interested in joining her — a challenge to spend a minimum of 20 hours per week creating art. One thing I especially like about her idea is that she's also doing Show And Tell Fridays, asking folks to use Twitter, Facebook, and/or forums to share their accomplishments and to help hold each other accountable.

Some people think Twitter's just a time-waster... and in some cases it is. But Lori touches on another side of Twitter that people don't always consider. By carefully choosing who you follow, you can surround yourself with like-minded people, productive people who you admire and respect. It can be a way to peek into the daily life of someone who's reached some of the goals you're trying to reach. And it can be a way to announce your goals and feel that others will be holding you accountable to work towards them (Christine Kane likes to imagine her followers as virtual Song Coaches).

For Lori's Show And Tell Fridays, she encourages you to tweet your accomplishments for the week each Friday, telling your hours tally, sharing photos of what you've worked on, or otherwise celebrating your progress. You can label your tweet with the #20hrchallenge hashtag to make it easier for other participants to follow your progress.

While she says 20 hours is a number that works well for her as a full-time artist, maybe a goal of 5 or 10 hours is more realistic for you. What matters most is setting your own goal and making it happen. Crafting time is a precious commodity around here with a 3 month old who seldom naps for long, so I'm planning on setting my goal for 5 hours next week.

Wanna play along?

Update 6/2/09: Lori has now set up a separate website for the 20 Hour Studio Challenge, including a blog, e-newsletter and more.

Update 8/31/09: I haven't seen any updates on Lori's site lately... and a Twitter search doesn't bring back any results from others using the #20hrchallenge hashtag. So this may be one of those Internet fads that quickly fades away. Still, I've personally had very encouraging feedback from some of my followers on Twitter.

I've also found this weekly check-in helpful to me in some unexpected ways. I knew it would challenge me to be more conscious about how I'm spending my time. But my favorite part, as it turns out, is the weekly photo I take of what I've worked on. Whether it's a little or a lot, having that visual evidence of progress is encouraging to me. It's nice to have photographic records of when I worked on a particular project. Plus it's an excuse to clean off my desk once a week, and that de-cluttering makes the next week's creativity that much more enjoyable.

So I'm sticking with the challenge for now, even if the rest of the movement may have lost some steam. I do think I'll change my hashtag to #5hrchallenge, though, so it matches my personal goal.

Update 11/8/09: 5 hours of crafting ain't gonna cut it now that I'm writing a polymer clay book! Thankfully I've arranged for some help with Sam a couple of days a week. Upping my personal crafting goal (writing and photos count separately, FYI) & changing the hashtag to #10hrchallenge

Update 5/10/10: Still at it. The book's done, and I have Sam full-time over the summer... so it's back to 5 hours for me. #5hrchallenge

April 27, 2009

June 2009 Polymer CafeMaureen Carlson's "Story Boxes" article in the June 2009 Polymer Cafe has some very wise words about perfectionism in art:

"There's a strange truth that happens when one is creating art from the soul. If it has authentic energy then the power of the creative voice comes through even if the piece is not technically perfect. However, if there is no voice, then the piece succeeds or fails on its level of perfection."

The article tells how she builds on that concept to create her story boxes, and even includes a questionnaire to help find your own story, energy, and voice. One of my favorite PC articles in recent history!

Do you struggle with trying to reach an elusive level of perfection, getting caught, as Carlson puts it, "in that fearful, spinning cycle of redoing it again and yet again?" How do you overcome it?

February 23, 2009

Need some creative inspiration? Angeli from Confessions of a Chronic Crafter is doing some really neat things with her polymer clay embroidery (see more here).

It's not a quick project, mind you:

"180 stitches. 4 hours. Kept stitching till my hands and eyes hurt."

She cautions that the metallic threads are especially difficult to use with polymer clay — she even ended up with cuts on her fingers. But strong clay and strong threads are a must, she says, "or else it won't handle the stress from the stitching and pulling."

I can attest to that last part. I tried stitching a border around a polymer clay frame years ago, before I started using the stronger brands of clay. I ended up with disappointing breaks and tears. While Angeli doesn't specify how she did hers, I found that punching holes before baking, then sewing after baking worked best for me. I imagine that especially applies to the thick slabs of clay like she's using.

I love her stitched designs, especially the pattern on the leather-like piece in her second post. I also like her quote:

"Polymer clay embroidery is getting addicting. The possibilities are endless."

I so often feel that way about polymer clay techniques!

Have any of you attempted polymer clay stitching? I'd love to hear about your experiences — what worked and what didn't?

Oh, and thanks so much for all your wonderful comments on my previous post. Sam is 2 weeks old today, and we're all doing well. There's so much to learn and do, and on so little sleep. (I've gained a new respect for all you mothers out there!) But it's been an really exhilarating time.

If you're interested in the latest photos, check out his Flickr set.

January 2, 2009

Challenges are often a good way to motivate yourself and get out of your comfort zone. As you're planning your creative goals for this year, you might consider entering some of these polymer clay challenges.

The Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE) has recently opened up its monthly challenge to everyone — you no longer have to be a guild member to participate. While it's too late to enter this month's challenge (vote here for a chance to win prizes!), they've posted upcoming themes so you can start thinking ahead. Entries are due by the 28th of each month. And it's easy to enter — just post a photo of your item in their Flickr pool. See complete challenge rules here. The upcoming month's themes are:

  • February - ACEOs
  • March - cane work

And don't forget about the monthly challenges over at Polymer Clay Central. Here's their challenge schedule for 2009:

  • January: Winter Fantasy
  • February: Steampunk
  • March: Liquid Clay
  • April: That's Not Real Wood?
  • May: Over the Rainbow
  • June: Picture This (Transfers)
  • July: Mosaic Madness
  • August: Skinner Blends
  • September: Glitter & Glitz
  • October: That Really "Bugs" Me
  • November: Carve it Up
  • December/January: Ring in the New Year

I hope this year brings lots of creative growth your way. And should you decide to enter one of these challenges, best of luck to you! Who knows...? You may end up winning one of the sponsors' prizes. Or (perhaps even better), you may find that stepping out of your comfort zone helps you discover something you love!

Are there other creative challenges you enjoy entering? If so, leave a link in the comments.

November 18, 2008

hello my name is, by medialoog (Creative Commons)As some of you may know, I work from home, splitting my time between blogging, crafting, and freelance web development. As part of the latter, I recently had the pleasure of attending an "un-conference" called Open Beta here in Oklahoma City.

Open Beta was set up as an opportunity for local web professionals with different specialties to connect with each other. See, while there are several groups in this area for tech professionals, they all have their specific niches: web designers, Ruby on Rails developers, Java developers, etc. There's never been one event for these people with different specialties to meet up and exchange ideas... until now. Open Beta gave people a chance to share what they were doing and see what others in the community were doing. It gave us a chance to meet folks we might not have otherwise. And it allowed everyone to get excited and inspired by the ideas of others.

I love being surrounded by creative people sharing their creative ideas. The excitement and energy is so contagious! And so I came away from Open Beta, not only having made connections with other local professionals that I may be able to work with in the future, but also totally inspired to hit the ground running with my own ideas.

Wondering why I'm talking about this on a crafting blog? Here's the reason:

Continue reading "Creative Un-Conferencing" »

October 24, 2008

Polymer Clay Candy CornsHalloween's just a week away, and you know what that means... All the stores are filled with a bountiful harvest of this year's candy corns. (My husband swears this is an actual crop!) Here are a few ideas for using this colorful candy of the season for some crafty decor:

Here's hoping you have a crafty weekend full of yummy-looking goodies. I should warn you, though. Polymer clay candy corns may seem like a low-calorie way to keep these festive candies around. And it could just be me. But it seems like the longer I work with the faux candies, the more likely I am to break open a bag of the real thing!

April 22, 2008

Box of ClayI've already shared some ideas for things you can re-use and recycle with polymer clay — things like tin can lids and cardboard. But today I'd like to talk about "recycling" the clay itself.

One of the nice things about clay is its built-in reusability. Nothing's permanent til it's baked. So if you decide halfway through your project that there's no hope, you can just wad up your clay up and start again. (Or if you're like me, carefully pick apart the separate colors first. Course, I was also the kid who didn't let different foods touch each other on my dinner plate. Maybe this is the grown-up version of that?) Not every medium is forgiving enough to let you start over mid-way without any waste... Aren't we lucky?

Here's a few more ways you can reuse & recycle your polymer clay:

Continue reading "More Recycling Tips for Polymer Clay" »

March 26, 2008

youmakemyday.jpgLisa at Polka Dot Creations made my day yesterday by giving this blog a "You Make My Day” award. So today I'm sharing some of the blogs that inspire me on a daily basis. I've mostly picked blogs that are NOT focused on polymer clay -- I figure if you're a regular reader, you already know which polymer clay blogs I enjoy cuz I'm always linking to them!

  • Ronna's Blog: Ronna is a Canadian artist and publisher of the ATC Quarterly zine. She frequently shares her own delightful ATCs on her site.
  • StampingMathilda: I love Godelieve's stamping style & her project photos -- plus she's very generous with her techniques. Course, I think I especially like it cuz it's bilingual (Dutch/English) -- it's just kinda fun to see Happy Birthday cards in another language! :-)
  • Paint Slinger: Nancy's a friend-in-real-life, & a wonderful artist and writer. Her blog is new, but the posts are superb! Don't miss this post about finding your voice and this one on artistic realism.
  • Take Back Your Brain!: Lynn shares ideas for using advertising in a whole different way -- to advertise your goals to yourself. I love her tips & have implemented several in my daily life.
  • HELLO, my name is BLOG!: Scott's posts range from marketing advice to creative inspiration. I love that each post ends with a question & a challenge.
  • Feeping Creatures: And yes, one polymer clay blog did sneak in here. Daily photos of quirky polymer clay creatures make this one of my favorite light-hearted reads. What fun!

Thanks to this Google Reader tip (also from Lisa!), I finally made a blogroll to share more of my favorites with you folks. (Long overdue on this, I know!) My sidebar's not long enough for it all, so I've created a separate blogroll page. Check it out for a long list of those who inspire me.

Have a wonderful day!

March 21, 2008

 17th January 2008 / Day 17 by Mrs Magic (Creative Commons)Being a "conscientious clayer" (or blogger or artist) often entails keeping track of what inspired you. If someone blogs a tutorial or technique you plan to try, it's important that you have a way to find it again -- not only so you can double-check the instructions as you're doing it, but also so you can share the source of your inspiration with others.

But with all the information available online, it can be tricky to remember where you saw something. If you don't have a good system in place, the best intentions in the world (& sometimes all the searching in the world!) won't help. So here's a few online tools that have helped me keep track of polymer clay art that's inspired me:

Continue reading "How to Keep Track of What Inspires You" »

November 4, 2007

Zimz5 by CLBcreationsPolymer Clay Central has announced the November 2007 Challenge theme: Dragons & Fantasy.


Here's a few things you might think about making:
  • Dragons, castles, elves
  • Fairies, unicorns, mermaids
  • Gnomes, goblins, gargoyles
  • Wizards, witches
  • Lord of the Rings- or Harry Potter-inspired creations

Tips & Tutorials


  • Jill from Studio Willich uses a variety of media in her goblins, faeries & art dolls. The descriptions indicate which ones include polymer clay. I love all the character in her creatures' faces!
  • Browse through the galleries on Katherine Dewey's Elvenwork site for photos of beautifully fantastic creatures. The site also includes artist tips and a sculptors' forums.
  • CLBCreations (creator of the dragon at the top of this post) has Flickr pages full of inspiration. She also blogs about her own & others' polymer clay creations.


Mail your entries in by November 15, 2007, for a chance to win one of three prizes. Good luck!

October 10, 2007

Polymer Clay Central has announced the October 2007 Challenge theme: Faux.

To enter to win one of three prizes, mail your entries in by October 15, 2007. Not sure where to start...?

Tips & Tutorials

“You need to hone your skills of observation. Pay close attention to every aspect of the food's appearance. Unless you've seen a food so often that you can picture it clearly in your mind's eye-- and even then, actually-- you'll probably do well to locate a good, large photo of the food... If you have a sample of the actual food, use it as a model.”


  • Polymer Clay Central has a pretty good range of "faux" photos: including their prior challenges (October 2004 & February 2000) and the always-inspiring Clay Pen Chats (Faux & Faux 2) & Clay Play Days (1 & 2).
  • Or try searching Flickr for polymer clay faux photos. Definitely inspiring!


If you want to get a little more in-depth into the faux topic, here's some suggested reading:

Polymer clay is wonderfully fun for making fauxs. Hope you enjoy yourself -- and best of luck if you enter the challenge!

September 7, 2007

Lao embroidery, photo by Mimi_KPolymer Clay Central has announced the September 2007 Challenge theme: Cultural Design.

Here's a few ideas for cultural designs from around the world:

But there's more to cultural design than other cultures. What about folk art? Or pop culture? Think of all the soup can & cartoon character possibilities!

Mail your entries in by September 15, 2007, for a chance to win one of three prizes. Good luck!

May 11, 2007

In the spirit of Lisa's comment on my "faux ceramic monkey" burned bead, I thought I'd share these recent quotes from Yahoo's Polymer Clay People group:

  • "There are no mistakes in art, just unexpected changes."
  • "There are no mistakes, only happy accidents."
  • "There are no mistakes, only opportunities for creativity."
  • "There are no mistakes, only design elements."

Have any to add? Here's to a happy weekend of mistake-making!

About this Site

CraftyGoat's Notes is all about sharing polymer clay tips & tricks that have worked for me. (And even a few that haven't!)

Read more about CraftyGoat's Notes...

Buy My Book


Enter your address to get CraftyGoat's Notes by email:

Delivered by FeedBurner