January 20, 2012

I hope this new year finds you working on all sorts of wonderful things! Between late-night feedings and diaper changes, the main thing I've been spending my free time on is preparing for the OKPolyClay Twisters Retreat, which my local guild will be hosting April 19-21, 2012, in Norman, Oklahoma. Christi Friesen will be teaching two half-day classes, plus we'll have demos, vendors, food, and plenty of space for claying. I'm particularly excited about our goody bags, since I've been in charge of finding donors for those (they're gonna be filled to the brim with great stuff!).

If you're in the middle part of the country — or have been looking for an excuse to visit Oklahoma (and who isn't?!) — I hope you'll consider registering for our retreat. I'd love to meet you!

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!

March 18, 2011

Penguin Bobble Buddy by CraftyGoatSeveral years ago, my husband and I visited Europe. We decided to do it on the cheap, so we stayed in hostels, travelled by Eurail, and carried all our belongings in our backpacks. It wasn't the most leisurely trip we've ever taken — we spent an awful lot of time cold and tired. But I'm grateful we were able to experience the things we did.

One of things we didn't really consider, though, was that our stuffed-to-the-brim backpacks would essentially prevent us from bringing home souvenirs. We had to be very cautious about anything much larger than a postcard. (As much as I wanted to bring home that giant jar of Nutella, for example, it just wasn't possible.)

The one thing I did make room for, though, was a wood-carved wine bottle stopper from a small town we visited in Switzerland. It's a little guy with a lever on his back, which, when pressed, causes him to raise his wine jug to his opening mouth. I don't have a lot of use for a wine bottle stopper, mind you. But every time I looked at him, I smiled. So I bought him. He still sits on my shelf, reminding me of our trip... and reminding me that making someone smile is a worthy goal for a maker.

DSC01270Ever since then, I've been intrigued with the possibility of making moving things with polymer clay: mobiles, toys, bobble heads, etc. It's one of those ideas I'm eager to explore... but I haven't settled down and devoted my energies to it yet. So I was especially excited to see that Polyform had created a Pluffy Bobble Buddies kit, including all the supplies to make 3 bobble head figurines.

Sculpey Pluffy Bobble Buddies Kit

Continue reading "Clay for the Kiddos: Bobble Buddies Review and Giveaway" »

February 25, 2011

2-Year-Old Sam (and his 2 hands)Sam celebrated his second birthday a couple of weeks ago. The occasional tantrum and two-year-old stubborn streak aside, we're having a great time. As he grows and develops his own personality, we find ourselves enjoying him more and more.

But I've gotta admit something.

If you looked at his baby book, you'd think he was still 3 months old. That is, if you could find his baby book. I know generally which closet it's in... but I haven't actually seen it since, well, who knows when.

I know I should be keeping track of the important things... and I do have various notes and photos. They're just spread out on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and a couple of different hard drives. I've always had a mental block against scrapbooking — I think because I hate to commit my memories to embellishment & paper styles that will so quickly look outdated. I just assumed that some maternal instinct would take over and I'd become queen of the baby book. But that hasn't happened.

Sculpey Keepsake Clay Frame KitSo I was kind of proud of myself for remembering to buy (and use!) the Sculpey Keepsake Clay Frame Kit on Sam's 2nd birthday. By golly, we may not know what happened between months 3 and 24, but we do have his 2-year-old hand prints preserved for all time. I'm hoping that counts for something.

Maternal pride (such as it is) aside, I wanted to share my thoughts on this kit for any of you who might be considering using it with your little ones.

Sculpey Keepsake Clay Oven-Bake Clay and Frame Set

Continue reading "Clay for the Kiddos: Sculpey Keepsake Clay Frame Kit Review" »

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! :-)

February 17, 2011

Name StampsThe baking (and maybe even sanding & buffing!) is all done. You've finished a polymer clay masterpiece, and you're proud of it. But how do you put that final mark on it to show you made it?

There are lots of options for signing your work. Some artists use a polymer clay-compatible pen or marker (try Krylon or Prismacolor) and sign their actual name. Others use initials, a business logo or another unique symbol.

Another easy and nice-looking option is to use a stamp. Custom rubber stamps are available from a variety of sources, but I've found address stamps to be the right size and a good price. And they're very flexible in their uses. You can use them before or after baking, with or without ink. (Here's more tips on stamping polymer clay.)

I originally just used my normal mailing address stamp on unbaked clay, positioning the stamp close enough to the edge of the clay piece so it would impress only the top line (my name) and not the address lines. But I've since bought a stamp that only has my name. I purchased both stamps from VistaPrint, who offers a basic rubber stamp for "free" (you pay about $6 in shipping/handling charge). In addition to the free basic stamps, VistaPrint has the option of uploading artwork, signatures, etc. for address and signature stamps that start at $9. They send a plastic stamp casing if you want to assemble it, but I keep my name stamp unmounted and trim it down to a very small size for easy positioning on the clay.

Of course, I have to admit that I don't always remember to sign my work. Until recently, it just never occurred to me. Do you sign your work? How?

February 16, 2011

Piggy BankA couple of posts back, I shared my thoughts on Pluffy Clay — a clay that's marketed for kids but also has some potential uses in a clayer's studio. Now I want to talk about a couple of Polyform's other "for kids" products. I'm reviewing them from a clayer's perspective — things I think they do well or could improve on. Since my little one's not quite old enough to help me review these, I'm having to guess about what the kiddos would and wouldn't like. If you've tried any of these products with your own kids or grandkids, I hope you'll add your experiences in the comments.

Fun Forms Piggy Bank

Fun Forms Piggy Bank KitAs I mentioned in my previous review, the Pluffy clay I tried was part of the Firefly Pluffy Fun Forms Piggy Bank Polyform sent me a while back. Unfortunately I got caught up in book-related things and didn't review this kit when I should have — and it's possible they've discontinued it in the meantime. (It is no longer listed on Polyform's site.) It's still available in my Michael's, though, so check on the clay aisle there if you're interested.

Continue reading "Clay for the Kiddos: Fun Forms Piggy Bank Review" »

January 28, 2011

Pluffy Clay, BlackI was happy to see that Polyform posted color recipes for their discontinued Studio by Sculpey (PDF) and Premo (PDF) colors. To be perfectly honest, it bugged me that Polyform's changes meant my book was outdated even before it came out. I've been eagerly awaiting these color recipes so I could at least update the errata page on the book website.

One thing I found really interesting is that the Studio by Sculpey color recipes recommend using a mixture of Polyform's Pluffy clay and Premo to recreate the texture of the Studio by Sculpey clay. The ratios vary — it's usually about a 50/50 mixture, but they sometimes use more of one brand or the other depending on the color they're trying to create.

I'd kind of ignored Pluffy clay since it was marketed for kids, but I figured it was high time I gave it a try.

Pluffy Clay

Continue reading "Polyform Color Recipes & Pluffy Clay Review" »

January 3, 2011

Beach Themed Faux Mosiac ClockIn all the hustle & bustle that came with the holidays (and my book release!), I forgot to mention that the latest PolymerCAFÉ includes my "Faux Mosaic Clock" article. Check the February 2011 issue to learn an easy alternative to the more traditional mosaic method.

Problem with the article is this... While I was in the final edits, I realized Polyform was discontinuing the "Ferns and Squares" Studio by Sculpey Texture Makers texture plate that made the project so simple. I was able to find some adequate substitutes, and I included those in the article's sidebar. But for those of you who might be interested in buying the actual texture plate, here are two online stores that still have them:

And speaking of online clay retailers (and Polyform discontinuing things), it turns out that Polyform is working with three online retailers to carry Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow through 2011. As it stands right now, Polymer Clay Express, Munro Crafts and Creative Wholesale will be the only ones carrying these colors. So if you're not a big fan of ordering clay online, you might want to check your local craft stores now for any leftover packages.

Wishing you all an amazingly creative new year!

December 16, 2010

51bCMf3Dh+L._SL160_.jpgIt's finally here! Polymer Clay 101 is now in stock at various bookstores online (more on where to buy it below). I co-wrote Polymer Clay 101 with Kim Otterbein: she wrote the basics chapter and the first 11 projects, while I did the last 10 projects and "starred" in the accompanying DVD.

Book-writing is so much more solitary than blog-posting — there's a lot of hours of work and a lot of waiting without feedback. So I'm excited that I finally get to show you what I've been up to & see what you think!

Book Overview

Polymer Clay 101 would be great for a polymer clay beginner. The first 33 pages cover all the basics — tools, techniques, color mixing, mold making, sanding & polishing, etc. After that, 21 projects demonstrate major polymer clay techniques. We show how to do important things like Skinner blends and caning... but we also show some more unusual techniques like using an extruder for a filigree look, and carving baked clay. The 45-minute DVD shows each of these techniques in action — great for visual learners!

My Review

Continue reading "Polymer Clay 101" »

November 22, 2010

Polyform listened! They posted an update on their Facebook Discussion page this morning, saying they have reconsidered the decision to discontinue Premo colors Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow. I'm re-posting the announcement here, since it's kinda buried in the 100+ comments pleading with them to change their minds:

Continue reading "Polyform Responds" »

November 18, 2010

[Update 11/22/10: See Polyform Responds for their updated plans.]

Polyform announced the new Premo! and Sculpey III colors today. You can read the full announcement on their Facebook page, but here are the highlights:

  • Shades of Clay to Come?There are 9 new Premo colors, including several that sound like they came straight from the discontinued Studio by Sculpey line. I'm most excited about Denim, Spanish Olive, Pomegranate (all Studio colors I found useful), and the long-overdue Navy Blue. The Rhino Gray might also come in handy.

Continue reading "New (and Discontinued!) Premo Colors Announced" »

November 1, 2010

Studio_logo.jpgYou may have heard by now that Polyform is discontinuing its Studio by Sculpey line of clay and products, effective December 31, 2010. While many of the tools are being incorporated into the Sculpey line — just changing names — some of them will no longer be available. Here's an overview of the changes:

Continue reading "R.I.P. Studio by Sculpey (and Other Upcoming Changes)" »

October 26, 2010

I'm working on a few new goodies for you, but unfortunately none of them are Halloween-related. Since I hate to miss out on all the holiday fun, I thought I'd point my new readers to some Halloween projects from years past. Enjoy!

Continue reading "Halloween Projects from Yesteryear" »

July 9, 2010

Cane-Covered Polymer Clay Pens by Crafty Goat

If you've ever gone down the deodorant aisle searching for the same one you bought last time, you've experienced it: manufacturers' incessant focus on new and better. It seems like a product's packaging hardly ever looks the same from one purchase to the next.

Pen manufacturers are no different, so the pens that were "proven" oven-safe a few years ago — like my previous favorite Papermate Flexgrip Ultra — may no longer be available. And while new and better options may be out there, who has the time and money to test every new brand of pen to see if it's oven-safe?

Luckily, Surfingcat did the hard work for us in her post about melting pens. She tried eleven pens in the oven and came up with a list of six that survived at polymer clay temperatures.

I decided to expand on her post a bit, to give a little more info about four of those pens that are readily available here in the U.S.:

  • PaperMate Comfortmate ball point pen
  • Bic Round Stic ball pen
  • PaperMate FlexGrip Elite
  • Bic SoftFeel Retractable ball pen

I made a polymer clay pen with each of these brands to get a feel for how easy they are to take apart and put back together. (Read the basics on covering pens here.) I'm including "finished" shots so you can get a feel for the aesthetic of each completed pen. My samples use cane slices since I'm practicing getting comfortable with canes (as you can tell, I have a long way to go!). But of course, you're not limited to canes. In fact, the options are pretty much endless. (For some extreme examples, take a look at Linda Peterson's PolyPens book about making pen sets.) For each pen, I've also included photos of the packaging (so you know what to look for on the shelves... well, at least until they change that packaging!), the un-covered pen, and the pen after it's been taken apart. (Click any photo for a larger version.)

The Pens

Continue reading "Covering Pens with Polymer Clay: New Oven-Safe Pens" »

May 22, 2010

Sage Plant Marker in Garden

I love the idea of gardening. I want to snip fresh herbs to toss with pasta. Or make fresh salsa with homegrown tomatoes and peppers.

Unfortunately, my biological gardening clock (if there is such a thing) is a bit off. It's usually around Memorial Day weekend that it occurs to me to plant something. By this time, even the pre-started plants at the nurseries are on clearance, because (I'm guessing) everybody except me understands that it's too late to plant stuff. This does not deter me. I see an abandoned plant in a clearance bin, and I go into rescue mode. How could I just let that poor thing sit there and die, alone and unloved? So I bring home plants I shouldn't and do my best to save them from the coming blazing-hot summer days. Eventually the Oklahoma sun and dry winds win, and I give up on the poor wilted plants. But by Memorial Day of the next year, I'm ready to give it another shot.

A few years back, I (unintentionally) did something smart. I got some perennial herbs, oregano and sage, that have made a happy life for themselves despite my lack of gardening expertise. Both of the past two years, these herbs have come back without a bit of effort on my part. Since these plants make me so happy, I decided to make them a little gift in return.

These polymer clay plant markers are simple to make and they're a great way to identify your favorite plants... whether you're the type who starts them from seedlings, or — like me — just feel fortunate that the plants have chosen to grace you with their presence one more year. I'm showing you how to make two slightly different styles of plant markers. The first is a more sculpted look, and it's great for flowering plants, fruits, or veggies. The second is a more natural look, well-suited for an herb garden. Both projects start and end the same way — it's the step in the middle that make the difference.

Plant Markers, Complete

Plant Marker Instructions

Continue reading "Polymer Clay Plant Markers... 2 Ways!" »

May 18, 2010

Polymer Clay Beaded JewelleryI'm not a huge jewelry person... but when I do wear jewelry, I'm hopelessly matchy-matchy. I love to have earrings that match the necklace. Bonus if there's a matching bracelet, too. It affects me to the point that, even if I absolutely love a necklace in my jewelry box, if I don't have the perfect earrings for it, I find myself not wearing it.

I'm guessing Isabelle Ceramy-Debray, author of Polymer Clay Beaded Jewellery, is the same way. Her new 48-page page book has instructions for creating several matching pieces for each technique — necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, and more. This is a nice touch for beginners who want matching jewelry but who need extra guidance to make each specific piece. There are several things, in fact, that make this book best suited for beginners. But there are also a couple of reasons I'd prefer beginners pick up a different book instead...

The Book

Continue reading "Review: Polymer Clay Beaded Jewellery by Isabelle Ceramy-Debray" »

April 3, 2010

Clay Art For Special Occasions book I have to admit, I got interested in Yukiko Miyai's Clay Art for Special Occasions before I realized it was intended for use with air dry clay; otherwise, I might not have chosen it. Air dry clay doesn't appeal to me for the same reasons metal clay doesn't. I'm spoiled by polymer clay. I don't like having to re-train myself to work quickly, use damp cloths, and store excess clay in airtight containers to prevent it from drying out. I tend not to think it's worth the extra effort.

But the author's mother developed Claycraft by Deco, the specific air-dried modeling clay recommended throughout the book. As a result, that brand of clay and all the related accessories are pretty ingrained in the book.

Still, I hoped that the principles would apply to oven-bake polymer clays, and if they didn't, I'd been meaning to give air dry clay another try anyway. So I continued reading and trying projects despite initially not having the "correct" clays and tools (with varied results... but more on that later).

The Book

The book itself is one of the nicest craft books I've seen. It's a hardcover with a hidden spiral spine. I personally think all craft books should be bound this way: it means they'll lay flat and stay open to a particular page, which is very handy while you're working on a project. (Just ask my husband how excited I was to find out my book would be bound this way!)

Continue reading "Review: Clay Art for Special Occasions by Yukiko Miyai" »

March 26, 2010

Extruder Cheat Sheets by Carolyn GoodA couple of years ago, I posted about my Extruder Disk Cheat Sheet. To make it, I put all my extruder disks on the scanner, then printed the resulting scan on a transparency sheet. I glued samples of each disk's extrusions on the transparency and used the "cheat sheet" to help me figure out which disk to use for a particular project.

Carolyn Good of 2GoodClaymates took this idea and ran with it... and I think the result is an improvement. You can see her post on the Polymer Clay Smooshers blog. What I like about her version is that the use of plastic baggies allows her to remove those sample extrusions. This makes it much easier to try them out for size on a particular project. (That, plus keeping polymer clay pieces glued to a ultra-flexible transparency sheet is kinda tricky.)

Thanks to Carolyn for sharing her suggestion!

February 18, 2010

I just received the April issue of PolymerCAFÉ, which contains my first magazine article, "Glowing Beads." It's a tutorial for using alcohol inks with glow-in-the-dark clay to create jewelry that looks beautiful in the daytime but still glows at night. (If you read it, I'd love to hear what you think!)

Studio by Sculpey Satin GlazeOne of the products I used in the article — and have found myself using more often lately — is Studio by Sculpey's Satin Glaze. Polyform sent me a bottle to try, and I have to say I was initially skeptical. I had bought some Sculpey glaze years ago and remembered it being thick and gunky and practically unusable. I wasn't expecting other glazes from them to be significantly different.

Continue reading "Review: Studio by Sculpey Satin Glaze" »

December 18, 2009

Idea Tree

Have you seen the IPCA Synergy2 Exhibition? They asked nearly 60 amazing artists to explore collabroations with polymer clay and mixed media. They also asked me. :-) I'm humbled to have my name listed with so many polymer clay greats.

You can check out my entry here, and the rest of the gallery here. The pieces are available for sale online now or at the Synergy2 event in February.

More details about my piece are available here.

December 11, 2009

Christmas Socks & FlocksHave you guys played with the little bottles of colored flock that are now available in craft stores' paper crafting aisle? I'm not sure how paper crafters use it (I guess glued onto a project like glitter?), but it's a lot of fun to use with polymer clay.

Sold under various names (Fuzzy Fun Flock, Crushed Velvet Flock, Flocking Powder), flock is basically tiny colored fibers. (Think dryer lint, but without all the cat fur.) You can use flock a few different ways with polymer clay:

  • Pour a small amount and mix it thoroughly into your clay for a muted mottled effect.
  • Brush a tiny bit onto the top of the unbaked clay with your finger, much as you would Pearl Ex or chalks. This gives the clay a fuzzy, fabric-like sheen.
  • Apply liquid clay to specific areas where you want a more pronounced effect. Either pour the flock over your the liquid clay like you would embossing powder, or use a paintbrush to dab the flock onto the areas you want to emphasize. You can even do this after your first baking if you want to protect other clay sections from attracting the fibers.

White Flock on Polymer Clay (Close Up)

I have tried several colors with each of the above methods. The fibers seem well-adhered after baking, and I haven't noticed any color change from the heat. I love that it gives the clay a softer, more fabric-like look. It's perfect for Christmas-time projects (stockings, Santa's suit, snow), or any other time you want a softer look.

Have you used flock? If so, I'd love to hear about your experiences!

November 18, 2009

I've been eager to share this with you guys, but I wanted to wait til it was all officially official. Well, I got the signed contract back from the publisher yesterday, so here goes...

I've been asked to co-author a polymer clay book! It's called Polymer Clay 101, and I'm writing it along with Kim Otterbein. The publication date is currently scheduled for January 2011. Of course, my part needs to be done much sooner than that, so posts here may be a tad sparse for a little while.

Writing a book has been a long-time goal of mine — the kind of big goal you're almost afraid to talk about because you're afraid it won't happen. So I'm very excited for this opportunity. I have a lot to learn, but I've really enjoyed the work so far. Hopefully, once the book it out, you'll enjoy the projects as much as I have!

November 9, 2009

It was nine months ago today that Sam was born... and I remember wondering, even that first day, what I'd gotten myself into. Granted, a lot of the things I worried about initially didn't end up being that big a deal. I worried about breastfeeding, which he took to like a pro. I worried about supporting his head, holding him correctly, and changing his diaper right. All that stuff just fell into place. When your baby's there, expecting you to take care of him, you get past the fear of doing things wrong and just focus on doing what needs to be done.

On the other hand, there were a few things I underestimated about parenthood... for example, the ongoing shortage of time. We imagined naps and early bedtimes, with at least some amount of time to ourselves. After months of blaming Sam's sleeping issues on diaper rashes or teething, we're beginning to think the kid just isn't much of a sleeper. So crafting — along with eating, showering, and bill-paying — all get squeezed into extremely limited naptimes.

Over the months, I've come up with some ways to make the best use of the polymer clay time I do have. Here are a few of them:

  • Pre-condition your clay. While someone else has the baby (so you're not worried about being too noisy), use a food processor to bulk condition various colors of clay. That way you can get right to work when naptime rolls around, without being tempted to under-condition the clay just to get to the fun part.
  • Cover your work surface. I got pretty frustrated having to spend precious naptime cleaning dust and hair off my partially-completed clay pieces. Turns out, one of those plastic under-the-bed storage containers fits nicely over my self-healing mat. Now when I finish my crafting session, I can cover my works in progress.
  • Use someone else's project. You may have noticed I started doing more book review projects in the months after Sam's birth. This was my way of keeping my hands in the clay even though I had limited time for creating. If you have trouble coming up with something to work on when you're pressed for time, consider looking at books and tutorials online. Following someone else's guidelines gives you a way to get good results without as much risk of failure.
  • Follow those safety guidelines. Be sure to wash clay off your hands before handling the baby (I love the Polymer Clay Cookbook's sugar scrub for this). You may also want to look at ways to make the baking process safer. I was fine with using a toaster oven in my craft room when it was just me, but I moved it to a separate part of the house when I found out I was pregnant.
  • Try to get some dedicated crafting time. If you have family members who are willing to take care of your little one and give you a few hours alone, take them up on their offer. It's amazing what filling the creative well can do. I can tell a big difference in the way I relate to my son when I've just come from a fulfilling time in my craft room. I'm happier, so I can enjoy my time with him more.

Of course, I'm still new at this. We're just now starting on the getting-into-everything phase, so I'm sure I'll have a lot to learn when it comes to that. Whether you have additional new mom tips to share or suggestions for surviving toddlerhood, I would love to hear from you!

November 2, 2009

The Polymer Clay CookbookThe Polymer Clay Cookbook

My husband bought our Halloween candy too early again this year — so early, in fact, that we had to buy another bag by the time Halloween actually rolled around. And as luck would have it, we had fewer trick-or-treaters than normal. So now there's post-Halloween candy calling our names, too. Between Halloween leftovers and the temptations of the coming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, this time of year can be a dieter's worst nightmare.

But those same temptations make the holidays a foodie's delight. And if you're a foodie, then The Polymer Clay Cookbook: Tiny Food Jewelry to Whip Up and Wear by Jessica and Susan Partain may be just the book for you. As the authors say in the intro, "to celebrate food is, we think, to celebrate life." This book celebrates miniature polymer clay food jewelry, and it serves up the how-tos with a generous helping of food-related memories. The authors even sprinkle in a few edible recipes for good measure.

The Book

Continue reading "Review: The Polymer Clay Cookbook by Jessica and Susan Partain" »

September 29, 2009

Studio by Sculpey Shape Makers Leaf Set IVSeems like we all have our little autumn traditions. Lisa Clarke makes her First Day of Fall Pumpkin Bread. I've mentioned my candy corn tradition here before. But another sure sign it's fall is when I start searching the trees for leaves that are still in good enough condition to make leaf impressions in polymer clay.

See, leaf impressions were one of the first projects that got me hooked on polymer clay. I love the tiny detail lines you can get by pressing a real leaf into polymer clay. But the urge to make these leaves doesn't come until fall for me... just about the time good leaves are getting difficult to find. And there's only a certain number of times you can pick leaves off the neighbor's tree before they start looking at you funny.

So I was really excited when I won the Studio by Sculpey Shape Makers Leaf Set IV at the IPCA Retreat. I wondered if this would give me an easy way to make polymer clay leaves even after leaf season was over.

Continue reading "Review: Studio by Sculpey Shape Makers Leaf Set IV" »

September 9, 2009

Pardo Jewellery ClayI'll be honest with you. I've had a packet of Peridot-colored Pardo Jewellery Clay sitting on my desk ever since the IPCA Retreat in July, just waiting for me to dig in and try it. Actually it sat on my desk a few weeks, then got demoted to my desk drawer, then to my storage cabinet. I usually enjoy trying out new clays, so even I was surprised when my guild members asked me about it, and I remembered I hadn't even opened the package.

My reluctance to review it here stemmed from two things. First, the cost. The Pardo clay is significantly more expensive than the brands we've already got. Second, I felt that the manufacturer was doing a really poor job with their distribution of the clay. They initially listed a contact person at one U.S. company, but I never got a response despite sending multiple emails. The primary U.S. supplier seemed to be having a hard time getting shipments in to fill her orders. So I didn't feel like it was important to review a product that was overly expensive and difficult for the average clayer to get their hands on.

BUT when I saw that my local Hobby Lobby was now offering it alongside their other polymer clays, I figured I ought to give it a try.

Pardo Clay Overview

In case you haven't heard of it yet, Pardo clay is made by Viva Decor, a company in Germany. They have 70 colors, including many metallics and colors with glitter inclusions. Since it's a jewelry clay, most of their color names are based on precious metals and gemstones. A unique feature about the clay is that it includes beeswax as one of its ingredients. The clay is sold in 2 sizes: a 2.7 oz. jar and a 1.2 oz. mini-pack.


Continue reading "Review: Pardo Jewellery Clay" »

August 7, 2009

Michael's Craft Smart ClayI happened down the clay aisle at Michael's yesterday and noticed they were in the process of stocking the shelves with a new Craft Smart brand clay. Judging from the fact that the package says "Distributed by Michael's Stores" — and the fact that I also saw Craft Smart glue, paint, paintbrushes, and more — I'm guessing this is the Michael's store brand.

The price stickers were up ($1.29/package), but the shelves were empty. So while the employee was on another aisle, I sneaked a package off of his stocking basket (shhh — don't tell!).

Store brands tend to be products that have been manufactured by someone else, then private labeled with the store's brand name. With that in mind, I started trying to figure out who might have manufactured this clay. I originally thought it might be Sculpey III repackaged, based on that clay's popularity. But once I got my packet home and opened it up, it felt softer than Sculpey III. As I played with it a little more, I realized it felt familiar... a lot like that Bake Shop Clay I reviewed a couple of months ago. I investigated a little more and noticed the package directions are the same on the two clays: "Knead clay 2 minutes. Bake at 275 ° for 15 minutes per 1/4" thickness..." The Bake Shop clay was the first clay I'd seen with a specific time in their conditioning instructions, and I doubt it's a coincidence that this new clay's instructions match it. So I feel pretty confident that Michael's new clay is a private label of the Bake Shop clay.

There are 15 colors: Black, Brown, Tan, Bright Green, Green, Light Blue, Blue, Purple, Light Purple, Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Beige, and White.

Like any clay, it may have its uses in the serious clayer's workshop, but overall this is a very soft clay intended for kids.

July 21, 2009

As I mentioned in my IPCA retreat wrap-up, Polyform (the makers of Sculpey, Studio by Sculpey, Premo, etc.) sent their chemist, Kim, and their education manager, Iris, to hold a question and answer session. This session was very popular with the attendees and extremely valuable to me. Here are the highlights of the discussion:

Continue reading "More from the IPCA Retreat: Polyform Q&A" »

July 17, 2009

Maureen Carlson: Making FacesWow! That's my one-word wrap-up of the 2009 International Polymer Clay Guild Retreat. I wasn't sure what to expect from my first retreat... but it turned out to be everything I'd hoped it would be.

These were a few of the highlights for me:

  • The attendee bags were filled with some really nice goodies. I'm looking forward to trying the Pardo clay and the Premo Frost (up til now, I've just used their regular translucent).
  • Suzanne Ivester (what a nice person!) shared lots of uses for Blu-Tack (what a handy material!). She's also posted this list of Blu-Tack uses online. My favorite tip: use a glob of Blu-Tack to keep liquid clay lids in place when you take the bottles to classes.

Continue reading "Polymer Clay Retreat Wrap-Up" »

July 12, 2009

I'm sitting in the amazingly nice hotel at the 2009 International Polymer Clay Guild Retreat in Chicago. Hubby and I arrived around 9 p.m., after spending most of the last two days in the car with our (thankfully) usually-happy 5-month-old.

I went down to the main retreat workroom last night long enough to check in and do some preliminary set up. Having never been to any claying event larger than a guild meeting, I was wowed by everything. I picked a table halfway between Christi Friesen and Lisa Pavelka, thinking how fortunate I am to get to see some of my clay "heroes" in action. The goody bags were awesome — filled with clay (Studio by Sculpey, Premo and Pardo), clay tools, and a few samplers I'm not even sure what to do with.

Our car was packed pretty full (how can a little baby require so much stuff!?), but I'm already wishing I'd brought a few more supplies to work with — especially my alcohol inks. I suppose I could use this as an excuse to buy more... but everything has to fit in that same car for the trip home!

The schedule's busy, but I'm planning on tweeting as I go (look for the #ipca09 hashtag).

Also, a question for you. Polyform (makers of Sculpey, Premo, etc) will be sending one of their chemists for a Q&A session tomorrow. Do you have anything you'd like to ask? Leave a comment, and I'll try to pass your questions along.

July 9, 2009

Ancient ModernEver heard of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo)? It's a yearly event where people sign up to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. It's exhilarating. It's crazy. And everybody should do it at least once. (When you do, read NanoWriMo founder Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem! first to get in the right frame of mind.)

While I'm sure Ronna Sarvas Weltman didn't write Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay + Wire Jewelry in a month, there's still something about it that reminds me of NaNoWriMo. But more on that in a minute.

The Book

Continue reading "Review: Ancient Modern by Ronna Sarvas Weltman" »

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!

June 16, 2009

CraftyGoat's Notes: 6 Masculine Gifts to Make with Polymer Clay

Crafting handmade gifts for men takes a little extra creativity — guys don't always appreciate delicate, flowery things. Fortunately, polymer clay is an incredibly flexible medium that offers a lot of options for masculine projects too.

Here are a few gift ideas for the men in your life:

1. Pen Set

Faux Burled Red Maple Desk Set

Pens are one of the quickest polymer clay projects to make, and they can be really classy-looking gifts, especially if you use a pen kit. (See my pen kit tutorial for instructions.)

Continue reading "6 Masculine Gifts to Make with Polymer Clay" »

June 12, 2009

Polymer Clay Mixed Media Jewelry by Shirley Rufener

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I'm a bit of a supply junkie. In theory, I like that all you need for polymer clay is your fingers. But in reality, I'm always tempted by the newest gadget, tool, or supply. I'll find some excuse to justify getting it — but then, more often than I like to admit, that thing will sit for months or even years unused in my craft closet. I feel guilty about it. But it doesn't stop me from doing it again the next time a really interesting-sounding product comes out.

I suspect it's a pretty common situation for crafters. I've known scrapbookers with stacks and stacks of patterned papers (none of which they wanted to actually use) and rubber stampers with literally thousands of stamps. As long as you're actually using those things, it's really not a problem. But collecting supplies you never use can weigh you down — and you don't want anything weighing down your creativity!

Shirley Rufener's Polymer Clay Mixed Media Jewelry is just the book for supply junkies. This book's projects incorporate some of those supplies you might have bought but never gotten around to using: things like chalks, alcohol inks, metal leaf, embossing powders, custom stamp-making kits, precious metal clay, resin, and more.

There are a couple of things that really set this book apart. First, it has an excellent introduction. At 22 pages, it's longer than normal, but it includes instructions for using polymer clay and precious metal clay, plus the basics of jewelry assembly. I especially liked the examples of matching end cap and closures made from polymer clay. I also found the introduction to precious metal clay helpful (that's one of those supplies I've had in my closet and have been afraid to use). Rufener has instructions for working with it and firing it, plus step-by-step instructions for making your own metal clay bails. She also has a nice picture showing the different effects you can achieve using liver of sulfur patina.

Continue reading "Review: Polymer Clay Mixed Media Jewelry by Shirley Rufener" »

June 3, 2009

Bake Shop Clay

Polyform recently announced their new Bake Shop Clay. It's a part of the Sculpey line and is marketed towards school-age children. And while serious polymer clay artists and crafters may not be interested in this clay, many polymer clayers also clay with little ones who might be interested in it. So here's my impressions, along with the impressions of 5 little clayers.

About the Clay

Bake Shop clay is non-toxic, lead-free, and phthalate-free. (Interestingly enough, when I asked about the phthlates in their other clays, Polyform's Education Manager Iris Weiss said, "All of our clays comply to Prop 65, almost all are phthalate-free, all of our children’s products are definitely phthalate-free.") Bake Shop is sold in individual 2-ounce packets, or in a multi-color sampler pack. Colors include: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, White, Brown, Black, Beige, Hot Pink and Tan.

My Impressions

The Polyform folks are marketing this to kids, not polymer clay artisans, although they point out that they "have seen masterpieces created from Original Sculpey." Good point. So even though I'm not their target audience, I wanted to give the clay a test run myself.

Continue reading "Bake Shop Clay: Review and Giveaway" »

May 19, 2009

Christi Friesen: Birds of a FeatherSteampunk. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

That's what kept going through my head as I opened the package containing Christi Friesen's new book, Birds of a Feather.

You may remember how disappointed I was to realize Friesen's Polymer Clay and Mixed Media book didn't have any of her latest steampunk stuff. Well, this is the book that has it. I've been eager to try my hand at a steampunk-style project, and I admit I skipped right to that chapter when I got the book. I wasn't disappointed, either. But more about that later...

The Book

At 50 pages, Birds of a Feather is a pretty small book. But Friesen fits a lot into that space — each page is packed with pictures and text. She fits it all in beautifully, too. This book is an example of self-publishing gone very right. I love the cover (much better than the last book's cover), I love the illustrations... I love it all.

Continue reading "Review: Birds of a Feather by Christi Friesen" »

May 12, 2009

IPCA Retreat: I'll Be There. Will You?I am now registered for the International Polymer Clay Association Retreat, which will be held in Chicago this July. This is my first retreat — heck, it's my first time to attend any polymer clay event besides a guild meeting — so I'm sure I'll learn a ton. (It's also our first big road trip with our baby, so there's a good chance I'll be learning a ton on very little sleep.)

Christi Friesen will be doing a day's worth of demos, plus there are demos scheduled with Judy Belcher, Seth Savarick, Kathi Gose, Julie Picarello, Lorrene Davis, and Lisa Pavelka. So it really looks like a great event! Anybody else out there planning on going? Any tips for a new attendee?

May 5, 2009

A few posts back, I talked about using the cookie cutter method to accurately measure polymer clay. While that's a quick way to do it, sometimes one of these methods might work better for a particular task:

  1. Polymer Clay TemplateUse a polymer clay template. Polymer clay templates are clear plastic sheets with holes for measuring balls of polymer clay. They also include diagrams showing Fimo, Sculpey, Premo & Cernit clay bars, so you can determine clay amounts for 1/4 block, 1/16 block, etc.'s Miniatures site has an article with more info about polymer clay templates.
    • What it's good for: including standardized measurements in project instructions for someone else to use; giving measurements based on package sizes; determining how much of a package of clay a project uses (to help you determine costs).
  2. Marxit / PolyRulerUse a Marxit. A Marxit tool (also called a Polyruler) has equally-spaced indentations along each of its 6 sides, with increments ranging from 3 mm to 20 mm. If you're a seamstress and don't want to make an extra purchase, you could also use your sewing guage. [Sewing guage tip via Katherine Dewey's Creating Life-Like Animals in Polymer Clay, reviewed here.]
    • What it's good for: getting equal-sized slices of canes; cutting even strips from a sheet of clay; cutting lots of same-sized pieces from an extruded snake
  3. Slice & dice. The simplest methods are sometimes the best. As Sue commented on my previous post, cutting a ball in half is a good low-tech way to get equal amounts. If you don't trust yourself to cut a ball right down the middle, try rolling it into a log and using a ruler to find the halfway point.
    • What it's good for: making measurements when you don't have (or don't want to bother with) special tools; making same-sized body parts for a sculpture

Any other suggestions?

April 21, 2009

sundae by ginnerobotViolette Laporte's Inside Out blog just had a good tip for making mokume gane easier:

Instead of curving your blade to do the shaving of thin slivers, I like to curve the polymer clay sheet and use a straight blade. To give my clay sheet a gentle curve, I place it on a large jar (or an ice cream container).

Read the whole thing here: Tip # 31

Not only does Violette give us a way to make mokume gane and mica shift easier... but she encourages us to empty an ice cream container first in order to do so. Best tip ever!

For another neat mokume gane trick, check out Tonja Lenderman's Scrap Polymer Clay Mokume Gane Sheet tutorial (found via CraftGossip Polymer Clay). Instead of stacking multiple sheets of clay, she recommends chopping up scrap clay to make a single sheet. Fun clay recycling tip — and just in time for Earth Day!

April 16, 2009

Measuring same amounts of claySometimes, when you need two pieces of about the same amount of clay, you can eyeball it and get close enough. But sometimes you want to be a little more exact. For example:

  • Making same-sized parts: Earrings look best if they're both the same size (unless you're trying for that uneven look!). Same goes for strands of beads.
  • Color-mixing recipes: If you're mixing 3 parts yellow and 1 part orange to get the perfect color, it's nice to have a defined size for each "part."
  • Re-creating previous projects: For products I sell, I like to keep detailed instructions so I can re-create an item. Knowing measurements means it's much easier to make this pair of earrings the same size as the last pair the customer ordered.

Here's an easy way to accurately measure polymer clay:

  1. Roll out a sheet of clay to any thickness you like on your pasta machine. (If you're writing instructions for later, make a note of the thickness you chose.)
  2. Use a cookie cutter to cut out a circle of clay.
    • For color-mixing, each circle of clay is a "part" — so the cutter's size and shape don't really matter.
    • Otherwise, make a note of which size of cookie cutter you used. I use a Sharpie to number my cookie cutters, starting with 1 as the smallest, so I can just make a note of which number cutter I used.

Got your own favorite way to measure polymer clay? I'd love to hear it — just leave me a comment!

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.

February 6, 2009

Valentine's Day Shoe BoxBack when I was a kid, we had to walk 10 miles...

Oh wait, no. That's my dad's story.

Back when I was a kid, Valentine's Day was a big deal. We'd always decorate shoeboxes with lace doilies and pink and red construction paper hearts, then we'd set those boxes out in hopes of collecting special Valentine's Day cards from special someones in our class.

Apparently this has changed, at least in some schools. Some skip the tradition all together, worried that the less popular kids will feel left out. Other schools use the same reason to mandate giving cards to every kid in the class.

Not so in my day. Getting a card from the kid you had a crush on was of utmost importance. And the design and making of the box was a big part of that.

This Valentine's Day shoebox project is a grown-up version of those school day boxes. But it's also something more. The stamped background is generic, so the interchangeable polymer clay decorations, attached to brads, are what match the box to the season. The heart decorations that make it a Valentine's Day box can be swapped out with four-leaf clovers for St. Patrick's Day, or zombies for Halloween. A perfect all-occasion box!

And it's a totally easy project — it doesn't take much longer than the doily-covered version from the old days. Here's how to do it:


Continue reading "How to Make a (Not Just for) Valentine's Day Box" »

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.

December 19, 2008

CraftyGoat's Notes: How to Make a Polymer Clay Button Wreath

I love the vintage button wreaths I've been seeing on Flickr. But what if you don't have enough vintage buttons in coordinating colors? Or perhaps you're like me and you're unwilling to commit the buttons you do have...?

Polymer clay to the rescue!

I used mold putty and polymer clay to put together this monochromatic button wreath. Of course, there are unlimited possibilities — using different colors of buttons, different shape bases, etc. And hey, if you've got almost enough real buttons to make a wreath, you could just use these steps to fill in the holes with some color-coordinated polymer clay buttons. Here are the basics to get you started.


  • Amazing Mold Putty
  • buttons for molding
  • polymer clay in your choice of colors
  • either liquid polymer clay OR a hot glue gun
  • clay blade or needle tool


Continue reading "How to Make a Polymer Clay Button Wreath" »

November 25, 2008

Sharpening Clay BladeI got a nice email from Janet, who read my review of Studio by Sculpey's Super Slicer Blades and had a suggestion for my old dull blade:

"I read a tip once (from Lisa Pavelka I believe) that you can sharpen your blades by running them through a sheet of sandpaper. Maybe you can try that on your original blade."

Sure enough, a couple of Lisa Pavelka's books have blade-sharpening tips. And an online search found a few more. If you have a dull clay blade you need to sharpen, here are some resources:

I sharpened my old blade, and I have to say I'm happy with the results. I used a sanding block, starting with 400 grit sandpaper for my super-dull blade and progressing up to 1000 grit. It took all of about 10 minutes, and while I wouldn't say my blade's as good as new, it's definitely better than it's been in years!

Of course, you should be very careful sharpening these blades. And don't forget to handle your blade more carefully once it's sharp again. I don't wanna hear about any severed fingers!

Thanks to Janet for the tip. While it's sometimes tempting to just replace tools (especially the relatively-inexpensive ones), it's often better to buy better-quality tools to begin with and maintain or repair them whevever possible.

November 11, 2008

Clay QuiltsThe very-generous Maria Maestri allowed me to teach a couple of projects from her Simply Ornaments CD (reviewed here) to my local polymer clay guild last weekend. As I was preparing samples for the class, I tried to come up with a variety of suggestions for changing up the projects and personalizing the characters. Turns out, one of the easiest ways to do that is to dress your characters up in different polymer clay clothes.

Here are a few ways to make your own "fabric" from polymer clay — whether you need it to clothe your custom characters or make mini clay quilts:

Continue reading "Making Clothes and Quilts for Your Polymer Clay Creations" »

October 31, 2008

Jar of Polymer Clay EyeballsNeed one more thing to make your Halloween decor complete? Try this quick and easy project! Polymer clay eyeballs float in a jar of colored water to make a delightfully weird conversation piece for your home or office.


  • Polymer Clay: White Ultralight Sculpey plus tiny amounts of black. red. and any color of your choice
  • Jar
  • Food Coloring
  • Water
  • Optional: Alcohol Inks, Pasta Machine, Clay Extruder, Small Round Cookie Cutter, Kato Clear Liquid Medium


Continue reading "Halloween Tutorial: Eyeballs in a Jar" »

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!

August 27, 2008

Baking Surface OptionsA few weeks back, I talked about how to avoid burning polymer clay. Several of you shared great comments with your own tips. And as part of that, folks made several suggestions for baking surfaces. I thought I'd do a separate post here talking about some of my favorite baking surfaces, as well as highlighting some of your suggestions.

My Favorite Baking Surface

My baking surface of choice is a toaster-oven sized pizza stone I found at a garage sale a few years back. (Here's a similar one available online for $17.) There are a couple of features I really like about it:

Continue reading "Favorite Baking Surfaces for Polymer Clay" »

August 22, 2008

Tag Options for Bottles of HopeI've been finishing up some Bottles of Hope for my guild, and I thought it might be useful to talk about some tag options.

For any of you who aren't familiar with Bottles of Hope, they're bottles that are decorated with polymer clay, then given to cancer patients. (For more info, read about Bottles of Hope or watch my video tutorial.) The name "Bottles of Hope" comes from the practice of writing wishes and putting them inside. As program founder Diane Gregoire explains:

"I told my friends to just make a wish, write it down and put it in the bottle, and it would come true. I don't know why, but we all just believed this... maybe because we just wanted to, or that it was something to hold on to."

And while many polymer clay artists choose to leave their bottles empty so cancer patients can fill them with their own wishes, a lot of artists like to include their own special quotes for the bottle recipients. If you're interested in putting a message of hope with your bottle, here are a few options for how to do it:

Ways to Enclose the Message

Continue reading "Tag Ideas for Bottles of Hope" »

August 12, 2008

Glue FavesMickey was making compacts with polymer clay on top, and she e-mailed me to ask which glues work best:

"They say E6000 pops off easily and Crafter's Pick Ultimate Glue also pops off. Any suggestions?"

As the good folks over at This to That will tell you, glue choices depend a lot on what you're gluing together. Not every glue works well for every surface. But here are a few of my favorite glues to use with polymer clay:

Continue reading "Quick Tip: Which Glues Work Best with Polymer Clay?" »

August 8, 2008

Polymer Clay Ultrasound FrameFor this final post in my stamping with polymer clay series, I thought I'd use the heat embossing technique from my video to create a polymer clay frame.

If you've ever had an ultrasound photo you wanted to frame — whether it's to share your own good news with friends and loved ones, or to frame your soon-to-be-grandchild's photo on the fridge — you've probably run into two problems. First, ultrasound photos aren't always a standard size (2 5/8" × 4", for example). And second, well, honestly, they're not always great photos. Sometimes it's hard for the un-educated eye to find which part is the baby. Today's project is a stamped polymer clay magnet frame that fixes both of those problems. It's easy to make the frame in any size. And the hand-formed hanging heart will highlight the important part of the photo.

Even if you don't have an ultrasound photo you need to frame, you can use these steps to quickly frame any size photo with polymer clay!


Continue reading "How to Make an Ultrasound Frame" »

August 1, 2008

Whether you're new to heat embossing, or just new to heat embossing on polymer clay, my latest video should help you get a handle on this stamping technique. The video runs about 7 1/2 minutes, and shows how to heat emboss on both baked and unbaked clay.

Here are photos of a couple of projects from the video — click the description to see a larger view:

In my next post (the final in the polymer clay rubber stamping series), I'll show you how to use heat embossing to make a unique polymer clay photo frame.

Posts in This Series:
  1. Rubber Stamping Basics for Polymer Clay
  2. Rubber Stamp Techniques for Polymer Clay
  3. How to Make a Rubber Stamped Coaster
  4. Video: How to Heat Emboss on Polymer Clay
  5. How to Make an Ultrasound Frame

July 28, 2008

Rubber Stamped Coaster, CompleteIn my previous post, I talked about some of the basic techniques for stamping on polymer clay. Today we're going one step beyond the basics and talking about "masking." Masking is a technique frequently used in rubber stamping, where you cut out a stamped image and use it to block (or "mask") the finish you're applying to the surrounding area. (Here's a nice masking tutorial if you're not familiar with the idea.) For today's project, we'll use a bird mask and chalks to create a coaster from polymer clay.


Continue reading "How to Make a Rubber Stamped Coaster" »

July 24, 2008

So you've stocked up on all the right supplies for stamping on polymer clay... Now what? Not all of the basic rubber stamping rules for paper apply to polymer clay. Plus there are some options for stamping polymer clay that you just don't have with paper — like using your stamp as a texture tool. Here's an overview of some different ways you can use stamps with polymer clay.

Stamping On Unbaked Clay

Continue reading "Rubber Stamp Techniques for Polymer Clay" »

July 18, 2008

Rubber Stamping and Polymer ClayRubber stamps are handy tools to use with polymer clay. They're easy to find in a wide variety of styles and designs. And there are all sorts of ways to use them with clay, whether you're wanting texture, surface decoration, or some other effect.

Still, all the different types of stamps and inks can be a little overwhelming for folks who are new to stamping. And even if you're an old pro at using rubber stamps with paper, there are a few things you have to keep in mind when you're using them with polymer clay. So I'm starting a series of posts on using rubber stamps with polymer clay. Today we'll talk about the basics, including which inks and stamps to use, tips on release agents, and suggestions for cleaning your stamps.

Inks, Inks Everywhere... But Which Kinds Can I Use?

All inks are not created equal. You need to pay attention to more than just the pretty colors when you pick up an ink pad at your craft store. Here's a run-down of the different types of inks:

Continue reading "Rubber Stamping Basics for Polymer Clay" »

July 11, 2008

Burned Clay PiecesAll too often, the first question I hear from polymer clay newbies is how to keep their clay from burning.

I hate that question. Not because it's a difficult question to answer — but because I know the heartbreak reflected in having to ask it. I've had my share of burned pieces over the years, and some of them were just devastating. I'm not usually overly emotional, but I've definitely shed some tears over ruined work. And I know that kind of disappointment can be enough to keep a new clayer from ever touching the stuff again.

Plus, maybe it's like the Murphy's Law of Polymer Clay, but it seems to me that more work you put into a project, the more likely you are to run into problems baking it. One clay artist calls those burned pieces her "sacrifice to the clay gods." (The quote stuck with me, but not the name of the artist I got it from — please leave a comment if you know.)

In the interest of keeping those sacrifices to a minimum, here's a few tips on keeping your polymer clay pieces from burning:

Continue reading "Polymer Clay: The Burning Question" »

June 26, 2008

Spearmint Lip Balm Tin (Open)Recently, my dentist's office started including a spearmint lip balm along with their normal care packet of toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. I'd never tried spearmint lip balm before, and I fell in love with this particular one. I used it daily (at least) and ran out well before I was scheduled for another dentist's appointment. After searching the internet, I found that the maker only sold it in large quantities as a promotional item.

Faced with the options of:
A) buying 500-1000 tubes of lip balm
B) scheduling an extra trip to the dentist, or
C) trying to make some lip balm of my own
... well, let's just say it was an easy decision! And fortunately it turned out pretty well.

Here's some tips on making your own homemade lip balm (with fresh spearmint leaves), plus instructions for making a perfectly coordinated spearmint tin out of polymer clay to put your balm in. Use spearmint straight from your garden to give an extra-special touch to this wonderful homemade summertime gift!

Minty Lip Balm Tin

Continue reading "How To: Homemade Lip Balm and Lip Balm Tin" »

June 20, 2008

Using Corn Starch to Prevent Air BubblesDon't you just hate air bubbles? Your polymer clay piece may look perfect when you put it in the oven, but then those air bubbles appear during baking and ruin the look. There are various ways to prevent bubbles, such as conditioning the clay properly (don't trap air inside clay folds as you run it through your pasta machine), or looking for and popping air bubbles trapped when you're covering something with clay.

But my tip today is specifically for the air bubbles that are created when you're baking a flat sheet of clay — the sort of sheet you might use for stamping or scrapbooking punches or for Artist Trading Cards. I've found that, especially if I work on the same surface I'm baking on, the clay may stick to the baking surface in places. It's easy to trap air in the places where it's not stuck, in which case the sheet may end up as a bubbly and not-so-flat sheet after baking.

Here's how to prevent those air bubbles. Put a light dusting of cornstarch all over your baking tile. The cornstarch will prevent the polymer clay from sticking to the tile, which helps prevent the bubbles.

If you're working and baking on the same tile, try lifting the polymer clay sheet up before baking to make sure it's not stuck. Dust with cornstarch before you replace the polymer clay sheet.

Once you've baked the clay, you'll want to wash and sand off any extra cornstarch, at least if the back of your clay sheet will be visible in your project. That may mean an extra step if you're not normally a sander. Still, I find this is much easier than trying to sand down the air bubbles that would otherwise appear on the project's surface!

I've been dusting my baking tiles with cornstarch for a while now and have noticed a definite improvement. Give it a try & let me know if it works for you!

June 18, 2008

Different Powder TypesSaturday's lesson at my guild went well. We had a big group, & I think everyone enjoyed making coasters.

One question came up that I wasn't prepared for, though. I was talking about the different types of "resists" (also called release agents) you can use to keep your rubber stamp from sticking to polymer clay when you're stamping without ink. A spritz of water is one option, though it doesn't work for all clays (specifically, UltraLight Sculpey gets sticky when wet). Another option is dusting the sheet of clay with powder (such as baby powder, corn starch, or baking soda) before stamping.

As I was going over these options one of my guild members asked, "How do you keep the powder from filling in the grooves?" Apparently when she'd tried this in the past, the powdery bits had gotten stuck in the impressions of her stamped clay. I asked which type of powder she was using, thinking some powders might work better than others. But when she answered, I realized I didn't know what I was using!

See, I've had the same little baggie of white powder sitting on my craft desk for years. I poured a bunch of something into it a long time ago, and just haven't needed to refill it. And in the meantime, I've forgotten what I used. As an aside, this makes me slightly uncomfortable every time I drive to guild. What if a highway patrolman pulled me over? How would it look to have a little baggie full of white powdery stuff, especially if I couldn't readily identify what it was? I always drive especially carefully on guild days. :-)

Anyway, after I got home, I did a taste test to see what I'm actually using. (I don't recommend this, by the way. Baby powder and baking soda do NOT taste yummy.) Turns out my baggie's filled with corn starch.

The Test

Continue reading "Comparing Different Powders as Rubber Stamp Resists" »

June 11, 2008

The Makin's Ultimate Clay Extruder has a lot of nice features... but there is one nagging little problem. It squeaks as you turn the handle. Squeaks like a little mouse. It drives my dogs crazy!

Admittedly, it's not a big deal in the grand scope of things. But if the squeaking has started to grate on your nerves, here's a 5-minute fix to make your extruder squeak-free. Credit for this tip goes to my fellow guild member, April (aka Kreative Karma). Our guild meetings aren't quiet by any stretch of the imagination — but since she showed us this tip, I haven't heard a squeak!


Materials: Squeak-Free ExtruderHere's what you need to make your extruder squeak-free:
  • The extruder
  • WD-40
  • paper towels


Continue reading "Silent Extruding: Getting Rid of the Squeak" »

June 8, 2008

Due to popular request, I've put together this video showing how to use & clean the Makin's Ultimate Clay Extruder. The video also shows how to use the extruder to make coiled polymer clay beads, then sand the beads to reveal the colors hidden inside. The video runs about 9 1/2 minutes.

Here are a couple of shots from the video — click the description to see a larger view:

Prefer written instructions over video? See the updated version of How to Use and Clean the Makin's Ultimate Clay Extruder.

Posts In This Series:

Buy the Makin's Ultimate Clay Extruder now.

June 2, 2008

Extruder DiscsFor some reason, I always have trouble determining which extruder disc to use on a particular project. I can picture in my mind the size snake I want, for example, but I can't translate that to picking the right size disc. I end up laying all of the circle-shaped discs side by side and studying them, holding each one up next to my project. Still, the snake I choose somehow ends up being bigger than I would have expected from the size of the disc hole.

I think I have trouble translating the hole size of the disc into what the side view will look like once it's extruded, if that makes any sense. Is it just me? Or do you guys have this problem too?

Close-Up of Extruder Disc Cheat SheetIn an attempt to make this process slightly easier for me, I made an extruder disc "cheat sheet." I extruded a sample of each shape and glued it alongside a scanned image of the disc itself. Seeing the actual snake size — not just the hole in the disc — seems to help me pick the right disc for my projects.

Here's instructions for making your own extruder disc cheat sheet, if you're interested.

Continue reading "Getting to Know Your Extruder's Discs" »

May 29, 2008

Back when I got my Makin's Ultimate Clay Extruder, the packaging was a bit on the sparse side. I had a little trouble figuring out where things went, what that O-ring was for & how exactly I was supposed to use the thing.

That's been a few years now, so Makin's may have improved the packaging. But just in case anyone else is puzzled, here's some instructions on how to use and clean your Makin's extruder.

How to Use It

Continue reading "How to Use and Clean the Makin's Ultimate Clay Extruder" »

May 18, 2008

Green and Blue PincushionA couple of years back, I bought one of those generic wood-handled sculpting tool kits at Michael's. While I had no idea what most of the tools were for (& still don't for some of them!), I quickly came to rely on its needle tool. I used it for all sorts of things -- poking, cutting and otherwise. It didn't dawn on me for quite some time that I could have easily made my own needle tool. Furthermore, it wasn't til I was working through Katherine Dewey's Creating Life-Like Animals in Polymer Clay that I saw the benefit of having different-sized needles for different jobs.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and visited the sewing section at the store, stocking up on half a dozen tapestry, sewing & knitting needles to work through Dewey's book. And for the last several weeks, I've had these needles sitting casually on my craft desk... the same desk from which things often mysteriously disappear and which cats have been known to raid.

So I was thrilled when I saw this tin can pincushion project by Design*Sponge. Said cats generate more than their share of kitty food cans to use for the project, and of course I like the recycling aspect. I decided to try making a polymer-clay covered pincushion to store my sculpting needles, so they'd be in a slightly safer environment.

Here's how I made mine:


Continue reading "Polymer Clay Pincushion" »

May 14, 2008

A Perfect SquareNeed to cut a polymer clay square but don't have the right size cookie cutter? Here's an easy way to get a perfectly straight-edged square (or rectangle) every time:

  1. Step 1: Find graph paperFind a sheet of graph paper. If you don't have any -- or if the grid on yours is the wrong size to be useful -- you can print your own graph paper online, selecting just about any size grid you like. If you know what size you need your polymer clay square to be, count out how many squares that equals on the grid (i.e., 7 across by 7 down). It may be helpful to outline the edges with a pen or highlighter, especially if you'll be re-using the template to cut lots of pieces the same size.
  2. Step 2: Lay clay on wax paperPlace the graph paper under a sheet of wax paper. (Working directly on the paper could lead to an accidental image transfer.) Roll out a sheet of clay to the desired thickness, and lay it on top of the wax paper. It helps if you press it down lightly so it sticks to the wax paper -- that way it won't wiggle while you're cutting.
  3. Step 3: Cut the ClayLine up your clay knife with the grid lines, and cut out your square. Viola -- perfect every time!

This post is the first in a new category on my blog: Quick Tips. It'll be a spot for me to jot down interesting observations & quick tricks I've found useful -- and with any luck, a spot where you'll discover some new things now & then too!

May 12, 2008

I enjoy doing experiments with polymer clay. I like creating my little "control group," then trying various things with the other groups. I think it reminds me of my high school science club (yep, I was a geek!). Or maybe I just feel like a mad scientist, running horrific experiments on my helpless polymer clay subjects. :-)

But as much as I enjoy doing these experiments myself, I think I enjoy it even more when someone else does one and shares their results. I love looking at the photos -- I'll often hold up my laptop screen til it's just inches from my eyes and study the differences intently. (This always earns me a funny look from my husband!)

So I've been excited to see several good experiments shared in the polymer clay blogosphere lately -- and I wanted to make sure you had a chance to check them out, too:

  • Jenny at Craft Test Dummies compares Kato Liquid Polyclay, TLS & Fimo Deco Gel for top coat and layering applications. I've preferred Kato over TLS for these uses for a while -- so I was especially interested in Jenny's impressions of the Fimo brand, which I haven't tried. It's a nice thorough report.
  • I've heard speculation before on whether adjusting the clay formulation yourself (through leaching or adding mineral oil) would affect its strength -- but I'd never actually seen tests on it. Cynthia Blanton ran strength tests on leached Premo and found some problems.
  • Michael at MossyOwls made polymer clay buttons, then tried a variety of finishes (liquid clay, acrylic paint, etc.) to see how they'd hold up in the washer & dryer. This is something I've always wondered about & her results aren't what I would have expected. Check them out!

Thanks to these gals for taking time to document their great tests... keep up the good work!

Update: Garie Sim just added a great article yesterday: Creating Your Own Colored Liquid Polymer Clay. Garie's site frequently features wonderfully-done, thorough experiments, and this comparison of how well the different liquid clay brands accept oil paint tinting is no exception.

May 9, 2008

Finished Card and NecklaceStill looking for a gift for mom? Look no further than your craft supply stash! Here's an easy way to make a matching card and necklace — perfect for Mother's Day or any other time you need a quick handmade gift. The card features a bottle cap button embellishment made from polymer clay, and the necklace features a matching pendant.


Continue reading "Quick Bottle Cap Jewelry and Card for Mom" »

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" »

April 21, 2008

Cardboard AssortmentIf you do much of your shopping online, you've probably built up quite a collection of cardboard shipping boxes. And, at least around here, cardboard boxes aren't part of the city's recycling program. So what to do with all that cardboard? Cover it with polymer clay, of course!

What Cardboard Is Good For

Continue reading "Tips for Covering Cardboard with Polymer Clay" »

April 18, 2008

Finished MagnetFinally, a crafty answer to that age-old question: Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean or dirty? This project takes a recycled can lid and turns it into a dishwasher magnet with a reversible Clean/Dirty indicator.


Continue reading "How to Make a Polymer Clay Magnet from a Recycled Can Lid" »

April 14, 2008

Teddy BearMy local polymer clay guild met Saturday, and new member Nance Ross taught us. Not only did I learn how to make these cute little articulated teddy bears, but I also learned what that means! (Articulated means his little arms & legs are movable, in case the term is new to anyone else.)

After a fun day at the Oklahoma guild on Saturday, hubby & I decided to make a quick trip down the interstate on Sunday to visit the North Texas Polymer Clay Guild. (Well, technically, I visited the guild; he hung out at places offering free wi-fi.) I'd been meaning to visit for a while now. After all, when I helped found our local guild 1 1/2 years ago, I had no idea what was supposed to happen at a guild meeting. I figured it's high time I learned! Plus I'd heard Laura Griffin was teaching this meeting, and I've always admired her style, both in polymer clay and in rubber stamping/paper crafts.

Continue reading "Bears, Beads & Bonding: Fun at Guild" »

April 11, 2008

With Earth Day just around the corner, this is a great time to consider how we can all be more conscientious about how we use resources. While it may not seem like an obvious Earth Day choice, good ol' plastic-based polymer clay can be part of some wonderful reuse & recycle projects. Here's 10 things you can save from the landfill & use with polymer clay:

Continue reading "Reuse & Recycle with Polymer Clay" »

April 5, 2008

Just wanted to share links to a few things going on in the polymer clay community:

  • If you've checked out my Bottles of Hope tutorials & are ready to create some bottles of your own, you'll be interested in what the gals at Polymer Clay Productions are up to. They're starting a regular Bottles of Hope challenge, with a new theme each week (the first theme is "Spring"). It sounds like a fun way to practice creativity while building up lots of bottles to donate. Check out their post here. Right now they're looking for a name for it -- and they're giving away Make It Mine magazines for the top 3 suggestions.
  • I was pleased to read the National Polymer Clay Guild's take on the ownership debate. Specifically, I liked that:
    • They state up-front that they're not trying to police the community.
    • Their "Rules to Live By" seem thoughtful and considerate. To me, it's a welcome clarification of & expansion to their previous, more vague-seeming ethics statement.
  • I hated to see Jeanne Rhea's post about leaving polymer clay, as she's one of those people whose interesting directions appeal to & inspire me. Jeanne is selling off her polymer clay work on her Etsy site, so check that out. But also be sure to read her "moving on" post. It includes a wise quote from columnist Ellen Goodman that I think all of us need to be reminded of from time to time: that moving on (whether it's in art or life) doesn't negate the importance of your past experience. A beautiful message!

I hope you're having a wonderfully creative weekend!

April 3, 2008

This video runs just under 8 minutes, and talks about the following:

  • Bottles of Hope history
  • Suggestions for finding bottles to cover
  • Bottle preparation
  • Bottle covering
  • Ideas for making your own Bottles of Hope

Not a big fan of videos? You might be more interested in this Bottle of Hope tutorial.

My guild had an excellent speaker this past weekend, a breast cancer survivor who's helping us get more involved in the Bottles of Hope program. I put together this information for our meeting & wanted to share it with you too.

What Are Bottles of Hope?

Finished Bottles of HopeBottles of Hope are polymer clay-covered bottles that are given to cancer patients to share hope & cheer. The Bottles of Hope (BOH) program was started in 1999 by cancer survivor and polymer clay artist Diane Gregoire. She covered empty medicine bottles from her treatment and took them to other patients, telling them to write a wish and put it inside. The program grew, and now polymer clay artists worldwide create the bottles to give to cancer patients.

Preparing the Bottles for Covering

Bottles to coverYou can cover any kind of bottle, or even other "vessels" like PVC pipe. But if you're going the traditional route and covering a medicine bottle, here are a few tips to help you prepare it for use:

Removing the Lid & Stopper

The medicine bottles with a rubber stopper and metal top can be a little tricky to open. Give these methods a try:
  • Removing lid with pliersUse pliers to pry the lid off from the bottom edge. You may need to go around and pry a few spots for this to work.
  • The metal is fairly thin, so it cuts or tears fairly easily. Working from the hole in the center of the top, use needle-nose pliers or metal snips to make cuts in the metal, then pry it off. (Wear gloves if you're using this method -- the tools and the metal can be sharp.)

Cleaning & Preparing

  • Soaking: You can soak the bottles overnight in soapy water, then rinse them out. This may also help remove any paper labels.
  • Boiling bottlesBoiling: You can also boil the bottles (as long as you remove the lids first). This has the added advantage of eliminating any contamination concerns.
  • Removing labelsRemoving Labels: Paper-based labels are easier to remove after soaking. The plastic labels remove easily even before soaking. Just use fingernails or tweezers to lift an edge, after which the label should peel right off.

Covering Basics

Continue reading "How to Make Bottles of Hope" »

March 28, 2008

All Lined Up for the Hammer TestIn my previous Studio by Sculpey review, I linked to a couple of folks who mentioned their Studio by Sculpey projects turned brittle a few weeks after baking. That hadn't been my experience at all, but I was still basing my long-term strength conclusions on the clay packet I got from a preview sample. I decided to run a few tests to see how the new off-the-shelf stuff stacks up.

The Setup

Continue reading "Studio by Sculpey Strength Tests" »

March 20, 2008

Bama's Favorite Toy Ever by angel_shark (Creative Commons)I usually try to avoid conflict, so I've been tempted to let the latest version of this whole ownership debate pass by without comment. But since I keep pestering my husband with discussions about it & composing blog post drafts in my head, I figured I might as well say what I'm thinking. If you're already sick of the whole thing, you have my permission to skip this post and come back tomorrow for something a little less heavy.

I'm talking generally about the ideas, not specifically about the latest issue -- but if you don't know which debate I'm talking about, you can get the gist of it from these posts:
  • Lisa started the conversation. Though the ensuing comments get a little negative at times, there are some interesting points -- I especially liked Jeanne Rhea's comments about utility patents (which protect truly unique techniques) and about her policy for others' teaching her techniques.
  • Kim Cavender shares her perspective as a teacher. Lotsa comments on this one, too. I especially enjoyed Maureen Carlson's (towards the bottom).
  • Lisa updated the discussion with links to several other online opinions.

Exclusive Rights to Subject Matters

Continue reading "The Great Ownership Debate" »

March 12, 2008

Faux Polymer Clay Rocks One of my favorite things about polymer clay is its ability to "be" just about anything else. I especially like the way it can mimic natural materials -- such as these stones. Today I'm going to show you three different materials you can mix into polymer clay to make "faux" rocks -- which you can then use for jewelry, for desktop rock-gardens, or for stamping with your own custom message.

Continue reading "3 Ways to Create Faux Polymer Clay Rocks" »

March 1, 2008

Custom Polymer Clay Word StampsPolymer Clay Central just posted a great tutorial by Kathy Canuel on making custom word stamps with polymer clay. If you've ever wanted to customize a gift by stamping the recipient's name, or add your own custom mark to a finished piece, or just save money on word stamps for polymer clay, her tutorial's definitely worth checking out.

To start, Kathy has you carve your word, mirror-image, into the clay, then follow that outline with extruded polymer clay. If you're like me & not crazy about your own handwriting (or if you have trouble writing in mirror image!), you could start with an image transfer instead.

Image Transfer & Extruded ClayBe sure to print your word/image normally (not mirror image like you'd do for most image transfers), since you want the stamp to be reversed. The transfer doesn't need to be perfect since you're just using it for a guide. Following the same method I used in my extruded clay texture mold video, I baked the clay sheet before continuing (to make it a little easier to work with), then added a layer of liquid clay. The honey-like consistency of the liquid clay catches the extruded clay pieces and keeps them in place, making it easy to follow the image transfer lines with extruded clay. Once you're happy with the word (check it with a mirror if you're having trouble visualizing it), follow Kathy's instructions to add a cute custom handle & bake it.

Looking for more ways to get your message across in polymer clay? Here are a few things to try:
  • Steel Stamping SetUse Stamps. If you have a set of alphabet rubber stamps, you can use them with polymer clay to spell out anything you like. You can also buy hardware stamping sets (like this one) for a pretty good price. Note: If you've got a Harbor Freight Tools nearby, take a print-out of the website's special price into the store with you. They'll honor the price, and you won't have to pay for shipping. (Thanks for the tip, April!)
  • Use a Label-Maker.
  • Alphabet Pasta, by dumbeast (Creative Commons)Use Pasta. Uncooked alphabet pasta is a good size for lots of projects -- and there's the added benefit of being able to bake it right in the clay, then pop it out after baking. Let me warn ya, though, that it's extremely time-consuming fishing out the right letters to spell a word. Especially if you're obsessive-compulsive and decide that the best solution is to separate each letter into its own little plastic baggie. Just guessing here, mind you... no personal experience at all! ;-)
  • Use Liquid Polymer Clay. Jeanne of ART for the HEART uses liquid clay and extruded clay pieces to create her own rubber stamps. The nice thing about these is you can run them through the pasta machine with your clay to get a great impression.

February 27, 2008

You know that sample of Studio by Sculpey clay I won from Polymer Clay Productions? The one I said all those nice things about? Well, I liked it so much I decided to buy a whole bunch of the stuff.... and boy am I regretting it now!

How I Came to Own Every Color in the Studio by Sculpey Line

Studio by Sculpey Clay Packages I'm not usually an impulse buyer. I carry things around the store, trying to decide whether I really want to spend my money on them. Or I price-check every possible website to make sure I'm getting the absolute best deal once shipping's factored in. My momma taught me well.

Continue reading "Studio by Sculpey Clay Revisited" »

February 22, 2008

I was a primarily a paper crafter before I fell in love with polymer clay -- and I still enjoy stamping and making handmade cards. As expensive as craft supplies can be, it's wonderful when you can re-use tools for a different medium. So while these tools may be less "unconventional" than an herb mincer or a pumice stone, I wanted to share them with others of you who have a paper crafting background.

Here are five common scrapbooking supplies that you can also use with polymer clay:

Continue reading "Five Scrapbooking Supplies to Use with Polymer Clay" »

February 18, 2008

Herb MincerLast time I shared how I use a pumice stone with polymer clay. Today I'd like to introduce you to another of my repurposed favorites...

The Herb Mincer

Need strips of clay for your project? The Makin's Clay Extruder ships with a couple of different "ribbon" discs, but you're limited to those widths & thicknesses. Of course you can roll out a sheet of any thickness in your pasta machine, and just use your clay knife. But it can be tricky to get straight cuts that are all the same width. This is where the rolling herb mincer comes in handy.

Continue reading "Unconventional Polymer Clay Tools 2: The Herb Mincer" »

February 15, 2008

A few days back, Lisa at Polka Dot Creations invited us to explore her polymer clay toolbox. She showed several of her handmade tools and asked for folks to share their own ideas.

Mine are less handmade than creatively repurposed from their original uses. (Which is my nice way of saying I've stolen them from whatever part of the house they were originally intended for. Hubby thinks this is rather bird-like of me, stashing away shiny things for my craft "nest.") Still, I thought I'd share them with you & see if you had any of your own creative tool tips to add...

First, allow me to introduce my...

Pumice Stone

Pumice Stone
  • What It's Good For: Original use? Smoothing skin. Polymer clay use? Adding texture. The organic look and random patterns of the pumice stone make it wonderful for texturing polymer clay.
  • Fortune CookieHow to Use It: Use the pumice stone on an uncured sheet of polymer clay. Press into clay to create a rough texture that's ideal for nature-inspired pieces and certain baked goods.
  • Where to Find It: Your bathroom. Inexpensive gift sets on after-Christmas sale. Beauty supply stores. Amazon.
  • Similar Ideas: Pumice is just a type of volcanic rock, so if you have lava rocks in your flower garden, give those a try. You could also use a Loofah sponge, since it has a similarly organic pattern.

Next time I'll show you another re-purposed tool, this time from the kitchen. Til then, be sure to check out the comments on Lisa's posts for links to other crafty tool ideas.

February 12, 2008

Happy Heart DayStill looking for a last-minute Valentine's Day idea or two? Here are some polymer clay heart ideas to get you on your creative way:

  • Crafting with Candy Hearts: If you're wondering what to do with all those polymer clay candy hearts you've been making, check out the Craft Test Dummies list of crafting ideas for candy hearts. While these projects were made with real candy hearts, they'd work just as well (if not better!) with the polymer clay version.
  • More Polymer Clay Hearts: MossyOwls featured a list of 10 polymer clay Valentine's Day projects. My faves? This E-Z Heart Lesson showing a simple way to form your own hearts, and this Valentine's Day Heart Cane that reminds me of an old-fashioned doily heart.
  • Heart Cards: Speaking of old-fashioned Valentines, check out these Vintage Valentine's Day cards [via]. Try printing one these vintage cards, then attaching a matching polymer clay heart to make a modernized, 3-D version for your sweetie.

    Another idea is to attach your polymer clay heart to a simple Valentine's Day card like these from The Purl Bee. Your handmade heart will really be the star of the show.

  • Polymer Clay Heart Challenge: Got another unique idea for polymer clay hearts? Polymer Clay Central's February 2008 Challenge theme is Hearts -- send your entry in by February 15th for a chance at one of 3 prizes.
  • I (Heart) Polymer Clay: Don't have a Valentine this year? Get into the spirit of the holiday by writing an ode to another "love of your life" -- polymer clay. This Valentine poem about polymer clay is my favorite -- but you'll definitely want to check out the rest of the Polymer Clay Guild of Etsy members' poems!
    I made a bunny
    he really looks funny
    I smashed him flat
    now he is a hat.

    - by beetreebyme

Happy Heart Day, everybody!

February 10, 2008

CraftyGoat's Notes: Polymer Clay Candy Hearts Tutorial Looking for the perfect candy heart saying for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day? Don't waste time searching through candy bags! Instead, use polymer clay and image transfers to make your own customized conversation hearts.


Continue reading "Say I LUV U with Polymer Clay Candy Hearts" »

January 29, 2008

Making molds to use with polymer clay is super-easy -- but, like anything else, it can be a little intimidating to try for the first time. I talked about the basics of silicone mold putties in my Amazing Mold Putty review, but here are a few more pointers to get you on your way.

Making a Mold

Continue reading "How to Make Your Own Molds with Amazing Mold Putty" »

January 27, 2008

Amazing Mold PuttyToday I'd like to talk about silicone mold putties in general, and Amazing Mold Putty in particular.

But first, a story...

Years ago, within months of using polymer clay for the first time, I took part in my first craft fair. It was a one-day show, part of a convention we were attending. I made some "pet rocks" out of polymer clay, added some googly eyes, & printed the name of the organization on an attached slip of paper. Viola! An inexpensive craft fair item.

Continue reading "Review: Amazing Mold Putty" »

January 11, 2008

Studio by Sculpey clayPolyform has announced that their new clay, Studio by Sculpey, is now available. Thanks to a wonderful giveaway by the gals over at Polymer Clay Productions, I got an early chance to try out a block of Peacock-colored Studio by Sculpey clay, and I have to say I'm impressed.

To give you an idea of what I'm basing my comparisons on, here's my clay preference history in a nutshell. I've used Polyform products for most of my claying life, starting with Sculpey III in the early days, then switching to Premo as I learned about the difference in strength. In the past year or so, my "preferred clay" has been a Premo/UltraLight blend (approx. 2:1) because I like UltraLight's texture but find it hard to use by itself.

Here are my thoughts on using the new Studio by Sculpey clay:

Continue reading "Studio by Sculpey Clay Review" »

January 3, 2008

 Piezas Matrix Cane by celindaPolymer Clay Central has announced the January 2008 Challenge theme: Cane Slices. Want to participate, but aren't sure where to start? Here's a few resources for making polymer clay canes.

Even though I'm not much of a caner myself, I've still bookmarked quite a few useful & inspirational cane-related sites. But I hope those of you who are caners will leave a comment & let me know where you find cane ideas & tutorials.

Cane Tutorials

Tips & Techniques



If you want to go into a little more depth on the topic, try these books:


So you've got the cane slices, & now you're wondering what to cover...? (Or for some, the question's what NOT to cover!) Check out Glass Attic's Covering Things section for tips on what to cover with canes and how to do it.

If you're entering your cane work in PCC's Challenge, mail your entries in by January 15, 2008, for a chance to win one of three prizes.

December 11, 2007

Icy Wind ChimePolymer Clay Central has announced the December 2007 Challenge theme: BRRR! It's Cold out There!. And let me tell you, considering the big ice storm my part of the country just saw, this challenge seems totally appropriate! So cozy up next to your toaster oven & let's do some crafting...


Here's a few things you might think about making:
  • Snowflakes, snowmen, snow globes
  • Ice-skaters, icicles
  • Hats, mittens, kids bundled in layers of clothes
  • Old Man Winter, penguins, Jack Frost

Tips & Tutorials


Mail your entries in by December 15, 2007, for a chance to win one of three prizes from Polka Dot Creations. Good luck!

November 26, 2007

Just a quick note about some contests currently going on in the polymer clay blogosphere:

  • Lisa at PolkaDotCreations has summed up her very cool Evolution of a Color Scheme series, which shows us step-by-step how she takes a set of colors from idea to implementation. She's asking for help naming her color scheme & will be awarding the winner with their choice of some buttons she made from the color scheme, or a signed copy of the Millefiori Story DVD. Entries are due by November 30th. (And if you're planning on entering her latest color challenge, you'll have to hurry -- those entries are due today!)
  • Polymer Clay Productions has put out a Call for Creativity, asking for entries related to gold/silver (or any other color) composition leaf. Submit your entry to their forums by November 28th for a chance to win prizes.
  • The Polymer Clay Artist's Guild of Etsy is hosting their monthly Vote & Win, with this month's artists' entries focused on mokume gane techniques. Check out the beautiful entries & vote by November 28th for a chance to win a polymer clay prize pack.
  • And speaking of voting (but not prizes), this month's dragons & fantasy-themed challenge over at Polymer Clay Central had quite a few entries. Take a minute to vote for your favorite.

November 21, 2007

Turkey with "Happy Turkey Day" Sign

Polymer clay artists are likely to think of something completely different when someone mentions putting the turkey in the oven! This polymer clay turkey would be a fun addition to any Thanksgiving festivities -- even more fun when you come up with creative ideas for your own personalized signs. Here's how I made my turkey -- no basting required!


  • Polymer clay: tan, orange, yellow, white, red, black
  • Tools:
    • Pasta machine
    • Clay knife, toothpick, and/or other clay sculpting tools
    • Translucent Sculpey (TLS)


Continue reading "It's Turkey Time!" »

November 20, 2007

Glaze drying on polymer clay candy cornsCandy corns are one of those candies -- like marshmallow eggs or candy canes -- that are definitely seasonal. Around here, it just doesn't seem like autumn til we've bought that first bag of candy corns. It's a yearly tradition.

Another yearly tradition is when I take a few of those candy corns up to my craft room to use as a model for my yearly batch of polymer clay candy corns. These are easy & fun to make -- and they can be turned into any number of things (earrings, thumbtacks, etc.). Course the best thing about the polymer clay version is they're not sticky & they won't ruin your diet!

Here's a quick tutorial on how to make your own batch of candy corns out of polymer clay:


  • Polymer clay: orange, yellow, white
  • Tools (optional): pasta machine, round cookie cutters


Continue reading "How to Make Polymer Clay Candy Corns" »

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 29, 2007

Pumpkin - All Wrapped UpTo wrap up my pumpkin series, I wanted give you a few tips & tricks -- things that didn't fit anyplace else...

October 28, 2007

Q: How many crafters does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Just one -- but you better believe she's not just gonna throw away that old light bulb!

Pumpkin with Top HatBurned out light bulbs can be a wonderful base for making rounded vessels. Today I'll show you how to cover a light bulb with polymer clay to make a cool light bulb pumpkin.


  • Polymer clay: Orange for the pumpkin; your choice of color(s) for the hat. I strongly recommend not using "Sculpey" clays for this, since we'll be flexing it & cutting into it after baking. I prefer Premo, but other strong brands like Fimo or Kato should work too.
  • Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS)
  • Light bulb
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Tools:
    • Pasta machine or brayer
    • Clay blade
    • Toothpick or other texture tool
    • Craft knife


Continue reading "How to make a Light Bulb Pumpkin" »

October 24, 2007

Friendly Mr. Pumpkin HeadYour kids will love switching out the interchangeable eyes, nose & mouth on this refrigerator magnet jack-o-lantern -- but I'm betting you'll have just as much fun making it as they will playing with it!


  • MaterialsPolymer Clay: Orange (< 1/4 pkg) for pumpkin, plus assorted other colors for facial features. I strongly recommend not using "Sculpey" clays for this, since the all handling & poking may cause it to tear. I prefer Premo, but other strong brands like Fimo or Kato would work too.
  • Tools:
    • Pasta machine or brayer
    • Straw for punching holes
    • Super glue (I like Loctite brand)
    • Texture sheet (optional). I used ShadeTex's "Linen" texture
  • 1-2 magnet(s)
  • 10-20 brads

Continue reading "Meet Mr. Pumpkin Head" »

October 22, 2007

My Little Pumpkin PatchMaking polymer clay pumpkins is simple -- and they make for a quick & easy Halloween decoration. This week, I'm going to give you a few tips on creating your own pumpkins, starting with the basics:

Making a Simple Polymer Clay Pumpkin


  • Polymer Clay: (I prefer Premo brand)
    • Orange & green (required)
    • Brown & white (optional)
  • Tools:
    • Toothpick or other pointy-stick tool
    • Clay gun (optional)


Continue reading "How to Make Polymer Clay Pumpkins" »

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 13, 2007

Lisa at PolkaDotCreations tagged me for the 8 Random Things meme. Since Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are my latest thing (more on obsessions in #5 below), I decided it'd be cool to do an ATC to illustrate each random fact about me. So here are my things & my ATCs. (Click on any card for a larger photo & details on how it was made.)

  1. VW Artist Trading CardMy first car was a silver Volkswagon Jetta, which lasted all of about 6 months til I was rear-ended by a semi when I was overly-cautious at a yellow light. I loved that car & have wanted another VW ever since.
  2. Peanut Artist Trading CardI've never liked peanuts. Couldn't stand to eat 'em... that is, til my husband told me about an article he'd read saying you could train yourself to stop disliking a food. I still wouldn't seek out a bag full o' peanuts, but now I don't mind eating them in a mix.
  3. Muppets Artist Trading CardMy husband & I had the Muppet song "Moving Right Along" played as our wedding recessional.
  4. Bicycle to Work Artist Trading CardI always thought it'd be cool to bicycle to work. Turns out that's a much easier task if you work from home. (Lucky for me, too, since my bike's sitting in the garage with a flat tire!)
  5. Tetris Artist Trading CardI suspect I have some OCD tendencies, so I try to avoid things (like video games) that have addictive elements.
  6. New Year's Resolution Artist Trading CardMy overly-optimistic To Do list still thinks I'm going to make New Year's Resolutions for 2007.
  7. Ingrown Toenail Artist Trading CardI was born with 3 ingrown toenails & have been plagued with them ever since.
  8. Giving Orders Artist Trading CardI hate telling other people what to do.

And with that last one in mind, I'm not going to "tag" anyone in particular. If you're reading this & you're interested, consider yourself tagged. Be sure to leave a comment below telling me where your list is. (That is, if you want to. No pressure.) Here's the official rules:

  1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
  2. List eight (8) random facts about yourself.
  3. Tag eight people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving them a comment on their blogs.
Oh, yeah, and most of these ATCs are available if you're interested in a trade. I've tagged all my un-traded Flickr ATCs with "ATC" and "available" — so you can search for the available ones using this link.

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!

August 30, 2007

I'm going to be teaching a class on Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) at next Saturday's Central Oklahoma Polymer Clay Guild meeting. I've participated in a few swaps & have several of my own ATCs — but I'd love to have a a few more examples to show the group. If any of you happen to have an ATC laying around, I would love to trade with you. My goal is to show the group a wide variety of ATC possibilities — so while polymer clay would be wonderful, other mediums would be great too.

My mailing address is here if you want to send something (be sure to include your mailing address so I can send one of mine to you).

I've posted a few of my cards in this set on Flickr. I plan to set these up to show which ones are available to trade — I'll let you know once I've got that set up. I'm sure I'll have a few more ATC posts before this is all over — I've really gotten hooked on making them!

Speaking of ATCs, if you hurry over to Jeanne's ART for the HEART blog, you could win one of hers. She'll be giving it away tomorrow to one of the commenters on her blog post.

August 7, 2007

Santa Fe Swirl Pendant 3Polymer Clay Central has announced the August 2007 Challenge theme: Filigree.


Not sure what filigree is? Here's a definition from the Polymer Clay Glossary on Eugena's Creations:
"Filigree - originally, a jewelry technique when an intricate design is formed using metal wire. Polymer clay filigree is formed by strings of clay applied in coils or freeform shapes onto polymer clay or other surface to create a textured design."


Tips & Tricks


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

August 1, 2007

Eyelets, close-upIf you do scrapbooking or paper crafting, there's a decent chance you have several colors, shapes & sizes of eyelets in your craft stash. I've shown you a couple of ways to use eyelets with polymer clay -- as a pen tip for the bamboo skewer pen, or as hole reinforcement in the polymer clay notepad. But if you're still looking for ideas on combining these two craft supplies, here's 5 more ways to use eyelets with polymer clay:

Continue reading "5 More Ways to use Eyelets with Polymer Clay" »

July 31, 2007

Watercolor Heart Thank You CardPolka Dot Creations just posted a tutorial I wrote on how to make a "Thank You" card with polymer clay and alcohol inks. Check it out here.

While you're there, check out the rest of their tutorials (all free!) here. Lisa from Polka Dot Creations has also set up a Flickr group for projects related to the tutorials, so you can see some of my variations there & upload your own. Hope you enjoy!

July 25, 2007

Silver Leaves NotepadI love my local polymer clay guild -- wouldn't miss a meeting unless I had to! But I have to say I wasn't sure about our last project. Granted, I was eager to learn about how to use Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel (UTEE) with clay. But the project itself was a photo album, and I just don't do photos. Or at least, I don't do printed photos. All my photos are the digital kind, and I'm happy that way.

Guild members Penni Jo Couch and Sue Kerr did a wonderful job teaching. I enjoyed the UTEE, and had a couple of "a-ha" moments with the project itself. But when I brought home my covers, all ready to assemble into an album, it was my husband who offered the "a-ha." Why didn't I make it into a notepad instead of an album, he asked?

I've been needing a notepad for my car ever since my PDA died -- so that's what I did. I made me a notepad. Well, three actually. And I took a few pics of the process in case you want to make one too. (Be sure to check out Penni Jo's original instructions here as well.)


Continue reading "How to Make a Polymer Clay Notepad" »

July 21, 2007

Finished: Kitchen Wall With Mini-BricksThere are things I love about my house -- it's comfy, it's spacious, it's got a nice big backyard. And then there's the things I'm not so crazy about. Like the tiny kitchen and its stuck-in-the-70's vibe. And while the red brick walls in my kitchen & family room fit more in the not-so-crazy-about realm, there's so many more important things to do that I know I'll be living with them for a good while longer.

Kitchen Wall - BeforeOne thing that always bothered me more than the bricks themselves was the gap in the bricks. When we moved in, there was an ancient avocado green metal GTE Starlite phone hanging on the kitchen wall. We replaced it fairly quickly -- but when we took it down, we found that the bricks had actually been set around the phone... so not only did we have an ugly old silver phone jack cover, we also had big gaps around the phone jack.

The Phone Jack Cover

My local polymer clay guild was meeting at my house last month for its play day, and I decided to take the opportunity to work on a decorative phone jack cover. While I originally considered entering the (now-ended) Poly Clay Play Switch Plate Challenge, I decided that style (flowers & ladybug required) didn't fit my kitchen. Instead, I decided to make it blend in as much as possible with the bricks around it.

Continue reading "Making Faux Bricks with Polymer Clay" »

July 13, 2007

Note to my readers: is "the world's first human powered search engine" -- they hand-write topic pages to create high-quality, spam-free results. I opted to write my entry for their iPhone Contest about -- what else? -- polymer clay. If you really hurry, you can get your own entry in (deadline's midnight 7/13, Pacific Time). Or feel free to comment on my entry -- what links do you think should be included in a one-page polymer clay primer?

Polymer Clay

Mahalo's Top Seven

  1. Polymer Clay Central: Polymer Clay Challenges, Tutorials & Cyclopedia
  2. Polymer Clay Daily Blog: Daily Musings on Polymer Clay Art
  3. Polymer Clay Notes Blog: Polymer Clay Inspiration, Tips & Techniques Blog
  4. Polymer Cafe: Magazine for Polymer Clay Artists
  5. National Polymer Clay Guild: National Guild for Polymer Clay Artists
  6. Wikipedia: About Polymer Clay
  7. Glass Attic: Polymer Clay "Encyclopedia"

Guide Note

Polymer Clay is a man-made plastic clay that is soft and flexible until cured. Polymer clay is used by crafters and artists of all ages for sculpting, jewelry making, miniatures, and more.

Fast Facts

  • Polymer clay was developed in Germany in the 1930s.
  • Polymer clay can be cured in a home oven, usually at 265-275 degrees for 30 minutes or less.
  • Major polymer clay brands include Fimo, Sculpey, and Kato Polyclay.

Continue reading " iPhone contest: Polymer Clay" »

July 4, 2007

american flag (dr. pepper & rc cola)Just in time for the big Fourth of July holiday, Polymer Clay Central has announced the July 2007 Challenge theme: Wave That Flag.

If you're thinking of spending your holiday putting together an entry, here's a few resources to get you started:

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

June 13, 2007

This video goes along with my bamboo skewer polymer clay pen tutorial. The video is 6.5 minutes long, and it shows how to cover a bamboo skewer to make a polymer clay pen.

June 12, 2007

Bamboo skewer example pensOkay, you've covered Bic and Papermate pens, and you've covered pen kits. What's next?

What if you could ignore that whole "oven-safe" thing & convert every pen in your house to polymer clay?

I came across this bamboo skewer pen idea on Glass Attic while I was getting ready to teach my guild's pen lesson. And while a (no-longer-there) pencil tutorial from the British Polymer Clay Guild was helpful in figuring out how to do it, I still had to do a little trial and error -- so I wanted to share my experiences here.

Supplies: skewers, vaseline, pen refill, eyeletsMaterials

  • Get a pen refill. No need to buy a refill -- any pen's innards will work.Ya know that dentist you stopped going to 8 months ago, but you still have his (non-oven-safe) pen sitting on your desk? Yeah, that's a good one to use.
  • You also need a bamboo skewer -- the kind like you'd use for skewering veggies for the BBQ grill. I got mine at a local grocery store, 100 skewers for a buck.

Continue reading "Polymer Clay Pens: BBQ Style!" »

June 11, 2007

Polymer Clay Central has announced their June 2007 Challenge theme: Inro / Rock Purses. Of course, the obvious question is... just what is an inro? Wikipedia has the answer.

Want to join in the challenge, but aren't sure where to start? Here's a few tutorials:

  • Polymer Clay Polyzine has a tutorial on making rock boxes. The inner rim of this box is very nice.
  • Polymeri Online links to various inro tutorials. I especially like the diagram that gives options for closing the inro.
  • Glass Attic has a whole page on rock vessels.

And here's a few inspiration pieces to get you started:

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

Thanks to our friends at Polka Dot Creations for sponsoring this month's challenge!

June 10, 2007

This video goes along with my pen kit tutorial. The video is 6.5 minutes long, and it shows how to cover the Amazing Twist Pen sold by Boston Clay Works. It also shows some alcohol ink basics.

June 7, 2007

This video goes along with my pen kit tutorial. The video is 8 minutes long, and it shows how to cover the Mini Key Chain Kit sold by Penn State Industries. It also shows some basic gold leaf techniques.

Just a warning: I tried to keep the on-screen hammering to a minimum -- but don't turn your speakers up too loud!

June 3, 2007

We've "covered" the basics of pen-covering... now let's take it to the next level.

Mini Keychain Pen and Amazing Twist PenPen making kits are more expensive and involve a little more work than your more basic pens, but the nicer results may make it worthwhile. Traditionally used in wood-turning, these kits basically consist of hollow tubes that you cover then assemble. There are several places online to buy these, with a wide variety of pen types available. While you can buy a pen assembly press for around $40 to assemble these, you can usually hammer them together with a rubber mallet and a little patience. (Upper-body strength doesn't hurt either!)

Of course, if you're interested in that slightly nicer, cross pen-style look -- but not interested in all the work -- you might like the Amazing Twist Pen. These are still harder to assemble than a Papermate -- but they're much easier than pounding with a rubber mallet. And while there's just the one style, they do look really classy.

So here's how to do it:
  • Pen kit baggie and instructionsBuy the pen. As far as I know, there's no major craft stores that carry these pens, so it may require an internet order. The pens will come individually wrapped in little plastic baggies -- and if you're anything like me, you may be a tad intimidated the first time you see one. At this point, they really don't look much like pens at all. Don't worry, though. The other thing they should come with is assembly instructions -- and as long as you have those (and this tutorial!), you'll be fine! <g>

Continue reading "How To Make Polymer Clay Pens Using Pen Kits" »

May 31, 2007

Here's another video that goes along with my basic pen covering instructions. The video is 4.5 minutes, and it shows how to cover a Bic Round Stic pen with polymer clay. Background "music" courtesy of my doggie. <g>

Here's a video that goes along with my basic pen covering instructions. The video is 4.5 minutes, and it shows how to cover a PaperMate FlexGrip Elite pen with polymer clay. Aside from the one I won't get to see til next year, this is my first "talkie" -- so suggestions are welcome!

May 29, 2007

With all the craziness, I forgot to mention it here -- but I taught this month’s lesson at Central Oklahoma's Polymer Clay Guild. Our topic was covering pens with polymer clay, and while I've put a few notes on the guild's site, I thought I'd go a little more in-depth here...

I really enjoy covering pens with polymer clay. It's fast, it's easy, and it's practical. It was one of the first polymer clay projects I did where I was actually happy with the results!

In this series of posts, I'd like to share some of the mechanics of covering pens. I'll start today with how to cover some basic pens with polymer clay -- including Papermate's Flexgrip Elite and Bic's Round Stic. Next, I'll discuss some of the more advanced options -- like using pen blanks and bamboo skewers. Even if you've never covered a pen before, I hope this series will show you that you too can cover a pen and be happy with your results!

Note: Since this tutorial's main goal is to talk about the mechanics of covering these pens, I've used a very simple one-color design. As with any polymer clay project, the possibilities for colors, textures, and design are practically limitless.

The Basics

Find An Oven-Safe Pen

The first step in covering a pen with polymer clay is to find a good pen. Not all pens are oven-safe, so here are a couple of options:
  • Papermate FlexGrip Elite penPapermate FlexGrip Elite. I get mine at Office Depot and they cost about $0.75 each. If you can find them, the Papermate Flexgrip Ultras work great, too.

Continue reading "How To Make Polymer Clay Pens: The Basics" »

May 7, 2007

Butterfly Wings 35mmLooking for a way to challenge yourself? Polymer Clay Central has announced their May 2007 Challenge theme: Things with Wings. Polymer clay artists have done some wonderfully inspiring work with wings. Here's a few links to jump-start your creativity:

Course, fairies and butterflies aren't the only things with wings. Think bi-planes, birds, bees, bugs... plenty of creative options.

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

May 6, 2007

Back on January 1st, I decided that this year I would finally enter some of Polymer Clay Central's challenges. Last month I sent in my second entry. And while I didn't win -- and I almost didn't have an entry at all -- I'm still glad I entered.

In typical fashion, I waited til the last minute to start on my entry. Then I burned my first beads (I'm still learning the ups & downs of my new convection oven). And would you believe my dog ate my second bead? No, really! Once I finally got enough beads to make my necklace, I struggled with whether or not to send it, since I didn't feel like it was good enough. I decided I'd put in too much effort to just keep it, so I sent it -- only to see a few days later that they'd cancelled the contest (though they later re-instated it). What a mess! And while my name wasn't on the winner's list they posted today, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the good, the bad & the ugly of entering challenges. I'll go in reverse order:

The Ugly

The Ugly: My Burned BeadChallenges are good at getting you out of your rut -- trying something different. Sometimes that works out beautifully. But sometimes it's just plain ugly. Witness my burned bead...

Continue reading "Challenging Yourself: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" »

May 3, 2007

Alcohol InksI admit it: I'm a tad compulsive. I like to have things just right. You know the little holder for whiteboard markers? I always have to have all the markers facing the same way, all the logos lined up, with the colors in a certain order (ROYGBIV, of course). I can always tell if someone's been using my markers. My husband occasionally calls me Mr. Monk (love that show, BTW).

Alcohol inks work great with polymer clay, and they're a lot of fun. One of the best things about alcohol inks is that if you don't like the results, you can wipe it off or add another color for a completely differently look. Of course, if you're compulsive like me, that's also one of the bad things about alcohol inks -- it's sometimes hard to stop tweaking and re-trying!

What You Need

You just need a few basics for working with alcohol inks:
  • alcohol inks
  • felt or applicator tool
  • alcohol blending solution
  • gloves

Note: I hate gloves -- but to me, this is one time when they're worth the trouble. Alcohol inks can really stain your fingers! The alcohol blending solution isn't totally essential, but it gives you a lot more options with the inks. Plus it's good for cleaning the stray inks off your fingers (or carpet -- oops!).

How To Do It

While alcohol inks can be used on either unbaked or baked polymer clay, I prefer working with it on baked clay so I'm less likely to mess up my clay piece.

Continue reading "How to use Alcohol Inks with Polymer Clay" »

Testing Reward from PolyformI got a package this week from Polyform, the nice people who sent me clay to test a couple of months ago. Judging from Dystini's post, it looks like we all got just about the same reward pack:

  • 2 push molds: Snuggle Buddies and Cameos & Hearts Jewelry
  • 1 package of Ultralight Sculpey
  • 1 package of translucent Premo!

I'm thrilled about the Ultralight Sculpey -- that's been my new favorite product, so more to play with is wonderful. And I can always use another block of translucent clay.

I was initially less thrilled about getting the molds. My problem with molds is that so many of them are too recognizable -- a molded character (like the rabbit or teddy bear in the Snuggle Buddies set) is gonna look like someone else's work, unless I tweak it so heavily that I may as well have started from scratch. BUT after looking at the jewelry mold, I think it may be good for doing basics -- things I can build on and make my own. So I'm eager to give it a try.

Anyone else do the Polyform test & get a different set of molds? Anyone interested in swapping the Snuggle Buddies set for a different (new OR used) mold...?

Update: The Snuggle Buddies mold has been spoken for -- thanks Janice!

April 11, 2007

Polymer Clay Central has announced their April 2007 Challenge theme: Textured Beads. Here's some sites to help you on your way:

Info on Texture & Beads

  • Polymer Clay Web's Texturizers and Stamps has info on how to texture -- and it includes a nice list of texture ideas.
  • Also check out Sarajane Helm's Textured Beads primer. I especially like the info on making and using two-part molds.
  • As always, Glass Attic is an exhaustive (sometimes literally!) source of info on clay-related topics. Check out the Beads page for some texture ideas.
  • While I haven't read it yet, the newly released Making Polymer Clay Beads book by Carol Blackburn looks to be a great source of inspiration. Check out Leigh Ross's review here.

Related Tutorials

  • Silastone's Bubble Beads Tutorial creates gorgeous beads. She smoothed her beads out, but you could try leaving them un-smoothed if you wanted a different look with a little more texture. While you're at Silastone's blog, check out her tutorials on bumpy beads, evergreen Kissing Balls, and polymer clay raku. Lots of texture ideas!
  • Sculpey's Fiorato Pendant Bead tutorial shows how to use tinted TLS on a baked polymer clay bead base to achieve a fiorato bead.
  • While this isn't exactly the season for the Glow in the Dark Ghost Necklace, I like Sculpey's instructions on creating a textured tube bead.
  • Polymer Clay Central offers this tutorial for textured Hollow Tube Beads. This technique is a little different -- it involves texturing the flat sheet, then making it into a bead. And the tube caps give it a nice finish.
  • Finally, don't forget that many faux techniques include interesting texture ideas. Try Joann's tutorial on Making Faux Turquoise and Coral beads.

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

April 3, 2007

Oven ThermometerIf you're using FIMO clay, you may want to double-check the temperature on those packages. The Polymer Clay People Yahoo! group has been all a-twitter the past week over new package directions showing a different baking temperature (230° F) than is listed on old packages (265° F). After various people contacted the company, the responses started trickling in... Apparently FIMO has changed their recipe and now recommends the lower baking temperature. One email from Amaco (the makers of FIMO ) states:

"We have done quality control tests here at AMACO and have found the lower temperature effective in curing all of the FIMO® clays."

So it looks like all FIMO clays -- not just the newer ones with the lower temperature listed -- will cure at 230° F. That's nice to know for folks who mix different colors of FIMO together. Course it's still tricky for folks who mix different brands together...

I haven't been able to find anything on FIMO's web site about this, which surprises me. Polymer clay artists are very cautious about temperatures, and a big change like this seems worthy of some sort of public announcement. Since there's no official site, though, thanks to Garie for sharing his email conversation with the company.

Update: The British Polymer Clay Guild posted a link to an April 2008 FIMO press release [PDF], which answers a lot of questions about the change. Here's a quote:

The optimum technical hardening temperature is 110° C. A hardening temperature of 130° C must not be exceeded.

[Conversion note: 110° C = 230° F; 130° C = 266° F]

That should help those of you who are mixing different clays together. You should be fine as long as you don't exceed 266° F.

March 20, 2007

I just finished playing with clay for a couple of hours -- and I got paid to do it!

Sounds like a cheesy infomercial, doesn't it? But it's mostly true...

Back in October I came across a listing on the Polyform (maker of polymer clay products like Sculpey & Premo) web site. They were asking for product testers, so I shot off an email saying I was interested. They sent me a couple of surveys, which I filled out and returned -- one of them grudgingly since I don't care for companies asking my household income. After hearing nothing from them for several months, I finally got an email a few weeks ago informing me I'd been selected to participate in a clay product review.

While I don't think I'm allowed to share the specifics, I will say I thoroughly enjoyed playing with the clay. I made this and that, trying various techniques. It made me realize just how little time I allow myself just to play. I definitely need to change that.

It did take me longer than their estimated 1.5 hours to complete (almost twice that, actually) -- but that was because I was taking my time and enjoying myself. They will be "paying" survey respondents with some free products, plus an entry to win a cash prize -- nice thank you gifts for participating.

I don't know how often they do these, but if you're interested, check out their website for details (see the green box towards the bottom). Maybe you could get paid to play with clay too!

March 18, 2007

I'm still catching up from my trip, so you may have already seen these two great podcasts featuring polymer clay artists. If not, be sure to check them out:

I especially enjoyed the interview with Sarajane Helm. She is doing such interesting things -- her latest book is on my must-read list, and have you seen this miniature quilt shop!? One of the things she mentioned in her interview is that she enjoys trying lots of different techniques -- it's nice to hear confirmation that it's okay not to specialize.

One of my favorite parts of the interview was towards the end, where Sarajane talks about why polymer clay is so accessible AND so addictive for everybody -- young, old, even those who think they don't have a creative streak. According to Sarajane, it's not the clay that's addictive:

"It's the opiates in your own brain when you're having fun that are addictive. When you're having a good time, your body secretes chemicals that make you feel good -- and polymer clay is one of the quickest venues to having a great time that I've ever seen."

March 5, 2007

Musical notesPolymer Clay Central has announced their March 2007 Challenge theme: Face the Music. Lots of ways to interpret this one:

  • Take it literally. Make something with faces and/or music. Try Free Sheet Music for royalty-free sheet music, or check out these Antique Music Brushes for Photoshop.
  • Take it figuratively. The idiom "face the music" means to confront the consequences of one's actions. An interesting theme for a sculpture...?
  • Take it to the movies. IMDB lists several movies and TV shows called "Face the Music." It's also the title of a 1975 album by Electric Light Orchestra. Maybe you could draw inspiration from one of these?

Mail your entries in by March 15, 2007, for a chance to win one of three gift certificates to The Clay Store.

Speaking of music, I saw another cool swap-bot swap: the Music to Craft To CD swap. A fun way to share the music that inspires your creativity!

February 26, 2007

Speaking of craft-related podcasts, check out CraftyPod's recent interview with Rachel Johnson, creator of Swap-bot.

Although I've been watching Swap-bot for a while now, I have to admit I haven't yet participated in any of their swaps. But I do think the site's a great idea. As the interview explains, Swap-Bot makes swaps much easier to organize -- and less work means more fun! They've got tons of swaps in various categories. And they've even got an RSS feed of recently-added swaps, so you can easily watch for swaps you might want to join in on.

Here's a few current swaps that look great for polymer clay artists:

Think you might try one of these? Or do you have your own great idea for a swap to organize? Leave me a comment, & I'll sign up for it too!

January 22, 2007

Rubbing alcoholRemoving pasta machine streaks isn't the only thing rubbing alcohol is good for. Here are a few other handy ways to use isopropyl alcohol with polymer clay:

  • Use rubbing alcohol to clean your work surface and clay tools -- including pasta machines, clay molds, and paint brushes (after using liquid clay).
  • Spread rubbing alcohol over the back of your paper for a better image transfer.
  • Smooth alcohol lightly over clay before baking to help get rid of fingerprints.
  • Use baby wipes soaked in rubbing alcohol to clean clay residue (especially that pesky red!) off hands.
  • When making mosaics from baked tiles, use a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol to scrub liquid clay "grout" off the tiles before baking again.
  • Clean any greasy residue off baked clay before applying a glaze finish.

Sounds like rubbing alcohol has earned its spot on the craft room shelf... Can you think of other ways you've used rubbing alcohol with polymer clay?

January 14, 2007

Pasta Machine Streaks - Before and AfterI admit it... I've got a dirty pasta machine. And a dirty pasta machine sometimes means I get dark streaks on my white polymer clay.

There's some obvious solutions -- ya know, like cleaning the pasta machine. There's also work-arounds, like running a baby wipe or some scrap clay through the machine first. But what if, despite your best efforts, you still get streaked clay?

Last week, Victoria James of Victoria James Art posted a solution to this problem on the Polymer_Clay_People Yahoo! group. Turns out that since those streaks are just on the surface, they wipe right off. Pour some rubbing alcohol onto a paper towel or baby wipe and just rub the streaks off the raw clay... Easy as that!

Thanks for the great tip, Victoria. Maybe now I can take "cleaning the pasta machine" off my list of things to do this year!

January 8, 2007

Time Resolution Reminder

We're a week into the new year -- how are those resolutions coming along? If you need a little reminder to keep you on track, try these easy polymer clay resolution reminders. Make them into magnets, bookmarks, or whatever works best for reminding you about what you want to do.

Continue reading "How to Make Polymer Clay Resolution Reminders" »

January 1, 2007

Blue and white polymer clay Polymer Clay Central has announced their January 2007 Challenge theme: Blue and White. Mail your entries in by January 15, 2007, for a chance to win one of three gift certificates to Clay Factory.

I love the broad themes they use for their challenges. It allows you to interpret the challenge any way you want -- plenty of creative liberty. I always enjoy looking at the entries people send in and voting for my favorite.

But even though I love the idea, I've never actually entered a challenge. It's one of those things that sounds like fun, but I've never gotten around to it. I think I'll make it a goal for the New Year to enter at least a few times.

What about you...? What kind of crafty goals do you have this year?

November 22, 2006

Triple Leaf JournalSingle Leaf Journal Want to give someone (or yourself!) a nice journal this Christmas? Covering or "altering" composition notebooks is an easy way to make an attractive journal.

Covering a Composition Book - The Basics

Continue reading "How to Make a Composition Book Journal" »

November 16, 2006

You know that bottle cap pendant I showed here a while back? Terri just wrote me to ask if there's an easy way to remove the plastic liner. She said, "I am making some bottlecap pins and taking that plastic liner off is so hard! I have tried to boil them off and that didn't work."

It's a good question -- unfortunately one that I don't know a good answer for. I looked online and found this article, which recommends boiling, using an embossing gun, or heating it with a coffee pot burner. Terri's tried boiling it. And I nearly burned my little fingers trying to pry the liner out after heating it with an embossing gun. In the end, I just ended up leaving my liner in and working around it.

Does anybody have suggestions for an easy way to remove the bottle cap liner?

November 13, 2006

Just wanted to post a quick update for those of you who expressed interest in an Oklahoma City-area polymer clay group. Our first meeting will be this Wednesday, November 15th. You can get the details -- and keep up-to-date on all future events -- at our new Central Oklahoma Polymer Clay Guild site.

November 9, 2006

Skinner Blend example I thought I'd never figure out the Skinner Blend. Every time I tried it, I ended up with a widened, flat-colored blend of the two colors -- not a nice gradient like I wanted. I assumed the problem was with the size or proportion of my beginning triangles, so I studied the online tutorials and tried adjusting this and that... Still nothing.

Fortunately, Deena Parsons went over this technique at a recent And Bear Makes 3 polymer clay class. Turns out the secret for fixing my problem was straightening out and smooshing in the left and right edges before each run through the pasta machine. That prevented the continual widening, and now I'm happily blending away.

Here are a few other tips, in case you're having trouble with the Skinner Blend:

Continue reading "Tips for Fixing Skinner Blend Problems" »

November 8, 2006

Get your entries in the mail now for this month's Polymer Clay Central Challenge. The theme for November is Skinner Blend, and the deadline is November 15th. If that's pushing it, consider getting started on December's challenge -- the theme will be Time.

November 4, 2006

cg-mirror-image.jpgWhen you're doing an image transfer that includes text, you have to make sure the text is mirrored so it will end up the right direction on the polymer clay. Normally you'd do this by changing the "mirrored output" setting in the printer's advanced properties. But what do you do if your printer doesn't support mirrored output?

That's what we found ourselves wondering when our new Dell 3100cn color laser printer arrived. I was eager to try out an image transfer on it, and was stumped when I couldn't find the setting for Mirrored Output. We searched all the settings, and we did some online searches... but we couldn't find a way to do mirrored output on this otherwise full-featured printer. Fortunately, we figured out some work-arounds, so now I'm able to make image transfers whenever I want.

Here's some tips on making your own mirrored output -- regardless of your printer type:

Continue reading "3 Ways to Get Mirrored Output with Any Printer" »

October 31, 2006

fall-atc.jpgWhen I signed up for my first polymer clay Artist Trading Card (ATC) swap last month, I thought to myself, This won't be like all the other things I sign up for... I won't wait til the last minute this time.

Ever the optimist.

This morning -- with whole hours to spare before the mailing deadline -- I put the finishing touches on my 4 fall-themed ATCs. For the most part, I was pretty happy with the results. I used a leaf to make the impression, then filled the veins with undiluted Ranger alcohol inks for a dark outline. I used Kato PolyClay Clear Medium mixed with the alcohol inks to paint some glossy autumn colors on the leaf. I transferred "fall" (MigraineSerif font) onto a beige clay plaque, then painted it with more Kato medium/alcohol ink mixture. Then I punched a hole and added the eyelet.

Two notes:

Continue reading "Swappin' Clay Cards" »

October 13, 2006

I live in the Oklahoma City area, and I've often wondered if I am the only polymer clay addict around here. Until recently, I hadn't heard of any polymer clay classes in the area. I haven't seen polymer clay artists at the (admittedly few) craft shows I've been to. And there's not a polymer clay guild in Oklahoma. Still, I figured there must be at least a few other clayers in the state of Oklahoma. And since it would be cool to meet with folks to learn and share ideas, I started toying with the idea of starting a polymer clay guild.

Turns out I wasn't the only one toying with that idea. Last night, Mary posted to the clay-polymer Yahoo! group (an excellent group, by the way) that she was looking for Oklahomans interested in a Tulsa-area guild. She's already had a couple of positive responses -- but there were also a couple of people (including me) that responded they'd rather not drive all the way to Tulsa for meetings.

I've been looking at the National Polymer Clay Guild's tips on starting a new group... and it really sounds exciting. I would be happy to volunteer my house for meetings -- or if there are too many people for that, I'm sure we could find a community center or library with reasonable meeting fees. So I'm curious -- is there anyone else in the central Oklahoma area who would be interested in meeting to play with clay?

Leave a comment or contact me privately if you're interested...

Update 11/12/06: I've posted meeting info on the Oklahoma Polymer Clay Guild web site.

October 8, 2006

Pearl Ex Color Strip I love using Pearl Ex powders with my polymer clay projects, and I have several of the Pearl Ex color variety packs. But more than once, I've gotten stuck on a project, staring at all the little bottles and trying to figure out which color would work best.

To fix that problem, I started making color strips for each box of Pearl Ex colors. It's quick to do, and it makes it a little easier to pick the best Pearl Ex color for the job. Here's how to make your own:

Continue reading "How to Make a Pearl Ex Color Strip" »

September 26, 2006

I've talked about making basic bottle cap jewelry and liquid clay bottle cap jewelry. Now I want to share a few ideas for using polymer clay with bottle caps, by putting the clay either inside OR outside the bottle cap.

Continue reading "Other Ideas for Polymer Clay Bottle Cap Jewelry" »

September 21, 2006

Yellow Flowers Bottle CapIn my previous post, I talked about the basics of making bottle cap jewelry. Now I'd like to tell you how to make jewelry using liquid polymer clay:

  1. Find or print an image. Just as with the paper collage bottle caps, you'll want to cut the paper a bit larger than the bottom of the bottle cap. Do any coloring or stamping on your paper image now -- before you put it in the bottle cap.
  2. Use alcohol inks to tint your liquid clay. Be careful -- one drop goes a long way!
  3. Use a paintbrush to spread a thin layer of liquid clay in the bottom of the bottle cap. Now smooth the paper image down inside the cap and paint a layer of liquid clay on top of it. Be sure to get liquid clay around the edges to smooth those down.
  4. Bake at 275° for 15 minutes.
  5. Add another thin layer of liquid clay and bake again. Repeat if necessary to get the right "look" for your project.
  6. You're done! Add a jump ring, attach it to a necklace, and just wait for the compliments to come pouring in!

Just a couple of notes:

Continue reading "How to Make Bottle Cap Jewelry with Liquid Clay" »

September 17, 2006

Artist Trading Card, Image TransferPolymer Clay Artist Trading Card, Sutton SliceYesterday I took a Polymer Clay Artist Trading Cards (ATC) class at and Bear Makes 3, a rubber stamp store in Moore, Oklahoma. Our teacher was Deena Parsons, and she was quite a hoot — she made sure everyone had an enjoyable time. We learned the Sutton Slice technique, which I used on my first ATC (on the left). We also did image transfers, which I used for my second ATC (on the right).

Continue reading "Polymer Clay Artist Trading Cards Class" »

September 15, 2006

Polymer Clay Daily posted this magnet trick -- it looks like a nifty way to keep the handle from falling out of the pasta machine. I can't think of how many things I've tried to fix this problem, so I'm hoping this will do the job. My poor little dog insists on laying right underneath the pasta machine whenever I'm in the craft room -- and we've had quite a few near misses when the handle has fallen out!

UPDATE 11/6/06: I finally remembered to pick up some super-magnets and give this a try. They didn't specify which brand of pasta machine they tried this on -- but I didn't have much luck using it with my Atlas pasta machine. Since the long hollow tube that my handle fits in is much longer than the handle, I'm guessing the magnet doesn't have anything to grab onto. Two of the comments on the original post looked promising, though: wrapping the end with masking tape, or inserting the end into the cut-off finger of a latex glove. I'll let you know if either of those work better for me...

September 11, 2006

According to the Clay Factory's Blog, several colors will no longer be available in Premo! Sculpey's 1-lb size:

Glow in the Dark - Zinc Yellow -  Fluorescent Yellow -  Alizarin Crimson - Fluorescent Red - Fluorescent Pink - Fuchsia - Copper - Red Pearl - Blue Pearl - Sea Green - Orange - Fluorescent Green - Green Pearl - Turquoise - Violet - Raw Sienna

The colors aren't being discontinued -- they just won't be available in this size anymore. But if you regularly buy any of these colors in this size, you may want to stock up now.

September 9, 2006

Just to summarize, here are the things I learned during my recent experiments with Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS) and Kato Polyclay Clear Medium transfers.

Continue reading "TLS Image Transfers, Wrap-Up" »

September 6, 2006

Kato Polyclay Clear Medium TransfersI had just bought the Kato Polyclay Clear Medium & hadn't tried it yet, so I decided to follow their instructions exactly for my first image transfer attempt. I excitedly pulled out the pamphlet and started looking at their directions, feeling optimistic that this just might do the trick.

My heart sank a little when I read these words: "ink-jet printed image"

Continue reading "TLS Image Transfers, Part 3" »

August 11, 2006

TLS Image Transfers on Hammermill Color Copy Paper; Heat Gun MethodIn the first part of my TLS image transfer series, I did a baseline test with various papers I already had on hand, changing variables like the thickness of the TLS and the baking temperature. This time I'll show you my results using Hammermill paper, which is a brand I've seen recommended for transfers. I'll also share my results using an embossing heat gun to set a TLS transfer before baking it in the oven.

Continue reading "TLS Image Transfers, Part 2" »

August 7, 2006

TLS Image Transfers on office and copy papers, card stockI love Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS) as a polymer clay adhesive. But I've never had much luck using it for image transfers.

So when I came across Sculpey's new tutorial [PDF], I thought I should give it another shot. I now have ready access to a color laser printer to generate the toner-based images, and I thought experimenting with different papers and different methods might fix the problems I had in the past.

I’ve separated the results of my experiments into three posts. Today I’ll go over my first attempts -- kind of a control group. Next time I’ll tell you about my attempts to use Hammermill papers (a brand I've seen recommended), along with my attempts at using the heat gun technique. And last, I’ll tell you about using Kato Liquid Polyclay.

Continue reading "Translucent Clay Image Transfers, Part 1" »

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