July 20, 2011

If you don't have school-aged kids or follow the deals sites, you may not realize that back-to-school sales are already in full swing. But not only are the next few weeks a great time to get school supplies, they're also a great time to buy claying supplies. You can stock up on a lot of the things you'll need for holiday craft shows, Christmas gifts, or even supplies for your own clay classes. Here are a few supplies you might want to look for at this year's back-to-school sales:

Continue reading "Back to School / Back to Claying!" »

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 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!

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)" »

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" »

June 14, 2010

Cover of August 2010 Polymer CAFEI was excited to open my mailbox today and see that the August 2010 issue of PolymerCAFÉ had arrived. In addition to some gorgeous projects (I love Ann Kruglak's cover piece!), this issue contains a little article I wrote explaining how to magnetize the base on your Sculpey 5-In-1 Clay Tool.

Previously part of the Studio by Sculpey tool line, this tool has really become one of my favorites. I bought one to keep at home and one to take to guild, which keeps me from having to check individual items (needle tool, carving tools, etc.) off my pack-for-guild checklist.

Bonus Tips

Continue reading "Make the Most of your Sculpey 5-in-1 Clay Tool" »

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!

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" »

August 18, 2009

Cleaning Ceramic TileIf you've used ceramic tiles as a working or baking surface for very long, then you've probably had to clean them. It's easy enough to use an alcohol-soaked paper towel to wipe off surface dust, and even baked-on clay remnants can usually be scraped off with a fingernail. But if you've ever tried to clean up baked-on liquid clay or embossing powders, you know it can be a bit of a challenge.

Here's a quick tip: Use a scraper made for ceramic oven tops to clean those tiles. Any sharp blade will work, actually, though you don't want to mess up your good clay blade for a cleaning job.The nice thing about the oven scrapers is they're inexpensive and safe to use. It just takes a minute to scrape off the cooked-on stuff, which you can then wipe away with a damp paper towel. Easy as that!

August 10, 2009

Sculpey Pasta MachineI have a long checklist of things that I take with me when I'm crafting away from home, including, among other things, clay, clay tools, TLS, rubbing alcohol, baby wipes, and the big one... the pasta machine. Most of the stuff can be grabbed and tossed into my bag fairly easily. But the pasta machine requires unclamping and disassembling, and then getting it back just right whenever I get home.

When I was just going to my monthly polymer clay guild meetings, it wasn't a big deal. I'd allow myself an extra half an hour to pack up my stuff, and it worked fine. Then some friends of mine started a monthly Downtown DIY craft night. Add on the occasional class, and it started to feel like I was spending more time packing and unpacking my pasta machine than actually using it. And for some reason, it's a little harder to get out the door nowadays than it was, say, 6 months ago.

So I decided I wanted a second set-up: a basic set of tools I could leave packed up and ready to take. I had duplicates of some tools, and a few older tools I didn't use often at home but would be happy enough with at a meeting. But a second pasta machine seemed like a real splurge.

I've been using my Atlas 150 for almost 10 years now, and it's served me well. But I got it back when the good ones were cheap on eBay... there weren't nearly as many polymer clayers to compete with on the bidding. And since some of the newer Atlas machines have scraper problems, I don't feel entirely comfortable buying one online anyway. I'd want to inspect it.

I learned at the IPCA Retreat that there's a new Sculpey pasta machine, er rather a "Clay Conditioning Machine" (it's about impossible for me to call it anything but a pasta machine!). It's cheaper new than I'd pay for a used Atlas on eBay, so I decided I'd give it a try. After all, it seems like a machine made for clay stands a fair shot at working just as well with clay (or better) than a machine made for pasta.

The Settings

Continue reading "Review: Sculpey Clay Conditioning Machine" »

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.

August 5, 2009

Finished Disks

If you've ever tried to give someone directions for how you made a polymer clay project, you probably ran into that question: "What pasta machine setting did you use?"

It's not an easy question to answer. First of all, various pasta machine brands have different settings.

  • Some have #1 as the thickest setting.
  • Some have #1 as the thinnest setting.
  • Some have 9 settings.
  • Some only have 6. (Is my Atlas 150 the only one that just has 6, by the way? Is it just a really old model?)

Aside from all that, it can just be darn hard to remember what setting you used. Oftentimes for me, I kept going til my sheet was big enough for whatever it was I was covering, without regard to how thin it ended up.

Just in case you ever find yourself in the same boat, here's a quick project that may help you tell (after the fact) what setting you used. It can also be useful for comparing two different machines &mash; for example, to help tell your friend with a Makins machine what setting she should use to match your Atlas's #2 setting. Or if you're trying to plan a project that requires a specific thickness, you can use these disks to find the perfect one.


  • polymer clay
  • pasta machine
  • cookie cutter
  • number rubber stamps or needle tool
  • drinking straw for poking hole (optional)


Continue reading "How to Make a Pasta Machine Cheat Sheet" »

April 24, 2009

Blocks of Polymer Clay (Premo, Fimo and Kato)Used to be, we could count on Michaels to put all their polymer clay on sale pretty regularly. Every few months, we'd all stock up on our favorite brands for just 99 cents a block. Unfortunately, the last few times they've only put Sculpey III on sale. If your stockpiles have gotten low while you've been waiting for the next sale on the "good stuff," here are a few options for finding good prices:

Local Stores

Depending on which other stores you have nearby, you may still be able to find a good deal locally. Hobby Lobby and Joann's still have 99 cent and percent off sales on all brands. Watch their websites or sign up for their email lists to get notified of sales.

If things get really desperate, you could always use the weekly 40% off coupons to buy one block at a time. It's not the quickest way to stock up, but if you're stubborn like me, it beats paying full price!

Online Stores

There are plenty of choices for buying clay online... only problem is that shipping can be expensive. Still, it can be a good option, especially if you prefer the larger blocks of clay, which aren't generally available in local stores.

Here are some prices from a few online stores:

Continue reading "Where to Find Good Deals on Polymer Clay" »

March 20, 2009

Copper Cookie CuttersCookie cutters are great tools to use with polymer clay. They're inexpensive and come in lots of great shapes. But occasionally you find yourself needing a special shape or size that's not available. While you can buy cookie cutter kits, here are three alternatives for making your own cookie cutters with supplies you probably have around the house.

Continue reading "Three Ways to Make Your Own Cookie Cutters" »

December 4, 2008

Polymer Clay Inro with Alcohol Inks & RustShiny metallic and glasslike finishes all have their place. But sometimes you want an older, more weathered look. I recently experimented with using the Rust Antiquing Set by Sophisticated Finishes on polymer clay, and I wanted to share my experiences.

About the Rust Antiquing Set

Bottles from Rust Antiquing SetThe Rust Antiquing Set doesn't just create the illusion of a rusted finish — it actually creates a metallic, rusted top layer on whatever surface you paint it on. The set comes with two bottles. The Iron Metallic Surfacer paint includes real metallic bits. You paint this on first to create a rust-able surface. Then you use the Rust Antiquing Solution to rust those metallic bits.

How To Use It

Continue reading "Creating a Rust Effect on Polymer Clay" »

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 14, 2008

Studio by Sculpey Super Slicer BladesI was pleasantly surprised the other day when I found out my local Hobby Lobby has started carrying Studio by Sculpey products. Since I no longer have to order online and pay shipping, it seemed like a good time to give their Super Slicer blades a try. I've only ever had the one rigid clay blade, and it's gotten pretty dull with years of use, so I wanted to replace it. Plus, since I've never had a flexible, wavy or ripple blade before, I was looking forward to trying those out.

Continue reading "Studio by Sculpey Super Slicer Blade Review" »

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" »

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 2, 2008

Faux Leather Monogrammed Coaster SetI love that Irene Semanchuk Dean's Faux Surfaces in Polymer Clay book has two parts for each imitative surface: first a recipe, then a project. Not only does she show you how to mix up a realistic-looking mother-of-pearl, but she also shows you how to incorporate that into a typical mother-of-pearl inlay project, enhancing the perception that it's the real thing.

Her book helped me look at faux in a whole new light. It's not only how good the surface looks — it's also what you do with it. Your faux turquoise surface may look perfect, but you have to consider shapes and sizes of natural turquoise if you want to really hit the mark with your finished project. If a stone is typically carved, then digging out your carving tools after baking will help make it look more realistic.

And the same applies to leather. If you lived through the 70's, you probably had a leather kit with carving tools and hand stamps. So what says leather more than those familiar motifs?

Leather Stamp SetAvailable at some craft stores or online, leather-working tools are a great addition to your polymer clay stash, especially if you want to give faux leather a realistic look. The nice part is that polymer clay takes the impression of these stamps much more easily than leather. (If you have trouble with the metal tools sticking to your clay, try dusting the clay with cornstarch or spritzing it with water first.)

Some of the tool kits also include patterns. Mine had great tips for combining individual stamps to create borders and other designs. Using their ideas made it easy to create good-looking designs that have a definite leather look to them. (You can also find free leather patterns on Tandy's site.)

I got my set of 7 Tandy leather tools at my local Hobby Lobby for $16.99 and have really enjoyed them. Combine these tools with this great leather recipe from Polymer Clay Web for a fun faux leather look.

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 27, 2008

Makin's Ultimate Clay ExtruderAfter last week's Polymer Clay Pincushion post, I got a friendly email from Susanna. She asked,

"I just wanted to know if you had any advice on extruding clay using a clay extruder. I have so much trouble pushing the clay out and then cleaning it afterwards! Do you have any tips on how to make it easier?"

Ugh. I knew almost without asking that Susanna was using the old silver plunger-style extruder. I knew that because I lived with my plunger-style extruder for years, and so I recognized her frustration.

Continue reading "Review: Makin's Ultimate Clay Extruder" »

May 16, 2008

Box of Pearl and Embossing PowdersHere's a quick tip for storing your Pearl Ex & embossing powders so it's easy to find the right color at a glance.

I used to store my Pearl Ex powders in their original box, carefully organized numerically (because I'm picky that way). However, when I reorganized the last time, I found that it made more sense to keep all the pearl & embossing powder bottles together in one large box. While this worked much better from a storage aspect, it created two new problems:

  • It was trickier to keep them in just the right order, something that was important if I was using my Pearl Ex Color Strip to find the right color.
  • The original Pearl Ex boxes stored the bottles vertically, so I could see the color from the side. In my new storage box, all I saw was their little black lids, which all look exactly the same.

To fix these problems, I spent a little time creating samples and labelling the lids:

Continue reading "Quick Tip: Organizing Pearl Ex & Embossing Powders" »

May 4, 2008

Glitter Poll Results: 64% Pro, 23% Anti, 14% OtherA few days ago, I asked your feelings on glitter: love it or hate it? And while the strongly-worded options may have influenced folks' answers, I think Laurel was onto something when she commented that people tend to be "vehement one way or the other about glitter." After 22 comments, here are the results:

  • Pro-Glitter: 14 comments (63.6%)
  • Anti-Glitter: 5 comments (22.7%)
  • On the Fence ("Love/Hate Relationship", etc.): 3 comments (13.6%)

Looks like I am in the minority, as a crafty "glitter-hater" -- but at least I'm not all by myself!

As for the drawing, the randomly-selected winners are:

  • Penni Jo for her pro-glitter comment: "All glitter has its own charm and place in the world."
  • Beth for her anti-glitter comment: "Add glue to the mix and it becomes a blob monster determined to get me! I can't handle it without it taking over every thing I own."

I'll be contacting the winning commenters shortly -- so if you're one of them, be sure to keep an eye on your email for instructions on receiving your prize.

If you haven't read through the comments yet, there's a lot of fun ones. My faves include these:

  • Dez likes the glitter cloud that rises up when she sits in her favorite chair.
  • Jenny's son was born with glitter on his head.
  • France mentions the difficulties of being taken seriously in a business meeting when you've got glitter on your face!

Thanks for all your great comments -- & for helping me get rid of those yucky old glitter bottles once & for all! :-)

May 2, 2008

Mineral OilMineral oil is cheap and easy to find -- your local pharmacy probably has a big bottle of some generic brand available for less than a dollar. And that makes it a darn good value for a surprisingly versatile craft supply.

Here's 6 reasons you need to buy a bottle of mineral oil for your craft space:

Continue reading "6 Ways to Use Mineral Oil with Polymer Clay" »

April 30, 2008


Miss me? Seems like I've been working day & night lately -- preparing for, executing & recovering from this past weekend's garage sale. All that stuff from my craft room clean-up had to go somewhere!

As I was sorting through & pricing items, I noticed some of the bottles of glitter I'd finally decided to get rid of. I've never been a big fan of glitter. Hubby & I specifically avoid buying glittery cards for each other. And if well-intentioned family members send such cards our way, we handle them by the corners, carefully, hoping to avoid any glitter "contamination." I have no idea, then, why I had several bottles of glittery stuff in my craft supplies.

Continue reading "Garage Sales & Glitter Giveaway" »

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 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 6, 2008

Giveaway: Mold Putty Project Pack + extrasTo conclude this mold putty series, I wanted to share a few additional mold putty tips & tricks. Plus, I'm giving away a project pack that includes everything you need to try your hand at molding.

More Mold Putty Tips & Tricks

Continue reading "Mold Putty Wrap-Up & Giveaway" »

February 2, 2008

If you love texture sheets & have ever wondered about creating your own, check out my latest video, How to Make Your Own Texture Molds.

It runs just over 7 minutes, and includes the following:

  • How to make a texture mold from a basket
  • How to use extruded clay to make a texture sheet
  • How to use your texture sheets along with clay in the pasta machine

Here's a few photos to give you a clearer view:

Other posts in this series:

Start molding today with the Mold Putty Project Pack.

January 31, 2008

Are you a visual learner? If so, check out my latest video for tips on making buttons and button molds. It runs just over 5 minutes, and includes the following:

  • How to use Amazing Mold Putty to make molds from buttons
  • How to use your button molds with polymer clay
  • How to poke button holes
  • How to add button shanks
  • How to use Pearl Ex powders to add a little pizazz to your buttons

And here's a few photos to give you a clearer view:

Continue reading "Video: How to Make Button Molds & Buttons" »

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" »

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" »

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?

October 17, 2006

CK Layout Challenge SketchWhile I'm not much of a scrapbooker, I love this free random layout challenge generator from Creating Keepsakes. You specify the categories (e.g., color combinations, shapes, embellishments, layout sketches, etc.) you want included in your layout challenge -- and they'll generate a random challenge for you. Most of the categories work just as well for cards, ATCs, or other paper crafts.

I like the way tools like this give me a set of guidelines to create within. Maybe it just helps get the creative juices flowing -- no starting with a scary blank page. Or maybe it gives me a challenge -- I start wondering what I can make that's creative and unique, starting with these set guidelines. Whatever the reason is, it's something I definitely enjoy. Here are a couple of my favorite products for sparking creativity:

  • The Joy of Card Making [aff] has sketches -- they call them "recipes" -- for card layouts in several standard card sizes. Each recipe includes various examples of finished products for more inspiration. (There's also a Joy of Card Making: A Second Helping [aff] that I haven't tried yet -- it's on my Christmas list, though!)
  • Deluxe Cuts Card Templates are fun little plastic templates for various card layouts. The templates make it a little easier to trace and cut out the paper shapes.

Do you have anything special that inspires your creativity? Leave me a comment -- I'd love to hear about it!

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.

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

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