Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Variety is the spice of life

One of the best things about working with polymer clay is the sheer variety of items that can be made with or embellished with it. Two dimensional, three dimensional.... if you can imagine it chances are you can create it with polymer clay. This sampling just barely scratches the surface of what can be accomplished.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: Polymer Clay Extravaganza

This review is written by Charline of

As do most polymer clay books, the introduction to Polymer Clay Extravaganza, by Lisa Pavelka begins with a discussion of the medium, comparing clay types (although Kato clay is not discussed), and covers conditioning, leaching, measuring, baking, color blending, storing, and work surfaces. It moves on to tools (cutting, rolling, shaping (pattern cutters and clay guns) and the ever faithful pasta machine. It then discusses surface techniques (pearl powder, paint, rubber stamps, and metallic leaf and foil), glazes, adhesives, and sealants (clay glaze, acrylic floor wax, liquid polymer clay, superglue, and epoxy). It finished with information on polishing and cleanup. As the entire introduction is accomplished in 6 pages, each section is essentially the Cliff Notes version of each subject.

The next section is called basic techniques and covers one type of Skinner blend (2-color balanced), making a jelly roll cane from the Skinner blend and, subsequently, a flower millefiore cane from the jellyroll. The pictures for the Millefiore cane might be a little confusing for the neophyte caner, as the jellyroll is not only a different color from the Skinner blend jellyroll instructions that precede it, but have a “separation” line halfway through the jellyroll that is not explained. Furthermore, although reduction of the jellyroll is discussed textually, there are no pictures to illustrate what the reader would see during the process nor during the reduction process of the Millefiore cane. Even more to the point, the distortion that usually takes place during cane reduction is not discussed. Again, because of this missing information, I don’t think the instruction is particularly helpful for newbies. Furthermore, the people who do know how to reduce a cane and what happens during reduction for either cane process probably don’t need the instruction in the first place.

The project sections are much more complete than the preface material.

* Polymer Clay and Paper Crafts walks the reader through making:
* Two types of polymer clay decorated greeting cards.
* A scrapbook where the principle decoration piece is not polymer clay, but a metal embossing sheet. The bordering leaf or feather (it wasn’t identified as one or the other by the text) is referred back to the Skinner blend jellyroll cane – and again, the separation halfway through the cane to form the vein or spine isn’t explained.
* Polymer Clay and Memory Crafts explains making:
* A photo holder with a Millefiore base and wire photo heart clips.
* A whimsical Tooth Fairy to put on a painted papier-maché star box studded with metallic leaf covered stars.
* A stamped gold picture frame dusted with mica powder.
* A mini-photo album using some of the techniques used in the picture frame.
* A photo keepsake box that is trimmed with threaded beads and flowers.
* Polymer Clay and Desk Accessories has the reader creating:
* A Victorian business card holder using a self-colored picture burnished onto clay by hand. This project shows how to make a striped cane. My main issue with this is tells the reader to bake the transferred picture before trimming it, but doesn’t tell HOW to trim the baked piece of clay (scissors, Exacto knife, fingernails or teeth??).
* A mesh pencil caddy, with a very simple covering. This project shows the reader how to build the caddy from wire mesh; that’s convenient if there isn’t a Dollar Tree or other everything’s $1 store in your vicinity (I bought a bunch there a couple of weeks ago, before I read this book – maybe I’m psychic).
* Flower pen and stand – this is probably my favorite project in the book, because of the stand. And FINALLY, the way to put the split into the Skinner blend jellyroll is explained. However, it repeats the information for building the entire Millefiore flower, again without explaining or depicting the reduction process.
* Mica shift checkbook cover, with a brief description of sanding and buffing.
* Polymer Clay and Jewelry provides tutorials for:
* A heart locket pin, using a stamp and mica powder, to include how to add a metal hinge, embellishments, and pin back.
* A spirit song amulet, which repeats the stripe cane instruction (although with different colors). The amulet has a cutout at its center and is completely sealed designed to include a message to the recipient from the giver. As such, this would be difficult to sell unless you make the amulet after the purchase and the buyer provides you with the message to be included.
* A faux dichroic heart pendant using metallic foils and Liquid Sculpey.
* Polymer Clay and Home Décor takes the reader through the construction of:
* A switch plate for a baby’s room with a stamped base and small decorations.
* A candle holder using leaf pattern cutters and a repeat of the Skinner blend jellyroll cane in fall colors. A knitting needle is use to make the division in the cane by surrounding the cane with a darker outer wrapping and pressing it toward the center of the jellyroll.
* A mosaic address plate on a painted wooden base (only numbers).
* Polymer Clay and Garden Décor provides instructions for:
* Garden stakes with sculpted carrots, corn, and tomatoes in a checkerboard frame (not a checkerboard cane, however, but individually cut out squares of color on a white background), with extruded clay borders inside and out.
* A decorated terra cotta pot with flowers made from the Skinner blend jellyroll cane (this cane really gets a workout in this book!) and a textured sheet of clay around the bulk of the pot. A single repetition of the tri-color stripe cane is twisted and used to create stems for the flowers.
* A cute little garden angel on a stake is the final project in the book. She has a flower decked dress with bell sleeves and a draped skirt, complete with “train”. Her hair is made from simple gold clay in a teardrop leaf shape and she carries a bouquet of simple 5 leaf flowers in a bed of green leaves. Her wings are a large stamped heart with a leaf border.

The book ends with a gallery of complex clay art (purses, vessels, jewelry, a business card holder and more) done by “talented polymer clay artists” as well as some done by Lisa herself. None of the pictures give credit to the artist who designed and built the piece, which I find a little distressing.

Overall, as someone relatively new to the polymer clay medium, the book has shortcomings that I know would have caused me some serious confusion when I was starting out. Now, after 6 months up to my elbows in clay, there’s not much in here I haven’t already tried (except for the pen holder – got to do that one!!!)
Charline Ahlgreen

Monday, September 28, 2009

And the winner is...


2BeadOrNot2Bead is the winner of the Polymer Clay Smooshers challenge!
Her A Clockwork Orange Steampunk Sculpture won the Steampunk theme challenge.
Thank you to for giving us this months challenge!
Thank you to the Polymer Clay Smooshers who entered their beautiful pieces!

Thank you to everyone who voted and for helping us spread the word about our challenge and poll!
2BeadOrNot2Bead will choose our challenge for September.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pretty in Pink

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book review: 400 Polymer Clay Designs

This review is written by Cindi of

The book review this time is 400 Polymer Clay Designs. And simply put it is 348 pages of pure inspiration!

There are no instructions to any of the finished projects in this book, but who needs them? This book is total eye candy and will break through even the toughest of creative blocks. Each page features a different piece with a brief description of the item, size, and artist.
I don't think there is any type of project not covered in this book - Vessels of every size and kind, jewelry, purses, sculptures, masks, trinket boxes, earrings, clocks, pendants, bracelets, tables, wall decor, book covers, vases, and OMG! I think I just saw one of our guild members featured in this book! Yes it is!! Polymer Clay Smooshers very own Laura Timmens has been featured not only once, but SEVEN times! Oh how exciting-we have a celebrity in our midst.

175 polymer clay artists are featured in this book, and an index of authors and their contributions is at the end of the book.
I give this book 6 stars out of 5 simply because if you choose to add it to your library it will be a lifetime of inspiration.

Until next time...Happy Claying everyone!


Monday, September 21, 2009

blues and purples

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Thursday, September 17, 2009

shades of brown

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review: Polymer Clay Creative Traditions

This review is written by Cindi of

This week's review is Judy Belcher's Book titled Polymer Clay Creative Traditions, and just one look at the cover of the book and you know you're in for a treat with this book.

If I had to name a quality about Judy, it would have to be meticulous. Have you seen how perfectly neat her canes are? I mean, yeah they look cool, but there is absolutely no distortion in her canes.
On with the book ~ The pictures are great and Judy is just as descriptive and helpful in the book as she is on her TV appearances. For clay newbies- basic clay history, care, tools, and supplies are all explained in the forward pages.
The book is broken down into chapters of traditional art mediums, and at the end of each chapter is a gallery full of finished items by various different artists.
Glass Traditions is the first chapter which includes millefiori, two tone tessellation, Chinese eye beads, mosaics, fused and slumped glass. There is an example of a slumped bowl by James Lehman that is really spectacular. You'd never suspect that it is polymer clay. But the one project that I am so wanting to try is the encased bead (done with embossing powder)
The next chapter is Metals and the Mokume Gane examples really look like metal. but there are also texture stamping and an enameled pin.
Fiber Traditions is next and OMG! There so many cool fabrics to make in polymer clay. Even if you didn't use them as clothing for a figure, these are interesting enough for your pendants and beads. Ikat, bargello, batik, quilting, Kente and Mud cloths just to name a few.
Painting and drawing is the next chapter, and oh my, I wish you could see the Georgia O'Keefe flower purse that Judy shows how to make. It is stunning! Several other artists' work is shown how to imitate in polymer clay - included is Gustav Klimt, Georges Seurat (pointillism), Jackson Pollock(abstract expressionist), and M.C. Escher (which has directions for a beautiful geometric cane)
Stone, Bone, and Wood is the next chapter a few of the highlights here are chatoyant effects, bone simulations with scrimshaw, and parquetry.
The last chapter is Sculpture and Ceramics and the first thing she teaches is how to make a triangle horse head and it is simple! Along with the horse head there are other animal heads that can easily be made with the same instructions. Also is metallic raku, crackle raku, and mishisima and decorative layering.
Overall I give the book 5 stars out of 5 and I will not be getting rid of my copy.

Until next time..happy claying!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Creature Feature

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Introducing gundowerks


What got you interested in polymer clay as a medium?
I picked up some clay in the late 1980's and really enjoyed it. I didn't do much but some beads & buttons, and some fridge magnets for friends, then life conspired to lead me on to other things and clay took a backseat. In the mid 1990's I started hand-dyeing silk, and concentrated on scarves. I needed something to accent them, and decided to try beads - and I realized that making beads unique to each dyed piece was a great selling point. Getting my hands back into clay got me deeper into the medium (many thanks goes to the wonderful people at Delphi Forums' Polymer Clay Central for helping keep me addicted to this wonderful artform), and before long I was doing much more than just beads.

What inspires you to create?
I have a real need to make things. There's nothing like the feeling of knowing that something has come from my handiwork. I get my inspirations from a lot of places, but the best creative inspiration I have is just sitting down at my desk and picking up a piece of clay.

Do you have a favorite technique?
I have a couple. One is working in black clay with surface techniques and colors. The other is a faux mokume gane technique I have developed over the years. I also love working with PC transfers, and liquid clay in general.

Of everything you have created which is your favorite?
This might be my favorite:

It's a greenman mask. Unfortunately I don't have better photos from when it was completed. I plan to try another one like it eventually.
This is another of my favorites, a covered goblet using my faux mokume gane technique:

What do you prefer to make out of polymer clay and why?
I love to make jewelry, but honestly I think covering things (tins, glasses, etc.) might be my preference. I love the precision of covering items, and the way they look and feel when they are finished. Another long time favorite thing to make are buttons - they're so satisfying, and it's exciting to see what I've made show up on someone else's handmade art.

How do you decide what to make?
Usually I have a project to complete - either bringing an idea I've had to fruition or fulfilling an order or a challenge or swap. Sometimes I decide what to make because I've been itching to work with a particular technique.

Is there something you wish you could make in clay that you have not yet?
I have several techniques I'd love to try, but I think the one I want to do most is precious metal clay. I'll get around to it someday!

What makes polymer clay a better fit for your products than other mediums?
The versatility. Clay can be manipulated so many ways it's amazing. You can replicate so many different materials, it's strong and light and flexible. It can be used with a variety of other mediums or all by itself. I love everything about it!

What is your best advice for someone starting out in polymer clay?
Oh, this is a hard one. I think "take your time, experiment, learn, grow, create". The beautiful thing about PC is that the learning curve starts low but it soars up amazingly high - there's a world and wealth of art in this medium, so study and grow with it. It can meet your artistic needs in incredible ways.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Blue Skies

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall is in the air

Colors, shapes, patterns and/or textures that make me think of Fall.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: Creating with Polymer Clay

This review is written by Charline of

This book begins with an introduction that talks about the beginnings of polymer clay and its move from doll and puppet making, to a versatile medium for artisan crafting from which almost anything can be built.

There are several pages that discuss the influence of other media on polymer clay, most notably millefiore and lampwork glass, and mosaics, as well as great color pictures of work by and small polymer clay sound bytes by great artists like Donna Kato, Pier Voulkos, Kathleen Dustin, and Susanna Oroyan, to name just a few.

The Getting Started chapter starts with a discussion of various polymer clays by brand. Due to the age of the book, it doesn’t discuss Kato, Premo!, or Pardo clays. It also talks about some brands I’ve never heard of and for which I can find no suppliers (Pro-Mat and Modello). Like most clay books, it then discusses conditioning the clay, mixing and using colors, various tools for use with polymer clay, baking, and general safety rules.

The Special Techniques chapter discusses simple shapes, incised designs on baked and unbaked clay, image transfers, and surface techniques (metal leaf, metallic paints, faux ivory, press molds, Mokume Gane, veneers, fluid shapes, dolls, a couple of methods of making vessels, and the more obscure lost wax and wood lathe turnings. Although the color photos showing examples of these techniques are wonderful, except for Mokume Gane and the vessel building parts, the section is VERY lean on explaining how to actually do any of them. There is a rather extensive section (at least when compared to the rest) on caning, although it only covers two or three types. (The butterfly cane tutorial in it is great, though!)

The Projects chapter of the book is, again, long on beautiful, finished product pictures and short on step-by-step instruction pictures. It covers Jewelry, Decorative Items, and Household Articles sections.

The section on Jewelry provides limited instructions for making “Dancing Figures” and “Autumn Leaves” necklaces (with the latter a much more complete tutorial), buttons (a discussion rather than a tutorial), memory wire bracelets (all text – I’d never be able to make these from the instructions alone), Navajo beads (the cane instructions are very sketchy), mosaic earrings (this has a faux coral, turquoise, and jet composition and the instructions are, again, minimal).

The Decorative Items section includes instructions for a tile made with a self-constructed stamp, beaded baskets, Ikat coiled vessels (with no step-by-step pictures to help you figure out how to make the Ikat cane), a footed platter that reminds me of Central American primitive designs/colors, a gorgeous heart shaped box without instructions on how to achieve the cane patterns used in the construction, and some cute caned children’s shoes – Mary Janes and T-Straps – again, with no cane building instructions.

The Useful Articles for the Home section has instructions for a mosaic clock, journals and scrapbooks, drapery rod ends, a mosaic pattern tin, picture frames, candlesticks, mirror frames, floral napkin rings, dominoes with matching faces instead of dots, a backgammon game, caned Christmas tree ball ornaments, a chess set, bird houses, and cane covered eggs – the latter look like the Ukrainian Pysanky Easter eggs with very delicate lines and bold colors. As I used to make these using dyes on egg shells, I was thrilled to find them in a polymer clay book – that is until I discovered that there weren’t instructions to go with all the glorious eggs shown. In fact, I had a hard time trying to figure out which of the eggs in the picture was actually explained in the instructions.

Although there are many, MANY, beautiful pictures, there is so little explanatory text on how to achieve the effects in the pictures that beginning clayers (like me), will have more questions when they finish the book than they did when they started. If I had to classify this book by who would most benefit from it, I’d say it’s best for a really experienced intermediate clay artisan or expert. However, if you’re the kind of person who can intuit how to do something by how it looks, this book will give you all sorts of wonderful new ideas.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Introducing ValeriesStuff


What got you interested in polymer clay as a medium?
I first looked into polymer clay as a medium because of the wonderful colors, the no kiln curing and its endless possibilities. And what's more, it is fun!
To me, polymer clay combines the best of working with clay and acrylic paints (the vivid colors).

What inspires you to create?
I find inspiration anywhere and every where. Some examples would be nature, music, colors, or photos.

Do you have a favorite technique?
I have three favorite techniques. The first is a slight variation on the Skinner blend, the tricolor mica shift. Although this takes longer than some techniques, I think the mica spark is worth it.
The second process is applying alcohol ink to the cured clay. I have hand painted several color block pendants and abstracts as well as trees and flowers.
My last favorite (I don't think you could call it a technique) is what I call my "Playdoh flashback". This happens when I sit down, surround myself with my clays, and start smooshing!

Of everything you have created which is your favorite?
(She has two)

What do you prefer to make out of polymer clay and why?
At one time, about all I made where tricolor mica shift cuff bracelets. I enjoyed the whole process of creating them and loved the end result. Also, no one could guess the bracelet was made of polymer clay! This is an unique medium!
Now, I am on a pendant/necklace binge! These pieces do not require a lot of clay and each one is one of a kind.

How do you decide what to make?
Sometimes I have a picture in head of what I want to create. Other times, I let the clay or alcohol ink lead me. My most recent efforts have been to make clay abstracts.

Is there something you wish you could make in clay that you have not yet?
An embarrassing confession here: I can not make a decent cane or bead! They always end up slightly tilted. Someday, I would like to make a perfect cane!

What makes polymer clay a better fit for your products than other mediums?
Polymer clay satisfies my desire to create three dimensionally and gives me great colors. I am just starting to discover this clay's potential. On the practical side, this is a relatively
inexpensive medium, with no special equipment required.

What is your best advice for someone starting out in polymer clay?
Experiment! Play! Have fun!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

You are cordially invited...

Art Fire guilds Polymer Clay Smooshers and Clayfire cordially invite you to attend a Masquerade Clay Ball.

Date: October 10th through October 31st

Place: and

For thousands of years masks have been used for various reasons by almost every civilization. Our masks represent to the world that natural clay and polymer clay artists can not only get along they can also work together and have fun doing it. You will see some great work in both mediums by amazing artists.

We will showcase one of a kind masks made with either polymer clay or natural clay.
To celebrate participating shops in both guilds will be having a sale in October (not just on masks).
There will be a door prize given away here on

Come dressed as you are and have lots of fun.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Introducing MickeysJewelryCreations


What got you interested in polymer clay as a medium?
I saw Judy Belcher on a video on the Fire Mountain bead site and ordered some clay....I was hooked.

What inspires you to create?
If there is something I've seen and want to try to make. I'll give it a try. Doesn't always turn out the first few times I try, but always return and work on it.

Do you have a favorite technique?
No......just play.

Of everything you have created which is your favorite?
My favorite is image transfers.....saw a demo and went out and bought my laser printer. Hooked on laser!!!

What do you prefer to make out of polymer clay and why?
I prefer to make jewelry with my clay. I've been making jewelry for about 5 years and added polymer clay to my list of items.

How do you decide what to make?
I don't...I just sit down and start playing with the clay. Unless of course I have a particular project in mind.

Is there something you wish you could make in clay that you have not yet?
I would love to make flower canes, just haven't had the time to play with making any as of yet.

What is your best advice for someone starting out in polymer clay?
My best advise is just to have fun. The more you play with clay, the ideas just come from somewhere.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Smoosher CreativeCritters rides the Crazy Train

For the next two days Polymer Clay Smooshers' very own CreativeCritters rides the Crazy Train.
Use promo code CRAZYTRAINRIDE for 10% off orders over $20 in CreativeCritters shop. Offer good until September 7th, 2009.

For more info on the Crazy Train promotions please visit

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Introducing libertydoll


What got you interested in polymer clay as a medium?
I have always enjoyed working with several mediums. The reason for working with clay is the idea I can create anything whether it's a bead or a whimsical sculpture. (Still waiting to good enough to whimsical sculptures though)

What inspires you to create?
I never know what's going to inspire me. One time it might be music, another it might be the sunset or something funny my daughter has done.

Do you have a favorite technique?
At the moment my favorite techinque is undecided. I am still learning and alot to master before I can really decide what's my favorite however, if I had to pick one I would say not messing up. LOL

Of everything you have created which is your favorite?
Out of the items I have created I think my polymer clay hamburger earrings is one of my favorites

What do you prefer to make out of polymer clay and why?
I like to experiment and make all types of items.

How do you decide what to make?
It depends on what colors I have at the moment and I guess if something has inspired me.

Is there something you wish you could make in clay that you have not yet?
I want to make beads. I mean beads made from rollers where they are all precisely the same size. I also would love to make one of kind whimsical charms and beads

What is your best advice for someone starting out in polymer clay?
My advice is don't give up. I have wanted to a couple times but I am slowly learning and enjoying it.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009