Saturday, October 20, 2012

Featuring Smoosher Member Black Dog Jewelry

Polymer Clay Smoosher member Kelly, of Black Dog Jewelry lives in a beautiful seaside community in Vero Beach Florida which offers her the perfect backdrop to make her wonderful jewelry.  Her unique handcrafted jewelry has a fun, whimsical flair.  She says "I take great pride in creating each piece and will not send it to you until I know it's perfect. Once you have it in your hands you will agree that Black Dog Jewelry is truly one of a kind."  And Rosa, the namesake of this company has a delightful story as well. "Rosa, the black dog of Black Dog Jewelry, is also one of a kind. She is a rescue who loves adventure. She enjoys going for walks, doing yoga with me, playing with her Daddy, attending doggy daycare, taking naps and she just discovered she enjoys going for a ride on the paddle boat!"
Kelly's interests include metal fabrication, precious metal clay, art jewelry, fine silver, unique, animal lover, wire wrapping, seaglass, beach glass, polymer clay, and critter.  These different influences can be seen in the wide variety of jewelry she creates.
You can find Black Dog Jewelry online at,,,, and
Below is a sample of some of the delightful jewelry you can find in her ArtFire shop.
Baby Gargoyle Polymer Clay Necklace
Baby Gargoyle necklace

Zebra Polymer Clay Necklace
Zebra necklace

Skunk Polymer Clay Necklace
Skunk necklace

Halloween Polymer Clay Wine Charms
Halloween Wine Charms

And there are plenty more cute creations where these came from!  Be sure to stop by Black Dog Jewelry to see all the wonderful things available!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Check out the entries for the Smooshers Autumn Colors/ Halloween Challenge!

The entries are in for the Polymer Clay Smooshers Autumn Colors/ Halloween challenge!
From Illusion Everything we have this totally awesome set of 3 Lady Skeleton cabochons available in your choice of colors. 
Set of 3 Skeleton Lady Cabochons Handmade You Choose Color
 The largest measures 1 1/2" tall by 1 1/4" wide. The smaller 2 measure 3/4" tall by 1/2" wide and they would be great to add to your own bezels or just add a jump ring, ear wires and a chain for a delightfully spooky jewelry set!
Just Jewelry by Joan made these wonderful little Pandora Style Pumpkin beads.

Pandora Style Pumpkin beads
These would be wonderful for any Fall jewelry you wanted to create!

Artmakers Worlds really outdid herself with this Halloween Green Bat Pincushion Clay Covered Tin.

Halloween green bat pincushion polymer clay covered altiod tin   It's unique and decorative on it's own, but is also functional. 25 long, green pearl head pins are included in the tin.  The hands and feet even glow in the dark!
Her second entry is this Spooky Night polymer Clay Covered Pen and Pencil Holder.
Spooky night polymer clay covered can pen and pencil holder
It features a big full moon, a bare tree with an owl on the branch and bats flying on the other side. The moon and even the owls eyes are made with glow in the dark clay.

This Wicked Witch art doll from Fantasy Clay would make a fabulous Halloween decoration.

Halloween Wicked Witch Polymer Clay Poseable Artdoll
 She has a soft poseable body with polymer clay head, hands and feet and stands on her own. She has a black dress with lace details and a soft shawl. Her hair is Tibetan mohair and she stands 9 inches tall.

Second Sister at MoArk Jewelry created this Falling Leaves Whimsical Polymer Clay necklace.

Falling Leaves Whimsical Polymer Clay Necklace
 The pendant is made with polymer clay and colored turquoise nuggets. The 3-dimensional tree and the gemstones add a sense of depth to this piece. The picture this creates is a tree that has lost most of its colorful fall leaves which are lying around the tree base.

CreativeCritters entered two pieces.  This Halloween Black Cat Keepsake Tin is the Halloween entry.

Halloween Black Cat Keepsake Tin w/ Glow in the Dark Charmed Insignia
The cute black cat is wearing a  witch's hat and has the insignia from the TV show Charmed on his chest in glow in the dark polymer clay.  The stars also glow, and glow in the dark powder has been added to the blue liquid clay on the lid.
This whimsical Autumn Dragon sculpture is the Autumn Colors entry.

Cute Red and Orange Autumn Colors Polymer Clay Dragon with Fall Leaves
The red and orange dragon is holding his collection of fallen leaves which have been sprinkled with gold glitter to add a bit of Autumn magic ;-)   The dragon measures 3 1/2 inches tall and would be a whimsical addition to your Fall decor.

So there you have it!  Lots of wonderful entries for this challenge!  And each of these items are available for sale- just click on the picture to be taken directly to the listing.  I want to thank everyone who entered this challenge, as well as everyone who has stopped by to check out these awesome handmade Halloween and Autumn creations :-)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Collection of earrings for Autumn from the Polymer Clay Smooshers

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to condition and handle polymer clay

No matter how soft polymer clay is when you unwrap it, it still needs to be conditioned.  Conditioning polymer clay redistributes the ingredients in the clay that may have settled during storage.  If you don't properly condition your clay your finished piece may be weaker and more prone to breakage.  You know your clay is properly conditioned when you can fold it without having it crack.
To condition your clay start by cutting the block of clay into thin slices using a straight blade.  Roll over each slice with a clay roller, fold it in half and repeat several times until it starts to become softer.  Continue conditioning with your hands, smooshing, rolling, and folding the clay until it becomes warm and pliable.  You can condition the clay completely by hand or finish conditioning it with a pasta machine.  Be sure to always insert the clay through the pasta machine fold first to prevent air bubbles from becoming trapped between the layers.
Here's a short video showing how to condition polymer clay.
Softer clays such as Sculpey III and Pardo can usually be conditioned by hand by simply kneading them for a few minutes.  Using a pasta machine makes quick work of conditioning clay and you can usually find pasta machines for a reasonable price in most craft stores and online sites that sell polymer clay.
Firmer clays can be crumbly and difficult to condition.  With these clays you need to start warming the clay and conditioning by hand before trying to run them through the pasta machine to complete the conditioning process.   One way to soften the clay is to mix in small amounts of translucent clay.  However, if you add too much you may change the color of the clay.  You can also add a few drops of liquid clay and knead it in thoroughly.  Only add a few drops at a time or you will end up with a goopy mess!  Yet another way to warm your clay in preparation for conditioning is to place wrapped blocks of clay on a Ziploc bag filled with 1/2 cup of rice that's been microwaved for 30-45 seconds.  The rice will stay warm for up to an hour.  You may want to put a cloth between the bag of rice and your clay to prevent overheating.  You don't want the clay to begin curing.  One method I use to warm stiff clay is to sit on the clay or put it in my pocket (wrapped in it's original package or in a bag).  Just never put polymer clay in the microwave for any reason.
The heat of your hands can make some clays softer and softer while you're working with them.  If your clay becomes too soft and difficult to work with you may need to set it aside for a while and let it cool off.  Some people even put it in the refrigerator for a short time.
You can make soft clay firmer by a process called leaching, which removes some of the plasticizers from the clay.  While leaching will make the clay firmer to work with, it can also lessen the strength of the finished piece.  To leach your clay sandwich thin pieces of polymer clay between several layers of printer paper.  Place your "clay sandwich" on your work tile and set a heavy book on top.  Check your clay every so often until the desired firmness is achieved.  This process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.  Replace the paper when it appears saturated.  It will look like a grease stain on the paper.  And remember not to leave unbaked clay on painted, varnished, or lacquered surfaces, as the clay will damage them.
When working with different colors of clay start with the lightest colors first whenever possible.  Light colored clays can be difficult to keep clean since they will pick up anything on your hands, tools, or work surface. This post has more tips on working with light colored clay: Tips For Sculpting With White and Light Colored Polymer Clay.  Baby wipes work well for cleaning your hands not only in between colors, but every so often while you're working with your light color.  I also wipe down my tools to be sure there are no bits of darker clay on them.  Just be sure your wipes are lint free and don't leave fine particles on your hands, as these will quickly transfer to the clay.
My preferred work surface is a ceramic tile.  Tiles come in a variety of sizes and are fairly inexpensive at home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes.  They're smooth and easy to clean and don't affect the clay.  The tiles are nearly impervious to scratching and can go right from your work table to the oven.  I have tiles in several sizes for different sized projects.
If you don't want your clay to stick to your tile parchment type deli paper works quite nicely.  Placing your project on this allows you to move it around without distorting it.  I find this very useful when cutting out leaves and flowers.  I can cut them out on the paper and easily remove them to place them on my sculpture.  you can find this deli paper, also known as patty paper, in bulk at grocery warehouses and restaurant supply stores.  Baking on this paper also helps prevent shiny spots from forming on the bottom of your piece.

I hope these tips have helped you learn some of the basics of working with polymer clay!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The colors of Autumn from the Polymer Clay Smooshers

As summer winds down and the days begin to cool off my thoughts begin to wander towards the crisp days of Autumn.  I do love Autumn- the smell of the air changes, there's a bit of nip to the breeze in the evenings, and of course the colors of the leaves begin to change.  This will be my first Autumn in Prescott Arizona and I'm looking forward to seeing how it will be different from the Autumns in Ohio, which I've known all my life.  In the spirit of the change of seasons I wanted to showcase some of the beautiful Autumn creations from the Polymer Clay Smooshers guild.
This three leaf pendant from Amazing Designs is appropriately called Shades of Autumn.
Shades of Autumn Three Leaf Pendant  
This Autumn Teardrop pendant necklace from Flower Childs Artsy Jewelry shows off some of  the lovely colors of Autumn.
Autumn Teardrop Pendant Necklace 
This Fall Mums candle holder from kkspolymerclyart showcases one of Autumn's most popular flowers.
Fall Mums Candle Holder Polymer Clay FREE SHIPPING 
This Autumn Colors pendant necklace from Sharp Art by Dawna was created using the Mokume Gane technique.
Autumn Colors Polymer Clay Pendant Necklace  I hope you enjoyed this sample of Autumn colors from the Smooshers!  Be sure to check out these shops and see all they have to offer!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Delightful items from the Polymer Clay Smooshers guild

Monday, September 3, 2012

We have a tie for the theme for the Smooshers next challenge!

This is a first, but we have a tie for the winning theme for our next Challenge! So you can choose between Halloween or Autumn Colors (or do an entry for each them, or mix the themes together).  The options are endless! 
For those of you who aren't familiar with the Smooshers Challenges let me tell you the rules.  In order to participate you need to have an active shop on ArtFire and be a member of the Polymer Clay Smooshers guild.  Participation is not mandatory, but it is a great way to bring in views and potential sales for your shop. 
You're allowed to enter 2 items, and they must incorporate polymer clay and be relevant to the theme.  You need to have them listed in your ArtFire shop by the deadline and then post the link to your entries in this thread:

There is no "winner" for these challenges, just the benefit of being promoted, the opportunity to show off your work, and the chance to try new things with polymer clay.  These Challenges are meant to be fun for everyone involved ;-)  I'll promote the Challenge and all the entries on the Smooshers blog, Facebook, the ArtFire forums, and YouYube.  It would be very beneficial if everyone else promoted the challenge as well, on whatever sites you use.  Even if you don't enter a piece or belong to the Smooshers guild, you can still support the guild by promoting the Challenge ;-)

The deadline for entries for the Halloween/ Autumn Colors Challenge is October 3rd, so that will give us a month to complete and list our entries.  If anyone has any questions,  just let me know. You can contact me through CreativeCritters by using the Contact Artisan link under my avatar.  Let's have fun with this! :-)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Halloween Treats from the Smooshers

Some may think it's a little early to be talking about Halloween, but it's really not that far off!  And since Halloween is the topic of the Blog Roll this week I thought this would be a great time to showcase some of the fun Halloween items the members of the Polymer Clay Smooshers guild have listed in their shops.  Personally, I love Halloween and all things related to the holiday: black cats, witches, magic, skeletons (preferably glow in the dark), bats, and all those other spooky things ;-) When I was a kid I loved dressing up and going out trick or treating with my brothers.  And I've had several black cats who all seemed to have a little extra magic, especially on Halloween.  As an artist I love sculpting all sorts of Halloween themed pieces.  This time of year seems to really fire up my creative energies (I think it's all the magic in the air)!  And looking through the shops of my fellow Smooshers, I can see I'm not the only one inspired by Halloween!
Here's a Winged Skull Cuff Bracelet from Mortimer Inc- wicked cool!
Winged Skull Bracelet Cuff 
And this Witchy Mouse with BOO Banner from Quernus Crafts is absolutely adorable!

Witchy Mouse with Boo Halloween Banner White 
And of course pumpkins are always a part of Halloween.  Which is where these Pumpkin Stack earrings from Wyvern Designs come in!
Pumpkin Stack Earrings Hand Made in USA 
And this mummy from Fantasy Clay is so much fun!
Halloween Mummy Costume- Polymer Clay Figure   
And finally we have this Vintage Halloween Cat pendant from Gems PC Creations .

Vintage Halloween Cat Pendant 
To see more Halloween creations from the Smooshers check out  Thanks for taking the time to check out these Halloween treats from the Smooshers! :-)


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Polymer Clay Safety Tips

The two most important rules concerning polymer clay are 1) Don't eat it, and 2) Don't burn it.  Beyond these basic rules there are several more specific safety and usage issues.

1) Don't leave unbaked polymer clay on painted, varnished, or lacquered surfaces as it can damage the finish.  (I learned this the hard way after I ruined a dresser).  Once the clay is baked it becomes inert and this is no longer an issue.

2)Although polymer clay is rated as nontoxic it's not recommended for use with food.  If you use kitchen tools for working with polymer clay those tools need to remain dedicated to use with polymer clay only.  Never use anything made of polymer clay for utensils or dishware that will come into contact with food.  You can, however, use polymer clay to embellish handles or other parts of dishes or utensils that won't come into  contact with food.
These polymer clay covered wine glasses from TTE Designs are an example of how to safely embellish glasses with polymer clay.  Please note that polymer clay covered items need to be hand washed and dried.

3)Be sure to wash your hands after working with polymer clay, especially if you'll be handling food.  Pumice based waterless hand cleaner or hand sanitizer works well to dissolve polymer clay residue.  Use soap and water to wash away the hand cleaner.
pumice based waterless hand cleaner

4)Never leave baking clay unattended as it can burn or scorch if you're not paying attention.  Ovens, especially toaster ovens, don't always hold their temperature reliably.  You should also always use an oven thermometer to be sure your oven is set at the proper temperature.  I know my own oven is about 50 degrees off, so I have to set the temperature accordingly. If your clay looks like it is burning or smoking, turn off the oven and take the clay outside to cool off.  Be sure to ventilate the room so the fumes can thoroughly dissipate.
burnt clay

5)When carving, dry sanding, drilling, or machine buffing polymer clay be sure to wear a dust mask and protective eye wear.  The clay can be very dusty and you don't want to breathe that dust or get it in your eyes.

Extra Tips
Heat Guns : Heat Guns reach temperatures much higher than those recommended for baking clay, making it possible to burn the clay.  To start, clean your work area of any uncured clay and any flammable materials before starting to work with your heat gun.  If you have long hair tie it back and make sure any loose clothing won't get in the way.  You do NOT want to set yourself on fire!  Hold the heat gun 3 to 5 inches away from the clay and keep moving it in circles until the clay is cured.  Be aware that the tip of the gun will be extremely hot after use.  Give the gun at least 10 to 15 minutes to cool off before storing it.  And be absolutely sure to keep pets away from the heat gun while you're using it and while it's cooling off.  The last thing you want is for your cat or dog to get burned!

Shiny Clay: Your cured clay can develop shiny spots when you use a smooth baking surface such as a ceramic tile.  In some cases this won't have any effect on your piece, but it's easy to remove the shine if you prefer.  Simply use a 1,000 grit or higher sandpaper and lightly sand the spot until the shine is gone.

Baking Thin Pieces of Clay: Since paper can curl when baking it can work better to bake very thin pieces of clay directly on your tile.  You can also use a book to weight down the clay and flatten it after baking.

I hope these tips were helpful and will make your polymer clay adventures a bit safer!