Saturday, December 27, 2008

Now that Christmas is over and New Year's is approaching, I find that I have TIME now to do some things that I've been meaning to do.

I cleaned my clay room yesterday and although it is much more organized, I still have a lot of boxes of "stuff" that I need to take care of.

Stuff. You might be wondering what I'm talking about. It's amazing really. I opened one box yesterday and it was full of Computer plugs, wires, cords and an old keyboard. I have been pushing this box around my clay room for three years and haven't used a thing in it for longer, but I still can not bare to throw it out. I think I'm going to have my boyfriend look through it and take what he thinks is valuable and I'll toss the rest.

In another box, I found a cross section of the following...stickers, scissors, a spoon, and old sock, unbaked clay, baked clay, beads, lipstick, old ribbon, wire, some miniature cups, a picture of my x-husband and I on our wedding day, an expired check, a brand new candle, post it notes, markers, crayons, old paint brushes, new paint brushes, a bungee cord, and computer print outs (how to be organized)..

I have about 7 of these boxes stacked in my room. They are 18 gallon storage totes, and they all have the same assortment of "stuff". Most of the stuff is good too. I've found embossing and metallic powders, ink pads, scrapbook papers, tags, paint, glue sticks, hundreds of beads, and every kind of art supply imaginable. Everytime I attempt to clean out a box, I get so overwhelmed, I push the lid back on and save it for another day. (Did I tell you I have aadd,

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder:)

No one has officially told me that, (my therapist suggested it once), but I fit a lot of the criteria and it makes sense to me.))

So, today I'm going to attempt to empty one box. I'll let you know how that goes.

The good news is that my work table is completely cleaned off. There is not one thing on my desk at this moment and I'm ready to start working on a few things. I have four cake toppers that I plan on finishing before New Year's and I'm working on Valentine's day couples. I finished a hippie Cake topper a few weeks ago and here's a picture of it. It's the second Hippie Wedding I've done.

The above picture shows it on their cake.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

It's 7:30 pm, Christmas Eve. The 8 inches of snow that hit us hard a few days ago is slowly melting away as it's been raining off and on all day. A strong wind is gusting through the woods behind the house, and I can hear the trees creaking under it's pressure.

I'm ready to go take a bath and chill for the night, unable to attend Christmas eve parties because I've been sick with a stomach bug since Monday. My son Jason is home in Ann Arbor, relaxing in front of the tv. My daughter and her family are at church and my other son is with friends playing video games. His wife went to Vegas to visit her parents and he's taking this opportunity to hang out with his friends. My boyfriend is getting ready to visit his family and friends, bummed that I can't join him, but understanding about it.

My cat has been curled up in my office chair for hours and soon I'm going to persuade her to join me under the covers. She's the first cat I've ever owned who actually will lie under a blanket and rest her head on the pillow.

It sure doesn't feel like Christmas Eve, but I'm ok with that. Everyone I've talked to seems to be content with their plans for the evening; I'm not the only one staying home this night. I guess I just need to rest and get better, and hopefully, tomorrow, I can cook and enjoy a nice dinner.

I hope that whatever your plans are tonight , whether it's dashing from party to party, attending a church service, or staying home and watching Christmas programs, you remain safe and happy.

Enjoy the evening and especially have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Clay babies altered in Photoshop

As I promised, here are some images that I altered in photoshop.

The idea is finding ways to get the creative juices flowing. There are many ways of firing up the creative process, and this is one I like to use.

The above image is the cut out filter.

This image is done with glowing edges.
I think the two images above were changed using ink out line filters.

The final image is pattern maker.

As you can see, I went a little overboard on the filters, but it's all in
an attempt to come up with ideas, whether it's a painting, clay, collage or graphics.

I could use some of these ideas for templates, patterns, coloring pages, wallpaper, tags and cards.
With more refinement and bit of work, I could use them for illustrations or transfers for jewelry.

Remember when it comes to brainstorming for ideas, there are many ways to get there. This is just one method I use.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finding Inspiration

I work in an after school enrichment program and one of the lessons I just gave the kids was creating art without a lot of fancy or expensive materials. I showed them how, by using cardboard and scrap paper, a few crayons and some paint and string they could make a cool collage. I showed them an example (above pic) and they peeled cardboard and tore paper to make the basic collage. Then I showed them how to drag a string dipped in paint through the collage. They had a blast bouncing the string up and down. In the end, the assignment was fun, and hopefully they can make art at home, without much of an investment.

When I brought my sample home, I took some pictures of it. I wanted to show you how a simple art project or photograph can become more than what you would expect.

I find that Photo shop can really help me to create unusual designs, which can lead me to do projects that I hadn't even thought of.

As you may know, photoshop has several filters that change the appearance of the original picture.

In all of these images, I've used different filters and combinations of filters to change the original artwork. I save each picture that I change in Save as. For instance, my original picture is called cardboard. Then I save the second picture as Save as Cardboard1. The next, save as Cardboard 2, and so on. That way I save my original art work and have additional work that I may be able to use.

The above image was done using pattern maker. I love the way it turned out. I could use this image for altered art, artists trading cards, background for a website or for scrapbooking.

The image above looks like some kind of creature stepping up onto a pile of junk. It's creepy looking, but it could lead to a great idea.

This reminds me of bark on a tree. Think how interesting this would look in a collage

Some of the designs are so interesting, they make me want to use them! I love the color combinations.

They are uniquely different and with each new design I can see several possibilities.
These are just some of the images I made with one original design. I find this exercise to be very stimulating; it really opens my mind up to many ideas. Some times the designs don't work, but the process getting there was enjoyable. In the next few days, I'll show you some designs I made using polymer clay images. In the meantime, if you have photoshop, practice making your own creations with the help of the filter tool.

Snowed In!

If you live anywhere between Washington and New York you probably got as much snow or more than we received yesterday. My neighborhood got hit with about 8 inches.

The snowplow came through yesterday afternoon and now my car is surrounded by mounds of snow that I don't think I can shovel out on my own. I hope one of my grown children can come and help me. Where are all the kids with their shovels looking to make some fast cash? I remember when we would have these big snows, my son Brian would earn $100 in an afternoon shoveling people's walks. He was 10 or 11 and he and a friend would look at a snow day as a money making opportunity. I need a kid like that in my neighborhood.

Christmas Break!

I have the next two weeks off (16 days really) a
nd my goals are the following:

  1. clean and organize clay/art room (again for the 50th time)
  2. start valentine ideas
  3. work on graphics for some ideas i have
  4. scan old documents and photos
  5. paint and do collage
  6. make new kitchen curtains (I'm doing a cherry theme)
  7. Paint trim on cupboards
  8. scour the resale shops and antique shops for old books and magazines
  9. Read Walden; or, Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau

I basically want to end the year on a positive and productive note.
I've planned just enough things to do to keep me from being bored. If I get all of it finished before I go back to work, I will feel like I accomplished a lot
without stressing myself out. I couldn't bare to just sit around during the next
few weeks.

The end of the semester
If you follow this blog, you know that I'm taking classes at Madonna University, working towards a degree in Graphics, and you know that sometimes I neglect my blog because of the demands of homework. I would like to announce that I did well this semester, despite my complaints. I received an A in Advanced Studio, and A in Graphics and an A- in Web Fundamentals (I couldn't believe it as this class was difficult for me)..I'm very happy to have this semester end. Next semester (starts soon) I'm taking Graphics Two and Lithography. I decided to keep it easy and am only taking 7 credits. I'm in no hurry to finish, and am trying to enjoy this journey. Working on this degree is probably the best decision I've made in thirty years!

It's funny, because I always used my age as an excuse for not going back to school. I remember saying once to my x mother-in-law (loved that woman), that I would be 35 or 40 before I could have a degree and she would say, "You are going to be 35 or 40 anyway, so why not have a degree?".

Pretty wise of her because I'm going to be 54 next year and my degree is within my grasp. I have about 6 or 7 more classes to take and wha
t seemed like an impossible task before will now happen before I turn 55. And, like my mother-in-law said, I'll be 55 anyway, so why not be 55 with a degree? Although I don't feel 53, and I really don't act 53 (how does a 53 year old act???), I joke around that by the time I graduate, I'll be too old to work.

I'm off to do some last minutes orders for a few customers. Then it's time to start shoveling!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Check out this group

I get a lot of motivation and inspiration from other blogs, groups and forums. Although I think that maybe I spend too much time doing so, it beats watching TV. Here are a few of the places I visit. I have to admit though, that I lurk, as I am trying to limit my involvement. I don't visit every day either, but when I do, I always learn something valuable.

The above group is great because it's all about making it as an artist. They don't discuss the artwork, but how to promote and market the art


This is another group and it's all about licensing art work. You will learn a lot by looking through the archives. (I just found some messages I left from 2003!)

I just discovered this site...'s all about desk top publishing and has great information if you want to make a living doing graphics. The links page alone is worth the visit.

This site,, wonderful. It has a great variety of fonts that are free. I love collecting fonts and this is the first place I go to when I need something new and free!

My instructor just told me about a motivational site, called tag line is Ideas worth spreading. You can listen to motivational speakers for free (they offer 200 talks in their archives).

Finally, here's a site you may never want to leave. It's called Colour Lovers,

It is a color and design community that is a visual treat. There are color swatches, patterns, different palettes, and a color blog. You can find the latest trends in colors (this fascinates me as I often wonder, Who decides?).

Hope you enjoy these sites as much as I do.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I had an epiphany!

Coming home from last week's show, I started to really think about changing what it is that I do.

I've felt this way many times before, but fear and doubt caused me to continue on the same road.
I have many other interests, but my connection with polymer clay has kept me from pursuing those interests. I have been sculpting since 1982 and I always joke that I'm going to die with a piece of clay in my hands.

But there is a voice inside of me that is not satisfied with the ways things are going for me. I feel like I'm not growing as an artist. I have the same old ideas; I pump out the same clay babies, year after year. Sure, sometimes they are a different color, some are smaller, some are bigger, but, in the end, it's the same stuff I've been doing for years and the medium is the same.

At my show, I took a good look at myself, at my craft. I saw flaws in my workmanship. I felt guilty when people purchased my product. If they complimented me on something, I felt the urge to point out the imperfections. (I didn't do it, but I felt like it.)

I have also noticed that I procrastinate when it comes to working on my clay. In the middle of making something, I'll get up and go wash the dishes or sweep the floor. I found that the clay seems harder to work with and I'm constantly dropping pieces to the floor, as if I've lost strength in my hands.

As I ponder all of this, I think to myself, is it time to put the clay away for awhile? Should I take the leap of faith it takes to start something new? I'm going after a graphic arts degree and feel that there are so many things I could do in the field, right in my own home on my computer.
I love to paint and do collage. Could I make any money at it?

I have been struggling with this for quite awhile and wonder if it goes with the territory of being an artist/craftsman. I think about this all of the time and wonder if it's time to reinvent myself.
The first week of class in January, my instructor asked us to write down why we were in his class, and one of the things I said was that I wanted to reinvent myself. But what have I done to even begin that process?

As the year winds down, I am going to make some major changes that I'm going to implement in the new year. I know I will continue filling orders for my cake toppers if people want them. This is a nice supplement to my income. However, I'm going to work hard to come up with a new idea that will have nothing to do with clay. That's going to be hard for me. But, the desire is so overwhelming, I might get used to the idea.

My dream is to one day have a home office where I write and design. The clay is in a box in case I need it for a project or an idea. My mind is open to a lot of possibilities. Now it's time for me to make the move!

One final thought. At my last show the woman next to my booth was a polymer clay cane artist. She had a few things on her table mixed in with her sister's jewelry. Although the woman was nice, she kept name dropping all of the clay artists in the "industry". I found this very boring, because I don't really care about that aspect of clay. I have discovered over the years that those people are good at what they do, but their art or designs just don't interest me. The woman invited me to a clay guild meeting, but I declined. She seemed appalled that I wouldn't want to go. She said, "Even Donna Kato shows up sometimes"..(For those of you who have never heard of Donna, she is a polymer clay artist who is the inventor of Kato Clay.)

I told the woman,"I'm just not interested." She dropped a few more names and I continued to decline.

Afterward, I found it interesting to myself that I almost was put off by her enthusiasm for knowing a few artists who's names are well known in the clay world. This just added to my epiphany that maybe it's time for a change for me.

I must confess that even though my blog is called Polymer Clay Ponderings, my focus is going to be more on reinvention, motivation, simplicity and creativity. I will continue to talk about clay though, as I may use it in other projects and I will continue to do my cake toppers. So please stick around. I hope that I can inspire and inform those of you who already create, want to create, or don't know what to create!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Last show of the season

This Saturday, December 6, is my last show of the season.

As you may recall, I hadn't done any shows for years, so I wanted to ease myself back into the show "scene".

It was a great learning experience and I found that I do have a product that people like, especially the clay ornaments. I also found that I have to stay away from crappy shows. You know, those little $25.00 shows, that don't jury, don't advertise and have about 400 people in attendance. Some people might do well at those shows, but I never do. (and from what I heard , no one did this year).

This last show will be hit and miss. It's located in Canton Michigan, in a nice area, a Catholic Church, and the promoter is very picky. She only allows hand crafted, what you were juried in for. I think that is great, because that means most everything will be hand crafted. (no buy and sell)..

I made a lot of ornaments and will take pictures at the show.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Charms revisited

Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that I was making little charms? I made over 100 of them; cupcakes, donuts, bears, bunnies, etc.

They turned out really cute until I did the finished work. What a fiasco!

If I wasn't such a mild mannered gal, I would have been pulling my hair out.

Here's what happened.

I know that polymer clay is durable, but I was concerned with the findings staying in the charm. Charm bracelets take a beating, so I wanted my charms to last for years.

After they were baked and cooled, I attached a split ring, applied super glue to the finding, and dipped them in acrylic to give them a nice shine. I had a laundry rack set up so I could hang the charms. I would dip them, attach them to a piece of wire, hang them on the rack, and go on to the next charm. I had about 50 finished when all of a sudden, the rack tumbled over, hitting me in the head. Charms went flying everywhere; I even had some hanging in my hair. There was acrylic finish all over me and the floor.

Disgusted, I cleaned up and went to bed. The next day I discovered that the super glue (gel) had dried white and crusty. The charms looked horrible and were ruined. I now have a box of about 60 charms that I can't sell. I have been using them in my child care program as incentives, the kids can't really tell the difference.

I thought I had done a lot of research on how to make these charms, but I guess I missed something. I do know that some people push a headpin up through the charm, then form a loop to attach the split ring. I wished I would have done that.

So, my little venture in charm making didn't work out so well. Maybe I'll do some more investigating. Any advice? Feel free to leave a comment on how I can make charms that are durable, long lasting and look nice.

For now, I'll keep working on my ornaments.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hello Again

It's been two weeks since I posted and for that, I feel really bad. As I explained before, I'm taking three classes at Madonna University. Two of the classes are Graphic classes and, for me, pretty easy. I went into these classes having a lot of information and experience under my belt. But the third class, Web Fundamentals, is another story. It involves building websites from scratch, using HTML coding. Although, I'm getting it in bits and pieces, there are a few things that have stumped me. I've spent hours and hours a day working on homework. When this class is finished, (in a few weeks), I'll know more about HTML than I ever thought I would. When winter semester starts, I'm taking two classes, Graphic Arts 2 and Lithography, so my world should calm down.

I do have good news. My last show was a great success. Last Saturday I did a show in Shelby Township at Eisenhower school. What fun! I almost sold out of my product. I wished I would have taken more, but, too late for that. My other shows were so bad, I wasn't very motivated to load up on tons of stock. Big Mistake! There were times that there were 5 to 8 customers with clay in their hands. It was the shot in the arm I needed, both emotionally and financially.

What sold?

My biggest sellers were snowmen families and snowmen. I personalized a lot of ornaments. I sold a lot of baby's first Christmas ornaments too. Penguins were a hit too.

I thought it was great that so many people have a lot of Christmas trees in their homes. For instance, one woman had a Christmas tree in her daughter's room. It was completed decorated in pink, so she purchased a pink sock monkey ornament. Another customer had a sock monkey tree at work and one had a tree in her kitchen. (I'm so busy, I am looking for a ceramic table tree to put in front of the window! Easy up, easy down, easy storage!)

I'm so happy and grateful to everyone who purchased ornaments from me. I learned a few things (again), after doing a good show.

  • Always have a lot of stock on hand
  • Always have a lot of change on hand
  • Only get into the best shows!!
When January rolls around, I'm going to try really hard to get onto mailing lists of the top shows in Michigan. I already have done some of these shows in the past, so I know which shows those are. I'll have to have a special account just for the shows, since one that I'd like to do is $250 but, I bet I could make 10 times that if I am prepared.

It's a bit difficult to do big shows by oneself, and that's the problem I have. But, if all goes well next year, I'm sure I can find someone to help me out at those shows. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

For now, I promise I'll be back on a regular basis. I still have a lot of homework to do, but I think the worst is over. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


You may not hear from me for a few days as I have a lot of orders and homework. In my web fundamentals I have to build three websites (two are due in one week). It's a lot of work and it's very important for me to do a good job. (Want to stay on the Dean's List).

I also have three cake toppers and several ornaments to make, plus a craft show next Saturday.

(Not to mention my Graphics class assignment)..

I'll be posting soon..Just need to catch up a little.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Here are some better pictures of the little charms I have been making.

This is a chocolate bon bon.

Dime shows the size. I have some smaller too.

Yum! Bagels and Cream Cheese!

Do you need some ketchup with your hot dog?

How about a donut for dessert?

These still need the charm ring added on, (which I plan on doing this week.) I made about 65 charms in the last week. These are just a few of the charms.

There are a lot of steps to the process. Form the clay, put an eye pin in it, bake it, shine it, add paint and details, glue the eye pin for extra strength, then add the charm ring.

But, I had a lot of fun doing these. I have a lot more ideas!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's a small world

Just a quick update. I've been working on a lot of miniatures for charms.

I started off a long time ago making miniatures. It was really something I was good at and I enjoyed. In fact, I had my minis in over thirty stores, then slowly, over the years, shadow boxes and shelves became less popular, and I started making the cake toppers.

Lately, I see that clay charms are really popular and etsy now has a miniature section, so I'm going to dust off the miniature ideas and start making them again. At first, I thought that maybe there were enough people making them, but that's unproductive thinking. I'll make them also, and I'll try to find different ideas and better designs.

Making Frosting...

I don't care to make jewelry, however, I don't mind making charms for people who like to make jewelry for themselves or to sell. These can be used as charms and pendents.

These little bears need features like eyes, mouths and blushed cheeks. I'll paint those on later.

The charms are made from premo and fimo and liquid sculpey for extra strength. I put a little drop of super glue where the eye pin is inserted, making them very durable.

As soon, as I finish these, I'll be back with more photos of the finished product.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sounds in the night

Something happened early this morning that couldn't have happened at a better time.

It was 3:00 a.m. and I was watching an old black and white horror film. It wasn't really very scary, but I love the ambiance in these old movies with the dark, shadowy woods, the fog that rolls over the country side and the sounds of the night creatures.

Just as I was about to turn the TV off, I heard the hooting of an owl. Although it came from behind me, I thought it was from the movie. I sat up and listened, first muting the TV. I waited a minute in the dark, straining my ears. Then I heard it, loud and clear, the strong hoot of an owl.

It sounded as if it were right outside my window. There are woods directly behind my house and not too long ago, I saw the large wing span of a bird that I hoped was an owl. I've scanned the tops of the trees and searched with binoculars the crevices and shadows where an owl might live, hoping to see one. But I never did.

I'm used to strange noises that drift through the night air and have heard frightened baby fox, screams of raccoons and possums, and even the the quivering cry of a screech owl, but I've never heard the eerie sound of a Hoot Owl (Barred Owl).

I opened my window and hooted back at the owl, but, wise as he was, he cautiously waited before he hooted again. Without my interference, he felt free to call out in the night. So I closed the window and laid in the dark and listened. At first the sound was unsettling, but after a few minutes it was as welcome and familiar as an old friend.

Every old black and white movie I've ever seen has an owl crying out in the darkness. A symbol of impending doom, the owl is seen as strange and frightening. It's the watcher of the night. But there in bed I rested, snug in my covers, listening to the owl as if it were singing me a sweet lullaby.

Whether it's an owl crying out in the night, a black cat running across your path, or a bat buzzing past your head, Halloween might just spook you with a little surprise. Watch those dark corners, beware those mysterious shadows and be careful of things that go bump in the night.

Have a great Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Whimsical Letter

I have been working on a project in my graphic design class where we transform a letter into another object.

I chose the letter G.
The assignment called for only 7 steps.

The process had to be gradual.

I started to add polka dots . The tummy and arms and head start to grow.

I smoothed out the tail.

More polka dots, longer arms, and a more defined head emerge.

I added whites for the eyes and little fingers and toes.

I have found, that no matter how hard I try, I can't avoid whimsical. I might as well face it, it's my style.

This would be a great idea for an Alphabet Book. Only, I think it would have been better to do
G is for Giant,,or something that started with a G.

All in all, I'm happy with the finished work.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tales from the darkside...

iIn other words, I did another craft show yesterday and it was bad.

I hate to be negative, because I did enjoy myself, chatting with other crafters, catching up with old friends, but as for sales, it was bad.

Most of the people I spoke to were in the same boat as me. They were struggling to get their table money back. I think I made about $38.00 over the cost of the table. I used to think that I would be happy if I made around 10 times to 20 times the cost of my space. For instance, if I paid $50.00 for a table, I expected to make $500 to $1000 that day. That was an achievable goal in the past. Those days are gone, at least for me. I haven't seen that return in awhile. I hope some of you are making that much.

As for customers, the "lookers" were friendly, gave compliments freely, chatted about the weather and inquired about my product. Two little girls came to my booth 7 times to admire my little pink sock monkey.

One of the girls really wanted the sock monkey and she held it in her hands, looked at her money, whispered to her friend, looked at me, and then would put the monkey down and walk away . This happened all afternoon. I really wanted her to buy it. Not because I needed the $4.00 but because she had fallen in love with it. But, as nice as I am, I wasn't going to give it to her.
With every purchase, I was giving my customers a free bag. The little girl who loved my monkey was just as in love with the bags, and would pick out a bag and hold it up to the monkey to find the right match. In the end, her mother told her she couldn't buy it. I was a little sad to see them leave!

Here are the bags I bought off of ebay. They looked nice with the clay, and people really appreciated the gesture. I paid $5.50 for 100 of them. Not bad!

I met a few crafters/artists and we shared ideas about Etsy., finding good items at garage sales that sell well on ebay, wholesale places to buy supplies, new craft ideas, and marketing suggestions.

As bad as the craft show was, I came away with some inspirations. For instance, I saw someone wearing polymer clay buttons on her jacket. I've been making buttons myself, and I think mine were much better, so that verified my idea that buttons might work for me.

I think I'm going to try and make stickers for my next show, to sell alongside the clay. I have been working a lot with graphics, so a lot of the work is done. I just have to get a new ink cartridge and labels, and I'll be set to go. I have a lot of ideas in regard to stickers and labels, and I think images of cute clay babies might look great on stickers. I have three weeks before my next show to put together a cute collection. I think I can work it nicely into my display.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Sometimes I think we artists/crafters are a little insane. I've done three shows in a month with horrible results, yet I still expect that the next show will have different results. Or so I'm hoping. To create, to make things, to do art is so important in my life that the
financial outcome, as horrible as it sometimes is, does not make me throw my hands up in the air and scream, "I quit!" I just keep creating. My friend Mary Ann, always says to me, "You just keep on keeping on, Debbie."

Albert Einstein also said, "True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist."

Spoken as the true genius he was.

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