Monday, September 29, 2008

Antiqued Clay and Michael's Sale

To give my clay creations a primitive or folk art look, I like to antique finished pieces.

I use Studio by Sculpey Antiquing medium, Chocolate brown, some old soft rags and a dry brush.

(I used to mix brown acrylic paint with hand lotion and it worked just as well...I just happened to receive the Studio by Sculpey medium, so I'm using it now. In a pinch though, remember the paint and hand lotion idea)..

Here's how to antique your clay.

Cover your clay piece with the antique medium. I cover mine completely.

Get the brown into every crevice.

After the piece is completely covered, begin to wipe it off as quickly as possible. If the phone rings, ignore it, as you don't want this medium to dry. The point is to wipe it on, wipe it off.

I use soft paper towels or old white tee shirts.

Doesn't the
antiqued girl look
better than the plain girl?

I added a little quilt, eyes and a button and she's finished!

99 cent Sale at Michael's

Michael's has sculpey III on sale this week till Saturday. That's a great price!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

She's beating her clay again!

I love when I purchase polymer clay and it's softer than usual. Since I do not make canes (rarely), I like the clay to be more pliable. It's easier on my hands and I can produce more. However, it's inevitable to sometimes get a package of clay that is hard. Or, my inventory of clay may be around the house for awhile and it hardens. I'm not talking about clay that has been heated in the car, the oven, or the attic. Once polymer clay starts to cure, and the clay hardens, there's nothing you can do about it. I'm referring to clay that hasn't been cured, but is not as pliable, and feels hard.The process is simple. I use baby oil or cooking oil, ziploc bags and a rubber mallet. (hammer is fine too). Take the packaging off of your clay and put the clay into a ziploc bag. Use about 1/4 teaspoon of oil to start and add it to the clay. Push the air out of the bag and zip it shut. Find a hard surface like the drive way or basement floor and start pounding on the clay. Within a few minutes you'll begin to see that the oil is starting to soften the clay. Once it's pliable, take it out of the bag and condition it with your hands. Not soft enough? Add a little bit of oil and repeat the process. When completed, you should have beautiful, softened clay. Tips:
  • If you use too much oil, place the clay on some paper and the oil will leach out onto the paper.
  • Sit on the ziplock bag with the clay inside. The warmth from your tush will soften it.
  • Polymer clay will start to cure in a hot car with direct sunlight. I once left a little tray of unbaked minis on the dashboard and they started to cure.
  • It is not a good idea to put clay in a bag and roll your car wheels over it. I tried this once and discovered that ziplock bags aren't THAT strong.
With the tips on junk clay from a few days ago and today's tips on softening clay, you can utilize almost 100% of your polymer clay.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What I do with my junk clay

Polymer clay artists all have something in common. We all have that box or container that is heaping full of "junk" clay. Whether we are working in millefiori, making ornaments, miniatures or sculpture, we all have bits and pieces of clay left over.

Since I tend to be a bit disorganized, my junk clay is tossed in a wire basket. Whenever I clean off my desk, I take all my left over clay and, instead of neatly pushing all the same colors together, I sweep them off the desk into the basket. Then, about once a month, I sort the clay into like colors and mix. I then try to use those colors before I open up a new package.

On a weekly basis though, I mix all of the junk colors together into a beautiful swirl of colors and make product. I try to mix colors that look good together. For instance, I'll mix yellow, orange and pink together, blue, green, teal and white together, and black, golds, yellows, and white

When I mix them, I roll out each color into a tube, place the tubes together and twist. I do this for only a few minutes. Too much mixing will turn the colors into an ugly gray.

Once I've mixed my swirly colors, I can make colorful one of a kind creations. This little fatty fairy has yellow, green and
orange clays mixed together.

My favorite ornament to make is this little set of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. I swirled blue, white and pink together to make this sweet sculpture.

I make a lot of swirly dragons and fairies from junk clay. Little boys love these characters, especially if there's a long tongue and sharp teeth.

I just recently started to make swirly buttons. But I only use premo clay for the buttons, so I've started a separate junk box just for premo. Premo clay is much more durable, and for something as functional as a button, I want to use better clay.

I'd like to share one final idea. Sometimes junk clay can get a little dirty with specks of dust, hair, lint, etc. I wash my clay with tepid to light warm water and lay it out on paper towels to dry. (that's important, you don't want to bake wet clay, as it can leave little cracks in your project.)

Clay can be expensive, so take care of it. Tomorrow I'm going to give you some hints on how to soften hard, old clay that has never been baked.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

About this blog

For some reason, I can't change all the fonts to one color. I even tried changing it in HTml, but as you can see it didn't work. I apologize for this. If anyone knows what the problem could be, let me know, ok? Thanks, Debbie

What's the other guy doing?

They say "to thine own self be true" and I think it's time for me to really follow my heart.

I am so consumed with what is trendy or hot, that I spend a little too much time surfing the net, checking out the competition, researching color schemes and styles and fretting over things that don't sell, that I am missing opportunities to create.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. I read an article about a woman who quit her day job because she was making a nice living selling her craft on etsy. She gets up in the morning, checks her email to see how many things sold during the night, fills the orders, then produces more inventory. Sounds like a dream! When I saw what she made, I felt disheartened, because what she creates isn't too much different than what I make. I certainly don't get up everyday to see all the orders I received during the night. I may get three or four a week. At this point, it's not enough. I need daily orders!

So what's the difference between her and I? I really believe she just follows her heart and creates her art. She's found her niche and is happily creating. I doubt if she worries about the competition or what's hot or not. She just creates. She creates everyday and it sells everyday.Sometimes when I read a success story, I think to myself..."they aren't worried about you, Debbie. They are doing their art." They aren't surfing the web looking for ideas, or biting their nails over the competition. Their heart isn't racing because someone else has a website full of similar creations. They just are doing it.

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." Herman Melville

So I've made a challenge to myself for tomorrow. I'm going to turn on the computer for one hour in the morning to check my emails and finish my homework. Then I'm going to turn it off for the rest of the day. I'm not going to worry about etsy, or Ebay or Paypal. I'm not going to do searches on Halloween or Christmas. There will be no surfing for color trends and hot ideas.

I'm just going to create. I don't need any more ideas swirling around in my head. I have thousands up there already. My brain is so crowded with ideas that most of them get so lost I'll never find them again. If all goes well, I'll make it a habit to keep my on-line visits for bill paying, emailing, and selling. Oh, and of course, blogging!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Say goodbye to summer

Everyday, while I'm working on my creations, I listen to either motivational tapes or ambient music. It is so relaxing and non-distracting. Yesterday, I was making clay witches, there was a beautiful breeze blowing into my work room, the neighborhood was quiet, my cat was sleeping contently in her bed and all seemed "right with the world".

The music coming from my CD player was "Carribean Blue" by Enya. I imagined and remembered the great summer I had this year.

My sister and I and her son explored the woods near Wilderness State Park, where white pines stand tall and straight, row upon row.

We visited Whitefish Bay where the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald is kept.

We wandered around the paths atTahquamenon Falls, and bought souvenirs at the gift shop. Mmmm, that fudge!

I swam with my sister at Sturgeon Bay, a beautiful beach in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods, dunes and wildflowers.

We also spent the day at Wilderness State Park day beach, another beach hidden from the masses.

My boyfriend and I spent a few warm days at Holland State Park Beach, a crowded but beautiful beach, with clean white sand and sparkling water.

We also spent a few days at Silver Lake in Pinckney, a small inland lake with grassy hills to picnic on.

My friend Mary Ann and I went to Port Austin and played on the Lake Huron beach all day.

We would have stayed for a sunset if there would have been one, but an approaching storm chased us away.

The next day we went to Port Huron and collected petosky stones and sea glass in between swimming and sunning.

In August, my sister and I and her son went to St. Joseph. Our trip was cut short because my nephew got sick, but we packed a lot of fun into two days.

Wild waves hit the shore at St. Joseph.

A few more trips to Silver Lake with family and friends rounded out and ended my beach fun.

The evenings are getting a little cooler and I know that winter is whispering, "I'll be here soon." It's time to start thinking about weatherizing, packing away the capri pants and flip flops, and that inevitable day when I have to turn on the heat.

But it's the hope inside me, that I'll be back playing on the beach, that gets me through the winter. When I am alone on a sandy dune, I focus intently on the sounds around me. I hear the waves as they splash up against the shore, I listen to the beach grass as it sways in the wind. I smell the fresh scent of the pine trees, feel the breeze against my face. I follow the flight of a seagull as it flies across the sky and I watch it as it bobs on the waves.

Later on, on those cold, dull gray winter days, I reach for those memories and they are easy to find. A few thoughts, a glance through a travel guide, a possible plan for the next summer, and I'm content.

My witches are waiting quietly to be painted, so it's back to work. Embrace the day!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Melted snowman tutorial

I thought I'd show you how to make a cute and super easy melted snowman. It's a great little clay baby to give as a little gift. It's also very easy for kids to make.

Flatten a piece of white clay. I use Polyform products, Sculpey III for this project.
The piece is approx. 1 1/5 inches wide.

Roll a ball of white, approx. 3/4 inch. Place on top of flattened piece.

Flatten a piece of black clay, about the size of a quarter (25 cents) firmly on top of head.

Roll a tube of black clay, about 3/4 inch, and place on top of head, push gently.

Use a toothpick to pick up a seed bead and place onto face.

Now you should have two eyes on your snowman face.

Next, roll three 1/16 inch black balls and press onto base. Those are the buttons.

Roll two 1/8 ovals of red. Place one on each side of the snowman's head and press.
Roll two 1/16 ovals of red. Attach and press to the 1/8 red. These are his mittens.

Roll two 1/8 inch green ovals and press onto the hat. Take a toothpick or exacto knife and score a line down the middle, then the sides. That is the holly leaf. Add two or three tiny red balls for the berries.

I use a straw to make the smile. Cut away 1/2 of the tip and insert it into the clay. Makes a clean perfect smile every time. Panera Bread has the best straws. (for their frozen coffees)..

I actually turned the straw upside down to make a frown. You'd be sad too if you were melting!

Opps, I almost forgot the carrot. Roll out a 1/4 inch tube of orange and taper it at the end. Use the knife to make impressions like a carrot. Make impressions over the eyes too. Remember, up to the center of the face is sad or surprised, down towards the center of the face is mean!

I use an eye pin or cut wire to push into the top. That way you can hang it from the tree.

Bake at 275 for twenty minutes. Let cool. Use pastels to add colors to cheeks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pretty in Pink and Green

I really like the combination of soft green and pink. I put those colors to use in this little set of gingerbread girls. They are having a little tea party. Well, they aren't drinking tea, but hot cocoa. Each girl has a plate of cookies and a cupcake. The dishes and coffee cups are white with a pink and green design. So I made the girls in matching colors. I think it looks very soft and inviting. This set is currently on ebay. It is selling for $17.00 and that includes free shipping.


Close up of the plate with cupcakes and cookies.

I also made some Christmas tag ornaments with the same color combination.

I would love to have a craft show display with just green, pink and white clay babies, jewelry and ornaments. People would be drawn into my booth because of it I think. Since I'm afraid to go out on a limb and try it, I'll put that idea on the back burner.

See how nice these colors look together...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Halloween Clay Babies

As I promised, here are some of the halloween things I've been working on
I'm doing 5 shows this fall and that is just the motivation I needed to get cracking on making lots and lots of clay. The main motivation is paying my bills and keeping myself from being homeless.

This is a pin I made from scanning a vintage postcard and attaching it to clay. I've made several and when they are finished, I'll post pictures. I added some beads to some. I did these about 5 years ago, sold a few and stopped. Now I see that they might be kind of popular. I love vintage, so the process of finding images, and designing the pins is fun. For years I've been collecting kids books from the 50 and 60s and thought those images would look great on pins too.
Witch on three pumpkins...$10.00

Scarecrow with a crow and pumpkin...$8.00

I'm not doing too well on ebay right now. I only keep a few things on there just so people can see me, but for some reason, my stuff isn't selling like it used to. It's not keeping me up at night, but it is causing me to take a look at my creations. I wonder, what are people looking for?

I would love to hear suggestions on how I might do better on ebay. I've tried to keep my prices competitive. I've used a lot of key words in my listing. I'm even offering free shipping. Free!! (of course, I've raised my price, but since my clay is moderately priced to begin with, it's still not expensive)..
At this point, it's costing me more than what I'm making. That is not good business.I know the economy isn't doing too well right now, but I can see my competition selling, so that excuse doesn't work for me. Here's my link to my ebay if anyone would like to offer up some advice..

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