Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Joy of a pleasant Sunday afternoon

It was too nice here in Michigan today for me to spend the day in the house working on clay so I took a little break from it (back to claying when the sun goes down). After doing a few errands and chores, I spent most of the afternoon in my yard. I cut the grass, replanted perennials, and in general, tidied the yard. I had my camera ready,just in case my friend the snake came along, but I don't think it was warm enough for her today. So, instead, I took pictures of more pleasant subjects.

The first of my daisies is blooming.

My neighbor has a jungle behind his house. These are wild raspberries.
I'm going to suggest that he can use my weed wacker to cut down the brush,
but I want him to wait till the raspberries are ripe!

Wild Queen Anne's Lace is too pretty to get rid of.

This old tire and old watering can are going to house annuals soon.
I'm still deciding what I want to plant in them.

Wild Phlox kind of creeped up on my bike.

Chicken strips marinated in olive oil, hot sauce, and blackened spices cook on my grill. The peppers are sweet mini peppers. Two egg plants grill to make baba ghanoush. (A third eggplant was cooked earlier, made into baba and was waiting in the fridge!) Here's a recipe...

I planted some grape tomatoes. I have bad luck with produce in my yard, but I'm going to try again this year. I think the soil needs some nourishment.

My sage has flowered. It smells so good.

I like the way the sun light & shadows look.

Sometimes I'm happiest when I'm in my yard. I find a lot of pleasure digging in the soil, whether it's with a shovel or my hands. I have memories of my grandmother teaching me the ways of gardening. I think of my parent's garden and how proud my dad would be with his crops of peppers, zucchini and strawberries. As I worked in the yard, a husband and wife passed by and mentioned how beautiful the yard was coming along.
"You'll have to teach me how to plant flowers," the wife said.
"Anytime." I replied.

I'm sure my grandmother would have been proud.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Polymer Clay Hearts and Buttons

I got to achieve a goal today. That was to find the USB cord for my camera and show a few things I've been working on.
I'm in the beginning stages of caning, so my designs are pretty simple, but I absolutely love how these buttons turned out.

This looks so much prettier in person. I sanded and bluffed it for 1/2 hour and it feels like a polished stone.
I still haven't got the knack of a heart, but I like the shape of this. I think I'm being too hard on myself in the beginning. It will come with practice. In the meantime, I'm going to wear this.

I have a lot of polishing and finishing to do this week. I made over 100 hearts. (or heart wannabees)..The clay muse tried to help me out with some advice on shaping them into fatter hearts, but I just can't seem to figure it out. I made a big heart, but it has a seam running down the front. I didn't care for that look. But, I'm tenacious and will find the answer. I need to be more humble, because when I see something I like, I think to myself, I can do that. Well, I guess I can't do everything I set out to do.

I'm sharing this with you, but believe me, when I sell these I'm going to act like they are the greatest hearts ever made!!

If you would like more information on achieving YOUR goals,,follow this blog. Steve Pavlina is the king of self improvement. He also makes a lot of money from his blog, which is very inspirational to me.

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. Anatole France:

Friday, May 29, 2009

The organizing never ends!

It's 2:22 a.m Saturday and I've been cleaning my clay room since 9:00 p.m. I started this project a few weeks ago. To be truthful it's never been completely organized. I might get 1/2 of it done but there are always boxes to be organized, shelves to clean and stuff to throw away. I can never get to the end of it.

One reason is that I need to go to work at my real job and when I'm home I'd rather create than sort through a box of 469 bits and pieces.

But I always have a sense of discontent knowing that the clay room isn't quite my dream work room.

This morning, as I sat in my living room, I decided that my computer and desk were going to go back into my clay room. I tried to make a nice "study" area in the living room, but it's just too small for the computer, scanner, printer and the other assorted baskets of Cd's, pens, papers, desk organizer, and phone.

In order to get the computer back into the clay room, I had to clean off a table that was stacked high with small boxes of clay and supplies. I also had to take a hutch top down from the table. I removed the hutch top last week. In the process of trying to maneuver it by myself from the table to the floor, I felt a sharp pain in my inner thigh and realized that a sharp nail was exposed and I cut myself. Fun.

The hutch has been sitting in the living room for the past week waiting to be drilled into place on the kitchen wall. In the meantime, this morning, I started to unplug the computer. Before I went to work I had an octopus like mass of cords and wires sprawled all over the floor. The computer and all of it's parts were in the clay room, but I had to go to work. I thought about all of those cords and wires while at work, and when I got home at 8:15 I started right in on assembling the computer.

My clay room is so small that I didn't have a lot of room to work on it and I was getting increasingly frustrated as I fumbled around on the floor, trying to plug everything into place. But it's all done now, and I'm not moving this computer again until I move, whenever that might be.

My living room looks a lot bigger now. I have some boxes in that room that need to be organized and there are 11 storage boxes in my clay room. They are stacked up against a wall waiting to be emptied. I emptied three other boxes tonight, including six small boxes and now have about 6 bags of trash to dispose of. I'm so bad for the environment. I gave away two boxes of stuff also.

My goal is to attack one box a day for the next two weeks. I do have a show next Sunday, so I may wait till after the show if the attacking takes too long. I have inventory to create. But, I'll try to whittle away at boxes.

I'm happy with my decision to get the computer back into the clay room. I can listen to my music or watch a movie on it while I make clay. All I have to do is turn my head slightly to the left, and there's the monitor. Sounds silly, but I get so much more done if there is something on in the background.

In all of the rearranging and moving things around, I can't find the cord for the camera that plugs into the USB port. The hearts I've been making are coming along nicely and I'd like to show pictures. So, hopefully tomorrow I can find that cable and upload the pictures.

Links to Organization Sites...


More Tips

Life Organizers


It's 2:48 now. Stone Temple Pilots "Interstate Love Song" is playing on my computer and it's making me feel a little melancholy, so I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Free Cake Topper

Remember, my giveaway ends on June 1. That's the day I will pick a winner for the free cake topper. Here's a link to the announcement and where you can leave a comment. Good luck!
Win a cake topper!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Polymer clay and graphics

I haven't done this in awhile, so I thought I make some free tags for anyone who wants them. Click on the picture, save and print out on card stock. You can alter them with rubber stamps, glitter, papers, etc. Have fun!

Polymer Clay Hearts

Bowl of hearts waiting to be finished...

I've been enjoying making polymer clay hearts these last few days. It's like an addiction. I am getting ready to do a craft show on June 7 at Kerrytown in Ann Arbor and wanted to offer some items that are different than what I normally do. I tried a making some polymer clay canes this weekend and that was fun too. I need a lot of work there, but I can see the potential. There are a lot of lessons out there on the web, so I started printing some out. I did a rose cane and it doesn't look like a rose, but it's interesting. I'll try again until I get it right.

I used the rose can on this heart and the incense burner below. It is not quite right, but I'll get there.
I made several blue and gold hearts (U of M is in Ann Arbor)..These look nicer in person. Also, I need to sand and buff them and add a jewelry hoop to all of them. So I still have a big job ahead.

Once I'm finished, I'll post those pictures.

Any criticism will be appreciated, and remember, even though I've been doing clay forever, I haven't done canes before and I'm still working on the shape of the hearts. I want to make fatter hearts but haven't gotten the right look yet. Practice, practice, practice...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Early Morning Art

I had a pleasant morning sitting out in my garden painting today. I'm going to two cook outs today and wanted to take something as a little gift.

I have several 4" by 4" canvases so I thought it would be nice to sit outside and paint them (they dry faster that way too).

4 x 4 is a sweet little size to work on and everyone can usually find a little spot to hang it. Or it can be placed on an easel. While I painted I could hear squirrels scampering around in the trees.
Something small was splashing down in the river and of course, the song birds were serenading me. Other than a few specks of fuzz that floated through the air landing on my wet paint, and a sneaky snake that was watching me from afar, it was rather pleasant.

Can you see the snakes tail? He was hiding in my oregano plant. I can't go outside without seeing a snake.

Here's the completed canvases. I chose these colors because those are the schemes of the two houses where I am going. (These look so much nicer in person,,but the picture gives you an idea.)

Painting outdoors can be fun if the project is small, the weather is pleasant and there isn't a lot of wind. It's even more fun if there are no snakes!

Friday, May 22, 2009

What really matters..

Sometimes we all need a little reminder of what really matters in life.

I let people get to me at times. Listening to someone brag about how much money they make, what they have in their IRAs or what big vacation they are going on can leave me feeling a little beat down.

I'm not good being around superficial people and try to avoid them at all costs, but that's not always possible. I get lost in conversations about designer purses and expensive perfume, day dream while people chatter on about trendy labels and martini bars and find ways to escape when the talk turns to savings accounts and W2s. I'll use self deprecating humour to get off of a subject that I can't relate too; how can a conversation about yearly income go any further when I mention that my income is considered below poverty level? (I try really hard to not insult myself, but the shock of hearing my situation usually shuts the braggers up.)

I chose my life style and so I try not to complain. I don't like working nine to five; I abhor it actually. It's not that I'm lazy. I don't mind if I'm working on my art 12 hours a day. it's just that I haven't found a job that I love so much I'd like to be there 8 hours a day. So I work part time and I plug away at my art, and like many "starving artists" I have bouts of suffering. There are highs and lows when one is trying to make it with their art.

But sometimes I question my sanity and my purpose. When I hear those around me talk about $100 hair cuts, $30 manicures and $1500 house payments, I start to doubt myself and my choices. I know I'm skilled enough and smart enough to get a better job and work more hours. I start to wonder..."what am I doing wrong?"

Just when I'm about to completely beat myself up though, something happens. Like a sign from God, I'll receive a compliment or an extra hug and then I know I'm doing exactly what it is I should be doing.

Two things happened to me this week that made me realize that I know what really matters.

Firstly, I asked for my instructor to critique my graphic design ability. Here is part of her wonderful advice....

I think you have great ideas, and I think learning the other graphics programs is a very smart thing to do. Photoshop is great, but it really benefits a designer to know Illustrator, InDesign and web applications. I think you have an excellent attitude, although you could try to be more self confident. (Fake it until you feel it.) I have had several students approach me with wonderful compliments on projects you presented over the semester, that you yourself seemed to think were terrible. I don’t think you are messy at all. I think you can practice your mounting skills, but I don’t think you are a messy person. (If you want messy-step into my office!) I think if you could practice your computer skills in other programs, practice your mounting skills, and try to practice speaking of yourself and your ideas in more confident terms, you would be amazed at how much better you will do and feel.

So here in a nutshell;
Strong points
Good attitude and ideas
-Good at giving your personal spin on a project
-Good at meeting deadlines
-Good at Photoshop
-Good entrepreneurial spirit (very brave and sense of adventure!)
-Good work never blow things off

Can get stronger
Can practice other programs to widen the services you will offer as a designer
-Can practice cleaner mounting (straight edge, sharp blade, flat surface, a full 2” or so of evenly spaced black matt around image on all 4 sides)
-Can practice speaking in public with more confidence (Your mother can’t get you here. This is Debbie own it!)

You better believe that I printed this out and hung it close by, to remind me of the things that I am good at and the things I need to improve on. (Boy, that self confidence issue is a biggie!)

Secondly, I received a letter in the mail the other day from a former customer. She purchased something from me two years ago.

Here is part of the letter....

Dear Debbie, This note is long over due and I'm not even sure if you remember me or my family, but I came across your address over the weekend and saw it as a "sign" that I should still write you a note!

Two years ago you made a cake topper for my mom and stepdad's wedding that was a wolf and a rabbit holding pansies. It was incredibly beautiful!!! Both my mom and I had intended on writing to you after their wedding but time got away from us and so sadly, my mom passed away last year. I just wanted you to know though that your cake topper art meant so much to my parents! And thank you for putting it together and sending it out so quickly. Your kindness has never been forgotten. The cake topper remains in a place of honor in my parent's house and has the ability to put a smile on our face, even through the sadness. So thank you....

This note brought tears to my eyes and made me realize, amidst all of the self doubt, self ridicule and, sometimes even envy that I carry around, that it's not about how much money I make, or what kind of a house that I live in that matters, it's about leaving a positive mark in this world.
It's about nurturing and inspiring those around me. It's about being happy and spreading happiness. It's about being grateful for what I have.

Tomorrow, when I'm sitting in my little back yard, drinking tea and listening to nature, I'll think of this quote...Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more. Brother David Steindl-Rast

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Interview with a Clay Muse

I recently did an email interview with The Clay Muse. Her real name is Christina Headley and as you are about to find out, she's a very talented and passionate artist. Christina follows my blog and when I did a "shout out" for artists to be featured on my blog, Christina was the first to respond.


What's your passion? My one true passion in life is knowledge. I'm happiest when I'm learning something new. Now that I've finally graduated from college I'd been missing the daily infusion of new knowledge, so I took it upon myself to learn a new craft. I'm currently learning to knit and it's oh so much fun!

How long have you been interested in art? For as long as I can remember I've been an artist. Artistic ability runs in the family, my Grandmother used to be a life still artist, and my Mother dabbled in illustrations and cartoons until she settled on a career as a hairdresser. They always encouraged me to be a better artist, showing me new techniques as I grew older and supporting me in what we now joke as my artistic a.d.d.

What sets you apart from other artists? I think it may be my vast interests and inability to focus on just one medium. Most artists I know are good at many things, painting and glass blowing, pencil portraits and pottery, but most focus on one medium to perfect, usually their biggest passion. For me it doesn't really matter what project or medium I'm up to my elbows in, as long as I'm creating something I'm happy as a clam.

Do you have a signature style? It's hard to say since I'm so spread out. I think if one looks to just my clay work there is a noticeable dominance of primary/bright colors. I think if pressed I'd say yes! and It's quirky!

Do you have a work studio? Well that one's a yes and a no. My man and I just bought our house in September. Our spare room is in the process of becoming my craft room, but as we both came from tiny little one room apartments we sadly lack the furniture right now. So currently my work studio is the living room. My "new" (read his sister's old) coffee table has six cubbies with square baskets in them. This is where the majority of my clay materials are residing at the moment. I bought a table and two nice chests at a garage sale two weeks ago, so I'm looking forward to starting to put together a real studio space soon.

What inspires you? How corny is it to say everything? It really is true though. I'm inspired by everything around me, from the games I play, books I read, just the colors of clay hanging out together. I think the perfect example of this phenomena is the creation of the Hearts all a flutter jewelry. I had been building a base for a figurine out of bits and bobs of scrap clay and decided that it didn't need a base after all. So I smushed up the base and put it aside. Over the course of a week it sat there, I played with it a bunch when thinking, it wound up rolled in a log. I needed a sliver of clay for something or other, so I took a slice off the log, and I was amazed at the swirls of colors. I didn't know what I would use them for at first but I started taking chunks of the scrap and pushing them into a little heart mold I made a while ago. Then I started taking slices of the log and rolling them very thin and covering the hearts. Those beads became my first ever bracelet, and two matching heart pendants.

What aspirations do you have with your art? Mostly I want to continue developing artistically, getting better and learning new techniques and crafts. Ideally I'd love to be able to make a serious living creating things. I only recently started selling my creations, and have since been sucked into a sort of social vortex, meant to help promote my shop, where I actually do very little promoting and lots of chitter chattering.

Your favorite thing to do when you are not being creative? I love to bop around the internet, I'm a video game geek, I have a PS3, a World of Warcraft account and a Pink Nintendo DS. My man and I have been enjoying the occasional aimless drives through the middle of nowhere (we keep winding up in NY!). And most of all I love just hanging with my man and our friends, laughing like fools at some obscure reference that no one but us would ever understand. It's a pretty good life, and I'm lucky to be living it!

What do you think is your greatest success? To be honest, when I started answering these questions over a week ago I was torn on how to answer this question. Well this weekend I attended my college graduation, even though I completed my courses in December, it didn't hit home until I was putting my diploma on the mantle. I graduated, it took 8 long years and lots of heart ache, credits that were never used, and long stretches away from school but I did it! This weekend I received my A.A. in Social Science, with honors: Magna Cum Laude, Phi Theta Kappa. I'm so proud of myself that I'm getting a little teary eyed just typing this out. That clinches it, graduation has got to be my greatest success.


If you can't feel the energy and passion of this young artist then it's time for another cup of coffee! I really admire Christina's exuberance and love for art. According to her blog, she's 26 years old and it appears she will have a long and happy career creating art in what ever medium it takes her.

If you would like to know more about Christina here are some links...


If you would like to be featured on my blog, send me an email. It's fun and inspiring to read about artists, their styles, their workshops, their education, and their aspirations.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Polymer Clay Buttons

I've been on a button making kick lately. In between making toppers and working on fall inventory, I started making buttons. I'm using premo clay and studio clay and they seem very durable. I made buttons last fall and sold some at shows. I sewed a button onto one of my jackets and it has been washed over and over again. They appear to be very durable. I admit I hang the jacket to dry. But, in a low heat dryer, the buttons are fine.

Buttons can be used on fabric, head bands, scarves, quilts and wall hangings, or as embellishments for scrap booking pages.

I mixed spices into transparent clay and it kind of looks like oatmeal.

This button reminds me of tiles from the 60s

I love the combination of pink and black. Have to try scanning these buttons though, as I don't like the glare.

These buttons would look cute on a retro outfit or purse.

I set up another etsy account and am going to sell charms, buttons and embellishments there. I actually set it up in Sept. but put it on "vacation" for awhile. I'm going to see if people like the buttons and if so, I'll make more.

Buttons are fun to make, don't use a lot of clay, and easy to ship.

Plus, hand made buttons look so much more unique on an outfit.

Here's a link to my etsy store, The Pink Avocado, where I'm selling these handmade buttons at a reasonable cost with reasonable shipping.

Don't forget to leave comments if you'd like to get into the drawing to win a free cake topper.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Busy Making Clay

I've been working on some special orders and that has kept me away from my blog for a few days.

Here is a cake topper that I made for a bride who went to school with my daughter. I had to make the top out of paper mache (I didn't do a great job on the smoothness of it, but it looks OK).
The couple can be taken out of the balloon basket.

Here is a bear bride and groom . I have it on Etsy for $24.00

This mets and phillies fans cake topper is on it's way to PA.

This sock monkey graduate can be personalized with the correct tassels, year and date.
On etsy for $10.00

As you can see, I've been busy working. I've been organizing my clay room (again, again, and again). I made three goal charts with lists of clay babies I need to make for shows and etsy. Now I just need to work on that daily.

Polymer Clay Babies

The History of my name...

Someone asked me the other day why I named my website Polymer Clay Babies. Originally, I called my business Debbie's Clay Babies (it's still called that on Ebay)
. My grandmother used to stay with me a lot and loved to watch me with my salt dough (pre clay days). She would say, "are you working on your dough babies?"

I started doing the dough in 1976 but discovered polymer clay in 1982. After awhile, my grandma got the knack of the polymer clay and started to say, "are you making your clay babies?"

So when I did shows, I called my business Debbie's Clay Babies. In 2002, when I wanted to start a website, I decided to change the name to Polymer Clay Babies. I figured my site would be easier to find if someone typed in Polymer Clay and then babies.

Over the last few years, re-born babies have become popular, so when people type in Polymer Clay Babies, my site comes up. If they are looking for intricate detailed re-born babies, they are in for a disappointment, but that's not my fault. (I've had people ridicule my name because my things are not reborn babies, but, sorry, I had the name first!)

Anyway, that's the story on my business name.

Don't forget to leave a comment to put yourself in the free topper drawing.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Free Cake Topper

Since I first announced this contest I've had over 300 hits to my blog, yet there's no interest in the cake topper giveaway. I say that because I've only had two comments.

So, to liven it up a bit, here are some ideas of possible cake toppers. This may inspire more demand and more comments! Come on people, don't be shy (or is my work horrible!???)

You can use a cake topper at...

Grandma's 80'th birthday party
Grandpa's birthday party
Labor Day Picnic
Any kind of picnic
Divorce Party
New Years
Valentine's Day
Retirement Party
Teacher's Appreciation Party
Graduation (2010)
Mother's day (2010)
Easter (2010)
Father's Day (2010)
Baby Shower
Baby's First Birthday and all other's after that
Theme parties
In general, any kind of celebration where there is CAKE!!

So, if you would like to get into the drawing to win a free cake topper (NO STRINGS ATTACHED) (plus you tell me what to make) then start commenting!

The usual stipulation is that you must live in the United states or Canada, because of shipping costs.

Comment! Comment! Comment!

A winner will be randomly chosen on June 1, 2009....


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Win A Free Cake Topper!

For those of you who follow my blog, you probably know that I have been full of angst for the last year in regard to my "craft".

You also might be familiar with me wanting to "reinvent" myself; something I've written about several times.

So it won't surprise you to know that I've started making my cake toppers again. The toppers were a source of somewhat steady income, but I really wanted to explore art in other areas.

But, after customers continued to ask about the toppers, I decided that it was foolish of me to stop making them when nothing else could replace the money right away. I didn't transition into another successful medium or idea.

Last week I redesigned my website (still needs work) and got three orders for cake toppers. So, God's trying to tell me something,,stick with what works.

In the mean time, I have been doing collage, painting and tying different ideas. As you know, I have a lot of those (ideas!)

I admire people who have found their niche and have stuck with it. I have made a valiant effort to stop worrying about what other people are doing and just do my own thing. There are certain artists on ebay who I followed just to see what they sold, but I'm happy to say I haven't done that in weeks.

To celebrate my return to cake toppers I'm going to have a giveaway of a custom made cake topper. Naturally, this won't be of interest to everyone, but, if you know of anyone who is getting married in the fall or winter of this year, having an anniversary, or a birthday or baby shower, let them know about this giveaway.

How it works

If you would like to win a custom made cake topper (wedding, baby shower, retirement, anniversary, birthday)
leave a comment. Make sure you mention that you want to be in the contest. On June 1, I will announce a winner. That's when I will need the information about the topper. This is a $35.00 value. The winner can pick a theme, hair color, flower colors, etc. There would be no additional props (I won't be adding bikes or towers, castles, etc)..

Here are some examples of cake toppers that are valued at $35.00

Baby Shower

Wedding or Anniversary Topper
Wedding topper
Birthday Topper

Remember, these are just some ideas of the toppers that I can do. If you win, you give me the idea and I'll made a whimsical topper that makes a wonderful keepsake.

Leave as many comments as you like, but only one comment per blog entry, starting today. Tell your friends, leave a link to my blog if you'd like, and feel free to use these pictures to talk about this giveaway.

One final note, since this contest ends on June 1 and it will take me time to make the topper, please understand that the winner won't get it for approx a month, so your event must be after the middle of July.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Raggedy Ann Garden Marker

If you love primitive or country decorating then you might enjoy this tutorial.

I was busy making Raggedy Anns today and thought one would look cute as garden marker. You may not find this exact type of marker, but I'm sure something similar will be available at your local craft shops.

Supplies needed

Sculpey or premo clay (red, white and blue)
Liquid sculpey
Flower cookie cutter

Apply liquid sculpey to the metal garden marker

Roll out a piece of white clay and cut it to size. Place it on the liquid clay and press gently.

Cut out a few flowers and place on top of the white clay.

Add a white ball of clay and press down to form a head.

Add little red (I used rust) clay tear drops around the head to form hair.

Add a triangle nose and two or three little hearts.

Bake at 265 for 20 minutes.

Let cool and place in the garden or inside in a plant.

If you get hard winters bring it in for safe keeping.

Here's a little fairy I made three summers ago. I left her out in the garden during the winter and she looks pretty beat up. I won't be so lazy this year.

Speaking of the garden, I worked out in my yard today.

Garden beds are ready for flowers...

I made a wreath for the birds. They can fly up, grab a strand of straw and build a comfy bird's nest. I think the birds have been using it, because it's starting to look terrible.

My backyard butts up to woods and a park. It's the perfect size yard for me to take care of, yet it feels huge because of the woods.

Even though these are wild violets, they sure are pretty.

Tomorrow I'll be having a tutorial on different Raggedy Ann so make sure you visit again.

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