Archive of ‘Musings’ category

Polymer Clay Addiction

Glamourdillo Pendant
Suffice it to say I know a thing or two about addiction. I lightly claim to be a “late-onset polymer clay addict,” but I know full well that my passion for polymer clay does not, thankfully, bear the hallmarks of a true addiction. Still, my behavior sometimes gives me pause:
1. I scrutinize everything for its potential use with polymer clay. As we were gathering up our belongings to check out of a motel room the other day, I eyed the unused motel-provided shower cap and wondered, would I have a use for this with polymer clay? Couldn’t think of one so I left it for the next guest. I’ll be second-guessing that decision for some time to come.
2. Sometimes you glimpse yourself in the reaction of other people. I had a coveted texture tool I worried over because I didn’t know how I’d replace it if something happened to it. It’s orange and looks like a short straw except that one end is tapered. Detail Glamourdillo I used this tool to give the border around my Glamourdillo Pendant the look of leather cord. I discovered its provenance (love that word–learned it from “Antiques Road Show”) one morning when I was preparing breakfast for houseguests. I had bought the little individual cartons of orange juice and was pouring o.j. into a glass when I noticed the little straw. Given the reaction of our friends, I guess they’d never seen anyone get delirious pouring orange juice.
3. I’ve infected my husband. Tim’s antenna sometimes picks up things I might miss. Recently he was throwing out old greeting cards but sorted through them first and handed me several embossed cards which he recognized as good texture for polymer clay.

Rushing the Season

Poinsettia Dish It might be 100 degrees outside, but I’m looking at red and green polymer clay and thinking poinsettias. A poinsettia dish, to be exact, one of five projects I’m developing for my Fall Lifetime Learning Institute class. All the projects excite me, but this one is special because it came together in a flash from conception to prototype. (Maybe not perfectly–I know better than to try to eyeball the center.)
This dish is so easy to make a beginner can do it. Soon I’ll create a step-by-step tutorial to put in my Etsy shop.
I should say a few words in praise of Lifetime Learning Institute in Austin. It’s an all-volunteer organization offering short courses–everything from hiking to film appreciation to foreign languages–for people who are 50 and older. Some very dedicated volunteers work to line up courses and instructors, scout venues, publish catalogs, handle registration, and more.
Last Spring there were 62 different courses. The two-hour classes meet once a week for six to eight weeks. The cost is just $20. That’s not $20 a week. That’s $20 for an entire course. Instructors like me receive a modest honorarium, but the real reward for me is having people discover polymer clay and express themselves in ways they never thought possible.
A great organization. I’m proud to be part of it.

My Job Is To Make Mistakes

LLI Mosaic Frame 049 OK, so maybe “making mistakes” isn’t #1 on my job description list (although I excel at it). Let’s say it falls somewhere behind “having fun” and “inspiring others to play and express themselves.” So as I develop projects for my “Polymer Clay Impressions” class for the Lifetime Learning Institute Fall term, I hope that I’ll make mistakes so participants don’t have to.

The mosaic picture frame in the photo is a good case in point. It features the “brocade” technique from The Art of Polymer Clay: Surface Techniques,” by Donna Kato. You start with black clay and apply metallic gold acrylic paint or gold leaf. My first try was with paint. Ordinary acrylic paint dries fairly quickly on clay, but not this metallic paint. Had to rule it out as a two-hour class would be over before the paint dried.

Gold leaf worked, but I didn’t wait long enough after applying paint to the stamped impression. (Duh!) I messed up big time, going over the surface with my acrylic roller. The roller grabbed big patches of paint, leaf, and clay.

I stumbled a few more times on my way to being ready to teach this project. Time to move on to–or more accurately, get back to–developing the next project. It’s been on the back burner. You can guess why.

I’ll say more later about Lifetime Learning Institute, which is a real Austin treasure.

Thank you, Judith Skinner

Skinner Blend Pendant
Hard to believe that prior to 1996 it wasn’t possible to achieve a nice, gradual color blend like the one in this pendant. That’s when Judith Skinner analyzed the problem and came up with what we now think of as something indispensable: the Skinner blend. I won’t go into a how-to here as there are plenty of good examples on the internet, and I covered the simplified “teardrop” method in a recent post.

Judith Skinner explains how she arrived at the blend in this video interview with Polymer Clay Daily’s Cynthia Tinapple.

Conjuring Up Spring

Happily for me, Austin, Texas, is a-bloom with bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and other wildflowers. A few months ago when the earth was a brown carpet and the live oaks unwilling to surrender their dead leaves, I willed it to be spring, making my “Welcome Spring” bracelet.

"Welcome Spring" Bracelet

“Welcome Spring” Bracelet

The bracelet tiles were made in the mokume gane technique I learned from Julie Picarello in a workshop several years ago. You can see an abbreviated lesson in a YouTube video Julie made with Beads, Baubles & Jewels. The technique, plus great color recipes and tips, are also featured in her book, Patterns in Polymer: Imprint and Accent Bead Techniques.

Julie is a terrific teacher with a distinctive style. See more examples of her work on her web site, Yellow House Design.

Words To Clay By: Don’t flog your muse.

Raffle items McNeil Craft Show  2013 My muse didn’t respond to flogging. I had forced myself into production mode, cranking out jewelry and home decor objects I thought would sell and ignoring the urge to just create for the sheer joy of it.

Enough! My muse arranged an intervention and I quit sales cold turkey. Now I play with polymer clay, give things away, teach, and along with Tim, my favorite photographer, playmate, and enabler, create online tutorials for things I enjoy making & think others will enjoy as well.

Watch this space for free tutorials, tips, & links to tutorials for sale.Raffle-items-McNeil-Craft-Show-2013.jpg



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