Polymer Clay Class Showcase 2016 #1

Jan Sills

Jan Sills

My next several posts will feature work and play from my Spring Polymer Clay Birdhouse class.

This photo shows the birdhouse back made by Jan Sills. She chose to make a bright yellow veneer to show off the mokume gane cowboy boot and stars.

I’ve never taught mokume gane in a class before because it can be such a crap shoot. But it worked beautifully with this class, as you can see from Jan’s results.

Jan has been my much-appreciated teaching assistant for the last four classes.

Polymer Clay Mokume Gane Featured

Back boot 7016 gimpedMokume gane. It’s the polymer clay technique everyone loves but hates to pronounce. So here it is: mah-KOO-mah GAH-nay. Not to be confused with “hakuna matata,” OK?

Polymer clay actually borrowed the mokume gane technique from a metalworking technique used by Janpanese sword makers.

I’m better versed in how it’s done with polymer clay than in swords. I’ll be teaching one method, as illustrated in the boot, in my Spring Lifetime Learning Institute class.

If you’d like to try your hand at it, here’s a Mokume Gane Bead tutorial from Polymerclay web.

Embossing on Polymer Clay

I love it when I or someone else comes up with a simple solution to a polymer clay problem. Getting a nice, clean, uniform image when stamping with powders (Pearl Ex or Perfect Pearls) can be difficult.

Check out this free tutorial from Katie at Kater’s Acres.

I would add that brushing powders onto clay sends little particles airborne, so it’s a good idea to wear a mask.

Polymer Clay Micro Mosaic Guitar

Roof tuitar 7013 gimped Teaching a polymer clay class is so much fun, and a big part of the fun is coming up with new techniques and projects to teach. I can say that now that I have a prototype and a plan for teaching it. The truth is there’s a fair amount of trial and error and heartburn before I reach that point. The micro mosaic guitar pictured is one example.

The guitar goes on the roof of the wooden birdhouse which is the project for my Spring Lifetime Learning Institute class. I think participants will have fun with it. Of course that’s my hope for everything we do.

Transfer on Polymer Clay

Side Jeremiah 7031 gimped “Jeremiah the Innocent” is the name creator Daniel Johnston gave to the subject of the fanciful wall mural at 21st & Guadalupe in Austin.

Probably everyone who lives in Austin and many visitors to the University of Texas have had the experience of driving in nerve-wracking traffic, then seeing Jeremiah, and breaking into a smile.

I’m using the image in a transfer on the side of a polymer clay birdhouse, the project for my Spring Lifetime Learning Institute class.

The theme of the birdhouse is Austin or Texas. Because one or more class participants may not live in Austin, I’ll offer alternative images.

A New Polymer Clay Birdhouse

Birdhouse front 7012 gimped Lately we’ve been hearing a robin. Heading north? South? Staying put? Everyone’s confused by the weather, it seems. Anyway, it seems fitting to introduce this polymer clay birdhouse, the project for my Spring Lifetime Learning Institute class which will begin February 15th.

The theme for this birdhouse–a wooden structure embellished with polymer clay veneers and decorative elements–is Austin or Texas. So the front is a tribute to the Texas state flower and the Austin kite festival. Did I mention that each week of the class will feature not only a different motif, but also a different technique? The only repeat from the birdhouse class I taught in 2013 is the bluebonnet cane/applique.

Watch this spot for posts of pictures and descriptions of the sides and roof. Or if you must peek, take a look at the page Lifetime Learning Institute Spring 2016. (I’m especially excited about one of the roof elements.)

New Tutorial: Holiday Collection “Stained Glass” Votives

I’m having too much fun making “stained glass” votives. I say “too much fun” because I’m blissfully neglecting other things, like taking down the last of the Halloween decorations, getting my roots re-touched, and even getting to Kohl’s before my $10 coupon expires.

You don’t need a pasta machine or polymer clay experience to make these votives. As long as you condition the clay before rolling strings for “leading,” you’ll be good to go.

I think I enjoy coming up with new designs for votives as much as actually making them. So my Holiday Collection “Stained Glass” Votives tutorial includes patterns for hanging ornaments, a dreidel, candles with holly, and bells, in addition to the angel pictured here.

Here’s the link to the Holiday Collection “Stained Glass” Votives tutorial in my Etsy shop.


Steampunk Adventure


Thought I’d take this opportunity to showcase my Lifetime Learning Institute class. Today we ventured into sculpting with a steampunk flair. Participants made Christmas ornaments and one Hanukkah ornament. We used patterns from the Ebook, Steampunk Christmas Ornaments, by Maria Maestri. It’s available in her Etsy shop.

Among the steampunk findings we used were snaps from an inherited sewing kit: a card of 12 snaps cost 10 cents.IMG_0069 (1)

A Timely Mistake

The napkin ring seam failed after a three-month test drive.

The napkin ring seam failed after a three-month test drive.

For several months now, Tim and I have been test driving a couple of polymer clay napkin rings. The other day,the seam on the one pictured failed.

That was a timely failure. The napkin ring is the first project we’ll do in my Fall Lifetime Learning Institute class. In my prototype napkin rings, I depended on the joined clay pieces bonding as they cured. But the bond obviously wasn’t strong enough for the manly use of a napkin ring.

The problem is easily presented. We’ll just squirt a thin bead of Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS) on the edges before joining them and curing the piece.

As for Tim’s napkin ring, I’ll repair it with a little Super Glue.

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