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Tag Archives: polymer clay

How to Make Polymer Clay Tentacles

I’ve found a super great use for these Sculpey ball tools and the Etch N Pearl tools: tentacles! Everyone keeps asking me WHY tentacles but basically it’s a steampunk thing – like Jules Verne and such. Also… COOL. And they’re SO much fun to make I thought I’d put together a little DIY instructions for you.

At first, I rolled balls and poked them onto a snake with a tiny ball tool:

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But it didn’t seem right. After some actual research, wherein I discovered that octopuses have TWO rows of tentacles, and some trial and error, I found a better way!

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So check out this wee tutorial:

Roll out a snake of any size and any type of polymer clay, thicker at one end. Don’t make the thin end TOO thin!

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Use the smallest inverted ball end of the Etch n Pearl stick to make a row of circles down one side of the snake:tentacles-2 tentacles-3 tentacles-4

The deeper you indent, the better it will look at the end!

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Do a second row of circles down the other side of the snake, which will be getting flattened and kind of pointy in the middle!
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OK here’s the magic part. Take the medium ball end of the sculpey tool:tentacles-8

And push it into the middle of the hole. tentacles-9

It will splay out the center like a sucker! OK this one isn’t so great and I messed up the second one… but you’ll see.tentacles-10

Continue down the row of suckers with the ball tool. Be sure to push it as straight down into the hole as you can – don’t angle it or you won’t like the results as much.tentacles-11

Look at how sucker-y the ones near the tip are!!tentacles-12

And of course – do the other side!tentacles-13 tentacles-14

Let the clay rest for a bit.tentacles-16

Curve the tentacles any which way you like – either flat on the baking surface, or wrapped around something like these soldered circles:
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Now there are options for colouring – paint or mica powders – but my fave is chalk! I like doing it darkest at the back of tentacle and lighter to the sides; brush it lightly down the suckers but keep it mostly white. tentacles-24  tentacles-27 tentacles-26 tentacles-25tentacles-22

Bake according to the package directions (use paper underneath to avoid shiny spots):tentacles-23

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And then finish with 2 coats of satin finish diamond-hard varathane. You’ll love it!

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Using Silicone Mold Putty for Polymer Clay

Earlier I showed you the beads I made from The Blue Bottle Tree’s tutorials (Rustic Beads and Organic Beads). Today I want to show you how these tutorials sparked me to go around putting purple goo all over my house!

Again, I can’t show you the exact details from someone else’s tutorial, but making your own silicone molds isn’t a big secret so check it out! I got the two-part putty from Michael’s in the clay section and have been going NUTS with it ever since!

My first few – concrete wall, bit of driftwood, and some manmade textures on the bench:

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Turns out that with the right mold, you can make pretty convincing driftwood! Oh and a sand dollar… hang on..

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The sand dollar is the neatest!Original on the left, mold in the center, my baked version on the right. It’s a little dirtier than I intended and I should have poked the hole all the way through, but still… that’s some seriously fine detail. 2015-02-15 10.40.44

The tiny driftwood piece worked so well I did a bigger one; but I am not sure I care for the final results. I haven’t done much with it yet. Below you can see how the silicone molding putty works. You literally just smush the two parts together, shove it into some texture, and walk away for a bit. Come back, peel it off, and BAM! Original texture. Oh man. So good.2015-02-15 10.48.12 2015-02-15 10.48.42

All those little bits of wood totally came right out – the silicone is completely non-stick. This was a very fragile piece of wood so I just tossed it after I got the texture.

I started digging through my beachcombed box and found an oyster shell and moonsnail shell too:2015-02-15 10.49.04 2015-02-15 10.50.40

Look at the HUGE pile of texture sheets I got out of maybe 1/3 of the package, just by poking around the studio and the basement! I CAN’T WAIT until spring so I can do leaves and organic bits. I’m happy to my face :)

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Making Rustic / Organic Polymer Clay Beads

I promise, there’s a wire explosion on the way. I’ve been spending the winter making components for some new wire-based jewellery, though, so today you get more clay!

The other day I bought these two amazing polymer clay tutorials (Rustic Beads and Organic Beads). They seemed a little expensive but the final photos looked great so I went for it. I read them Friday night and could barely wait until Saturday morning to go out and get a few new supplies! I tell you, after what I did yesterday and today, I would have paid TWICE as much for these tutorials. I learned not only big techniques but little tricks (like having rubbing alcohol nearby to get the clay off your hands).

Because this project was from a tutorial I can’t give you the details of how I got to the end – you should truly, truly, buy these for yourself. They’re mini books more than anything and have SO much information. It’s 8pm on a Sunday and honestly, I just wanna get back to the studio and do some more!

But here are a couple shots of what I made using the tutorial. I LOVE these beads.

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Rubber Stamp Carving for Polymer Clay

Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. I feel like I’m getting sucked in DEEP to something new and delightful :)

I first played with carving designs into some erasers, and of course immediately shoved them onto some scrap clay:

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At the first slice, I was intrigued; at the first impression, I was HOOKED. I think I carved a dozen eraser sides. And then I pulled out the real stamp-carving material, which is some sort of rubber thingy.

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Ohhhh it was fun. So fun. Partway through I stopped even bothering to draw and just did it freehand, until the entire 4×6″ sheet was covered.

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Isn’t it amazing? And I’m not kidding, I was sucked IN – I forgot to eat lunch and I cancelled plans and I spent thirteen hours in the studio last Saturday.

I immediately rolled out some thin, strong, Kato polymer clay and textured it with my new stamp, and cut out some circles (because, simple).

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The feeling of accomplishment at having MY DESIGNS on this clay was visceral. Amazing, amazing feeling.

But oh no, I wasn’t done. I’d come across this “Swellegant” metal/clay patina series and it showed up at my house just in time. I baked the discs plain (new for me!), covered them in the metal-base clay, and began playing with the patinas – which are actual reactions, not paint – and dyes, and even alcohol inks.

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I wasn’t sure when to stop, but I think I got the hang of it eventually. I definitely have a lot of layers on here but I think they came out just fine:

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Good lord but that’s exciting.

I couldn’t help myself. I carved the other one, too. This time I went with a floral/victorian feel, freehand drawn based on a book of designs.

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I already have a third vision in mind, of very thin, fine lines covering the whole sheet. But I’m out of rubber! Back to Michael’s :)

Meanwhile, back to the discs.

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Could you die? The patterns.. the patinas! Here are some of the beautiful patterns I got next to the place on the stamp they came from:

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Finally today, I combined the completed, varnished discs – which are now essentially metal! – with my hand-soldered copper circles, some other hand-patinaed metal, and a lot of wire, and made some actual pendants:

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An amazing weekend. I can now essentially make metal in any shape or size or color I could possibly want. It’s wonderful!

Art Date!

I’m super excited to play with my friend Whitney tomorrow… as a visual/doodle artist, she’s just started with polymer clay by carving her own stamps.

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Polymer Clay pendants from original stamps by Whitney Fawn

Meanwhile, I’d love to create my own stamps for my clay – I’m currently using another lady’s zentangle stamps, which I love but they’re not MINE, you know? – but getting MY doodles professionally made is prohibitively expensive!

Some of my zentangles - here's hoping I can figure out how to carve some of this!
Some of my zentangles – here’s hoping I can figure out how to carve some of this!

So Whitney’s gonna show me how to carve…

Speedball stamp carving sheets and cutters
Speedball stamp carving sheets and cutters

…and I’m going to let her play with my clay tools and toys – including a brand new set of patinas…

Swellegant metal patinas and dyes – including metal coatings to turn clay INTO metal!

…and it shall be glorious!

Clay & Beach Glass – Whoops?

Ever do anything super boneheaded? I’ve been sick this week but determined to make jewellery anyway. I didn’t have the brainpower for steampunk assemblage, so I figured I’d re-try my beach glass in polymer clay experiment. The earlier design won an award but didn’t sell much; I think because I used rare beach glass and the price was a bit high. So, I decided to make a bunch of common-colors – punching up the look with mica powders – and sell them at a lower price to offset the rare pieces.

First I used silver clay; I rolled it out and textured it, cutting out shapes to fit each piece of beach glass and adding clay bezels with individualized texture to each. I only had to take apart a couple to put the aluminum foil in!2014-11-15 09.11.37

Oops, then I realized they were supposed to be bendy – baked on spoons – or else the sheer flat backs stick to your skin and the silly things never sit right on your neck. So then I had to painstakingly move each piece onto the back of a spoon, fixing the breakage that inevitably happened when I moved them; and then I colored each piece with various mica powders, blending the colours right on the clay.2014-11-15 11.36.26

OK, baking time!2014-11-15 11.43.59

Wait. WAIT. I forgot to put the rivets in the holes! Aw, man. They’re less finished but I’ll figure something out. 2014-11-15 12.25.56

I even managed to shove rivets into some of the holes.

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Pretty! I love the colours I managed to make… and I realized that the silver clay wasn’t the best choice – this batch is on black clay and the colours show up far better.2014-11-16 13.17.21

The middle columns are the silver clay – they’re just lacking in contrast and the texture is lost.2014-11-16 13.08.29

So, another unnecessary step due to being a bonehead: I put the first layer of varnish on, let it dry, brushed on some black acrylic paint, and wiped it off leaving it in the crevices. Left it to dry, then did the second layer of varnish to seal it in. Much improved, despite the blurry photo (also shown are some flat squares from earlier in the month that I varnished at the same time, destined for wire wrapping later).20141116_135329

OK, OK, they’re looking great. Time for another batch on black clay!20141122_111208

Fabulous! I baked them and I think they’re gorgeous…

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But… wait a second…

… awww man!! I forgot to put any holes in them AT ALL!! *facepalm*

What a knucklehead!

I’m not allowed to bake ANYTHING while sick ever again, especially not before noon.

I’m debating drilling them or possibly coming up with a wire-wrap solution.. the 4-strand braid might work… it wasn’t what I’d planned for them but hey, ya gotta roll with the punches, right?

Even when you’re a bonehead.

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Colouring Clay

A friend took a trip into Artisans in the Attic this week and she pleasantly took some pics for me, which showed me that my clay pendants were getting low. Which means it’s time to make some more. She mentioned she’d like to see more colourful ones so I obliged! Normally I am random with the colours but this time I worked more systematically AND took note of my colour combinations so I’d have recipes for the next time. And then I realized that you probably haven’t seen how this works! Lots of people don’t realize that I colour my polymer clay with mica-based powders.

First, here is the raw clay. I condition the clay, roll it out, cut it with shape cutters, then texture each piece by hand using various texture tools I’ve collected and made.

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Now it’s time to start adding colour! I like the PearlEx powders personally. I have two sets which I’ve re-sorted into Metallics and Brights. 2014-03-23 12.44.11

 

Using the world’s tiniest brush, I start adding miniscule amounts of colour to the clay, one at a time. It’s easy to add too much and saturate the clay, so I have to take my time and pay attention to how much I’m adding and where I let the powder go. It can have a mind of its own!2014-03-23 12.34.07

 

I’ve found that blending colours on the clay adds much more depth and interest than just solid colour. Here I’ve built up several colours, overlaying them and creating new colours in the process.

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Next I came up with a peacock-inspired colour set.

(This is on the same blue background as above, the colour is all washed out… you’ll see the true colour when I take the final photos later on :)

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And a metallic set:

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Which one is your favourite?

 

Wrapping Beach Glass in Clay!

I live on an island. For the past six years, a significant chunk of my income has come from wire-wrapping beach glass and selling it to tourists, or folks from here who have family away and want to send them a piece of home. It’s been great, and my parents have been my largest supplier of beach glass, picking it up on their weekly beach walks.

But recently, at least three other wrappers have popped up and I felt the market was inundated, so I stopped – but my work was still being requested. I ruminated for a while, and decided that polymer clay was the answer.

First, I did a bit of sketching. That’s my new thing, with the Think and Design series behind me and a gorgeous new Galaxy Note 8 Tablet (with the pressure sensitive s-pen!!!).

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I may have gotten a little carried away drawing shellfish.

Anyway, yesterday was the first day I was actually able to work on this idea. I grabbed a couple of light, slightly uncommon soft greens and got to work. At first, I wanted to just make sure I could actually capture the stone without using a back, so I didn’t get into any fancy sculpture, just some waves and dots.

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I sort of liked them – the blue one has great lines – but neither one of them was really pushing my buttons. I couldn’t figure out why, so I went straight to my wonderful fan base on Facebook and asked their opinions! And oh boy did they have opinions :) Most people agreed with me that they weren’t quite right but it wasn’t until I started pushing for answers that it came up to the surface: they looked like icing, like cartoons, like kid’s jewellery. Which totally resonated with me, and now looking at them I can identify that the solid colours and thick lines are not sophisticated enough. I needed texture, depth, interest.

So OK, back to the drawing board. Except this time I didn’t do any drawing. Whoops?

Anyway, I thought of trying a somewhat traditional bezel setting. I rolled out some clay, textured it with this gorgeous zentangle stamp, cut out a geometric shape using my clay blade, used an x-acto knife to cut out a hole behind the stone to allow the light through, and then used a piece of textured clay to create a bezel to trap the stone.

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I went back to facebook with the new prototypes and received much more enthusiastic reviews. I was really excited, so I made more!

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I had a lot of fun picking out and blending the Pearl Ex Powder colours on the surface of the clay to set off the colour of each piece of glass.

This technique lets me play with pearlex powders and textures while still keeping the natural beach glass which I actually do still love a lot, and I think it’s just groovy.

I can see a few places to improve and grow on this technique but so far, I’m loving it and I just had to share!

EDIT: Ok wow, my friend suggested that aluminum foil behind the glass would help with the luminosity, and BOY HOWDY does it ever! The difference was so staggeringly awesome that I re-baked all of these with foil trapped in a new layer of clay. Check it out, before and after, similar lighting conditions:

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It’s like there’s a flashlight behind them when it’s now solid clay! Yum :)

And new ones!

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Starfish Series

Today I woke up wanting to make more starfish. The clay is exactly what I needed to kick-start my creative mojo again. I needed something different. Today’s batch is more colourful.

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I also started to wrap them and they’re turning out pretty great. Exciting! I’m putting some leather in as well, that I got from the friend of a friend who’s a bookbinder. I am hoping to incorporate some beach glass.

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And OK, one more thing. Snake sets!

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