Face Canes!

Polymer Clay Face Cane

Polymer Clay Face Cane

 

This week I decided to make a face cane – if only because I’ve never made one before and it seemed like a good idea. All in all, I’m kind of please with it for a first time. Still I was stuck with the next thought – what to do with this cane. At this point it is about 3 inches across so I had a lot to play with.

Rescued! I am going to the Connecticut Clay Connection later this month and I just found out I need to bring 60 inchies for a swap. Well in 2 days I made them all using this cane and some decoration. One cane can have a lot of looks

Here are the 60 inchies I made. It’s not one face any more but lots of them! They’re all one inch squares and even thought they are canes, they still tend toward the 3 dimension.

Face Cane Inchies

Face Cane Inchies- set 1

Face Cane Inchies

Face Cane Inchies – set 2

Face Cane Inches - set 3

Face Cane Inches – set 3

Finding Inspiration at home

 

Polymer clay Urban Setting Wall Hanging

Polymer clay Urban Setting Wall Hanging

 

One take away from my class with Christi freisen two weeks ago was if you want to explore, you have to just create and not worry so much about what am I going to do with it after. With that in mind I’ve been letting my self just work in whatever size of shape I needed. Most stuff has been the size of mini wall hanging. Working without worrying if it will sell or what will I do with it, has been freeing. I’ve forgotten how fun that can be.

I’m also a city girl. I am not in an concrete jungle, there are lots of trees in my city and I am sitting in my backyard right now. I wanted to get across the beauty that is here. There is concrete and rust and noise but there is a lot to love. I find that forgotten in a lot of work. Nature is beautiful maybe even more so when you see it can still survive and peak through all that man has made.

I like where I am and as beautiful as the country is, I enjoy the city. I just want to share this beauty.

 

Fun with Christi Freisen

 

Stained Glass Polymer Clay Wallhanging

Stained Glass Polymer Clay Wallhanging

This weekend I had the thrill of doing another bunch of workshops with Christi Friesen in her stop in NYC in her world tour of workshops. I had only planned to go to 2 but I decided once I was at the first to go and do all 4. Each featured different techniques but the techniques or projects just feel like the arrow on the way. Each class was different, we did vessels on Thursday (I’m not happy with my  results on that one so I’m just not posting it)

“Painterly” or painting with polymer clay on Friday.

Polymer Painting

Polymer Clay  Painting

Saturday we started with Pegasuses, like I said I almost didnt go on Saturday because I already do her sculpture and the other project (stained glass) didn’t really interest me.

Polymer Clay Steampunk pegaus

Polymer Clay Steampunk Pegasus

Saturday we started with Pegasuses, like I said I almost didnt go on Saturday because I already do her sculpture and the other project (stained glass) didn’t really interest me on paper but honestly I think I did my best stuff on Saturday but wasn’t the reason I took the extra day.

If you never had a class with her, they are just plain fun. It’s like hanging with your best bud. When I’ve had people say another work shop with her, why not something more advanced, would you ask me why I hang out with a friend too much? There are a bunch of Christi groupies there (including myself). She is free and easy with pictures and videos – here is a video I took of her teaching a simple leaf tuorial.

But she sneaks learning in, between techniques there are lots of words of wisdom between the laughs. Learning doesn’t have to be hard, just like you can learn a lot from friends sitting around just talking, you can learn a lot in her workshops. First one is who you are and what you do is right. She makes it okay to be a super newbie who never picked up clay before or hobbiest or selling or an aspiring artist or all of them. I love when we were talking about moving forward towards becoming a recognized artist or finding your own style and just learning to enjoy having fun with clay and let it all come out.

She makes everyone feel comfortable and is great at finding the best in your work. She is so smart and so ready to share what she knows and what she makes, the freedom is great. I like that she feels art should be shared and techniques should be shared. People will copy, we all do but by copying and sharing we all gain.

Useful but Pretty Clay

Polymer Clay Pink Trinket Box

Polymer Clay Pink Trinket Box

 

I have been having fun making boxes and it is even nicer to me when I realize I can make things that can be used as well as be pretty. I made this heart decorated pink trinket box thinking of my daughter. She has always loved pink – even today, her hair is pink. She was a tomboy who still like all those girly things and being a princess. It’s all polymer clay – pink with gold trim and a heart shaped knob. In fact she said if she had anything to put in it like jewelry, she’d want it. It looks like it belongs to a little princess. Check it out in my Etsy shop.

Polymer Clay Baking and Safety Tips

There is a lot of conflicting information about polymer out there. It’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not. Much is passed from clayer to clayer. I made a list of some of the biggest tips and advice I hear and the best truth I could find, not just “what everyone knows”

1. Don’t eat it. This is a big duh but actually this rule sums up how safe it is. You can do just about anything to it, with it but just don’t eat it. It’s not toxic but it’s still not good to eat.

2.. You need a dedicated oven.  This one is false. The good news is it is safe to use your own oven based on this study from Duke University. You can use a dedicated oven if you want but if you want to spare the expense, your home oven is fine to use. An oven thermometer is good thing to have but I discovered my new oven with digital thermometer is super accurate. If the fumes bother you, some people might not even notice, you can use a covered dish or I discovered plastic turkey bags work really well to keep the fumes in. The fumes are non-toxic unless you burn the clay and this won’t happen until 300F for most clays.

3. Any tools or trays you use must be dedicated to clay only. This is definitely true. Kitchen tools work well for polymer clay  - like garlic presses, rolling pins, graters and more. If you use it for clay, make it clay only. You might be able to fully clean nonporous smooth tools but don’t tempt fate here. If it is porous in anyway like wood, it’s all clay or not at all.

4. Don’t use it to make dishes or anything to eat off of. True, polymer clay is porous and even if you glaze it, you can’t keep the bacteria out and it is not safe for eating off of either.

5. Don’t burn it. This is crucial, this is the only time the fumes are toxic – toxic in that they will irritate you but there is no lasting issue. Different clays bake at different temperatures so check the package. Fimo will bake at 260 F, Kato needs to be 300F to fully cure.

6. Don’t mix clays. As far as baking goes, if you mixing clays – either mixing colors or using different types in one piece there shouldn’t be any problems. Most clays cure near 275F so mixing them isn’t an issue. I just wouldn’t use clays at the 2 extremes (Fimo 260 and Kato at 300) Either one can be mixed with Premo, Sculpey, Cernit etc that cure at 275. I usually use a temperature in the middle to bake it at.

7. Beware of phthalates in clay. Dioctyl phthalate was used as a plasticizer. Due to possible health risks, it was banned. The phthalates used in polymer clay today are monitored under all of the hazardous materials testing mentioned above. One more worry gone.

These are just a few of tips and hints about polymer clay clarified. I’ve also found there were no absolutes. Cynthia Tinapple of PolymerClayDaily has projects when she uses temperatures of 400F (for 5 minutes) and others were she just uses a heat gun. I personally used my own oven for years until I went to clay guilds and was told this was a big no-no and I need to buy an dedicated oven. I decided to risk it since I had been using my own for so long; I was glad when I found studies proved I wasn’t poisoning my family.

There are lots of do’s and don’ts out there for polymer clay. Some are true, some are just anecdotal. What are some rules you’ve about polymer clay?

 

Trinket Boxes

Polymer clay Trinket Box

Polymer clay Trinket Box

 

I mentioned a few weeks back I took a workshop in making clay box. This one ISN’T from the workshop but one of the ones I made later. I found I really enjoyed the freedom you can have when the design is already set. I’ve made a few already with more to come. I liked playing with the blue and gold with a few brass accents for an aged but elegant look. The box is about 2 inches square, I like keeping things small but I like the way it came out.

Check it out in my Etsy shop here