Thursday, September 17, 2015

Polymer clay: Endless Possibilites

by Staci Louise Smith

I never intended to become a polymer clay artist.  I made jewelry.  I made jewelry with PMC, sea glass, gemstones and wire.  When I started to make beads, it was for fun, to allow myself some play.  PMC got really expensive and the polymer allowed me to scuplt without breaking the bank.

I never knew I'd fall so in love with it.  I myself, was a bit of a bead snob, and never bought polymer beads to use in my "fancy" designs.  Most of what I knew was caning, and that was far to bright for my work (gorgeous, but bright)....and......the snob in me saw it as plastic.

Then I got paired with Lynda Mosely of Diva Designs for The Bead Soup Blog party.  She sent me some of her faux turquoise beads, a fabulous transfer and lots of other beads to play with.  I was in awe that it was polymer.  It was such an eye opening moment for me.  You could make polymer look like things, well, other then polymer!  

I mean, look at her work

You can find her on facebook here:

and on etsy here (where she sells tutorials as well!!!)

That is all I needed, and I was off and running.  I chose to paint on polymer, because I grew up in a home with a mom who painted.  I learned faux finishes and how to use painting mediums on just about anything.

At first I just loved being able to get out my paints again and play.

Here are some of my earlier beads, just loving being able to play with color and paint.

Over time though, I began to love the sculpting of the clay too.  These are my new favorites to make because I really get to play with form.

And as time goes on, I fall more and more in love with this medium.  There is always something new to learn.
I mean always.

You can find new techniques daily, or, at least, new ways to use old techniques.  

I love blogs like Polymer Clay Daily, which features inspiration and new artists each day!  

Or the Polymer Arts Blog, which focus's more on a technique or design element and showcases it for a month or so through the works of different artists.

And then there is my favorite place to go for WOW moments and information, and that is Ginger Allman of the Blue Bottle Tree's facebook page.  Her blog is packed with information for beginners and experts alike, as she investigates tools, dispels myths, and continually gives the polymer community a plethora of useful information.  
On facebook, she likes to showcase artists as well as post things to inspire us to go further.

This is the post that inspired MY post today.  I mean, just when you though you have seen it all.  She showcased this pendant and asked us to try to figure out how it was made.

artist: Ayyrin

Ginger hinted that it involved pastels and stretching of the clay.  
We were all stumped.  

Well, here is the tutorial.
Its not in English, but you can follow the pictures.  
Watch and be amazed.

It really had me shaking my head, but in a good way.  There is so much you can do with this medium.  So many finishes, so many ways to manipulate it......the possibilities are endless.

If you are looking to try out polymer clay, I encourage you to really investigate The Blue Bottle Tree's blog and do research.  There is a lot to learn.  But once you have conditioning and curing down (and trust me, these can take time to get right for a strong solid piece) then you are ready to have fun.

Ginger also has lots of tutorials you can purchase on her website.

I have a tutorial on my painting technique that involves the crackle finish available on my website (just the painting technique, no polymer forming in it)

I also have an online class you can take through Craftcast to learn to make these from start to finish: forming, curing, painting, and making the necklace as well.  
You can find that here

So how about you?  What have you seen that has blown your mind?  or opened a new door in your medium?  Have you had those moments that have changed your entire artistic course?


Tammy Adams said...

Great post, Staci. I also credit tutorials from Lynda (the faux stones) and Ginger (rustic beads) for inspiring me to use polymer clay in jewelry. I knew it could be used to imitate many surfaces but I kept thinking "why spend time making faux gemstones when I can buy the real thing?" Those two tutorials made me a convert. And helped me discover that my loudest creative voice is rustic and maybe a bit primitive. I have your tutorial as well - I love the ancient artifact look of your pieces. I haven't taken it for a test yet, but it's at the top of my list.

lakesuperiorwaves said...

I first started playing with polymer several years ago because I love ceramic but can't afford a kiln so wanted to play with beads that would look like ceramic. But I was always disappointed. I wanted subtle soft colors or very, very primitive look and I just never can achieve it. Then I bought your tutorial for the crackle finish and I got much much closer but I still want to be more primitive looking and so I continue to play.

TesoriTrovati said...

This sums up my thoughts exactly! I have to say that watching your progression over the years, Miss Staci, has been a true delight. I never stop marveling at what you are doing with the clay and where your imagination is taking you next! I agree, that polymer clay is so much more than what it appears. A real shape-shifter, game-changer of a medium! I am excited by some new ideas that I have to go bigger and more sculptural, but also feel like me. To that end I am taking a class at Art Is You on Saturday with the talented Laurie Mika. So every excited to see what transpires and where this will lead me! Thank you for sharing your passion and talent with the world! You never fail to inspire me. Enjoy the day. Erin

stacilouise said...

Ah sculptural..............I have been playing too Erin!!!!! I have such grand ideas, I just need more time (and clay, lots more clay!) lol!!!! Have a great time at your class. There is nothing more rewarding then hanging out with other creative people and exploring a new technqiue

Brooke Bock said...

My game changer was your tutorial Staci.....Changed the way I looked at clay. My husband thanks you for my clay obsession. It started with your tutorial in April 2014 and it just keeps going from there...Thank you....

Anonymous said...

This is a great post Staci. I think about working with polymer then change my mind thinking I could never master the techniques. You have shown us some really cool designs and given us some great blogs to check out. I'll be doing that soon.

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