Thursday, January 29, 2009

Adventures of an On-Line Seller

I've been experimenting with a few on-line tools recently trying to increase my sales, and this made me reflect on all kinds of different venues I've tried over the years. I think it could be an interesting read not only for fellow artists and crafters, but also for people who buy our products on-line. Just like with almost everything in this life, there is more to selling on-line then meets the eye.

I think I will do one post a week on this topic.

So, here is about my first on-line sale. I think it happened in early 2004. I've been working with polymer clay for a few years by then, but never sold anything. I was making things for myself, and it was a nice creative outlet for me. At that time I was working in pharmaceutical industry, in the area that is strictly regulated (for a number of good reasons), so being able to do something the way I want it was a well-desired change for me.

In 2003 we moved to Maryland, and I met many new people, who noticed my polymer clay jewelry, complemented it, and made me want to do more. I started experimenting with caning. Those who've done it, know that making canes produces a huge number of similar things, which beg to be sold (otherwise what are you going to do with them?). And so finally I've got enough courage and listed my first set (necklace and earrings) for $20 on e-Bay. It received exactly one bid, which was enough to sell the set. I was so happy! I could not believe somebody liked my work enough to pay money for it. Looking back at this set (see the picture below), I realize that my craftsmanship could still use some improvement, and the money I've got for this set did not cover the time I spent making it, but back then I was proud and happy...

More about my on-line adventures next Thursday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ice Storm

I am originally from Russia, and when people hear about it, they often assume that I like when it is cold. Or at least that I am used to REAL cold. The truth is... not every Russian is from Siberia, just like not every American is from Alaska. I am NOT from Siberia. Besides, living in this climate for almost 13 years, I think I've got spoiled and can hardly tolerate any cold weather at all... After just a few days of snow and ice I am wishing for spring...

Here is a couple of pictures from my backyard.

The trees look pitiful, yet pretty with every branch in its own ice glove.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Steampunk Heart Pendants

New tutorial, just in time for Valentine's Day!

I am very glad I finished this new tutorial in time, just as I planned.

List of materials: polymer clay, resin, watch parts, metal leaf, love.

Find it here:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Steampunk
Butterfly Necklace

Here is my new steampunk butterfly necklace in Dwellers of a Mechanical Garden series. Very appropriately for upcoming Valentine's Day, it is made in red and burgundy colors.

The necklace is listed in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Steampunk

This is how my desk looks like right now.

I am working on a few new polymer clay and resin steampunk heart pendants, a tutorial for them, and a complementary video, all at the same time.

The tutorial is already available for pre-order from my web site.

The video is for You may see my previous one here. The new video will be in a similar style.

The pendants will go to my shop when they are ready.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Resin, Safety

On one of the forums I visit, there was a discussion yesterday about safety of resin, two-part epoxy resin EnviroTex Lite, in particular.

I was surprised to see that a few people were very worried about working with the resin. They advised each other to always work in a well-ventilated area (namely, outside or by an open window with a fan next to it), to wear a mask, to not be fooled by a low odor of the resin, etc.
I do respect people's concerns about their own health, and especially about the health of their children. However, it always irritates me very much when people are scared of something for no particular reason, simply because they do not understand it well enough.

I am a chemist with 20 years of laboratory experience, and I've worked with many hazardous chemicals, I also worked with highly-radioactive compounds. I know what danger these compounds can represent to a human. Let me assure you that there are many more things in our daily activities that are much more dangerous than covering a few small pendants with some resin.

When considering health risks from any particular substance, we have to consider not just what it can do to a living organism, but also in what amount shall it be present in order to do it, and how easy can it enter the body.

I said that before, and I will say it again: strictly speaking, any compound is a poison when the doze is right. Even our table salt is capable of killing a man, if he manages to eat a bucket of it. A pinch of salt is a totally different story.

Yes, resin fumes are volatile for the first few hours while it settles. Inhaling those fumes is not a good idea, especially in significant quantities and for a long time. Therefore, if you are planning to cover a big surface with resin, such as your dining room table, or a kitchen counter-top, then by all means, take all the precautions. By the way, a regular mask is not going to help here – it only protects against particles, not vapors. So if you want to use a mask, use a special one. However, the amount of fumes generated when you mix two teaspoons of the resin to cover a few small pendants is simply not enough to cause any health concerns.

EnviroTex Lite resin does have a little odor. I would say, it is comparable to the level of odor of un-covered polymer clay during baking. Some people are more sensitive to these odors than others. When I say “sensitive”, I mean that they find the odor unpleasant, not that it causes any headaches or anything like that. My husband is one of these people – he simply does not like the smell (he is a chemist as well, in case you wonder). To avoid making him uncomfortable in our own house, I usually bake my polymer clay beads, pendants, and vases loosely covered with some foil and do not unwrap them until they cool down. As for the resin, I usually apply it in the evening, then shut the door to my studio, and by the morning the odor is gone. If you do not have a separate room for a studio, the resin-covered project may be left to dry in any place isolated from the rest of the house – such as a utility room or even a closet. In this case, it is a good idea to protect your project from dust. Depending on the size of the project, you can use anything from a paper cup to a shoe box to put over your project while it dries.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Isis with Wings – Faux Cloisonne Creation by a Student

The picture above shows recent work of Andy Pan from Rhode Island. Andy learned faux cloisonne technique through my tutorial, and I am extremely proud to see how far he went with it. The amount of work required to create something like this is enormous, and his precision is unbelievable. Each line in the design is formed with a separate piece of wire, and each piece has to be formed, cut, and secured in its place. Such an advanced design definitely requires lots of patience, but the result worth every minute spent on it. I cannot wait to see the finished necklace that Andy is going to make with these three focal beads.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

History of Polymer Clay

Going through my old files, I found this short article I compiled for my beginners class a while ago:

"History of polymer clay begins in Germany, in the late 1930s, when an enterprising woman named Fifi Rehbinder developed and marketed a clay product, which she called Fifi Mosaik, to use for doll heads. In 1964 she sold the formula to Eberhard Faber who developed it into the Fimo we know today.

At the same time, other manufacturers were making products similar to Fimo. Monica Resta from Italy used a form of the clay called LIMMO in Argentina in the late 1950s. It was also manufactured by a German company, but not Eberhard Faber. The manufacturer could have been Rudolf Reiser, who makes Formello and Modello, but there is no clear trail.

In those early days the clay was used for dolls, modelling and miniatures for doll houses. As it gained a wider audience, it was sold in toy stores. Pier Voulkos, for one, purchased Fimo from a toy store in Germany in 1970. Tory Hughes, who lived in Europe as a child, also discovered Fimo there, and Kathleen Dustin was introduced to Fimo while she was attending college overseas..." Read More

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Gallery Page Is Done!

I finished updating the gallery page on my web site and very proud of it! This is something I wanted to do for a long time. I decided to keep my web site as an on-line portfolio and a tutorial shop. There is a link on my site to my shop on for people who want to buy my jewelry, but I do not want to maintain a separate on-line shop through my web site anymore. In line with this idea, I removed the page with my sold items from the web site and replaced it with a portfolio (or gallery) page. Some of the items on this page had been sold or given as gifts to my friends and relatives, and some are still available. I just wanted to show all my favorite creations in one place, no matter who owns them right now. In the process of up-dating this page, I placed all my pictures in a uniform format – they are all the same size now and have a watermark with my company name. I am very pleased with the result. To finish this round of my web site update, I am now going to fix all pictures, including those on my free tutorial pages and in the polymer clay gallery. This is a smaller task than updating the gallery and should take that much of my time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Steampunk Heart

I started listing my new heart pendants in my shop on This is one of them. I am experimenting with the backgrounds, too.

This is the new pendant in my Heart of the Mechanical Doll series.
The base of the pendant is polymer clay. One side is made with crackled silver leaf, the other with watch parts, and then everything is covered with clear resin. The pendant has a smooth glass-like surface, which I really like.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Faux Cloisonne Tutorial – Tips from a Student

Christine from Chicago, IL, bought one of my tutorials, Faux Clisonne, just before Christmas. She liked is so much that we exchanged a few E-mails over the holidays. I am publishing this E-mail with her permission:

"...I'd like to share with you a couple of things I did which may or many not help others: As a sugar artist - I fall back to what I know or the discipline I came from which is architecture and then food styling/cake design.

Often I have to roll out fondant -the same consistency as clay in perfect 36" circles - about 1/8 to 1/4" thick as well as smaller decoration all needing to be the same thickness. Not much fits in a pasta maker. I use two long dowels - the thickness I need, place them on either side of my fondant, My rolling pin glides over the dowels - the entire piece is the same thickness. I have cut dowels in increments of 6" long for smaller decorations and use a miniature rolling pin or my roller.

Shading elaborate flowers requires a lot of color and have always used food grade "Luster Dust" from CK - Country Kitchens. Beside the "mica" look it also comes in rich matte colors which I blended with the mica. Not a speck came off. The reds are richer, the plums are deeper.
Another tip - I use a lot of cookie cutters to cut or trace multiple same size basic shapes. I've found wonderful tiny shaped flower cutters in Chinatown, i.e., a 1" detailed seahorse. They use them for dikon. out of PA has a large selection of miniature cutters, acorns, tiny leaves, bees, dragonflies etc. All sold individually so you can purchase just the shapes you really want. Clay and fondant are similar, the more you work it the more tired it gets and needs to be chilled. Shapes pop out with minimal distress marks.

I would like to say the tutorial I used today was so well thought-out with excellent direction.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Quick Preview

I am re-working the gallery pages on my web site and want to show how the new ones will look like. Here is the link to the first page:

I am on page 8 right now and have about three times as many to go.

Wish me patience!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My First Etsy Treasury

Last night I was lucky to get a spot in Etsy Treasury list.

This is my first treasury ever! I called it "Chameleon" for polymer clay, that is indeed a chameleon material. All things I listed in this treasury are made of polymer clay. I tried to show different objects that can be made, and different techniques. I am always amazed by the possibilities of this material!

Here is the link to the treasury page:

It will stay up for three days.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Faux Cloisonne Tutorial,
3-d Edition

This tutorial was the first one I wrote, and it remains one of my most popular tutorials. Originally, I developed this technique for a combination of polymer clay and glaze, and that is how the the first version of this tutorial was written.

Later the glaze was recalled for re-formulation, and I had to search for an alternative material – both for my own art and to include it in the tutorial. The second version of this tutorial had step-by-step instructions for the glaze and a separate section (no pictures) explaining how to substitute it with resin.

Now I am happy to announce that I rewrote my Faux Cloisonne Tutorial one more time, and now it includes both sets of instructions in a step-by-step format, with corresponding pictures.

So, if you ever bought this tutorial either through my web-site or through my Etsy store, and would like to have the new version of it now, just E-mail me, and I will send it to you for free. Please use the same E-mail address as in your PayPal account, OK?

Monday, January 05, 2009


I am still in a holiday spirit and would like to share my recent discovery. Just before Christmas, my friend told me about a very popular series of Russian cartoons, and my kids and I have been watching them all holidays. These cartoons are very funny, yet philosophical. Here are two of my favorite ones:

Mountains and Candies

The Run of Bad Luck

Apparently, they have been around since 2003, and there are more than 150 episodes by now. Here is more about the series:

Related Posts with Thumbnails