Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Updates to My Tutorial Delivery System

While I am out of town at the beginning of April, my polymer clay tutorials will be available from my web site only.

I am also setting up a new system. Instead of sending my customers a file in pdf format, this system will generate a temporary web page and send a link to that page. The purchased tutorial file will be placed on the corresponding temporary web page. The customers will be instructed to download the file before it expires (in five days).

I hope this system will work better than the current one. With the current system (when tutorial files are e-mailed directly to customers), some of the e-mails get lost or somehow do not reach my customers. This happens rather seldom, but it is still very irritating. Problem is, when this happens, I do not get any mail failure messages, so I have no idea that the tutorial was not received. I only learn about the problem when my customer contacts me. When that happens, I re-send the tutorial manually, and always feel terrible for causing my customers this inconvenience. It seems that some people have protective settings in their e-mails preventing them from receiving big files (and my tutorials, with all those pictures, are usually 2 to 4 MB files). So, the new system, when only a short message is sent, shall overcome this problem.

I finished setting up and testing this system yesterday. I will continue monitoring its performance while I am still here.

After April 2, I will have no computer access until April 10. I hope there will not be any problems during this time.

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Polymer Clay Book
Polymer Artists Showcase

I've got an e-mail from Tejae Floyde this weekend with an announcement that her self-published book, Polymer Artists Showcase, is finished and available for purchase.

I am very happy to see a few pictures of my works included in such a great collection.

Tejae did an amazing job. She contacted many artists, whose works she likes, and asked to submit pictures of their best works. Originally, the project was intended as a black and white calendar, with one polymer clay creation per day for inspiration. Over time, it morphed into something totally different – a beautiful book with colorful pictures.

This is what Tejae says about it: ”I had a vision of a beautiful book filled with inspiring polymer photo's... It's a wonderful keepsake, studio book and resource for connecting with other polymer artists.  I do hope you love it as much as I do. It's a fun, full color 10"x8" photo book, 40 pages. I'm extremely proud of it. It took a long time to put together but I learned a lot and appreciate your patience.”

Tejae published this book through blurb.com – a site that allows to make bookstore-quality books with the help of their software and publishing resources. The book may be purchased here: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1248012

I also want to tell that Tejae put a lot of work into this project, yet she marked up the book only a few bucks above the publishing price ($25 to buy the finished book versus $20 for publishing). The participating artists do not receive any financial rewards from this project.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Polymer Clay Chameleon:

How do you like these tiny dragons by Becca Golins? Aren't they cute?
Becca just opened her shop at Etsy.com earlier this month. Visit it to see a few more of her works.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Dragons Weekend
and New Pendants

This weekend, we are going to watch two animated movies about dragons. One is on a DVD - a French animated movie, Chasseurs de dragons (Dragon Hunters), and the other one is “How to Train Your dragon” in 3-D. I just hope the two movies will not mix too much in our heads...

Yesterday, after talking about these plans with my husband and kids, I started to work on a few texture plates I wanted to make for a long time. Suddenly, I realized that one of them looks like dragon scales. After a little tweaking, I came up with these three pendants. Do you like them?

Apparently, it is possible to get inspired by a movie (or two), even before seeing it...

I will be listing these pendants in my Etsy shop over weekend.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tips and Tricks
How to Work With Polymer Clay in Light Colors

This is the subject that appears in various polymer clay forums every so often.

Light colors are challenging to work with mainly because of two issues: dust and color contamination.

Strictly speaking, dust can accumulate on any polymer clay project, no matter what color it is. However, any trapped dust particles are more visible in projects using light colors.

The same is true for color contamination. Whenever your tools, working surface, or hands come in contact with polymer clay, there is a chance that some polymer clay will stick to the surface and than later it may get transferred onto your next project. Again, this is more obvious when switching from working with dark clays to lighter-colored ones.

So, how can you minimize these problems in your work?

Read more

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Treasury and Tutorial

I just finished my newest tutorial. This one explains how to make two polymer clay daffodil beads I showed you earlier this month.

While listing this tutorial on Etsy, I was lucky enough to snatch a treasury. Follow this link to take a closer look at all kinds of beautiful daffodil flowers I found in various Etsy shops:


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Polymer Clay Chameleon:

I love these designs by Russian polymer clay artist Alena Aleshina. Her works are so fresh and original!

Here are a few examples. Each design is intersting in its own way, and the third one is my favorite. A half of this leaf is created using electroforming process, and the other half is made out of polymer clay. The result is simply beautiful!

You can find more pictures of Alena's work in her photoalbum, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tavostia.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hand-Sculpted Daffodil Beads

More flowers?

I just finished these polymer clay flower beads. There are two types of daffodils. I made them in natural colors, took pictures, and then added patina and took pictures again.

I am pleased with both looks, although I think that an antiqued version of a rose bead seemed more logical than the same thing for a daffodil. Why is that so?

These beads are already listed in my Etsy shop (with more pictures in each listing).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Polymer Clay Chameleon:

The flower canes by MarsDesigns are perfection itself. Intricate, colorful, and precise, they are beautifully designed and skillfully made.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hollow Rose Bud Beads

Last week's polymer clay hibiscus flower custom order put me in a “flower mood”, I think. I kept looking at the petal cane left from the hibiscus, and suddenly got an idea for a sculpted rose bead.

I made it hollow inside, about 1.5” long.

Here is the same bead in two finishes – natural and with patina added. Which one do you like better?

Oh, and by the way, these beads are available through my Etsy shop now.

Friday, March 12, 2010

How to Use Resin
New Tutorial

New tutorial with instructions for covering polymer clay pendants (and other small objects) with clear resin is now available in my Etsy shop.

This tutorial is intended for people who want to learn how to use the resin for their own projects and NOT interested in learning my polymer clay techniques, described in other Polymer Clay and Resin tutorials.

I included very detailed step-by-step instructions illustrated with my work-in-process pictures, as well as additional tips and instructions for troubleshooting and correcting of the most common mistakes that can occur while working with this resin.

While general instructions can be obtained from the manufacturer of this resin, they are more suitable for big projects and lead to lots of product waste when working on a small scale (such as covering pendants, focal beads, and other jewelry parts). What I am offering here is a demonstration of my own technique tailored specifically for jewelry, which makes mixing and application of this resin much easier and minimizes the waste as well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jewelry as a Symbol of Status

The on-going discussion about renaming polymer clay, as well as some comments I received even on my humble post about this issue, returned me to my old thoughts about the implied value of jewelry.

Obviously, there is something we, as jewelry makers, cannot ignore. Yes, the downgrading of polymer clay, based on it's classification as “just plastic” in people's minds, IS real. Not all, but some customers do think about gold, silver, and precious stones when they think about “real jewelry”. I think the reason lies in the history and is implanted in the buyer's sub-consciousness.

Now, these are just my thoughts, I am not a historian, and I do not pretend to have answers to these kind of questions. However, at least for myself, this is how I explain this phenomenon.

A long time ago (think Medieval times), only reach and noble people could afford jewelry. Right? It was expensive, and it was one of the attributes of power and money. The original purpose of jewelry, therefore, was to manifest it's owners wealth to the rest of the world. It was the mark of the status. Those, who had jewelry, belonged to the higher class than those, who did not. The price of the finished jewelry was directly proportional to the size and rarity of the gems used to make it. The work that went into creating the finished piece of jewelry was if not insignificant, then definitely secondary to the other parameters, when it came to the price of jewelry. Also important, that at that time, there were no ways to mimic the gemstones convincingly enough. The glass was of low quality. There were no lab-grown gems, no cubic zirconium... So, once again, the original and most important purpose of jewelry was the status symbol, and it was an accurate connection, because every piece of jewelry was equivalent to that much extra money.

Later, in late 19-th, and even more so in 20-th century, we see the development of all these alternative processes and materials I just mentioned. What they create are surrogate status symbols – cheaper jewelry, that looks pretty much as “the real thing”. With this more affordable jewelry more people are able to pose as if they, too, belong to the rich and noble group.

I think, that for some people, jewelry is still “the status thing”. And these are the people who look first of all at the material, not the craftsmanship. These are the people who think that “gold” equals “value”, and “plastic” equals “cheap”. I am not talking about poorly-made polymer clay items (which is an issue in itself). I am talking about pieces with high craftsmanship, original, and well-executed, but still "not made of gold".

If people thought logically, and remembered that the manufacturing processes are getting more and more economical, while the manual labor gets more and more expensive, they would have to realize that a high-quality hand-made piece is a better manifest of its price than a piece of “real jewelry”.

I just hope this realization comes while we are still in business.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sterling Silver Frames and
How to Attach Them to Polymer Clay Pendants

As promised, you can now purchase hand-made sterling silver frames through my Etsy shop. The frames are available in shiny and oxidized finish and in the following shapes: circle, tear drop, leaf, shield, and wing.

I also prepared a short tutorial explaining how to attach these frames to your own pendants. The tutorial is in my usual step-by-step format, with lots of pictures, and with very detailed explanations. It is also available in my shop.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Useful Link
(for Etsy Shop-Owners)

I am subscribed to Etsy Success weekly newsletter. It is a great way of keeping up with the best Etsy forum threads, Etsy updates, and many other things. I usually enjoy these letters, although some of them bring me more new information than others.

The recent letter was, probably, the best so far. It included a link to a very thoughtful post by Danielle, one of the Etsy admins, and summed up her experience with reviewing the shops on Etsy. She wrote it in a check-list format with additional explanations for each point. Here is the link:


I hope you will find this link as useful as I did.

...And about the picture on top of this post... I could not go without a picture, right? So, I decided to include my new Esty shop banner. I replaced my traditional blue butterfly with this version some time last week. Don't you love it? It looks especially good against Etsy's white background (take a look at it in my shop).

Monday, March 08, 2010

"Polymer Clay" versus "Polymer"

If you do not know about it yet, there is an on-going discussion, initiated at Synergy-2 conference and continued on-line, about possible renaming of  polymer clay into simply polymer.

People talk in length (and quite emotionally!) about it in their blogs and in forums, and I was about to post something smart myself. Like, how I see two separate reasons for this name being an issue – one is coming from the traditional ceramists, who are (supposedly) unhappy with polymer clay artists using the word clay, and the other is from our potential customers, who are (also supposedly) confused with the polymer clay being used for art, because it makes them think of the stuff their kids are playing with.

I could have also talked about the definition of the word polymer based on my chemistry background...

Or how realistic it is to make all the polymer clay manufacturers to rename their product AND change their marketing strategy at the same time (after all, if they start calling it polymer, but continue selling it as the material for kids – do we really gain anything?).

But before I had a chance to write my post, I found one comment on polymerclaydaily.com discussion, which summed it all for me. I am sorry, it might be a bit harsh, and I do not know who is the author of this comment (she just signed it as Jules), but I admire this person's sense of humor. This is what she said:

“? And saying only “peanut” avoids confusion with normal butter? Interesting theory.
It’s not about the name, it’s about what you do with that stuff!
I mean…the clay, not the butter… ;D”

Yep, this really sums the whole discussion for me.

I am voting for leaving the name alone. Let's better concentrate on our art and stop talking.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Polymer Clay Chameleon:

This miniature polymer clay food looks like something that Gulliver could have brought back from his journey to Lilliput – it is amazingly tiny, yet it looks convincingly real.

Can you believe that the box of chocolate is less than 1”x1”, and the pie with all these juicy fruit slices is only about 1.5" in diameter? I found these beauties at OrangePumpkin.etsy.com.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

New 2010 Line

I am working on a new line of my jewelry for 2010.

The first pendant has been listed in my Etsy shop today. Etsy wisdom calls for gradual addition of the items (rather than listing them all at once), so I am planning to unveil one pendant a day.

All these pendants have intricate scroll-work design, sterling silver bezels, and glass-like surface. I will have these pendants in many colors - dark and pastel, solid and with color gradation.  The design is hand-carved and back-filled with contrasting polymer clay, then covered with resin.

Perhaps, the most exciting news is that this line will be more affordable than my signature Faux Cloisonne pendants.

These pendants are the result of my recent experiments with polymer clay and resin. Finally, I was able to find the process, which allows me to create unique one-of-a-kind designs with delicate lines, but do it more efficiently than with the Faux Cloisonne technique.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Hand-Sculpted Hibiscus Flower Bead
Custom Order

I was asked to make a pink polymer clay hibiscus flower that would fit over a 50-mm bead holder.

This is what I made.

There is a soft gradation of color, from darker to lighter pastel pink, on the petals. The pistol of the flower is made with seed beads and citrine chips threaded on a sterling silver head-pin. It is attached to the wire loop in the center of the flower and has some freedom of movement. The flower is about 2” in diameter.  There is a vertical beading hole in the back for the bead holder. 

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The New Tutorial and Necklace

The new tutorial is now available at my web site and Etsy shop.

This tutorial shows how to make a faux porcelain heart-shaped pendant with tiny sculpted orchids, how to make matching necklace ends, and how to put it all together.

There are more than 40 step-by-step pictures and 12 pages of very detailed instructions. I also included links to a few free on-line tutorials to further explain some steps described in the tutorial.

The tutorial covers the following topics:

- shaping the heart pendant base (both before and after baking),

- adding texture to it (with a simple tool made out of common household item),

- highlighting the texture,

- free-hand sculpting of tiny leaves and flowers,

- using mica powders and glaze,

- embedding beads (fresh-water pearls) into polymer clay,

- creating custom necklace ends,

- making simple beaded pendant bail,

- beading a multi-string necklace,

- adding the necklace ends.

As always in my tutorials, the project is intended to demonstrate the techniques, which can be used for creating your own designs.

The finished necklace is available in my shop at 1000markets.com.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

My Vase Tutorial in a Treasury

Helen of dalmmar.etsy.com made another beautiful treasury, this time in purpple and lilac.

Follow this link to take a closer look:


She included my Sea Urchin Vase Tutorial.

Thank you, Helen!

Now that I own one of Helen's amazing hand-felted scarves (see the pictures below), I am on a whole new level of appreciation of her work. Not only do her scarves look great, the mastership, the quality of Helen's creations is wonderful too. My new scarf is soft, incredibly warm, and a perfect match for my long skirt in the same colors. Too bad the winter is almost over!

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