Today I have for you my third polymer clay sculpted figure of 2017. Meet James. Isn’t he sweet little boy? If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may recognize the butterfly as the same one I made several of to send to the Into the Forest art installation.
That’s the fun thing about caning: you can make them in whatever size you need.
James is the fourth project in Maureen Carlson’s neighborhood kids series in her book, How to Make Clay Characters. Her little guy is named playful Pete and he is holding marbles in his hand. I’m trying to make sure my figures are different from Maureen’s creations, even if just a little bit.
I have discovered that I love doing the details on the clothes, shoes, the hair and the props, but find doing the hands and faces more difficult. Probably because they are fiddly and require precision, lol.
I’ve also discovered that I can be quite the expert at finding anything else to do when it comes time to working on the hands and faces! However once I plunged in and made myself do them I was pleased to find that they all came out just a little bit better than on the previous figures. In fact I didn’t squish up and re-roll James’ face once! (Something I did several times on all of the other characters.) So that’s encouraging, I slowly seem to be getting the hang of this. Which, of course, is the whole point of practice.
Today I am pleased to introduce you to Patricia. She is the second in my 2017 polymer clay figure challenge. She is the third of the neighborhood kids projects in Maureen Carlson’s book, How to Make Clay Characters.
But then I realized that the Patriots would be playing in the AFC championship game and if they won that they’d be going on to the Super Bowl, which as you know, indeed they are! So I decided to keep the football and turned my attention to making a Patriots logo on Patricia’s shirt.
This involved finding the logo online, printing it out at 1 inch wide and then cutting the tiniest five-part stencil I have ever seen! I’m quite pleased with how it came out. For a while there I was afraid it would be a total mess. But it’s just a matter of practicing controlling the consistency & amount of paint.
As with Philip, there are a million and one things wrong with this figure. But I am happy that her hands are marginally better than his, even though very far from perfect, and her face is marginally better, although there are many improvements that could be made. I really enjoyed doing details like her shoe laces and the curly hair.
And if the patriots do win the Super Bowl this Sunday I will definitely be making a championship banner for Patricia to hold!
In last week’s video I showed you how to make two of the focal beads for this half-and-half bracelet. The other half consists of strung beads, which, as I mentioned in the video, it’s a good idea to choose first. It’s easier to choose your purchased beads or from among your stash and then match the polymer clay beads to those rather than the other way around.
In this week’s video I will show you how to make a really pretty decorative copper hook clasp and then how to use waxed linen twine to string your whole bracelet together.
This is a nice project for using up small amounts of special beads, as each of our four strands is only about 3 to 3 1/2 inches long. You do have to make sure, though, that the beads you choose will allow a strand of waxed linen to go through them.
In my year-in-review post a couple weeks ago I alluded to the possibility of doing another personal polymer clay challenge for 2017. As I was disappointed in several of the things I didn’t get done in 2016 I’ve decided that this needs to happen.
My dragon challenge of 2015 was a success, but oh-so-much work! And it took oh-so-much time. Since I’ve got more going on these days this year’s challenge will be a little less demanding. 🙂
My goal this year is to make two polymer clay figures each month. I’ll share the results on or around the 15th and 30th of every month. As you can see from the photo and video, I’ve already completed the first of 24 sculptures.
I was really pleased with the more relaxed pace of working on this piece over the course of two weeks. I could do a little bit here, a little bit there and was able to take the time to add things or make changes as I liked, rather than being constrained by a strict deadline.
I named this sculpture “Make a Joyful Noise,” and the boy’s name is Phillip. I know there are many, many things that could be improved, but I’m still happy with him and his flock of singing friends. Phillip is based on Studious Stan from Maureen Carlson’s How to Make Clay Characters.
For me the trickiest part of making this was the hands, they just gave me a terrible time. But I’ve found a really nice YouTube channel with lots of sculpting help and this video: Tips on Sculpting Tiny Fairy Hands. I’m excited to try her tips on my next sculpture!
I’ve always been a fan of these half and half style bracelets. Perhaps it’s because you can cram so much into one small piece of jewelry: multiple strands of beads, interesting and artistic focals, and even a fancy hand forged clasp.
In today’s video I will show you how to make the faux ceramic bead and the textured round bead. If you are intrigued by the faux ceramic look it may be worth your while to do some experimenting with other liquid polymers and other coloring media such as oil paints.
In this video I don’t show you how to make the swirly lentil bead, because that’s truly a project in and of itself. But here are a few tutorials, some basic and some quite detailed, that show you how you can make your own. If you don’t want to bother just find a lovely purchased bead or one from your stash.
Here’s a short little video I made for you looking back on all of the tutorials I’ve created in 2016. It’s kind of amazing to think that it’s been a year since I finished my dragon challenge, as the habits I developed over that year I have served me well this year. I learned to be more disciplined, to work at my art whether I feel like it or not, and to make it a priority.
I really love making polymer clay tutorial videos for you all! As I mentioned in the video, I added a third weekly video to my YouTube channel in February. What I didn’t mention was that in August I realized making three a week was just too much. So now I’m back down to two per week, alternating weeks (more or less) with polymer clay and jewelry videos, but always with a Friday Findings video every week.
One hundred thirty seven videos is a LOT and I hope you all have enjoyed them. Let me know in the comments if there are any that stand out to you as particular favorites.
I also created one class for CraftArtEdu.com this year, my Gradient Swirly Lentils Necklace class. This is a fun polymer technique that can be quite addictive. I strongly suggest if you enjoy polymer clay tutorials that you get on CraftArtEdu.com’s email newsletter list as they regularly send out coupon codes for 30, 40 and sometimes 50% off their classes.
Another thing I was really pleased to do this year was create tutorials for fairy garden accessories for Polymer Café magazine.
They kicked off my series with the March/April issue in which my fairy garden birdbath was featured on the cover! That was quite a thrill.
I then went on to make five other fairy garden accessory tutorials, concluding with the fairy garden bridge in the January/February 2017 issue. If you’d like to learn how to make these but don’t have a subscription to Polymer Café or can’t get the back issues, keep an eye out because I will be releasing them as individual downloadable PDF tutorials, once the rights revert back to me (about 18 months after publication.)
Dolly from Maureen Carlson’s How to Make Clay Characters, cat-because he’s a cat
One thing I put in my 2015 looking back and looking ahead article a year ago was that I wanted to do more figure sculpting. Sadly I have only managed to do a grand total of ONE figure this year, this little dolly from Maureen Carlson’s How to Make Clay Characters.
I really have a strong desire to do figures expressing relationships, emotion and interactions and have been studying the work of other artists to see what resonates with me.
I have been admiring these tube bead bracelets for quite some time, in fact I made a Pinterest board just for them. You’ll notice the Pinterest board has a few pieces that may be necklaces instead of bracelets, they’re really just the same thing, only longer. And there are a few variations like the long tube on the very long strands, making an interesting and unusual necklace.
I also love the tubes that are sculpted with flared ends, and the ones that have holes pierced through them.
All the different textures shapes and the variation of color make this bracelet very rich and lush in appearance, hence the name, “baroque.” Dictionary.com defines baroque this way:
1. of or relating to a style of architecture and art originating in Italy in the early 17th century and variously prevalent in Europe and the New World for a century and a half, characterized by free and sculptural use of the classical orders and ornament, by forms in elevation and plan suggesting movement, and by dramatic effect in which architecture, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts often worked to combined effect.
2. of or relating to the musical period following the Renaissance, extending roughly from 1600 to 1750.
3. extravagantly ornate, florid, and convoluted in character or style: the baroque prose of the novel’s more lurid passages.
4. irregular in shape: baroque pearls.
There are so many variations you can do with this. I had a few ideas that I didn’t have time to get to, like adding Swarovski crystals or hot fix crystals all over, perhaps surrounded with coils and dots of clay. Also, you could make a long tube, decorate the whole thing, and then cut it into individual beads.
Once again, don’t be intimidated by the long list of tools and materials. If you’ve been working in polymer clay or jewelry for a while, you likely have most of them. And the ones that you don’t have you’ll certainly use in future projects. 🙂
These little gingerbread houses are so much fun to make! Just like making a real gingerbread house the first thing you do is gather, or in our case make and pre-bake, all of your candy decorations.
We’ll also pre-bake liquid bakeable Sculpey in the color Pearl to resemble icicles dripping off the roof of our house.
Then it’s time to make our gingerbread “cookies” that will form the body of the house. Just a couple simple techniques will make these truly resemble baked gingerbread cookies. The fun part comes after that, the decorating!
One thing I neglected to mention in the video is that after I glued my prebaked “icicles” to my roof I went back in with some more of the liquid bakeable clay and filled in all the gaps around the edges before baking one more time. This gave a much more smooth and finished appearance.
It’s been so much fun making these polymer clay Christmas ornaments for you all! I especially love these pink poinsettias. I was inspired by a Fire Mountain Gems advertisement that came out a few years ago with red poinsettias on clear glass balls, but I wanted to make mine a bit different.
I decided to make shaded canes for the leaves and flowers (bracts I think they are technically) to add the detail that I wanted.
Shaping the flowers is really just simple, basic sculpting. What’s fun about these is that once the polymer clay is baked it peels right off of the ornaments. You can then glue the pieces back on the ornaments in whatever configuration you want. This is much easier than having to place them precisely while trying to hold onto a round ornament.
Make sure that your balls are glass so that they can go in the oven and not melt. Also, if you’re not sure if the ring around the top of your ornament is metal or acrylic, remove that too, just in case.
Another really pretty combination would be to make white poinsettias with a bit of green in the centers, and perhaps put them on red glass balls. I can see those with a little bit of gold mica powder dusted on the edges. As usual, so many ideas and not enough time to do them all. 🙂
Some curling, twisting ribbons add a graceful touch, be sure to watch the video for a cool trick for cutting perfectly straight strips of clay for the ribbons.
Tools and Materials:
polymer clay in pinks, greens and white (or pearl)
Have you noticed all of the creative shape templates available out there? (This Pinterest search shows what I’m talking about.) If so, have you had a chance to try any of them out?
I have been noticing them, and I’ve been really intrigued by all the different things that people can do with them. Sometimes I find myself in a bit of a rut when it comes to shapes, so these can be very inspiring and helpful.
photo from MelanieMuir.com
Above is an example of how the nested shapes can be used to create a piece of polymer clay jewelry.
When I went to price out some of these wonderful templates (there were at least a dozen that I wanted!) I found they were a bit out of my budget. I am certain they are worth every penny, with their nice thick template plastic and smooth edges, there are many techniques you can do with them. But…
Since I mostly wanted to use them for design I came up with a way of making my own. In today’s video I’ll show you how to use a heat tool to cut out your own stencils and design templates in any shapes and sizes you want.
Below I also have a link to several pages of free shape templates available on the Internet. I’m sure you can find more, or you can design shapes yourself on the computer.