Sunday, October 21, 2018

Exciting News! 

I'll be teaching in the 2019 Polymer Clay Adventure virtual retreat. This will be my 5th year! Here's a link where you can see what I'll be teaching (and what all the other wonderful teachers will offer) and sign up for the Adventure.
Polymer Clay Meets Aromatherapy:

Pomander Pendants by the Polymer Chef

Friday, August 31, 2018

 Re-Introducing the Polymer Chef: In Print Again!

It's been w-a-a-y too long since I've posted anything to this blog! I've been busy writing monthly "Polymer Chef "columns for Polymer Clay Universe and weekly "Just for Fun" posts for HOP! Hooked on Polymer. But I have such exciting news to share that I just had to post it here.

The Polymer Chef is going back into print! The Create Along team is launching a new print magazine, Passion for Polymer, and I'll be continuing my polymer recipe column there. Since Polymer Cafe magazine disappeared, I've really been missing having a real hold-it-in-your-hands publication exclusively devoted to polymer clay! If you're as passionate about polymer as I am, this will be a treat for you, too.

To celebrate the upcoming debut of Passion for Polymer, I'd like to share with you a reprise of the first-ever Polymer Chef article. This was published in February 2012. If you enjoy this recipe, you'll love the new recipes in Passion for Polymer, which will include newly-discovered ingredients.

Blue Corn Recipe and Pendant

 Blue Corn is what I call a “fantasy stone” (as opposed to “faux stone”) creation. Fantasy stones aren't intended to resemble any particular existing stone but to suggest what some beautiful unknown gemstone might look like. And, after you concoct the recipes, you can follow step-by-step instructions to make a simple but dramatic pendant from your fantasy-stone clay.

2 oz. translucent polymer clay
1/2 oz. white polymer clay
3 drops alcohol ink, Adirondack Stream (or any similar blue-green alcohol ink)
1/4 tsp. opaque cobalt blue embossing powder
1 1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

1. Roll the white clay at the thickest setting of your pasta machine, and cut out a rectangle 1 in. x 1 1/2 in. (It may be helpful to to place the white clay on a sheet of graph paper to cut the rectangle.) Set aside any remaining white clay for a future project. Roll the rectangle into a ball and press it into a cube.
2. Bake the cube at the clay manufacturer’s recommended curing temperature for 5 minutes. Remove it from the oven; while it’s still warm, grate it with a cheese grater (one used only for clay). Set grated clay aside to cool completely.
3. Roll 2 oz. translucent clay at the thickest setting of pasta machine. Place three drops of alcohol ink on the sheet and allow it to dry. Fold the clay with the ink inside and blend well.
4. Roll the blended clay at a medium setting and spread the embossing powder across the surface. Fold the sheet with the powder inside, and blend thoroughly with pasta machine.
5. Repeat step 3 with poppy seeds and then with parsley flakes.
6. Mix the grated white clay into the “dough,” using the pasta machine as in steps 45. You want the grated clay to be fairly evenly distributed, but avoid overblending. Otherwise, the plasticizer in the uncured clay will soften the semi-cured clay too much and you’ll lose the visual texture of the blend.

Your Blue Corn polymer clay is now ready to be used however your creativity suggests. Cure the final piece(s) at the clay manufacturer’s recommended temperature.

Yield: This recipe will make about 75 12-mm. round beads.
Serving suggestions: You can sculpt this dough or shape it with bead rollers. You can cut it into tiles or create veneers for covering solid objects. Blue Corn combines well with silver, brass, gunmetal, or copper accents and findings.

Blue Corn Pendant

1. Mix Blue Corn clay according to the recipe, and roll it out at the thickest setting on your pasta machine. If you want to make only the pendant and a few accent beads, you can make a half-batch by dividing all the quantities by two.

2. Roll 1 oz. black clay at the medium setting of your pasta machine.
Cut a rectangle of each color 1 1/4 in. x 2 in. Stack the rectangles with the Blue Corn on top. Set aside the remaining black clay to be used in Step 8.

3. Measure 3/4 in. from each corner on one short side, and make a small mark on the edge of the clay. Cut the stacked clay from the left mark to the left corner of the other short side; repeat on the right. With a circle cutter approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut the bottom edge in an arc. This will form the shape of your pendant.

4. Place the cut shape on a quarter-bullnose ceramic tile (available at any home-improvement store), wrapping the narrow end of the clay around the curved edge of the tile as shown at the right.

5. Press another piece of the Blue Corn clay into a flexible face mold. I’ve used one of the Art Doll Faces by Sculpey, but you can use any mold you like. Center the molded face above the curved edge of the pendant, and press it down firmly without distorting the face.

6. Roll the remaining Blue Corn at the thickest setting, and cut 3 strips 1/8 in. wide. Curve the strips, place them above and below the head, and trim them to the width of the pendant, as shown below.

7. Cure the pendant on the bullnose tile at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature. Cool. Sand the back of the pendant to remove the shiny patches caused by having cured the clay on a tile.

8. Cut a piece of SoftGlas tubing or similar (pony bead cord will work) about 3 in. long. Roll the remaining black clay at the medium setting and cut a 3/4-in.-wide strip. Wrap this strip around the middle of the tubing and trim off the excess clay.

9. Attach the clay-covered tube to the underside of the curved edge, as shown at the right , using a small amount of liquid clay or Bake & Bond to make the surfaces adhere well.
10. Place the pendant, black side up, on fiberfill batting, and cure it again. When the pendant is cool, pull the hollow tubing out of the clay channel.

11. Rub or brush the front of your pendant with black acrylic paint and rub off the excess to accentuate the contours of the face and curved lines. If you want your pendant to be shiny, sand the upper surfaces lightly with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit wet/dry sandpaper. You may also use a varnish of your choice. Your pendant is now finished and ready to string, wear, and enjoy!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Necklace from a Christmas Ornament? and Wavy-Blade Mokume Gane

Here are the step-by-step instructions for making the beads in this necklace. They were shaped by using a holiday ornament as a mold (seen below). But you might want to create this wavy-blade surface design even if you don't have the ornament. 
I used a combination of Sculpey III and Premo polymer clay for this project. I liked the softness of the Sculpey for how easily it "smooshed" into the geometric recessed areas of this ornament (which I bought on clearance after Christmas at Lowes).

 To make the beads:

Step 1. You can use any colors you like, but I used Yellow, Sweet Potato, Turquoise, and Fuchsia Pearl Sculpey III. Roll 1/4 package of each color to a fairly thin setting on your pasta machine. Stack the colors in random order, as seen below.
Step 2. Cut the stack in half diagonally. 
Step 3. Square each half up to form a rectangular solid, as shown here. 
Step 4. Push the the 2 pieces together and compress them to form roughly a cube.

Step 5. Cut slices from the cube with a small-pattern wavy blade like the Sculpey Super Slicer. This photo shows the approximate thickness of the slices and the pattern that will emerge. 
Step 6. Spray Armor-All Protectant onto a paper towel and rub lightly inside the mold. Press a clay slice, prettier-side-down, into the treated mold and trim off any excess clay.

Step 7. Roll a medium-thick sheet of black Premo! Sculpey and cut a piece slightly larger than your mold. Press it firmly onto the back of the molded piece while it's still in the mold. Use the black base to pull out the colorful molded piece (see below).
Step 8. Trim off the ragged edges of the molded piece for your finished bead (see below).

You can use this wavy-blade mokume gane technique with any simple-shaped mold you have. The heart-shaped bead shown below was made in a candy mold. 

I baked my beads and then drilled them with a drill press. Because none of them were drilled at precisely the same angle, they hang in slightly different directions, giving the necklace a funky modern look that I like.

I'd love to see the projects you make using this tutorial!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How to Make the Pendant Shown in "The Polymer Chef" March/April 2016

In the latest "Polymer Chef" column (Polymer CAFE magazine, March/April 2016, p. 57), I presented recipes for the Pantone colors of the year, Rose Quartz and Serenity. To show off the colors, I created the necklace shown above. Recently someone asked me for a tutorial explaining how to make this rather unusual pendant. So here's a quick one.

Step 1. Shape scrap clay for the internal structure of the pandant using the  "Caboshapes I" mold from Best Flexible Molds. Then cut a hole above center with a small round cutter.

Next, cover the scrap clay with a thin veneer of the Rose Quartz and Serenity stripes  (or any other color or pattern you might choose).

Step 2. Cut the striped veneer into 2 circles of about 2 and 3 cm. in diameter. Place these rather loosely over the hole, with the stripes on each circle going in different directions for interest. Press a glass marble in the center circle to make the indentation. Next, add three flat-back crystals and oven-cure the pendant. (It's a good idea to use a tiny drop of Sculpey Bake & Bond on the back of each crystal even if it's the "heat set" variety.)

Note: I've used scrap clay in these step-by-step photos, just for convenience, but your pendant and circles will be made from the veneer you choose.


Step 3.  Finally, cover the back of the pendant with a compatible clay color, leaving the hole open (so as not to trap air inside). You can make a channel for stringing by covering the cut-off stem from a cotton swab with clay and attaching it firmly to the uncured backing. After a final oven-curing, remove the cotton swab stem with pliers. Now your pendant is ready to string!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Projects for December's PCTV Design Team Challenge

Little Angel Jewelry Box

This cloth-covered jewelry box was a thrift-store find that took on a new life with the addition of a polymer clay angel and some starry snowflakes. The angel's curly hair as well as her feathery wings were shaped in  Polymer Clay TV's Large Wings silicone mold. Their Snowflakes silicone mold created both the lacy patterns on her gown and the twinkling stars. I used Premo! polymer clay with Perfect Pearls powders to highlight the molded forms. Flat-back AB gems add some sparkle to the halo and the background. Finally, I cured the polymer pieces and adhered them to the box with hot glue.

Snowman Candle Holder

I used more of Polymer Clay TV's flexible silicone molds to upcycle another found item into this festive Snowman Candle Holder. The only embellishment on original candle holder was the "beaded" trim around the circular edges and the two rings at the narrowest point of the stem. It provided a nice blank canvas to show off some polymer holiday magic!

To create the snowmen themselves I tried something new: I packed four colors of Premo! clay into the large snowman mold: white, black, pomegranate, and just a little bit of orange for the carrot nose. I decorated their hats with holly from the same mold set and adhered the glass-bead berries Sculpey Bake & Bond. The scrollwork at the base of the candle consists of black Premo! shaped in the Fleur Fancy mold, highlighted with gold Perfect Pearls, and decorated with more holly.

Friday, December 18, 2015

New Projects for the Polymer Clay TV Design Team

With all the hustle-bustle of the holidays, I've gotten behind on sharing my photos with you. But I couldn't let the year expire without catching up!

November 2015 Projects

Autumn Acorn Basket

This cute little round basket found me at the Nassau Humane Society's Second Chance resale shop. I really liked the seeds and stems worked into the weave. So I wanted to embellish it in some way that would highlight the rustic, natural appearance. The leaves are made of bronze-colored Premo! clay and shaped with Polymer Clay TV's Curved Leaf plunger cutters. I accented them with pearlescent acrylic paints and wired them onto the basket, adding a few beads here and there. The acorn caps are black polymer, covered with gold metallic leaf and embossed with PCTV's  Round Detailed Floral rubber stamps. The large beads that make up the body of the acorns are carved bone beads that have been stashed away in my cupboard for years, waiting for just this project.

Falling Leaves Necklace

For this pendant, I incorporated some painted, crackled edge components I had made several years ago.  The leaves were shaped with the Falling Leaves silicone mold and embellished with metallic paint and flat-back crystals. The bail is part of a repurposed clip-on earring. To make the stylized gingko leaf beads, I stenciled green clay with copper paint using Punchinella sequin-waste stencils, cut them out, and impressed the veins with a dental tool. To complete the necklace, I raided my stash of various metal and stone beads.

I really enjoy these challenges! Using the Polymer Clay TV tools and supplies adds to the fun and points me in the right direction. Come back tomorrow to see December's projects: an upcycled duo of thrift-store finds--a candle holder and a jewelry box.

Round Floral Detailed Rubber Stamps

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October Projects from the Polymer Clay TV Design Team  

Here are the Halloween-themed projects I've made with the cool tools that Polymer Clay TV shared with the design team this month. There was an amazing variety of molds, cutters, and even a die-cut hutch shrine kit!

I really had fun with the easy-to-assemble Bat-Wing Halloween Hutch Shrine Kit. It's intended to display artist trading cards, but mine showcases a Halloween vignette featuring a jack-o-lantern made from one of PCTV's molds and some related objects I've collected. I covered the Masonite surfaces with scrap-booking paper and gold paint.

Skeletons in the Closet

The grouping at the left was made using three of PCTV's molds. I then cut the pieces, fitted them together, and added a single backing and bail to create a unique pendant. Two more ghosts add an extra BOO! factor to the finished beaded necklace, shown below. The flowers on the skull and on the hutch were made with the same mini-cutters used in last month's projects.

I've really been enjoying wearing this necklace. It draws a lot of attention!

 Check back here soon to see November's projects, which will feature some beautiful fall leaves.