Is one of your new year resolutions to start a new craft? Would you like to try something easy to try at home with minimal mess? Then this could be for you! Polymer clay is very versatile material, widely available in craft shops, which is simple enough to be played with by older children; but can also be used to make the complicated and skillfully finished work of the sellers featured here. Make your own beads for jewelery, small sculptures, or anything really! VictoriasPolymerArt told me, “The applications of Polymer Clay are limited only by the artist’s imagination…create beads, pendants, buttons, sculptures and cover almost anything that can withstand low temperature baking. Polymer Clay comes in a vast array of colours that can be blended, mixed and infused to create a variety of colours and effects. It can be stamped, textured, painted, inked and after it’s been baked, it can even be carved”.
Fancy a go?
Flower Power explains how to make a simple bead, “The simplest way to make a bead from polymer clay is to break off a small piece of clay from the packet and simply squidge it around in your fingers until it softens up. Then roll it in your palms to make a round ball and hey presto – you have a bead! You can buy all sorts of fancy tools and gadgets for piercing holes in polymer clay but I have found that a good old cocktail stick works the best! Holding the bead in your fingertips, pierce it with the cocktail stick until it just pushes out of the opposite side. Don’t worry that the hole will not be symmetrical – your eye is amazingly gifted and will nearly always put the hole in the right place on the other side. Then simply bake your bead according to the manufacturers instructions and leave to cool. You can then lightly sand your bead to get rid of any rough spots or fingerprints and either leave as it is for a natural finish or you can polish the bead with a cloth to get a lovely sheen.”
Once you have got the hang of simple techniques, you can move onto more complicated processes, like canework and making your own minature sculptures, like Quernus Crafts, who has some good advice for beginners, “Polymer clay can be quite unforgiving. When starting out, it’s important to keep your workspace and hands as clean as possible, particularly when working with light-coloured clays. Work on a flat surface, like a ceramic tile or glass, and I often roll out shapes using a glass coaster – helps to keep the fingerprints to a minimum. And baby wipes are great for getting marks and dirt off clay”.
So where do our artists get their inspirations from?
Flower Power finds, “a lot of my inspiration comes from the ethnic colours and patterns of Africa where I spent a lot of time”. Quernus Crafts gets woken up in the middle of the night by her ideas and finds the requests of those who commission her cute little creatures get her “..scurrying off to the kitchen table to try something out!”
Working in Polymer clay has led VictoriasPolymerArt to look at the world around her differently, “…I see colours now that I never saw before and see things more abstract now and I try to work the colours and the abstract patterns into my work”.
Where do our artists recommend having a go?
VictoriasPolymerArt recommends authors, Donna Kato and Dorothy McMillian.
Flower Power shared some good websites and tutorials: http://www.glassattic.com/ and http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/ has good information and some very good basic tutorials.
Quernus Crafts adds, “I’m also quite happy to ask fellow clay artists for their thoughts and tips – there are a lot of talented people out there who are generous with their time and techniques, and I equally am happy to answer any question that’s put to me.”
More about our columnist
Take a look at some of the other fascinating handcrafts that Amy has tackled in her Inspiring Creativity series. Thanks for reading, we look forward to hearing your comments.