Friday, July 31, 2009

Too Busy for Creating?

When was the last time you clayed or sculpted or created anything? Life just gets in the way, work is too long, kids are in the way, housework calls... Gosh I know every one of those lines and more. I've had to admit at least for me these were just empty excuses. I get so tied up my job, my kids, TV, even the computer that my favorite hobby gets pushed to the side.
Yes once I get started I love it but getting started can be a trick. Sometimes that just needs to be forced at little and a couple things can help stay on task.

Step 1: actually taking out out your supplies.Too often, this is such a hassle, you might avoid claying just for that. For the future, if they had been really hidden, keep them somewhere close.

Step 2: Look at the clay, admire all the colors, pick up your tools. No ideas yet? Don't let that be a deterrent. If you feel stuck, there are are lots of tutorials on the web or in books for inspiration. Find one that's likely to hold your attention. Also great is trying new variation on old ideas.

Step 3: Now you are already to start but searching for a tutorial has become web-surfing or the TV is calling. Just do it,ignore the world, this is your time. If you found a tutorial you want to try online, print it out, shut off the computer too. Get rid of all distractions, if you can't getrid of your loved one, just let them know you need your time.

Step 4: Now just get creative, enjoy the process of creation. Some of the most delicate, tedious parts are the most fun for me. It can just relax me and I just merge with the clay. But that is the point. Give yourself the time to really enjoy yourself.

Step 5: Show off your work.Take a picture or two. Put it on Facebook, a Flickr account, or just tweet about it. Tell someone what you did.

Step 6: When you are done, make a clay date with yourself to do this again soon. I try to make Saturday my day. Recently I am as guilty as the next guy as far as creating goes. This Saturday is already planned out. I plan to have at least one piece to show case here. Now I know I have to, maybe that should actually be step 0, announce your intentions!

Remember, too often we ignore taking time to do those things that we really enjoy. Make that effort and I promise you won't regret it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Interview with Boris and Dinko Tilov

Interview with Boris and Dinko Tilov
I was lucky enough to get an interview with two of my favorite polymer clay artists, Boris,on the left, and Dinko Tilov. Together they authored Sculpting Mythical Creatures out of Polymer Clay: Making a Gnome, Pixie, Halfling, Fairy, Mermaid, Gorgon Vampire, Griffin, Sphinx, Unicorn, Centaur, Leviathan, and Dragon! and Dinko wrote Creating Fantasy Polymer Clay Characters: Step-by-Step Trolls, Wizards, Dragons, Knights,Skeletons, Santa, and More!. Both books are wonderful. a mouthful but great. You can see their influence in much of my work. Their books are fun to read and easy to follow. These brothers are definitely a talent duo. They are from Sofia, Bulgaria and you can see more of their work at their Etsy Store , their blog, Sculpting Mythical Creatures. Dinko also has a site, They really show of their talent and sense of humor.

From the titles of their books, you can tell they are into fantasy creatures in polymer clay. They have a fun, almost comedic approach toward polymer clay that is a blast. I first saw Dinko's work in Polymer Clay Central. Later when he published the first book I was hooked.

Enough about me, on to Dinko and Boris. They were willing to be interviewed for my humble blog. They collaborated on most of their answers. Most first question was where did they get their fabulous idea.

Dinko and Boris:
It’s like this – we go on living our lives, and at some point all the images that have impressed us in one way or another start fermenting in our heads, and upon violent shaking of the latter, a new image begins to crystallize and gets projected on the clay. They just come out of the clay somehow. There is the claying process, of course, which we share in depth with all fellow clayers through our how-to books, but how we get the ideas for the designs – well we probably need a specialist to explain that.

Often times ideas are hard to come by when you are staring at the “blank page”. But when you start kneading the clay it sort of shows where it wants to go – we mean you make the face of a character, and you think to yourself – “Hey this looks like someone”. And than you go on to make every following bit based on the preceding one, so in the end you get an orderly-looking result, when in fact the process was quite random.

Do you have any favorite pieces?
They are all our creations, so we love them all. Some are more fun to make. The ones that sort of happen spontaneously are most fun.

Do you have a craft room, if so,how is it set up?
No we don’t. We have, each one of us several boxes full of clay gear. That’s it.
When we decide to clay we set up a little work corner in a less cluttered place around the house. That place is often the kitchen table. The proximity of the kitchen table to the oven is its best quality.

What got you started with polymer clay?
When we started we started with ordinary clay, but then it turned out that polymer clay is much easier to work with, less messy and baking it does not require special equipment.

Do you have any advice for sculpting in polymer clay(tools, techniques, off the cuff advice)?
Don’t stop sculpting. Your work will become better and better. Stop sculpting when it is not fun any more. Don’t overdo the details. If you get stuck on a detail, better leave it alone for a while and come back to it a little later. Don’t get hung up on getting everything right and neat and controlled. Sometimes the clay has a will of its own.
Tools: everybody knows the “the right tool for the right job” adage. But you can’t possibly buy all the tools in the world, and you don’t really need them, because polymer clay is very easy to shape and mould. All you need is an object with a hard pointy end to reach where your fingers can’t and you’re all set. No need for heavy toolboxes, jam-packed with latest cutlery to produce a decent looking clay. The way we see it – “necessity is the mother of invention” cliché is more useful. You can use any old broken pen, or a nail, or a small screw driver to make a character out of polymer clay.

What motivates you?
Nothing. We are totally demotivated when it comes to clay. I mean there is no greater agenda, there are no targets- we just do it for fun. The hope is of course always that in the end that we will produce some memorable characters, but funnily enough work seems to be coming along nicely precisely when you don’t push too hard.

Do you have a philosophy about claying?
Yes, we do have a philosophy about claying. It is for fun. This is one of the main reasons we don’t have a craft room – we can deploy our boxed equipment anywhere. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you start making a gnome and you end up with a giant – this is quite all right don’t worry about it.

Anything else you'd like to share?
Taking pictures of our work is the hardest part of it all.
We really hope that there will be people out there who might get inspired by our work
to take up the clay themselves. Who knew that claying one day what become the new knitting?
Imagine how much fun would that be. Talk about no greater agenda…

Do you have any plans going forward?
We’d like to make a book on making board games from polymer clay. We believe that
playing board games brings families and friends together and actually being able to
make a game and then play it with your friends and relatives will make things even
better. And another one, on making characters out of fairy tales –like Puss in Boots,
Cinderella and the like. And a children’s book, with illustrations that kind of look like
our characters. And an instructional video too.

Do you sell any of your pieces?
Yes, on our Etsy shop, there we can accept custom orders too. We intend to put on
auction the actual pieces that are shown in the book. This will be on eBay – the seller
name will be either bradatko or dinkos. We are not yet sure for the exact dates of the

Thanks for your interview, guys. Your work helped me go from making simple little teddy bears, albeit cute, to making truly detailed fun pieces by sharing great techniques and fun ideas!