Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goals for the New Year

polymer clay blue tile mosaic box

I have none. There I finally said it - I don't have any real goals beyond to continue how I'm going along and trying to do better at what I am already doing..  Imagine, Explore, Hope.

That sounds cynical but I am tired of setting goals I know I can't control - get a job that lasts for 5 years, I can keep looking and taking what comes but beyond that.... or goals I know I won't meet or even really try to - lose 50 pounds, exercise daily or even regularly. I know my limitations by now, it seems foolish to set goals that I know I will fail at.

What I do plan to do is keep working at my crafts - knitting and sculpting and being creative. I will enjoy my life and my family. I want to keep pushing myself to be creative and productive, having a blog and running a store keeps me striving to do more and also to keep up writing and forcing me to think a little.

My biggest goal is to live life to its fullest and enjoy each day. I want to be with the people I love and live to see another day. Sure there is stuff that could be better but most of those don't make too much of a difference. So I say - cheers and enjoy the new year, I will.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Polymer Clay Inchies

[caption id="attachment_1686" align="aligncenter" width="512"]Polymer Clay Inchies Polymer Clay Inchies[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1685" align="aligncenter" width="512"]Thanksgiving Inchies Thanksgiving Inchies[/caption]

Inchies are just one inch square tiles - it's up to you what you want to do with them. I have found they are great because it is just an inch. You can try out new techniques - like my knitting ones. You aren't making a big item so you can just test them out, see what works.

I like when I can make up sets with a limited palettes or techniques or both. There is really no limit to what you can make in an inch. It is also a great way to try new idea and them have a record of it to save for the future just like people save color chips.

Recently I have just been using fun tack to stick them to my wall in my studio just to keep track of them.

[caption id="attachment_1687" align="aligncenter" width="261"]Inches on the Wall Inches on the Wall[/caption]

Friday, October 25, 2013

Polymer Clay Faux Zippers

[caption id="attachment_1681" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Zipper Pendants Zipper Pendants[/caption]

Once I learned how to make a zipper in polymer clay, I was off to have some fun. These pendants are a blast to make. Using old canes to make polymer clay fabric and then texture some material for the zipper and place the teeth for the zipper. The real fun is choosing the colors and designs that would well together.

I've been playing with canes I hated and came up with good results. The pendant with the yellow zipper was made using a stroppel cane - they are mostly vertical and I didn't like how bright it was or the straight lines. I cut slices and placed them randomly.

Adding details like texturing the fabric and seams and a patina on some has added to fun. I spent the time to finish them really well so each is fabulous from and back (at least to me) Check them out in my FantasyClay Zibbet store.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Polymer Clay Minion Charm


I got bored this week so I just was making some cute little charms. Minions were just one idea.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Get the Books Out

[caption id="attachment_1663" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Polymer Clay Miniature Book charms Polymer Clay Miniature Book charms[/caption]

Now that everyone is back to school it's time to hit the books. Forget those shiny new text books for some old wizards book charms. I personally love to read and I always love those old musty books, those heavy hard covered ones that have been sitting in the library for the past 50 years. They have that special smell that no Kindle can match.

I truly love to read and love books. I wanted to celebrate those books from yesteryear. Those big heavy books with gold binding and heavy covers. Each one seems to be something special. No flimsy soft covers, each book was cherished and shared and saved. My favorite find has been a text book for the mid 1800s. It goes from basic arithmetic to trig. Somebody used it for a long time and it was meant to last.

Going back even further to those books from the days when a large library meant you owned 100 books because they were so precious because each was hand copied and decorated so each was treasure. I always think of Merlin and his books of spells.


That's why I made these book charms. I want to celebrate books, real books. I know ebooks and Kindles are here to stay, in fact I caved and got one, they are so convenient. But they are so lacking the grace of those old volumnes

These charm help you celebrate this. They come with a jump ring so they are ready to slip on a chain to where as pendant. The bibliophile in me constantly nags me that I've sold out by using a Kindle. This way I can show my love for the real thing. I have these listed in my FantasyClay shop. There are more coming, these are addictive.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wedding Season

polymer clay wrestling cake topper


After taking a season off from making my wrestling cake toppers and other custom toppers, I decided to be open for orders again. I did get a few requests last year but due to health issues, I couldn't make them. So for all those brides out there who are into wrestling or just want something custom, check out my cake toppers in my shop. As always, custom orders are welcome!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Art Doll - Wizard in Training

Herrmione  Polymer Clay Art Doll

This little wizard in training took all my energy for several weeks. I kept trying for a face I liked and one that was realistic, not so charactery. I finally finished her but then the face didn't match the sweet fairy I was thinking of. I just couldn't capture that so being my usual self, I modified the project to fit what I had. She had a fierceness I like but how to costume her.

I definitely wanted the red hair. I just felt drawn to it. I didn't want to do a witch, then I remembered Harry Potter and wizards, and thought Hermione. From there, I just needed to put the pieces together. She minds me a little of my niece. She has the same nose and that same look of forcefulness. I listed her in my Etsy shop here if you want a better look or if you want to share your home with her.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Troll Doll - Take 2

[caption id="attachment_1630" align="alignleft" width="200"]Troll before Troll before[/caption]

A few months ago I posted this troll. I put a bunch of energy into him but even then I didn't feel satisfied with the results. I wanted to do something "woodsy". I tried leaves, felt and in the end I used green wool for hair. He was ok but he looked cranky and felt unfinished.

I wasn't sure where to go with him. I listed him in my shop (I don't name most of my creations). A  couple of weeks ago I decided to revisit him. I knew the first thing that had to go was the green hair. It was too coarse and the color didn't look foresty just weird.

So I started there. I got some Tibetan lambswool and used that. I left it long, that added to the rustic look I was trying for. That made a difference. I couldn't really change the clothes too much since they were glued on but I added some buttons on the vest,

He still looked too grouchy, he needed something to add a touch of feeling so in his other hand a gave him a small bird. Admittedly I could probably do more but for now, I'm stopping.

[caption id="attachment_1631" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Troll After Troll After[/caption]

I relisted him in my Etsy store, FantasyClayStore. Now I working on another doll; this time I'm taking my time a little putting the body together, I'm not sure where I want to take her. Her head is done but I need to decide on the next step so I don't go through this again - although I probably will.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Getting the Creativity Flowing

[caption id="attachment_1622" align="aligncenter" width="400"]10 things 10 ways 10 things 10 ways[/caption]

Watercolor or for that most 2D media isn't my usual but this weekend I went to the Create! Mixed Media workshop in Somerset, NJ and decided to try something different. It's not that I don't like watercolor - I actually love it but since it doesn't play well with polymer clay, I haven't really used it since my kids were little.

I took a class 10 things, 10 ways although actually most of us used less than 10 things- I used 3 or 4 but it really was fun and very freeing. When I was done I thought it look cool even if it wasn't a "work of art". It still needs some finishing but the important part was the fun I had making it. I wasn't so focused on the results but the process and that can get get your creative juices going like nothing else.

Enjoy the making and the rest will follow

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mini Japanese Kokeshi Dolls

[caption id="attachment_1603" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Kokeshi Dolls Kokeshi Dolls[/caption]

I've been having a blast making these dolls. I was searching through some back issues of Polymer Clay Cafe. I found a tutorial for these dolls and tried making a few. They are fun in their simplicity but as you can see from there kimonos, there is lots of room to experiment. I used gold leaf in a few. The blue one is made using a cane for a pattern. It has been a great way to stretch my creative muscles. Each doll is about 2 and 1/2 inches tall so it is easy to create a small piece of polymer fabric to use.

I did a little research into Japanese dolls, I discovered this little dolls are based on a traditional Japanese style doll. Kokeshi dolls are dolls with a larger head but no limbs. Traditionally they were made of wood, but of course mine are polymer clay.

I started listing the first of them in my Etsy shop FantasyClayStore.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Finished Doll!

[caption id="attachment_1592" align="aligncenter" width="500"]polymer clay fantasy art doll Belinda the Elf[/caption]

And here is the finished product - Belinda the Elf (or Gypsy Fortune Teller if ask my husband) Big change from ET in the first post  or even the body in the second post. She is wearing purple and green - I can't help myself, I love that combination. Her skirt is in 2 layers - a solid green under glitter green tulle. Her top is purple satin ribbon and she even has lacy britches under her skirt.

I'm not quite happy with a few details - I won't go into that but if you notice anything off, please comment. I wonder if anyone notices the flaws I see.

Also, she is listed in my shop, Susan's Ugly Dolls.

Step 1:

Step 2::

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Making of a Doll Part 2

[caption id="attachment_1589" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Painted Face Painted Face[/caption]

After much work, I have finished the next step - the head, hands and feet are done and added to the body. I used oil paint to add some color and acrylics for the detail work. I don't have Genesis oil paints, I used regular oil paints I already had - just baked them the same way you bake the Genesis ones. It's starting to look more alive (still needs hair)

[caption id="attachment_1588" align="aligncenter" width="321"]The whole doll The whole doll[/caption]

All the polymer clay parts are done and attached to the body. I have the basic framework here. Now to fill out the body and dress her and of course, add hair. I'm still considering the exact outfit but she will be elfish. I did "cheat" a little and made shoes instead of bare feet.

Now to the next step!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Making of a Doll Part 1

I've been exploring making dolls, especially working on sculpting faces and heads. I have a lot to learn all around but I figured the first step is to really work on faces, it is the first thing you notice and eyes are the first thing you notice on a face, so this is the first to perfect. Damn but it's a bitch to get a hold on.

[caption id="attachment_1583" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Eye Eye[/caption]

I started with the eyes and man do these look bad, I spent all weekend playing with doing eyes and although I've done them before I just couldn't "get it" this time. I tried so many different ways, starting in different places and seem to get nowhere. I finally got to this and even if they still looked off, I decided to just move on with the nose and come back to them as the face moved on.

  • Lesson 1 I need to be sure to smooth constantly as I work, don't leave it rough

[caption id="attachment_1578" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Adding a Nose Adding a Nose[/caption]

I smoothed out the eyes a bit more and then added a nose. From this photo I could see the face isn't really symmetrical but until I saw the pic I wasn't seeing it. The nose helps make it look more human and I was able to soften the eyes.

  • Lesson 2 - Take lots of pic at each step, it helps to see what is "off"

[caption id="attachment_1579" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Adding a Mouth Adding a Mouth[/caption]

I added a mouth, the lips were tricky but things were coming together, still it looks off center and needs smoothing but I'm ready to clean it up a bit. I noticed some edges were squarish and needed to round them out

  • Keep smoothing, faces are round, there shouldn't be square angles

[caption id="attachment_1580" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Pulling it together Pulling it together[/caption]

Finally it is coming together, I refined the nose a little and using pics, I tried to balance the 2 sides of the face. Now the hard part seemed to be fixing one part without smooshing another part.

[caption id="attachment_1582" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Ears Ears[/caption]

Here's the result after a little more refining. I added the ears which I kept really simple, ears are REALLY complicated. Everything seems pretty balanced and I cleaned up the fingerprints and used some clay softener. I'm going to let it sit overnight before baking so I can let it rest and be able to give it a fresh look in the morning.

Big Takeaways from this

  • Smooth and blend constantly, smooth each section as you go

  • Take lots of pictures, it helps find the flaws

  • Be patient and don't be afraid to start all over if you can't fix mistake

  • Faces are round, get rid of angles, rough edges, bumps and scratches

  • Symmetry is really important, without it everything looks wrong

  •  Eyes are the first thing you see in a face, you really can't "fake" them

So for the moment I am finished making the face. I want to do the best I can do for each face I make, it's the only way I can improve but I don't want to my doll making on hold to spend months just making faces.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Crafter vs Sellers

[caption id="attachment_1551" align="aligncenter" width="410"]Polymer clay big beads Large Pod Beads[/caption]

This past year I have struggled with which direction to take. I had a mess of a year with jobs and was taking a break, I experimented with different ideas. Crafting full time, hoping to make a living at that but my sales just do allow that.

I tried a stand alone store and wasted a lot of money there. I really don't sell enough to even pay for the site.I would in group of friends to try to get it going but to be honest, one of a kind pieces, custom items are make a living on.

I was mainly selling made to order items, like cake toppers and Agricola games, which while brought in some decent money, they took up most of my time from the stuff I enjoyed. Which is ironic because I first started selling just to hopefully share my work and make room  new work.

The fact that working with clay had become a chore was distressing because all I was making were items that I was just making for the sale. I wanted to enjoy using polymer and finally just finding my own way with it.

I finally got a job again and really I didn't have the time or the money to support a stand alone site. I decided to cut my losses and walk away. I realized I needed to rethink it all. I wanted to make what interested me and enjoy making it. Recently I pulled back on the cake toppers and the Agricola pieces thus freeing up my time to explore.

The pieces above are just one example. They were inspired by Christi's new book. I had a grand time making them and they are big but nice and light. Honestly I just liked making them. I finished them off and decided to just put them in my new Etsy shop. It started for just supplies but I've been slowly adding more to it. The biggest draw is there are more crafters to buy supplies and also some built in traffic, even if it isn't always mine.




Monday, February 11, 2013

Making Prototypes

[caption id="attachment_1544" align="alignnone" width="659"]Polymer Clay Troll Game Piece Polymer Clay Troll Game Piece[/caption]

This month I had the pleasure of getting to create prototype game pieces for a new independent game designer. He wanted trolls that were cute but still trollish. They had to be small enough to under the green hill.

Actually there are 3 trolls of every color, except the stone. It was fun making these little guys and playing around with them. After a few discussions we decided on a basic style; he really like the idea of big feet from a piece he saw elsewhere. I showed him my favorite critters (which never seem to sell) and he loved their troll look. So combining the two and shrinking them in size got me this. It was really fun making them.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Claying Family Style

This isn't a list of cute items to make with your kids or tips for clay or even how to share your craft with them. Sadly I don't have those answers, it's about my story. My kids are older now, 19 and 22, but still kids to me. When they were little, we painted, played with play doh, and made stuff of all sorts. As they grew older, that interest waned.

I've always wanted to get my kids interested in polymer clay or any kind of crafting as they got older. I was thrilled when my niece learned to knit and crochet but I wasn't involved. My own kids seemed obvious beyond telling me to get my stuff out of the way. Each played with clay briefly but put it aside .

I love making stuff so much I wanted to share it with my kids but as they grew older, I realized I had to pull back. My daughter loves to write and buzzes with a natural creativity in everything she does but through most of her teens, it feels if I suggest something, she outright rejects it.

Imagine my surprise and delight, when one morning she asked if I liked the rat she made for a favorite singer. She started making pieces more and more and then asking for advice on how to do strips or mixing colors. She's made quite a few mermaids, all specialized for different friends. She didn't want suggestions beyond how do I fix or where can if find...

Her biggest thrill was when her dad said I had made them, he didn't realize she had. Since then she has also been checking out different books and ideas, even wanting to try caning. The best I was able to do often was just to provide support and remind her what looked easy for me wasn't because it can naturally but because I have been doing it and practicing for years. And we all have pieces that bomb sometimes.

I guess my story was a lesson learned by me. I couldn't force crafts on them, especially not mine but letting them find their own way can bring them back around.

BTW There are no pictures because she requested I not share them. I have to respect her work as much as any artist.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Teaching Pixy Class

[caption id="attachment_1514" align="aligncenter" width="405"]Pixies Pixies[/caption]

I had the thrill of getting to do a class teaching pixies in the New York Polymer Clay Guild.  We take turns sharing what we know, this month was my turn. We had a small group this month but that made it more fun.  It turned out that most people in this group hadn't done much sculpting - even those who were long time clayers - so this was a fun project.

I had a great time teaching, I really get a thrill sharing what I love and it made me feel good that others wanted to try this. The project seemed simple but it had a lot to teach about proportions and working with light colored clay. It's funny how much you learn from teaching.

I do so much sculpting and had since I was a kid, I didn't realize imagining a figure in 3d was not as easy to others as I thought. It's almost like when I discovered the idea of variables in math wasn't as obvious to others. I guess we all learned something.

I especially love the way everyone's is different and shows unique talent. One expert caner used a butterfly cane for wings or the cute beret. I can't wait to teach again.



Thursday, January 10, 2013

Do I make what sells or what I love?

[caption id="attachment_1304" align="aligncenter" width="285"]Polymer clay Troll Troll[/caption]

Sometimes, it takes one comment to make you start to think. One Facebook today when I posted a link to the bride and groom I made yesterday, one follower let me know she didn't like it. Rather than delete it, I decided to ask why. She said it was really simple and had no detail, all I could say was the bride liked it.

Later she apologized and all I could think was, she's right. I make a lot of pieces just because they will sell, not because I like them. I started with polymer clay because I enjoyed it and making pieces like this troll or the oil painted ornaments really gets me going but they don't seem to sell.

What happens when your craft becomes a business but all you are selling are the pieces you make just because they will sell? What happens to the creative side and being able to focus on your own ideas. I've worked hard to try and make this a business when all I wanted to do originally was create and hopefully a few people would like my work and I make some space for new pieces.

Sometimes, I hate getting insights, especially when they are right and I have been going in the other direction.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's cake topper season

[caption id="attachment_1506" align="alignnone" width="448"]Polymer Clay Gymnast Cake Topper Gymnast Cake Topper[/caption]

January has rolled in and with that cake topper season. It seems like the new year rolls around and with that, the wedding orders come. My favorite part of making cake toppers is when some has a request I never thought of.

This was for a gymnast and her wrestling fiance. It is always fun when there are two interests to embrace. As you know each one is custom made, so if you are looking for a custom cake topper, check my shop to see them. If you don't see the design you want, just ask!