Sansa's Bouquet and my long weekend

Antique Gold Polymer Clay on Antique BrassThe greatest fulfillment I get from crafting my own accessories is when I come up with something I can wear and I get complimented for it.  I had stopped working for quite a bit since the start of the year but have started fixing my supplies and trying to get organized again.

I’ve been concentrating on creating pieces I can wear and sort of “experimenting” on new designs for the shop (for whenever I will open it again.).  Here’s my first antique brass and polymer clay necklace completed last week.  The pendant has been with me for quite a while, having been completed earlier this year.  A polymer clay cabochon was set over an ornate antique brass pendant, and the outline of the inner setting was lined with glass bugle beads.  (Crafter tip: I line the base of the cabochon with polymer clay to have the cabochon and any embellishments a medium to attach to.)

Filigree connector: Antique Gold Polymer Clay on Antique BrassFor polymer clay embellishments put atop the antique brass filigree, I press slightly to let the filigree’s pattern sink into the base of the clay, then I glue it from the back by painting superglue over the holes in the pattern to secure it.  I used a double-sided rose bead to connect the filigree.

I did three each of the filigree connector but it came up too close to the nape, so I am going to reduce this to two filigree connectors per side.  It’s an elegant yet understated piece perfect to wear over a turtleneck or a low cut blouse.

I’m thinking of calling this Sansa’s Bouquet, from a favorite series now playing on HBO entitled “Game of Thrones.”  (For more pictures, click here.  How-tos on the beads and filigree to follow in my GothamChick blog in the coming days…)

Why do I even work with polymer clay and all these?  I like creating.  I like doing something productive.  Some people bake.  I craft.

I like learning about new things.  I really got into polymer clay because of my sister, Ofie.  They have yet to work with the clay I brought home and all the tools I brought her last December, but I’m hoping that she can start experimenting, too, to create the souvenirs they were hoping to create and maybe start a business with.

I make my own molds from actual cabochons and assorted findings.  Buttons are a good source for shapes and textures, too.  Some pieces I create freeform by molding the clay by hand.  I’m hoping to one day create a collage pendant made from different elements instead of a singular cab.  Getting there.

For now, I’m feeling all pretty wearing my latest creation.  I still have to get back to practicing stringing beads, and I have been pooling my rose quartz beads together.  Rose quartz has been said to be a “soothing and very happy stone.”  Crystals and Jewelry further says:

Emotionally rose quartz brings gentleness, forgiveness, compassion, kindness and tolerance. It raises one’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. It helps balance emotions and heal emotional wounds and traumas, even grief, bringing peace and calm. Rose quartz removes fears, resentments and anger. It can also heal and release childhood traumas, neglect, and lack of love, in part by enhancing inner awareness. It can help with reconciliation with family and others. Overwhelming or unreasonable guilt is eased by rose quartz.

In the psychic and spiritual realms, rose quartz is often used to attract love, and for love spells. It is also used to ease the process of transition in dying. Rose quartz can be helpful for dream recall and dream work.

Physically rose quartz is used in crystal healing to benefit the heart, the circulatory system, fertility, headaches, kidney disease, migraines, sexual dysfunction, sinus problems, throat problems, depression, addictions, ear aches, slowing signs of aging, reducing wrinkles, spleen problems, fibromyalgia, and reaching one’s ideal weight / weight loss. Rose quartz is also helpful and protective during pregnancy and with childbirth. It is also sometimes said that rose quartz is helpful for supporting brain functions and increasing intellect.

So in the meantime I keep a stone or two always in my tote.  Need to keep my brain cells and my heart healthy.  (Ha!)  I’ve always liked it because it was pink.  Just hate that it reacts to silver-plated findings, so I cannot use silver plated pins to string it with.  (Again, taking care of me.)

Monday… I liked the long weekend but sometimes staying home is even more tiring.  I’ve whipped up a bistek dinner, ginisang chayote (sayote) for lunch the next day, a lobster dinner yesterday, and negamaki for lunch today, so after three and a half days of cooking, it’s time to do leftovers.  (Thank God!)

Time to get dinner ready.

Learning more about polymer clay

Lessons learned thus far:

1.  NOT ALL POLYMER CLAYS ARE CREATED EQUAL.  I like Sculpey but have come to discover that yes, it doesn’t always come out as firm or solid when cured (baked).  I am testing out the truth behind whether or not FIMO is indeed firmer and sturdier.  I will stay away from Craftsmart polymer clay unless I need ultra soft and brittle clay for some reason or when it’s just so irresistibly so low priced that it would do for the foundation for beads or other bigger structures.  (Don’t take my word for it as being workable for this purpose, too, though.. The clay is too soft and extremely sticky that it’s hard to use even on the usually non-stick silicone molds.)

2. I LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY.  I have read up on a lot of tutorials and FAQs but continue to research online.  No matter if I seem to have read something in someone else’s blog or notes already, I keep going back because there are always those bits and pieces that people seem to add on and which continue to add to my knowledge about polymer clay.

3. EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT.  I think this is one of the best parts of wanting to learn and do more about a medium for crafting — you try things and continue to try things.

So I baked some polymer clay onto the metal charm or finding itself and while it stuck initially, as part of my quality control, I try to see if it will  hold by trying to apply pressure to it and I discovered it didn’t.  So the solution was back to superglue!

However, baking the clay on top of the item it is supposed to “cling” to helps it to take the shape or form of the material’s surface, which was helpful as far as embellishing a round slightly curved locket with a rose was.

Since the clay is no longer pliable after baking, it helps to shape the base before it cooks.

4.  I REALLY, REALLY LIKE THE “METALLIC” CLAYS LIKE ANTIQUE GOLD, SILVER AND COPPER.

Really.

In fact I am seriously considering confining my next purchases to it, until I remembered that this whole polylclay journey was really spurred on with my intention to help my sister get on with a business back in Manila which would need the regular colors and tones.

The colors look great and the finished piece makes you wonder what the material is because it doesn’t look as “plasticized” as the normal colors.  I was just so taken by them after I created these last few pieces recently posted in the shop.

The cameo pendant was one of the pieces I baked together but this one has held fast, probably because of the surface texture of the cameo base, and the actual size of the polymer clay mass that makes up the cameo itself.  (Seriously thinking about doing a tutorial on this because I NEED TO CREATE ONE FOR MYSELF before I pull this listing off the shop so I can keep it.)

5.  I LIKE THAT I CAN CREATE MY PIECES AND SAVE THEM TO BAKE FOR ANOTHER DAY.  Here I go again complaining about how there are just not enough hours in a day.  Lately I have taken to creating tiny pieces to put together and storing them in a container lined with parchment o r wax paper, making sure that the cover rests lightly on the top to keep the dust (and other accidents) away.

This works very well for the items I create, from the hand swirled roses to flowers/cabochons cut from molds.  I’ve also started using left over clay to make beaded headpins.  They make for great space fillers when I am trying to pull together individual polymer clay elements and beads to create a new product line of mini-garden necklaces like the one shown here.

As you can see, I’ve been pretty busy.  At the moment, I’m trying to source Cernit.  I have found some online stores selling it (because it isn’t available in my local Michael’s, A.C. Moore or Utrecht) and although one is always wary of the shipping and handling fees, I have found that the discount provided by some stores online make up for whatever shipping and handling is charged.  (More on this later.)

I am also looking at working with Kato Polyclay sometime in the future but again, the only source I’ve found for this is Fire Mountain Gems (one of my favorite online sources for beading supplies at wholesale prices) , and I am not ordering from them anytime soon.  So that remains to be seen.

Back to my mini-garden necklace and my floral cameo bouquets.  Maybe a tutorial will follow next.

Google and Polymer Clay

The idea of getting into polymer clay has been in my head for a while now but it wasn’t until my sister, Ofie, who is based in Manila broached the subject matter of her getting started with it that put polyclay front and center in my “crafty” thoughts.

With my personal mantra “Anything can be learned” echoing in my ear, I set out to study about Polymer clay basics, and of course, I turned to old reliable Google.  My eye always scans the results page for Wikipedia when I am seeking basic information,  more so since I am not looking to buy anything yet — I just need to learn about it.

And so I found out that Polymer Clay (or polyclay for short) “is a sculptable material based on the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It usually contains no clay minerals, and is only called “clay” because its texture and working properties resemble those of mineral clay. It is sold in craft, hobby, and art stores, and is used by artists, hobbyists, and children.”

The next thing I did was to browse Polymer Clay Images (still on Google) to actually visualize the material.  What I saw totally swept me away and made me want to learn more about polymer clay.

Of course I could not NOT search for polymer clay on Etsy, where I was further blown away by all the creative applications of polyclay.  From miniature food items to gorgeous jewelry, I couldn’t wait to get my hands kneading!

My next search string on Google was “polymer clay tutorial” which brought me to Jewelry and Polymer Clay Heaven where there was a ton of information for newbies like me.  (Pinay New Yorker HIGHLY RECOMMENDS this site!)  Start off with the basics and you will find yourself navigating through other crucial information like the different brands of polyclay, conditioning polyclay, and polyclay safety among other information.

Another website you should visit is Polymer Clay Central where you will see challenges, helpful tips, and a community of polymer clay artisans.  Their Polymer Clay FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) (Pinay New Yorker HIGHLY RECOMMENDS you read this section.) organizes the information with all the links on the front page.  Most important is the list of tools and things you will need to start working with polyclay.

But what and where to get polyclay?  I know that my favorite craft supplier, Fire Mountain Gems offered tools and a specific brand of polyclay, but I had a ton of jewelry findings and supplies in my shopping cart that I was torn about buying.  Also, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to plop that much into something I was just learning.

I could’ve waited for the weekend trip to Michael’s, but we were going to be busy that weekend so I knew it would have to be a longer wait.

And while I cannot now remember how I got there, I bought my first polyclay from Polymer Clay Superstore which not only sells quite a selection of polymer clays in two brands, but they have a free clay coupon for new sign ups.  (Is it any wonder then that they are now one of my favorite online stores?)  They also have a well-organized and very helpful section on Polymer Clay for Beginners which, I think now, is the reason why I found the store in the first place.  Although the questions asked in the various FAQs are the same, I recommend you read through the information as there are bits and pieces which are added with every FAQ you come across.

Armed with my elementary knowledge about polymer clay, I then ventured out to YouTube where you can get a wealth of information on how to work with polymer clay.  Canes? Designs? Pasta Machine conditioning?  I even watched some which were in Italian (sans translations or subtitles!) which, surprisingly, were very informative despite the language gap.  (So check them out even if you have to turn the audio off.)

I’ll share my first attempts at creating something with polymer clay in my next post.

Starting my PolyClay Notes

The past few days have seen me doing research on Polymer Clay or polyclay upon the suggestion of my sister, Ofie.  It was something I had long thought of trying to learn more about, but which had taken a back seat to freshwater pearls and gemstones.  I was sort of daunted by the fact that it requires a raw material (the clay) that needs processing and certain equipment which I was afraid to procure lest I end up not doing this after all is said and done.  Ofie’s interest, though, gave me an “out”.  If it doesn’t work out for me, I can pass on to her the  things I get to pull together in this new experiment.

I have always held on to the mantra that anything can be learned.  I can do this if I take the time to learn how to do it.  Case in point: I didn’t know I could cook until I had to cook for Alan.  I would scan magazines at the Barnes and Noble behind our apartment in Bayside when I first moved to New York and actually surprised myself when I discovered I COULD do it.  I researched about substitutions and methods.  I must say that in my quest not to poison my better half, I can actually say I not only cook to survive, but I cook to enjoy food.

After two weeks of research, I have come across quite a wealth of information that I have read, watched, printed out and actually tried.  The problem with online technology is that bookmarking is not always a good option to keep track of all the information because of the various hardware used to access it.  What I have bookmarked on my PC would not be bookmarked on my laptop.  Although I found similar listings where people who had undertaken Polymer clay research had provided links, there are those that I have no use for and some which I believe would be very helpful to novices like myself.  Hence my PolyClay notes page.

While my polyclay notes will find its main home here in my personal  blog, I am creating a page for it in my other blog dedicated to my exploits as a crafting entrepreneur, GothamChick.  I want to be able to provide a forum for other like crafters who are also into polyclay, more so those who are just starting out like me.  There is a ton of information out there and a lot of ideas to spur on the novices.  The possibilities are endless.

Greeting Card version: Flowers and Henri Matisse

C R E D I T S: Papers used are from Rachel Young’s Summer Slushee Paper pack

As you can see I’ve gotten all paper crafty crazy — I’ve been busy doodling and cutting and creating cards.  I wish there was more time but I’ve turned out one every three to four days which is very prolific for me.

It doesn’t help that there are the goods for my GothamChick stores and my other hobbies.  So yesterday when I posted some 6 new rosary bracelets (!) and one necklace which takes a lot of time considering I need to take photos, edit them accordingly, do the write ups including the measurements of the pieces, price and then review.  I am just so overjoyed that Etsy has put in a new feature allowing sellers like myself to do draft postings and come back to them later.

Jasper Vine Necklace in Antique Brass

Available in my Etsy Shop

So all the more I am convinced that I have to start thinking about my Christmas cards this early so I can be ready to send them out by end November.

The polymer clay research has been going rather well.  (Hmmm… must start a new page on that one.)  The bulk of information so readily available to those willing to do the research and actually read the data available makes most anything “learnable” these days.  Whether it is through blogs, websites or videos, one can actually learn a trade or new skill just by sitting in front of the computer.

It’s scorching hot in New York City today as we hit the 100 degree mark!  I decided to stay indoors instead of braving the heat and all.  Now back to work!