Friday, October 30, 2009

I had someone email me asking if I would consider doing an on-line class. The person really liked some of my techniques. Because my style is so "improve" I figured I could never do anything that structured. However I don't mind sharing my techniques. Feel free to use these techniques and make them your own. I think of polymer clay as "Adult Playdough". Play with the techniques and learn from your mistakes. Some of my favorite discoveries were from mistakes. This is the third post to answer my fan's questions.

Most of my pieces incorporate surface treatments.  One of the techniques I use involves coating a sheet of polymer clay with paint, letting it dry, then running it through the pasta machine.  Since paint doesn't stretch like polymer clay, it will crackle.  I have used four different types of paint.  Each produces a different effect.


The first paint treatment I ever tried was acrylic paint (the kind in the tube).  The one characteristic you need to know is that acrylic paint stretches.  So to get it to crackle you will need a thick base sheet.  I keep adding a new base sheet until I get the crackle effect I want.

I used acrylic paint on these earrings.  I made them a long time ago, so I don't remember a lot of the specifics about the technique I used.  I did cut the painted clay sheets into thin strips and put them on a new clay base.   I looks like I did this twice, laying the second strips 90 degrees from the first direction.  That is how I got both vertical and horizontal sections.  Some of the colors might be from clay, not paint.

One benefit of using acrylic is that you can lay down colors and either blend them or not.  If you don't want them blended just wait for the first color to dry before painting on the second color.


The paint treatment I use the most is Tempera Paint, in metallic colors.  It is water based and since it doesn't stretch, it crackles very nicely.  The crackle pattern is much coarser than the acrylic paint.  The one thing you can't do is lay on multiple colors, and NOT have them mix.

These earrings were treated with four colors of metallic tempera paint and crackled. The base clay was white.

These earrings were treated with some the same tempera metallic colors as the first pair of earrings.  However the base clay consists of multiple colored clays.

The effect of the surface treatment can be as bold, or as sutle as you want.  The more you crackle the paint, the smaller the tempera particles will get.  Gold and silver paint was used on both the brooch and the earrings.  The earring's paint treatment is reduced to subtle, tiny specks.  Both pieces used multicolored base clay.


This is an acrylic paint I found at Polymer Clay Express ( ).  It is thinner than tube paint and works very well on black clay.  It's crackle pattern is very subtle.  I noticed other really interesting types of paint on this Polymer Clay express web page.  More things to to try!!!!!!



At Dick Blick I found something called Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic by Daler-Rowney Ltd.  It is like a very thin metallic acrylic paint.  I don't have any examples where I used it for this surface technique.  I do remember that it works very well on dark clay.  It seems to crackle more like Tempera paint than tube acrylic paint.  It works very well with a surface technique I will discuss in a future blog.


A close up photo of a dancer's torso led me to do a Bellydancer Torso Project.  I went through four years of dancer photos I had taken and found nice ones to crop into just torsos.  The result was a 13 month 2010 calendar.  It is for sale at:

You can view all pages of the calendar on the website.  Just click on "Preview" located below the photo of the cover.

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.></a></P>
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Friday, October 9, 2009


I had someone email me asking if I would consider doing an on-line class. The person really liked some of my techniques. Because my style is so "improve" I figured I could never do anything that structured. However I don't mind sharing my techniques. Feel free to use these techniques and make them your own. I think of polymer clay as "Adult Playdough". Play with the techniques and learn from your mistakes. Some of my favorite discoveries were from mistakes. This is the second post to answer my fan's questions.

Rubber stamps aren't just for paper, and neither are other impression making tools.  Use anything that makes a nice impression.  I am a great fan of the on-line store Polymer Clay Express  They carry a very nice selection of rubber stamps, texture plates, texture rollers and "molding mats".  Since this is a store dedicated to polymer clay the stamps they carry are all nice and deep.  That is really important for getting a good impression in clay. 

Remember that you will get the reverse impression in the clay.  I like having a mix of both "iny and outy" stamps.  Polymer Clay Express even carries some stamps that come in both a positive and negative.

You need to use some type of release agent to prevent the clay from sticking to the texturing material.  I prefer to use corn starch.  I have never had it affect the clay.  Some people use water.  If you don't like how the impression turned out, just smooth out the clay and try again.  A couplt coatings/impregnations of the clay with corn starch has never been a problem for me. 

I am always hunting in craft stores, hardware stores and anywhere else for items that I can use for impressions.  I got in the habit of doing this many years ago after watching a Victoria Hughes video on Mokume Gane.  She used a wide assortment of objects to press impressions into her clay - phillips screwdriver, adding machine paper core, plastic carpet protectors were some of her favorites.  I now have a couple of drawers full of fun texturing tools.  Look for thinks that will push the clay, not cut it.  Anything with too sharp an edge will cut, not push and distort.

The best texturing plates I ever found are the Cuttlebug Embossing folders.  They are stiff plastic folders designed to emboss paper.  The paper is put in the folder and it is run through the Cuttlebug embossing machine.  What is so cool about this product is that it simultaneously embosses the front and back of clay.  One side is positive and one side is negative.  I purchased some of my folders at Michael's crafts, scrapbooking stores and on-line.  Hobby Lobby and JoAnn Fabrics may carry them also.  I just dust with corn starch and put a sheet of clay inside.  Then I run a roller over the outside.  Because the clay is sandwiched inside it can't slip so I get a nice clean impression.

Oh yeah - don't forget to try impressions in clay with an inked stamp.  You will have to use a archival permanent ink pad.  Do not use Dye Ink pads.  These do not dry.  Be careful, the ink may not try until the piece is baked.    I don't remember if they dry before baking, it has been quite a while since I did anything with an inked pad. I will have to try that technique again.

Here are some jewelry examples the incorporate textures.

This bead is a simple rubber stamp impression with an inked stamp.  You get a nice dark impression.  I don't think you would get the same amount of detail if you just stamped without ink and used paint later to antique it.  Because I stamped on to a flattened oval bead I got an impression only on the top flat surface.   I like the effect of the flat edge all around the impression.

  This brooch's squares texture was made using a Cuttlebug Embossing Folder.  It incorporates both the positive and negative sides of the clay.  I will discuss the coloration techniques in a future posting.

  Another way of getting a raised texture on clay is with a stencil.  Even a paper stencil will work.  Lay the stencil on the clay and run over it with a brayer.  The clay will puff up through the openings.  If you are using a metal or plastic stencil you can increase the puffyness by pressing down on the metal surrounding the openings.   The spiral on the pendant to the left was made with a stencil.  While the clay was still covered with a stencil I highlighted the spiral with silver mica powder.

And don't forget the impressions of Mother Nature!!  If you are using leaves look for ones with nice thick veins and take the impression from the under side of the leaf. 

You can also press items (leaves, rubber stamps, etc) into a thick sheet of clay and use it as a mold to reverse the image. Use the mold to get the final impression for your project.  These earrings were made from a mold I created by impressing a Queen Anne's Lace flower.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Marjorie Oxman has just published a beautiful 2010 polymer clay calendar.  One of my brooches is included in the calendar. (Item #20, August)

Check it out:

Order now and save 25% until 10/11/09
Use coupon code FALLFOTO at checkout.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I had someone email me asking if I would consider doing an on-line class.  The person really liked some of my techniques.  Because my style is so "improve" I figured I could never do anything that structured.  However I don't mind sharing my techniques.  Feel free to use these techniques and make them your own.  I think of polymer clay as "Adult Playdough".  Play with the techniques and learn from your mistakes.  Some of my favorite discoveries were from mistakes.  I will do a blog post on some of those in the future.

How do I do 3-D collage jewelry, and get the pieces to stick together?

I work with both baked and unbaked pieces, and also incorporate other items into my collage brooches and pendants.  The pendant on the left was made from baked clay pieces plus a metal imitation coin.  (The techniques for creating the colors and textures will be explained in a future blog post.)  The brooch on the right was constructed with baked and non-clay elements on a base of unbaked clay.

  1. There is no need to use anything to adhere unbaked to unbaked clay.  It will stick to itself.  However you should use something to adhere baked to unbaked clay.  They will stick to each other, but I have found that the bond is not very strong and may not hold if exposed to any trauma.    Liquid clay is the best "glue" for adhering clay to itself - both baked to unbaked, and baked to baked.  I use Kato Clear Liquid Polyclay.  Fimo used to make a liquid clay.  I don't know if they still do.  It used to come in transparent, opaque white, opaque black and opaque gold.  That would work too.  I would not use Fimo Decorating Gel.  I know that it has a rubbery consistency .  I don't know how that would work as a glue.  I have never tried it.  I don't find the rubber consistency characteristic appealing.
  2. When gluing with liquid clay, don't use a lot.  It makes the pieces slippery so they the elements don't stay where you place them.  Also it oozes out the sides.  Kato clay dries shiny so it will show after baking were it oozed out and will need to coat of varnish to hide.  This could be a problem if you don't want to, or can't, coat the piece.  Some of my patina techniques can't handle a varnish coat.  So I am very careful about how I apply it.
  3. Kato Liquid Polyclay can also be used as a clear coat.  To get a good shine the piece needs to be heated with a heat gun immediately after pulling it from the oven.  I have only tried this a couple of time.  It does work, but you need to be careful so you don't get the piece too hot.  I think that causes it to bubble.  I also don't think it works after the piece has cooled.
  4. Gluing non-clay pieces to clay has caused me some problems.  For many years I used Zap-a-Gap, a gap filling cyanoacrylate glue (like Super Glue brand) to adhere elements to clay.  This was recommended by Victoria Hughes in her articles and videos.  Recently I have had problems.  I don't know if the glue has changed, or if I am asking too much of it for the gluing tasks I am now doing.  I have recently read that it isn't "impact resistant".  (I read that in an ad for a new type of Gorilla brand cyanoacrylate glue that says that brand is).  I will have to try it, because I have had some brass frames pop off when the jewelry piece was dropped.  Someone also told me that the glue goes bad after about 6 months.  That may be true.  I have had some problems with pin backs coming off.  I had been using the same bottle of glue for a while.
  5. I have switched to 2 part epoxy resin to glue on pinbacks.  It holds really well, but is messy to use.  Be careful not to get any glue on the pin mechanism.  Been there, done that!  The mechanism doesn't work well when glued shut.
  6. A lot of people use E6000 to glue on pinbacks.  I used to, but not anymore.  I used to store the pins I wore stuck into the side of a carboard box in my walk-in closet.  It got hot in there in the summer and over time the pinbacks slide as the glue softened. 
  7. I now use 2 part epoxy to glue non-clay elements to be collages, if the pieces are big enough, so that I can put the glue in the middle and not have it ooze out the sides.  I also sometimes use it to glue on my outer frames like in the pendant pictured above.  Because the glue will ooze out on an outer edge I can wipe it off before it dries.
  8. Another glue I have gone back to using for adhering tiny elements is G-S Hypo Cement. 
  9. My favorite source of polymer clay and related products is  I see that they now list a new type of Zap-a-Gap glue.  The description for Flex-Zap says "Use this CA glue where the bond needs to be flexible, such as for gluing buna cord into closure beads, or gluing layers of cured clay together."   Check out the webpage:  That page also lists a cyanoacrylate glue from Lisa Pavelka that says it is bakeable.  I have re-baked pieces that had Zap-a-Gap glued elements without any problem.  I will have to try some of these new glues.
  10. I have also been using G-S Hypo Cement to adhere the frames.  The tube had a very tiny nozzle, hence the name, that allows it to be put into tiny spaces.  It seems to work well.

  11. Because I don't really trust any glue and have had some problems with non-clay elements coming off that I have glued to the surface, I have started using both clay and glue to hold elements together.  You will notice copper textured clay in the center of the coin of the pendant above on the left.  This isn't mere decoration.  It actually overlaps the top of the coin and acts as a rivet.  The coin was glued on, the clay was added using liquid clay to adhere it to the baked base then re-baked.
  12. For the brooch above, on the right, I pushed the head pins and beads into the unbaked clay base then added elements on top to hold them in.  Again there is clay in the center of the brass square to act as a rivet that helps hold it in.
I hope you find this information helpful.  Please feel free to leave comments.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Art Jewelry Magazine's September 2009 e-newsletter featured one of my necklaces. Needless to say I am thrilled. It is an amazing magazine. Here is a photo of that part of the newsletter.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My polymer clay jewelry will be featured, and for sale, at Baltimore Clayworks "Adornment Adored" exhibition October 3, 2009 through November 6, 2009.
Baltimore Clayworks 5707 Smith Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21209
Jewelry pieces included in the exhibition:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Recently I was reading a posting on a polymer clay discussion group. The artist was grieving over the loss of her favorite finishing material. It was her method of getting rid of the dusty look on sanded polymer clay. For many years I used Carnuba wax to finish beads when I didn't want the high gloss finish achieved by buffing beads. A few years ago I discovered Renaissance micro crystalline wax polish. So I decided to partially wax a bead and photograph the result. The tiger striped bead was first sanded with 400, 800, then 1500 grit wet/dry sandpaper. I taped off one half then waxed the other half. Here is the result. The black/pink bead was sanded the same way then buffed. The wax gives a nice satin finish. It brought out the mica shift in the gold clay though not anywhere near as much as sanding/buffing the bead to a high shine. I also use it to finish unsanded beads. It doesn't provide as much shine as on a sanded bead. I use it just to protect the bead. I have never been fond of varnishing beads. I just can't get an even finish that way.
I purchased my Renaissance wax from:

Friday, April 10, 2009


I have been nominated for an award called the "Sisterhood Award." Given to me by NKdesigns It was given because she thinks my blog is creative and inspirational, and in return, I get to nominate women whose blogs inspire and encourage me. I have chosen: 1. Marcia Palmer 2. Organic Odysseys 3. Dharmadesigns 4. Pipsjewelry 5. Beadbunny 6. Beadazzled of Oregon

So go check out their blogs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I started my artistic life as a photographer decades ago and later fell in love with polymer clay. Now with the advent of high quality digital photography and wonderful image manipulation tools I have been having fun combining these two artistic passions.
The thread that runs through all my work, independant of the medium used, is a love abstract composition. I have been having a great time taking photographs of my polymer clay jewelry and using The Gimp software (an open source image manipulation program similar to Adobe) to create digital mosaics.
Here is a brooch I call Pod and Bone. It made some great digital mosaic photographs. This was my first successful digital mosaic created from my jewelry. I was still learning how to use the software so didn't use any special features of The Gimp software, except to made the layers transparent. I also added a border.
This variation is very similar to the first one. I just added a small section of the mirrored image and rotated it. Good composition works when viewed from various angles. Though there is usually one direction that is most pleasing.
For this variation I used less saturated colors, in addition to using transparencies. I liked how it changed the feeling of the photo.
Here is another successful digital mosaic. The brooch is called Circle of Endless Possibilities. I gave it that title because it looked good no matter which direction I turned it. Using it to make digital mosaics really creates endless possibilities.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


My first collaboration necklace with BeadazzledofOregon, which she calls Trifold, is now up for sale at her Etsy shop - Check it out and see additional photos of the necklace.


Dini Alves (Beaddazzled of Oregon) has created another wonderful necklace "Cleopatra was Here" using one of my polymer clay pieces - Eye of Horus. It is for sale in her shop at Check it out and see better photos. The eye of Horus is also called the Udjat and is the symbol of health, healing and completeness.