22 December 2014

An Inspiring Rumble from the Polyclay Jungle

Photo credit: Aniko Kolesnikova
Over the past months, we've watched as our dear Aniko transforms from a polymer clay caterpillar into a lovely and talented butterfly. We've seen her spread her wings and fly off to one artistic adven-ture after another. Now, she has found a new level of magnificence in her latest journal, Indian Elephant. This is an amazing example of skill and talent in both carving and design.

You can behold the intricacies in close-up photos on Aniko's Flickr page. 

11 December 2014

Pantone 2015 Color of the Year

It's not immediately apparent why Pantone would choose Marsala as Color-of-the-Year for 2015. It fits well with a Fall color palette, but I'm not sure I would want to wear it to a Spring soireé. Yet, when placed against the other color choices for Spring, Marsala offers a nice counterpoint to the usual pastel spectrum. 

With clay companies placing more attention on out-of-the-package colors, we are enjoying a period where creativity becomes easier because we are spending less time mixing our own clay colors. The Sculpey Soufflé palette is a good example of ready-to-use color. 

There will always be die hard artists who are known for their signature color lines. Those of us who wing it, are lucky to have color trends available to guide us in mixing fashion forward palettes. And, as manufacturers continue to develop more and better clay colors, we have it pretty good these days.

Do color trends influence your designs? Where do you get your color inspiration? If you sell your artwork, do customers ever ask for colors that are part of the Pantone seasonal palette or other fashion color trends?

08 December 2014

Something's Fishy

A previous edition of the Daily Mail Online features the unusual food art of Tama-chan (aka illustrator Takayo Chioyta), seasoned itamae, or traditional Japanese chef. Tama-chan combines food dye, soy sauce, and green wasabi with traditional seaweed, rice and other ingredients like raw fish, ginger, and vegetables to make makizushi or rolled sushi creations.

It may seem odd that a sushi artist is featured on the pcPolyzine blog,  but when you learn the special technique Tama-chan uses it will all make sense. You see, Tama-chan arranges the sushi fixings onto a bamboo mat and visualizes what they will look like when rolled up and sliced  to show the cross-section design. Does that sound familiar? Of course, Tama-chan is creating millefiori sushi designs just like we make with polymer clay!! How inspirational is that? And she specializes in modern versions of art classics.

The article and accompanying rice art caught my eye as I scrolled through the Facebook page of Nancy Ulrich. Nancy found Tama-chan way back in March 2014, and I thought it would be a good idea to give the post a little boost.

"It's always a special moment when I make the first incision to reveal an image," says Tama-chan. Yes, Tama-chan, we know.

What do you think? Does playing with your food inspire your clay art? 

13 November 2014

09 November 2014

In Memory of Marty Partlow Woosley November 8, 2014

Clay Conditioning Day at pcPolyzine World Headquarters

Image 1
When I am not feeling particularly inspired, it's a good day to do prep work. There is always clay waiting to be conditioned, so I started early. I got my mighty NEVERknead clay kneading machine to do the heavy lifting of making conditioning faster and easier (see Image 1). 

Image 2

Of course, sometimes you have to bring in a professional if you want things done correctly. I am fortunate to have Mr. Endeavour Morse (named after the famous British detective) who is always on the job (see Image 2).

Morse was skeptical about the lump of dry-ish, hard-ish fuschia clay I placed on the NEVERknead™ (see Image 3), 

       Image 3

but he persevered and after giving the situation a good once-over, he got right to work (see Image 4). 
When he finished his part, I gave the clay a few passes through the pasta machine.

The result? (See Image 5).

Image 5
 Morse and I had so much fun together, we're thinking of starting a guild. :))

31 October 2014

Happy Halloween from everyone at pcPolyzine.com!!
We searched the Tutorial Archives and found 9 projects to make last minute trick-or-treat projects. As always, thanks to the many artists who contributed their ideas.
It wouldn't be Halloween around pcPolyzine world headquarters without a special shout out to Kim Kennedy, our official Pumpkin Princess, and a moment of remembrance for the fabulous Thomas Ojeda.

Here are the projects in no particular order:
Halloween Candlestick
by Kim Kennedy
Halloween Picture Frame
by Sarah Harrington Lajoie
Haunted House Tabletop
by Kim Kennedy and Thomas Ojeda
Glow In The Dark Ghosts
by Thomas Ojeda
Jack O'Lantern Votive
by Thomas Ojeda
Scrapbooking with Polymer Clay: Pumpkin Patch Trip

Halloween Bat Mask Tutorial Video
by Aniko Kolesnikova

19 October 2014

How to Identify Images With Google Images

Do you visit websites that are tutorial havens? We all migrate to sites at some point where the images are culled from a general tutorial search and the author receives no credit or mention. Pinterest is a good example of a site filled with polyclay images where Pinners just Pin and do not credit. Here is how I try to find the image owner. You might do it differently, but for those who have never done it, here is a step-by-step explanation of my method.

Photo Credit: Kael Mijoy

We will use an image from a link farm called familyholiday.net that was mentioned in a Facebook post by Ginger Davis Allman. The website states the source as Pinterest and publishes a disclaimer about the images being considered in the Public Domain, blah, blah, blah.

We already know this image belongs to Kael Mijoy, but play along as if we don't.

OK, here we go.

1. PC Users: If the site allows the right-click saving option, right-click, select Save Image As and save the image to your computer. For sites that disable right-click saving, I use the Snipping Tool in Windows 7. I have it pinned to my Taskbar for easy access. Use the snipping tool to snip the image.

Save it on your computer.

Mac Users: I do not have a clue. You are on your own. :))

2. Go to Google Search and click on the word Images in the upper right-hand corner or at the top of the search page.

3. Click on the camera icon in the Google Search bar.

4. Select Upload an Image.

5. Select Choose File.

6. The screen will display the menu on your computer where you will select the image from the menu where you saved it. Select the image.

7. At this point, Google will begin doing its magic and soon you will see a selection of images that Google considers similar to your image based on an algorithm and such.

8. Is your image there? If not, add a few descriptive words in the search bar. Our image is showcased as the first selection. We can now follow the link where we will see Kael's ArtFire page. Her images are clearly identified.

9. Sometimes it takes more than one try to find an image on Google. Remember, you are looking for one image and Google is searching through millions of images. My experience has been positive. I've found most of the images I was searching for.

10. At this point, you can tag the image yourself on Pinterest with the artist's name and link to their website, blog, or Facebook page. A second step would be to contact the artist and let them know their images are being posted without credit.


Aggregate (composite) sites display a specific type of information from multiple online sources. Aggregators earn ad revenue from website traffic through various streams. You might see ads in a column such as those in the right-hand column of this blog. We earn a small amount of money every three months or so from the number of visitors we have, what they click on, and how long they stay on the site. Those pesky double-underlined words that flash an ad when your cursor skims over them? Those are text ads. The revenue is small, but it can add up.

We are not aggressive with our ad program. Many site owners depend on revenue from their ads. It is not unusual for aggregators to own multiple sites. I personally own 43 domain names that I will use for an upcoming project. I could have created aggregate sites for each of those domains and collected revenue from web traffic. I could easily search the Internet and create curated sites that are collections of other people's images. I would get paid whether I identify the artists or not. Yuck.

When your images appear on the Internet without credit or without your knowledge, someone else is benefitting

Special thanks to Kael Mijoy and Ginger Davis Allman.

17 October 2014

The Tsunami Cane From the pcPolyzine Archives

Photo Credit: Elissa Powell; pcPolyzine.com.

Today we feature the Tsunami Cane created by 
Elissa Marlaine Powell that appeared in pcPolyzine March 2001. Still original. Still free.  http://www.pcpolyzine.com/march2001/tsunami.html

04 October 2014

One-half Ton of Inspiration

What keeps you from wanting to clay all day every day? For many people, it's knowing how tiresome and painful the act of conditioning polymer clay can be. Arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and the effects of aging can rob the best of us of the enthusiasm of claying day and night. Even healthy, able-bodied clayers complain of the drudge of trying to condition clay that is not at its optimal smooshiness. 

NEVERknead, white version
California visual artist Debra Ann Jaffe is one of those people who cringe at the thought of kneading polymer clay to make her unique, movable art mobiles at Atomic Mobiles. She processes a lot of clay and suffered a lot of pain to the point of agony. Unable to find a solution that would allow her to continue claying pain-free, this clever, industrious lady invented NEVERknead, a mechanical device that kneads clay rapidly, efficiently, and without the excruciating pain caused by hand-kneading.

NEVERknead employs one-half ton of pressure to easily and painlessly condition almost any block of polymer clay. How do I know this? I read it on Deb's website AND I tried a NEVERknead myself*. Wow!! I will never knead clay by hand again. The difference between hand-conditioning polymer clay and conditioning clay with NEVERknead can easily be compared to how it felt using the old-style plunger extruders versus the spiffy, newer versions that make extruding a pleasure. It's that dramatic.

Once I saw how easy and painless it is to condition my clay with NEVERknead, I wanted to open and condition every pack of clay I own. I was obsessed and in awe of this magical device. Just as Deb describes on her website, the clay was fully conditioned in a matter of minutes. I would venture to say my clay was better conditioned than when I do it myself by hand OR with my clay machine, even with the motor attached. Not only does NEVERknead condition clay, it also makes color mixing faster and easier and puts an end to dealing with old, crumbled clay that has seen better days. 

It became quickly obvious to me that Deb invented a machine that is by a clayer for clayers. It is 100% relevant to what we do every day as artists and crafters AND it solves the problem of painful, tiring clay conditioning.

NEVERknead in 8 colors, plus white (shown in the large photo above).

NEVERknead comes in 8 colors with a lifetime warranty and 90-day risk free guarantee. AND, if you purchase through PayPal, you can pay for it in installments. What a deal!!

Check out all the details at http://neverknead.com and watch the informative and instructional videos Deb created to see more about how NEVERknead can change your claying life forever. As Deb says, "Make Art, Not Pain."
* In compliance with FTC Rules of Disclosure, I am informing you that Deb sent me a model of NEVERknead for the purpose of this product review. I almost always give away products I receive for review. I love NEVERknead so much that I am keeping it. I am trading ad space in pcPolyzine and on our blog equal to or greater than the retail price of NEVERknead plus shipping. 

01 October 2014

It's hard to admit it, but somehow I missed National Play-Doh Day. September 16th came and went, and so did the chance for a big Play-Doh celebration. Still, I cannot just let it go by without some sort of salute to the product that got most of us started on our way to polymer claying. So, here is my small, but respectful homage to a special day that is already marked on my calendar for 2015.

The theme for NP-DD 2014 was cinematic. James Gunn, director of Guardians of Galaxy, appeared on the Today show, September 16th, where he talked about rewarding his actors, throughout the film shoot, by handing out 40 canisters of Play-Doh in total.

Here is a link to some of the creations that showcase a few of everyone's favorite teen movies: https://www.yahoo.com/movies/5-unforgettable-teen-movie-moments-in-play-doh-97653417232.html

And at this link, http://www.toyhalloffame.org/toys/play-doh, you can read about Play-Doh's 1998 induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

29 September 2014

Inspiration from U.S. World War II

Polymer clay and world wars are not something I usually think about together, but that changed as I was cruising an online auction. The listing was for a WWII military uniform. The highlight photo (shown top left) tag said "patch unknown." 

My first thought was how it resembled a scout patch I had earned as a youth; my second thought was that it would make a good cane design. 

So, I went to work researching the patch. It took just minutes to learn that it belonged to the 7th Army who were the first to see combat in World War II. It was activated at sea when the 1st  Armored Corps, under the command of Lt. General George Patton, was redesignated on July 10th, 1943. The shoulder patch for the Seventh Army was approved on June 23, 1943. The letter "A" (for "Army") is formed by seven steps indicating the numerical designation of the unit. The colors suggest the three basic combat branches which make up a field army - blue for Infantry, red for Artillery, and yellow for Armor (Cavalry). Veterans of the Seventh Army wore a tab reading "Seven Steps to Hell" under the patch, but this tab was never officially authorized.

Next, I played around with the design to come up with the cane I envisioned (shown top right). The steps are shown in the five-part chart above. Step 1: Find a good copy of the patch online. Copy and save it. Step 2: Flip the image to make a mirror of the patch. Step 3: Crop both images to eliminate any white space between them. Step 4: Look at the combined image and dream of the cane it will make. Step 5: Rotate the image to observe the design possibilities.

Fortunately, as my research informed me, military patches of this sort, though approved by the U. S. Army, are considered non-official and can be copied with no rights violated.

Thank you to all the brave men and women who served not only in the second world war, but in all the conflicts that threaten our security. Thank you for keeping us safe. You inspire us in ways you might never know.
* Most  of the information in the third paragraph is culled from Wikipedia (primarily), and several miscellaneous websites featuring military patches.

23 September 2014

Swarovski Crystal-Encrusted Mercedes: Bling On Steroids

Daria Radionova needs no outside inspiration when driving around London in this Swarovski crystal-encrusted Mercedes CLS 350. The 21-year-old Russian business student bedazzled her ride in more than one million crystals. Radionova says the job took workers "two months of 12-hour days" to complete. 

A close-up of the Mercedes-Benz insignia shows detail of a small portion of the trunk. Does this inspire you to add bling to your polymer clay projects? (Read the original story at http://tinyurl.com/l32usas).

Photo Credits: Alex Penfold, SWNS.com

26 August 2014

Talavera Tiles - The Sequel

Yellow Peacock Feathers Mexican tile. MexicanTiles.com
This lovely Yellow Peacock Feathers Mexican tile appeared on Facebook yesterday courtesy of the uber talented Jill Palumbo. The colors and pattern lend themselves to polymer clay caning.

As an experiment, I cropped and combined the image to get a better look at the possibilities. Eventually, I went to the MexicanTiles.com website and was pleasantly surprised to see the tile already placed together in several configurations, much like the ones I made myself. (See Figures 2 and 3 below).

Figure 2
                Figure 3

I imagine a border around the basic tile before it is combined to emphasize one of the colors in the "eye." My next step was a trip to Sherwin Williams to use the ChipIt! tool. Here is the palette I created:
Since I am not the smartest cookie in the color-mixing jar, I will refer to my color recipe ebooks from Crafts By Chris.

With the vast number of color recipes available in Chris's collection, there is sure to be a match for each of the colors in my palette.

At some point soon, I will mix up a batch of each color and attempt to construct a cane and turn it into a cane sheet.

Stay tuned!!

Photo credits: Yellow Peacock Feathers Mexican tile by MexicanTiles.com. (c)Tierra Y Fuego.

04 July 2014

A Great Reason to Celebrate

Independence Day blog art by Third Shift Media. Copyright 2014.
You probably know that Thomas Jefferson was a founding father of the United States, principal author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, third American president, and minister to France in the late 1780s.

But did you know that Jefferson made his most valuable contribution to the world when he returned to the U.S. from France in 1789?

It seems that while in Europe, Jefferson developed quite a gourmet palette. He was so enamored with pasta noodles, that he brought the first "Maccaroni" maker back with him to America. He didn't invent the commercial production of pasta -- that credit goes to a Frenchman from Brooklyn, New York -- but he did, in fact, submit a Patent Application for a pasta maker of his own design. Below is a reprint of the patent art including his submission notes. I've transcribed the notes for easier reading. I had to smile at his description of the extruder plates. He was a genius!! 

Today, July 4th, while Americans celebrate the birth of the country for which Jefferson is a fundamental figure, his contribution of a "Maccaroni" machine, is cause for polyclayers to celebrate all over the world. I suggest a moment of silence or quiet gesture of thanks for a man whose good taste continues to make life better for all of us.

Alphabetical letters are guides to drawing. See full-size image and credits:
The best Maccaroni in Italy is made with a particular sort of flour called Semola, in Naples: but in almost every shop a different sort of flour is commonly used; for, provided the flour be of a good quality, not ground extremely fine, it will always do very well. A paste is made with flour, water and less yeast than is used for making bread. This paste is then put, by little at a time, vir. about 5 or 6th each time into a round iron box ABC. The under part of which is perforated with holes, through which the paste when pressed by the screw DEF, comes out, and forms the Maccaroni g.g.g. which, when sufficiently  long, are cut & spread to dry. The screw is turned by a lever inserted into the hole K, of which there are 4 or 6, it is evident that on turning the screw one way, the cylindrical part E which fits the iron box or mortar perfectly well, must press upon the paste and must force it out of the holes. ILM is a long wooden frame, properly fastened to the wall, floor & ceiling of the room. N.O. is a figure, on a larger scale, of some of the holes in the iron plate, where all the black is solid, and the rest open. The real plate has a great many holes, and is screwed to the box or mortar: or rather there is a set of plates which may be changed at will, with holes of different shapes & sizes for the different sorts of Maccaroni.

26 June 2014

Inspiration of the Creepy-Crawly Kind

Dactylotum bicolor-New Mexico Grasshopper
Entomology (from Greek ἔντομοςentomos, "that which is cut in pieces or engraved/ segmented", hence "insect"; and -λογία-logia) is the scientific study of insects. Polyclay-ology ("that which is cut in pieces or engraved/ segmented, molded, formed, sculpted, carved, shaped," hence "enjoyable"; and - activity) the enjoyment of working with a pliable modeling substance to create shapes of infinite variety.
          ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·
Bugs and polymer clay. It doesn't get much better than that. If you are not inherently gifted at making polymer clay insects such as those by Joyce Fritz Studio, let us suggest you take inspiration from nature's studio. Perhaps New Mexico Grasshoppers (pictured) will spark your creative entomological mojo to combine a colorful palette into something that bugs you...in a good way.

Note: Images from Joyce Fritz Studio are copyright protected and are not available for blog posting. Please be sure to visit Joyce Fritz Studio to see her remarkable "Yipes!" collection of polymer clay insects. Select the "Process" link on her website for insight into her method of manipulating clay that is not unlike that of most polyclayers. She brings the art to a new level.

P.S. Entomology definition officially from Merriam-Webster online. Polyclay-ology definition, not so much.

30 May 2014

Tile Inspiration

If you are like me, when you look at these Mexican Talavera tiles, you see patterns for polymer clay canes.

While daunting because of the intricacy of the patterns, I find these tiles intriguing and would like to create similar patterns in polymer clay. Are you intrigued, too?

Send us photos of your experiments. We would love to see your work. 
Photo creditMexican-Tile.net

21 May 2014

The Body as Canvas

While it is not suggested to cover your body (or anyone else's) with polymer clay, it would be difficult not to see the possibilities inspired by the Body Painting of Trina Merry. The color palette is evocative of flower canes by our own Marcia Tzigelnik, of Israel, trading on Etsy as marsdesign; and Ivy Niles of Omaha, Nebraska, known on Etsy as ikandiclay.

Body Art by Trina Merry. Polymer clay canes by Ivy Niles on Etsy as ikandiclay.
Body Art by Trina Merry. Polymer clay canes by Marcia Tzigelnik on Etsy as marsdesign.

(Photos are the property of their individual owners. No copyright infringement is intended.)

10 May 2014

Really Easy DIY Color Matching System

Every day in my Inbox there is a lovely (and convenient) array of color chips from DesignSeeds.com. But what if I, say, want to make a special polymer clay gift for my sister to match her Laura Ashley Bramble comforter and bed linens? Ask Sherwin-Williams!! Their online "ChipIt" color matching tool lets me turn any image into a vibrant color palette. There are two palette options available for each image accessed by just pressing a button and I can re-order the ten color chips it gives me to create a truly personalized palette. Let me show you how it works.

First, I went to the Sherwin-Williams website http://letschipit.com. I watched the demo - and you should, too. There is a neat trick. Next, I scanned a Bramble pillow sham. Then, I followed the directions to upload the image, clicked on one button, and voila there was my beautiful color palette. Just by clicking the "Edit Colors" tab, five more selections popped up. I added them to the image below to show you, even though when you do it yourself, it will look slightly different because of how I save files on my computer.

OK, so it worked on a piece of scanned fabric. What about a regular photo? I tried it on one of the images Aniko sent from Malta. Same results. Perfect. Look!!

Is this cool or what? Now, aren't you glad it's the weekend so you can go and play?

(Bramble by Laura Ashley. Blue Lagoon by Aniko Kolesnikova)

05 May 2014

Announcing Sculpey Soufflé

It's always exciting to announce new products and today it's Sculpey Soufflé from Polyform. This innovative new clay is reportedly lightweight with a beautiful suede finish when baked. According to Polyform, Sculpey Soufflé has the strength and ability to hold detail making it perfect for advanced techniques like Mokume Gane, bargello, and caning. The clay is strong and self supporting. This means you can make larger pieces without worrying about cracking. Sculpey Soufflé comes in 22 colors that are right on trend for all the jewelry and home décor projects you can imagine. Here is a handy color chart. Click on the image for a larger size.

Photo Credit: Polyform Products revised by pcPolyzine.com

03 May 2014

Happy Belated National Scrapbooking Day!!

Scrapbooking Elements by Patti Stoll
Photo Credit: Patti Stoll published July 2005 in pcPolyzine.com
Scrapbooking and polymer clay is a match made in craft heaven. Polymer clay's versatility allows us to make our own scrapbook elements to enhance the pages we create. We can achieve just the right colors and elements to match our photos and memories, giving us an unlimited range of creativity at a cost that doesn't break our crafting banks.

So, in honor of National Scrapbooking Day (May 3rd) I searched the pcPolyzine Archives for an article to celebrate. In addition to our resident Queen of Scrapbooking, Linda Hess, whose creative pages have appeared in past posts, this week we feature Embellishment's by Patti (Kutz Stoll) from July 2005. Although Patti's business has moved into a different phase and she no longer offers customized handmade scrapbooking elements, her approach provides enormous inspiration and highlights what we can do to make our own scrapbooks (and handmade cards, collages, and altered books) truly one of a kind. Patti customized scrapbook elements that included color-coordinated theme kits and sometimes used materials collected from famous places - red dirt from Sedona, Arizona, for example mixed into translucent clay - to add a natural element with imitative techniques, carving, and antiquing.

We hope reading about Patti's former business venture will inspire you to draw on your own polymer clay abilities to create distinctive scrapbook elements that demonstrate your personal polymer style.

26 April 2014

Cosmic Inspiration

Photo Credit: Renzo Pastorelli
Modern visual artist Renzo Pastorelli says his visions of universal geometrical shapes show "historical evolution between civilizations and the beginning of the Cosmos." A native of Lima, Peru, Pastorelli's style could be created in polymer clay as well as the materials he uses in his relief paintings. His inspiration is enhanced by the power of crystals and the spiritual practice of Reiki. An accomplished website designer, Pastorelli exhibits his art through the Creative South America Network, an initiative of PUMACreative.

18 April 2014

Spring Bling

Photo credit: Helen Hughes on pcPolyzine.com June 2001.
These adorable birdhouse earrings by Helen Hughes appeared in the June 2001 issue of pcPolyzine.com. The design is timeless and perfect for an easy project to brighten any Spring day. Slip a pair into a plastic egg and tuck in an Easter basket. Or add to a card in a Passover gift basket. But don't wait for a holiday to make a pair for yourself. Happy Spring!!

29 March 2014

Breathtaking Inspiration From Nature

Photo credit: LaBioGuía
This beauty deserves to be immortalized in polymer clay. It is called a bog-star

According to the USDA website (and Wikipedia), it is officially the genus Parnassia, also known as Grass of Parnassus. The plants are in the family Celastraceae.

The image is from a post on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LaBioGuía. Click on it to get the most detail if you plan to make a cane.

Nature's inspiration is bountiful.