Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy surprises and scrap clay

I had a happy surprise this week. Lynda Mosley (aka DivaDesigns) had a article on her blogspot titled "Pay-it-Forward" which I participated in. As a result of that participation, I got this beautiful magnolia necklace and all I can say is WOW! The picture does not do it justice! The pendant features a pink magnolia transfer and has a glass-like finish. I'll be wearing my necklace to our guild meeting tomorrow – what a great Show and Tell! Thanks again to Lynda for a great gift and for the inspiration to add a "Pay-it-Forward" opportunity in my own blog.

Now for the scrap clay.......

I was catching up on some of my reading earlier this week and ran across a follow-up to one of Cindy Lietz's earlier emails. She had used alcohol inks on crackled gold leaf to create a pendant. The follow-up was about making matching post earrings from the "scrap" pieces. This got me to thinking about what I do with my "scrap" clay.
Blue Complex Cane
Last Sunday afternoon – as the rain poured down outside – I made a flower cane that was shades of blue to white with the individual petals wrapped in antique gold. This was the first cane I had made in a while and it was a bit wonky (technical term) but it will look great when it's reduced down MUCH smaller and was a great reminder of what not to do (grin)! It also left me with several end pieces that were just too pretty to toss in the "scrap" pile.
From the scraps earrings and pendant

After I set the cane aside to rest, I remembered an article in one of the recent PolymerCafe magazines about using fishing lures (spinners) as a backing. I also remembered that I had bought some to try this method with after reading the article. Since I had recently spent some time actually cleaning and "organizing" my studio, I was even able to find them! So, I took the end pieces of the petal canes and mashed them all into a muttled ball, then flattened it enough to run through the pasta machine on the thickest setting. Nice, but let's try it again. Fold, and run through again and some pretty cool patterns begin to appear. One more time, fold, run though and it's just right! I then followed the directions in the magazine (I'll look when I get home tonight and add the name of the designer – I believe in giving credit where credit is due.) Made earrings and a pendant. I used a texture plate to add the finishing touch. The spinners were made of stainless steel so they should hold up beautifully.

P.S. That organizing pays off again! I found the magazine with the article! It was the April 2009 edition of PolymerCafe and the article is "Catching Compliments" by Lela (Lee Ann) Armstrong. I just love the way she thinks outside the box!
From the scraps reel cover

Then, as I generally do when I'm working with a nice blend, I made a reel cover with matching beads for the badge-type scan card that I wear at work. We have to have them to get in every door in the offices so it's very necessary to have them handy, but the plain reel on a woven cord that we were given when we moved into the building was just too blah for me!

From the scraps
So from the end pieces of the petal canes, I made a pendant, matching earrings, a reel cover and matching beads. None of these projects takes very much clay but now I have a pendant and earrings I can wear anywhere or a Reel Jewelry set with matching earrings to wear to work! And all from scrap clay! Don't you just LOVE polymer clay???

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How do I get there from here?

I’m going to be a bit retrospective here today. This time last year I had just gotten back from my first exposure to polymer clay in a classroom setting. I was so jazzed! Not only had I learned a lot from the teachers and students on the Polymer Paradise Cruise, I had made new friends and we were getting ready for our first polymer clay guild meeting!

I have grown so much as a polymer clay artisan over the past year and I have to give credit where credit is due. First of all, I started looking around for a way to sell my designs. In my younger days I did weekend craft shows with a wide range of items that I had painted. I knew I wasn’t really interested in going that route again, so as my brother likes to say, I decided to work smarter, not harder. I discovered Etsy and set up my shop, Harrison Hollow Designs. Then while researching about how to start a guild from scratch, I discovered PCAGOE, the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy. What a treasure trove of talented and sharing people! I have my friends at my local guild – the Central Mississippi Polymer Clay Guild – and my friends at my online guild! What more could a growing artist ask for!


Isn’t it great when you find yourself in the midst of artisans who jump right in there when you have a question and who share their tips and techniques? One of the polymer clay artists online who has been a great inspiration to me is Iris Mishly. As I mentioned earlier in this blog, my first love is caning and one of my first google searches took me to Iris’s Esty shop ( I just love the way she combines canes in her designs. Iris also has a fantastic blog that is now one of my favorites (

I can't talk about caning without throwing out a great big thank you to Lynn Anne Schwarzenberg ( I made some pretty pitiful canes before I had my first class with Lynn Anne. When I took the class with her on the cruise, I finally got it! I’ve still got a very long way to go but I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher!

A newer inspiration for me has been Toni Ransfield who recently joined PCAGOE. Toni’s flower canes ( are absolutely gorgeous! Another great caner is Angela Hickey of Polymer Clay Creations ( I love the many different uses of canes Angela demonstrates in her Etsy store. Talk about eye candy!

With so many other techniques to learn and play with, I've gotten away from caning recently. But I've gotten back into the groove and will post some of my new canes in the next post.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Never say never!

I've done a lot of crazy things over the years, including serving as an officer in various organizations. As I've gotten older I've made a conscious decision to NEVER serve as an officer of anything ever again! (I know, somebody has to do it, but I've served my time, right?) So what do I do? Get elected to be the first Secretary/Webmaster! Yes, that's me in the middle in black and white (I didn't get the "wear red" memo!) So never say never! You just never know where your creative passion will take you. And the bonus is that I've made new friends and I'm having a blast!

You know, while we were onboard, everybody kept telling us to form our own guild! Sounded like a great idea, right? But now we're off the ship, back at home in our own individual environments, with our own lives, problems and commitments to take care of. But the passion to create is strong and the "core group" from the cruise move forward.

Everybody was instrumental in keeping things on track, but I've got to send out a special "Thank You" for all the hard work and encouragement to the lady who is now serving as our first President, Joyce King. She did a lot of the "behind the scenes" stuff and kept us focused.

We had a great installation meeting in December 2008. Joyce is pictured accepting the official CMSPCG gavel covered with clay and crystals by Lisa Pavelka! Christi Friesen made one of her unique pendants for each of the non-officer members. Julie Picarello made custom pendants for each of the officers and Judy Belcher installed the officers - via cell phone! We had a great time and were thrilled to have these fabulous polymer clay artists participate in this event. Thanks to Jennifer Griffin for all her hard work in pulling together the best installation meeting anybody could ask for!

I'm delighted note that our June 2009 meeting will celebrate the anniversary of the first meeting of the Central Mississippi Polymer Clay Guild. I won't go into a lot of detail about the trials and tribulations of setting up a new guild but I do want to emphasize just how much I've grown as a polymer clay artist by being a part of this group. I see similar growth in some of our other memers, too, including at least one member who took a polymer clay class at a local bead store and was hooked! We now have a paid membership of just over 20 and usually have at least 10 to 12 members at every meeting.

Now, what does that have to do with my journey?


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paradise - here I come!

OK I've determined that I really need some up close and personal help! Where do I go to find that help? I don't know a soul who works with polymer clay other than the people I've seen on the Carol Duval Show! I start searching around the internet again (got to love Google!) and find the National Polymer Clay Guild. I check for a Mississippi guild. Yea, there is one. I email the contact listed only to be told that the guild is inactive. Well, that was discouraging….

But I'm still infected with the bug, so what do I do now? I start talking with friends, co-workers, anybody I run into about my new creative outlet and find that one of my friends has a friend in one of her stamping groups who also works with polymer clay! She invites me to go to the next stamping meeting as her guest and introduces me to Jennifer. Through Jennifer, I meet Joyce and sign up for Christi Friesen's Yahoo group. Through a post on Christi's group, I find out about the Polymer Paradise Cruise set to sail from New Orleans in April, 2008, and sign up. I later find out that Jennifer and Joyce signed up too. Hurrah! On departure day, the three of us head for New Orleans for an adventure that would change our lives!

Imagine, if you can, four days, five nights at sea with a bunch of crazy clay ladies and a gentleman or two – all with a passion for polymer clay! Imagine classes with Lisa Pavelka, Christi Friesen, Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg and Desiree McCrory. Imagine "in port" days with anybody who did not go on shore excursions being invited to "play" in the workroom where one of the instructors would be overseeing everything and doing demos. What an opportunity! I learned as much or more on the "in port" days as I did in class! Plus I won the little metal lunchbox that Lisa decorated and used for the tickets for all the door prizes! How cool is that?

We kept hearing all the other people in our classes and at gatherings talk about how much they learn and all the fun things they do in their guilds. But we don't have a guild, we say… Start your own, they say. But there's only three of us. We don't know anybody else in our area that works with polymer clay.

Then on the last day of classes, we hear somebody mention those crazy ladies from Mississippi. Now we KNOW they can't be talking about us so who else on the cruise is from Mississippi? Low and behold, right there with us the whole time -- actually in our class group – were Annette and Myra -- both from Mississippi and within easy driving distance! We meet, we talk, we decide to check into either reactivating the old guild or starting a new one. We figure even if it is only the five of us meeting periodically to play with clay and learn from each other, it will be a good thing.

But can we make it happen?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pay it Forward - what a grand idea!

A fellow Polymer Clay Guild of Etsy member turned me on to this idea and I think it is just a wonderful way to share!

Creative people are adventurous! So, if you would like to participate, please send me a comment and the first five people will receive something from me in the mail.

Here are the rules, and happy posting! This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. This is an adventure!

2. What I create will be just for you with love and good wishes. It will be made of actual materials, not of cyberspace.

3. It will be done this year (2009).

4. I will not give you any clue what it’s going to be!

5. In return, all you need to do is cut and paste this text on your Blog (from "Creative People are...") and create Five things for the first 5 people to respond to your post.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

10 things my first cane taught me

The initial part of my journey was a bit bumpy to say the least. After roaming all over the internet looking for a good starting point, what caught my attention? A simple sculpture project? A stamped project? No, of course not! What caught my attention immediately was canes!!! I wanted to make a cane… but not just any cane, it had to be a flower cane. And, of course, my collection of red, green and white was limiting, so off to Hobby Lobby I go.

Having never been to the store in search of polymer clay, it was a bit of an adventure. I bought my first book "Polymer Clay Extravaganza" by Lisa Pavelka and enough clay to do one of the projects in the book - a covered pen and pen holder. I would post a picture of it but I'm not sure where I buried it!!! I know it's in one of these drawers somewhere…..but to say that it was rough is an understatement!

What I did learn from that first attempt was the basics of building a cane. In the process of making that first cane,

(1) I learned how to condition my clay by running it though the pasta machine over and over again. Now I know that I need to condition until the clay will fold in half without splitting but back then I just winged it! I also know now that if the clay is relative soft, I can slice a 2 oz block in about three even pieces across and I don't have to condition by hand before I put it through the pasta machine's thickest setting.

(2) I learned that a long log of clay is called a "snake" and that if your snake isn't the same size all the way from one end to the other, you end up with some pretty "wonky" flower petals!

(3) I learned that it is much easier to make a BIG flower cane and reduce it, than to try making a smaller one. The moral to this story is don't reduce your petal snake too small before you stop to cut the individual petal pieces. I now know that I prefer my petal pieces to be at least one-half inch across.

(4) I learned that it is a lot easier to wrap one long snake of clay with another color than it is to wrap each petal piece separately.

(5) I learned that you need to think about your flower center BEFORE you make all of your petals.

(6) I learned that you need to take your time in lining up the petals around the flower center and that sometimes you have to make the center bigger or smaller to make it work. This caused me some major frustration while making my first cane because after I got फाइव petals all spaced around the center, I still had a lot of extra space! Took me a while to figure that one out!

(7) I learned that "packing" a cane is just as important as building one! It's not just filling in the open spaces…. it's filling in the open spaces in such a way that your flower won't distort when you reduce it and you don't leave air pockets to cause problems later. The packing on that first flower cane left a lot to be desired!

(8) I learned that patience is very important in cane building.

(9) I learned that a cane slices much nicer if you let it "rest" overnight… back to that patience thing!!!

(10) I learned that to be a really good caner, I needed some up close and personal lessons with somebody who really knows what they are doing.

So……… how did I get those up close and personal lessons? Check back….

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The journey begins....

I want the primary purpose of this blog to be a place where I can share my love of anything polymer clay with anybody who is interested enough to come along for the journey.

I've been a decorative artist for a lot of years – to many to count – and even turned my nose up when my mother and sister-in-law opened a ceramics shop. Hey, they said, you like to paint, why don't you come paint with us? Did I, oh no…. Would I give my right arm now to have the opportunity to do it over again? Oh yes! My mother still teases me about what I missed!

Yes, I was one of THOSE people who thought that painting inside the lines was a royal pain! Give me my freedom, let me create. Ceramics were just so limiting…

Fast forward to two years ago… I'm burned out on painting.. yes, it can actually happen! Yet I needed that creative outlet to keep me sane. I was in Hobby Lobby checking out their after Christmas sale and picked up some packages of Sculpey III in holiday colors. I had watched the polymer clay artists on tv and figured this can't be too difficult to master. After all, I was an artist, right??? WRONG!

Well, actually right and wrong… Right in that polymer clay is easy to use and fun to create with. Wrong in that I could master it… I've come a long way in two years but the main thing that I've learned is that this art medium is so versatile and so challenging that I could spend the next 20 years working with polymer clay without becoming bored with it or mastering all the possibilities. I'll be sharing more of my journey here – maybe not daily – but frequently. Come join my as I learn and clay and play.