Square Benders

cane benders 348x1024 - Square BendersFirst of all my apologies … this post was supposed to go out Wednesday but it got hung up over here. So here’s a surprise weekend post for you!

Okay … so now that we have gotten through the bulk of the gift-buying days, it is time to treat ourselves and spend some of that Christmas money on our creative needs. Well, that is my thought anyhow. Although I could spend a day wandering around a big box store, I really prefer to buy from the little guys, from the people who really understand why we are so passionate about what we do.

The canes on this box were made using a “Cane Bender.” These are long acrylic rods, as you see in the center image, that you can use to quickly manipulate cane designs. I’m showing the square ones (called Square Benders, actually) but the original ones are round rods of varying diameters. The comments I read about these were mainly about how much time they save in reshaping simpler canes to create these complex kaleidoscope canes and other types of patterned canes. I rarely cane and I’m really intrigued!

These, along with other curious supplies are sold by Teresa Salgado and her partner Spike Malone through their Tiny Pandora Craft Boutique shop.

While you’re peeking in on the goodies over there, I’m going to go do some more poking around for other small shops and unique goodies!

Silkscreens for Days

ezscreen 430x262 - Silkscreens for Days

Here is another great company whose products you’ll want to check out. The silkscreens seen here are from a new partner of ours, EZScreen. This mother-daughter business has been working with silkscreens for years but recently they have been researching the needs of the polymer community and now offer a line of great silkscreen designs—dozens and dozens of them—ready for you to snatch up. But what is unique about them is that the pre-made screens are not their primary product.

The central product for these ladies is actually a DIY silkscreen kit that allows you to make silkscreens of your own design or, if you prefer, they will make the screens for you, from artwork you send to them. Cool right? Now, that is my kind of thing! There is nothing like having your own signature patterns to work with because you absolutely know no one else is going to be popping up with those same patterns on their work.

I have not yet gone through the process of ordering these custom-made stencils or trying their kit but I’ll be ordering some when I get home to California next week. You can get started by going to their web page here for their DIY kits or here for the custom-made stencil information or this page for pre-made designs.

If you get our newsletter, you may already have seen the discount available there but if you missed it, just punch “PA15” into the promo code box in your cart. Go have fun! Keep in mind, they have a customer gallery on their webpage and there’s no polymer work there yet. Let’s get some up there!


Outside Inspiration: Nifty Magnetics

Ever wish there was a way you could turn a single sale into a sale of two pieces? Wish you had a few pieces that were versatile and clever enough to draw the attention of the more skeptical buyers as they look over your booth? Well, when I saw these two beaded magnetic bracelets below, so easily turned into an interesting neck piece I couldn’t help but imagine all the configurations (and extra sales) a polymer jewelry artist could come up with.

Variations NP 600

These beaded beauties were created by Hildegund llkerl of Austria. I did wonder at what looks to be plastic ends on these very expensive pieces ($440). But they sold. On the other hand, just think of what beautiful covered connections a clayer could come up with?

The magnetic clasps are a pretty familiar finding now a days but I do wonder that more people haven’t considered how to use them to expand a piece. You could make beaded bracelets that fit together as a necklace, necklaces that can be adjusted to be different lengths by removing a magnetically attached section or make a short necklace with matching earrings that are magnetically attached to earring wires or post but could be pulled to grow the length of the necklace. Or make interchangeable sections of different colors or patterns for a necklace or bracelet. My mind is just whirling. Isn’t yours?

Spicing it Up

There is something about the colder weather that pushes me to use more and more spice in the kitchen. Unfortunately, I have some weird allergies including allergies to wonderful spices like cinnamon and allspice. Ugh! That makes this a horrible time of year in the states where these spices are everywhere. But if I can’t eat them, at least I can clay with them!
Spices can add colors, visual texture and even scent to your polymer! Here is a necklace by Sylvie Papillon that is all colored with spices and herbs.
If you haven’t tried adding spice, here is her chart with a number of spices and herbs kneaded into translucent clay–Curry, turmeric, paprika, cumin, mixed herbs, ginger, saffron and flower petals.


Expanding the Alcohol Ink Horizon

I am an avid user of alcohol inks. I love the range of subtle to bright watercolor textures you can add to polymer. I use both Pinata and Adriondacks just to have a wider range of color options. The problem with buying alchohol inks is that you are just guessing at the colors from what you seen in the bottles or packaging, which is not very helpful.

So I was rather excitedt to find this page all about alcohol inks on Kimberly Crick’s online craft store site.


The page has a great chart of all the Adriondack inks as well as samples of what the 3 pack color sets look like together.

The page also goes over adding alcohol inks to a variety of materials. There is a section for polymer clay that still needs to be filled out. But as usual, it would be fairly easy to adapt some of the techniques such as the ones listed for stamping and mixing inks into sealants.

And while you are on the site, you might want to explore her stamp, mold, jewelry supply and polymer clay offerings.



Real Texture, Texture Sheets

So Victoria James has decided to forgo the machined texture plates with stylized designs and repeating patterns to create texture sheets that are simply made from real things. Just straight off the tree, so to speak … and, well, literally too. Here are a couple samples of work done with these plates.


A real fern texture which, although the plate has but one fern on it, is pretty cool just because of the detail you can see in it.


The desert sandstone textures that the ends of the cuff bracelet were treated with remind me more of old wood bark. Again, it’s still a pretty nice texture.


To see Victoria’s selection of texture plates, head to her texture website here.


Texture Sticks

Polymer artists seem to be limitless consumers of texture. Stamps, texture sheets, a multitude of odds and ends, tools of all shapes, sizes and form can be regularly found over flowing bins and drawers and studio tables. So it was with some surprise to see a new term (for me!) … Texture Sticks.


Arlene Harrison, a fellow member of the wonderful Polymer Clay Artist’s Guild of Etsy, has apparently been making these texture sticks for a while and posted about them on her blog back in 2009. A timeless idea to be sure, I have seen other ‘sticks’ but with old metal buttons, bits of jewelry, and hardware on them. However, this is a wonderful and easy to assemble idea for creating easy to use, custom textures tools.

Check out Arlene’s original post here.

And check out yesterday’s post on stamping and using inks on polymer for more ways to play with stamps and texture on your clay!

Vote for Polymer Clay!

Recently The Crafts Report asked readers to help them chose the artwork for their upcoming October issue. And polymer has done quite well in this little competition. If you are not familiar with this magazine, you really should take a look at it, not only for business ideas but also for artistic inspiration. This comes out monthly, focusing on issues relevant to crafters of all types.


The Crafts Report has been particularly kind to polymer clay artists. With all the many different types of crafts out there, most of which are much more established than polymer, they still regularly feature polymer art on the cover. Even though we work in a newer art material, we do, actually, comprise a huge portion of the craft artist market. So, The Crafts Report does pay attention to polymer artists and keeps our art in the lime light. Thanks Crafts Report!

Today they resume a cover contest they are conducting on Facebook. It’s down to 4 pieces, and one of them being the beautiful polymer necklace here by Loretta Lam. If you are interested in helping polymer get yet another Crafts Report cover, find The Crafts Report on Facebook and toss in your vote!




Tinting Liquid Polymer Clay

There is more than one way to tint LPC! You can buy it already tinted with Kato Liquid PolyClay or you can make your own. If you make your own, you can use most any dye or paint that is NOT water-based. The most common colorant is oil paint but alcohol inks or mica powders are also used.


I also recommend cosmetic colorants … see the article in the Spring 2012 issue of The Polymer Arts magazine for cosmetic industry options for all kinds of materials. Each tint medium produces different results and requires slightly different approaches to use them successfully.


Luckily, our friends over at Craft Test Dummies did a lot of the experimenting for you. These ideas greatly expand your options if you haven’t tried them.

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