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Current Rants and Recent Rambles

Review Index

For all those who are new to polymer clay: a reply to Emma.


Relevant Rambles to the NEW

Beginners start at the beginning

The beginning is a delicate time

How do I design a project?

Mini Clay FAQ

To explain the quarter jar

02-11-08 - Edited and updated


Welcome to the list and I'm NoraJean, often referred to as NJ, and
that link there is a collection of writings we call "rambles". Over a
period of three years I saved those rambles that your ClayMates here
felt were helpful in their process of learning how to get a grip on
their clay.

The first one I hope all Newbies here will read is this
ClayArt/Beginnerish.htm There are no questions too "beginnerish".

There's times when beginners feel left out of the information loop.
Where what is being discussed on lists just go right past them and
seem so complicated and esoteric. I'm probably the worst offender
because I make up terms that can't be found in the "usual" polymer clay glossaries.

I use the word "cure" and not "bake" for heat setting polymer clay.
Because there's more than one way to heat set clay.

In the oven
with a heat gun
boiling in water
setting on a sunny window sill (accident)
in the trunk/boot of your car (another accident)

"Bake" makes us think of cooking food at higher temperatures than this
clay needs.

This Album is being rebuilt, no thumbnails but links to pictures 12-14-05.  I use the term "raising cane" for making a log (think jellyroll or sushi for comparison) that has designs in it. The way I make canes is I stand clay snakes and sheets over a picture and it's like towers raising off of a landscape. Here's Sassy the cat, no thumbnails yet because the section is being rebuilt. Also I'm amused because we often are rowdy and sassy clayers.


Another old tute is how to make a "bullseye". Where you take a snake of clay and cover it with a sheet. This makes a dot in a cane design. If you cut a bullseye up into a bunch of sections and put them together, squeeze and pull it like taffy you get a bunch of dots and that's called "Lace Cane". Gold and Black Bullseye

Cane building involves only snakes, sheets, and blends. New clayers tend to over think the process. If you can press a sheet and roll a snake you're 2/3rd the way through learning how to prep canes.

Life is not flat and two dimensional because there's high places in the light and low places in the shadow. There's backgrounds that are gradated in color and we have to add dots and stripes to it. So we learn about making "blends".

Biz-Archive/Blend-Grp.htm A woman named Judith Skinner came up with a technique and it's called the Skinner Blend. It takes two overlapping colors folded in half and run it through the pasta machine, repeated a couple of dozen times. It works.

I do blends a little differently. Take overlapping two colors, fold them in half, press that once, then ....roll the that sheet into a tube, mash it to a fat ribbon, twist that ribbon like a wet wash rag, and then press. Do that six times. It takes less time.  

There's "loose blends" where you twist and press 2-3 times only. It makes a variegated design in the color. Just what you need for an eyeball iris. Blends that are exact are over rated.



The other thing I'd like folks who are new to clay to experiment with is color mixing. There's the "Color Cards" where you keep track of your color experiments with bits of clay so you can follow your own
record and repeat a color mix.


When you experiment with color you can fall across really pretty effects like the "Abalone" effect. Using bits of color with pearl clay. Here are some finished items that were made with the abalone experiments.


Here is abalone colors folded and pressed going in two directions. It's a wildly wonderful effect for little effort.

Make folded abalone into clothing.


There's a bunch of things we do to play with clay after we raise cane.
We take cane slices and put them on a sheet and press them. It makes
nice pendants and clay fabric for figures.



If you're into 3-D items and jewelry check out what cane slices done as flower and leaves can make. The Wisteria-Lei from our Fiji Month experiments. ClayMates, I gave this to Sally yesterday for Jewish New Year and she LOVED it. Wore it all day.Wisteria/Wist-Lei/Thms.htm


The biggest thing you need to do right now Emma... is please yourself.
Find the colors you love, the subjects you love, and while you're
learning the basic techniques and mixing colors for your color cards,
please YOURSELF first. Don't let anything that anyone else says to you
spoil the joy of discovery. Once you got a grip on your clay
techniques, then you can think of doing things for other people, or
doing things for sale. But as it is said in "Dune"

"The beginning is a delicate time"

I'm here to encourage you and give you any help I can in the beginning
and the first thing I want all new clayers to become is SASSY. It's
your time, it's your muse, it's your business what you make and no one
can tell you different.

And if they try to bum your high... you tell them

Go follow your own bliss in that Joseph Campbell sort of way, go goose
your own muse

for that's what you're doing and that's all that matters at your work

Welcome aboard honey, and above all... have fun. If it ain't fun, it's




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