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Rambles: Shy Beginners
Now some of you have told me behind the scenes that the reason why you don't post is that you're new to clay.
Well hey...that's no reason why you can't send us out a Howdy Do. If you are a beginner and ESPECIALLY if you're having trouble with your clay you GOTTA post and ask questions and let's figure it out.
One of the questions I got behind the scenes was about softening the clay. See, this is a right and proper beginner question and there's no shame in not knowing. First you got to warm the clay up. You can hold it in your hands, drop a wrapped package in your bra or back pocket, put it on your belly, or warm a loose sack o rice in the microwave and then put your wrapped clay on that and any of those methods will get your clay warm enough to manipulate.
Second, you have to condition the clay. Now if you've got a pasta press then I suggest that you slice a package of clay into strips that will fit through the rollers, a couple of centimeters or a fraction of an inch. Then run those strips through the pasta press and then stack a couple together and run them through. Fold what comes out and feed the fold end in and run it through. If you feed the non fold end into the rollers you'll get air bubbles in your clay and they are a pain in the butt. If your clay is crumbly and won't cooperate, a drop or two of mineral oil, baby oil, essence oil of flowers (if who is going to get this clay item isn't sensitive to aromas), or go out and buy Sculpey Diluent, which does the same thing but costs more than baby oil or mineral oil. You take that clay that crumbled as it went through the pasta press and give it a couple of drops and then mash it up and try making snakes and balls or run it through the press and see how that goes.
The important thing is it doesn't matter if you're skilled in doing clay. This list never claimed to be an Advanced Clayers list exclusively. By asking a question about clay you're half way to solving your problem. By not identifying the problem and never posting then you'll never get the help that is here for you. If I get busy and miss a post asking a question there are dozens of clayers on the list who pop up and answer.
There are other claymates on the list who have been claying for long time long time and are always there with information that I don't have because I was a beginner not too long ago. There are techniques I don't know...like how Elizabeth did her pens for the pen swap. There are products I've never experimented with like Fimo Soft or using the Flex Sculpey that Janey sent to me. So I don't have all the answers but by golly and by gum there's someone on this list who might know.
If it's a mind boggling question I'll toss it out to the other clay lists, where there are big named clayers ...if you don't know for clay, and want to know, then post your questions and experiences, give us a Howdy Do and introduce yourself.
Don't be shy and think...Oh I don't know anything about clay...how can I contribute...? By asking questions and letting us help, you contribute a lot.
You allow other beginner clayers to share their brand new experiences, aiding them in learning by beginning to pass on the information to you. We all started that way, learn a bit, share it, then learn a bit more, share that. There's a ramble on sharing technique, you could read that next.
In asking questions you allow us to be compassionate, generous, and give us a blessing when we do help. You help us hone our own teaching skills in the explaining of it. You allow us to get all enthusiastic in encouraging you.
Before you know it you give us eyecandy with the tentative forays into clay. You can load them up on a free site like Flickr and post your link to the group. Then we can cheer you on and feel good about your progress and you can feel good too. It's a win/win situation.
Some of the most prized list member clay items I have are the very beginning steps. I think that the beginning is such a tender and delicate time, to have a sample of those first few steps by a clayer is just something I like to treasure. Some folks collect the developed art of clay artists...paying $50 for one bead. I dunno, one can buy anything if they have the money and inclination.
But you can't buy the trust it takes for a beginner to send their first baby steps in clay to someone. That trust comes from knowing that the person you send it to cares for you and wants to encourage you and will give you tips and hints. No amount of money can buy that trust.
So trust us to be supportive and nurturing. Trust us to hold you hand as you take you baby steps in clay. We've all been where you are, struggling and wanting to get our grip on our clay. You're not alone in this if you're reading down to the end of this ramble.
So shy new clayers out there...there is no reason why you can't post and ask question or even share disasters. I always share my disasters because it makes beginner clayers like you out there feel much better about your own. LOL For those who are new, and yes, there are a few...check out my burnt leaf cane mini tea set if you want to see my favorite disaster.
I ask the question "Do you know what I did after I burnt that clay?" ...I went on to make another tea set. That's what you'll do after your clay disasters, pick your self up and dust yourself off, take pictures of it and share it with us so we can share your experience and give you encouragement in the face of any pitfall and then you'll go make the next thing. That's how this list works at it's best. When folks don't post because they are shy about their clay proficiency that's how the list doesn't work, that's when the list's potential isn't utilized. So that's my ramble for the shy clayers. xoxo NJ
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