So epoxy clay has eclipsed polymer clay as my absolute favorite medium to work with. It hasn't been an easy relationship to build and I have made some unspeakably craptacular things with it. However, once you get used to the process of working with it I think you will also place the polymer clay on the back burner. There are two other posts in this series so far that introduce the pros and cons of epoxy clay and discusses the tools I use in creating the projects.
I have tried a few brands, certainly not every brand. I really can't recommend Aves ApoxieSculpt and Apoxie Clay enough. The Apoxie Clay is the firmest of the clays I have tried and hence the most forgiving to work with. Crystal Clay I found too soft to work with for sculpture but would make an excellent medium to add crystals and elements into a bezel, almost like a grout. Magic Sculpt was acceptable, not as squishy as the Crystal Clay, more like the ApoxieSculpt. I don't use it really but it is a good clay to play with for molds, etc. For the kind of detailed work we will try today I recommend the Aves Apoxie Clay.
So here is what you are going to need to work on this very simple project. The intent here is just to get you used to the texture, timing, and forming simple objects. Make a few projects like this and then begin to branch out!
The strand of jasper beads is readily available at Michael's and Joann Fabric stores. Don't want to buy those? Use a shell, crystal, bottlecap, anything really. There are some flatback crystals to incorporate as well. The real lesson here comes from the powder pigment and the oil and acrylic paints. Apoxie Clay does not come in the wide array of colors as the polymers, but you can really use different processes to get some great color effects. Let's get our tools and Apoxie Clay and jump right in!
I am using white Apoxie Clay because we are going to color the clay itself. As per the package instructions, mix equal parts of each container of clay. Mix less than you think you need so you don;t have waste. You can always mix more when you run out. If you plan to use color in the clay, you may want to use one of those templates with various size circles to mix exactly the same amount of clay with the same amount of pigment each time.
You can mix many kinds of pigments right into the Apoxie Clay. You can mix in the pearl ex powders, chalk pastels, acrylics, and oil paints. I have tried them all. I Can say you need a lot of powder to make a good color and I found that the clay became crumbly to work with and made a piece that broke easily. If you are making a very subtle color and don't need much of the powder pigments you can likely use them. Acrylic paints can also be added and not really affect the strength and workability. I did find that they did not mix well and remained a little streaky no matter how much mixing I did. Perhaps the water base does not make very good friends with the epoxy compound. But oil paints work wonderfully. You only need a tiny amount. If you measure your clay for each batch you can get consistent colors by measuring out the paint. I use a toothpick and apply uniform dots to the clay. As long as I make the same number of dots on the same amount of clay each time I end up with good consistency in color batches.
So here is the epoxy clay with the oil paint blended in. I have a pretty light but consistent color.
SO the first 30 minutes of Apoxie Clay curing it is a very strong adhesive. I like to get the base pieces on there at this stage, then wait 15 minutes or so and start with the details. This way I get any stones or hanging loops on there while I have peak stickitude. It bonds very well for the first 60-75 minutes too so don't freak out at minute 35. After 75 minutes it is really starting to firm up and I'd not try to bond anything with it at that point. You can see above I have simply rolled a ball shape out and flattened it into a pancake shape and popped it on my rock.
Super helpful tip for placing your clay bits onto the rock: this is when you really need that tub of vaseline. The clay often likes sticking to your fingers and not the nice smooth rock. With a teeny dab of petroleum jelly rubbed into your fingers you'll have a less frustrating time placing your elements onto the base piece.
You can see above that I have added a flat backed glass gem into that disk and pressed it down. The snake of clay rolled out next to it is for the hanging loop. One thing epoxy clays don't do well is to stretch. You can stretch polymer as you roll it out. Epoxy will just tear. So only roll the clay out, no pulling on it. Not even as you place it onto the piece. Epoxy is nudged, never tugged!
Take the snake shape you made and wind it around the glass gem and across the top any way you like. You can see that the extra time I am taking to photograph and check that I have a good picture has accelerated the timetable on my sculpting. Note the cracks in the epoxy from shaping. You can use a paintbrush dipped in a tiny bit of water to smooth that out. I'll be leaving it in the interests of finishing the tutorial!
Once you have the hanging loop how you want it, add some other crystals the same way you added the first glass element. I have begun to roll out a thinner piece to wind around piece like a vine.
I have added some vines wound around the hanging loop and formed into spirals. You can work in small clay balls into the spaces between the vines and other elements. I use the ball stylus tool to press them down and make a little cup shape. Coat the tool in a thin layer of petroleum jelly so that the clay prefers to stick to the piece and not the tool!
Just to show you how to work in other color processes. Before the clay gets too cured (within 60 minutes), you can brush on powder pigments like pearl-ex or chalk pastels and they will bond with the clay. You can see I have brushed on some pearly blue. I'll likely paint over much of it as I show you how to add acrylic paints to the clay in the next post. For now I will wait for the piece to cure. Epoxy can be painted while it is curing, since it does not shrink or deform as it cures. It is just really difficult to do so since it may be slightly floppy.
So part 2 will be posted later in the week and will be short! We'll look at adding some acrylics and perhaps some alcohol inks to the piece. I hope you have enjoyed this simple tutorial and that it gives you a fun, creative way to get used to working in epoxy.
It's almost been a year since my last show. 10 years of making dolls and jewelry and doing shows. After FaerieCon last year I felt, as Bilbo Baggins once said, "thin, like butter scraped over too much bread". I've made maybe 3 things. I decided to retire almost every single design I made. I'm turning to new media and will focus on just a few projects which will be sold here.
The reasons are mysterious to me, but I decided to return to 2-D work. Found a really old sketch of some weird cow-woman and finally finished something!
of course I still love obsessing over tiny details....
She's all finished. Then I got kuh-ray-zay and detailed the matte and frame.
someday soon she'll show up for sale via my newsletter/shop and there may be prints. But she did kindle a spark of creative energy. Perhaps the dark passage is over....
Just because you are a chronological adult doesn't mean you should give up your toys! Great toys spark the imagination, let you play, and increase creativity. I think I was drawn to making art dolls as my primary medium because of my lifelong affinity for toys. They are kind of grown up toys but they still connect me to enchantment.
I've wanted to make plushie things for a long time, but the fear that they would not sell and my utter lack of any sewing skill were sizable barriers. It took a complete collapse of the desire to make most of my popular things anymore to push me to try my hand.
So I bought a tutorial from Typing with Tea And made my first ever felt thing. Made about all the mistakes possible!
So with a little unwanted cat help from Kokopelli (he has a long way to go to be my dark craft apprentice), I made my own pattern to try. I can happily say I know what a gusset is now!
Made many fewer mistakes, biggest of which is the shape of the nose and placement of legs and embroidery detail, but my skills seem to be moving in the right direction! My first pattern and my second plushie of cheap felt. His little legs are poseable :)
So now I am on to making another pattern for a furry thing!
Been more than 6 months since I really made anything. Striking a balance between being artsy and doing what you love and meeting business demands is difficult. And I was training a new cat helper along the way! I once heard Joyce Carol Oates speak and she talked about periods of time where she didn't write like the same way a farmer lets a field lie fallow. Letting the ground rest for a season allows it to become a fertile place for growing.
After FaerieCon, I didn't feel like making a single damn thing. Caught between the pull of marketing advice, "make identifiable lines of things for brand identity" and the feeling that I really didn't particularly want to be making those very things. I began to feel like I was working in my own little sweat shop. And I made nothing at all.
And so almost all of the things I used to make are retiring. My Fairy Wing necklaces are the first on the chopping block. The last few are at Into The Myst in Bethlehem, PA Once they are gone, you'll be able to make your own, I am working on a tutorial for them!
Next on the chopping block are both my wing earrings and the steampunk flower earrings. The last few of these are in my shop right now for a limited time!
I'll not be making any of my steampunk necklaces anymore either.....
Premiering next week at FaerieCon is a new line of ambient lights. I am becoming increasingly drawn to the incorporation of light into mixed media sculptural work. It adds a mystical dimension and layers of meaning not possible otherwise.
The smoothed edges of driftwood, the hard edges worn smooth along its journey down the Snake River. Light has already burned its story on the wood, bleaching it almost white. The quartz crystal grows out of the wood, no hint yet at what becomes at night.
A flick of the tiny switch and a mystical pink glow lights up the room. Given the right circumstances our own inner glow can surprise us.
The initial 4 pieces in the collection premiere at FaerieCon November 6, 2015. They will go on sale to newsletter members after the show.
Coming to FaerieCon, I'll be showing you how to incorporate beautiful flickering lights into your costumes and art projects! No knowledge of Ohm's Law necessary ;). I'll teach you just what you need to know to begin to develop your own soft circuits using LED lights and microprocessors.
We'll be doing some sewing, but nothing an absolute beginner couldn't accomplish. There will only be a few spots available for this class, but the project and some variations on it will be made into an ebook and an online course this winter.
I sure hope you can join me in Baltimore to add some mystical glow to an industrial looking hotel ball room!
One super important thing to keep in mind about 2-part epoxy clay is that it is permanent. Really, really permanent. This stuff bonds stronger than super glue and does not come off with a little acetone like glue does. Once it is on something, you better love it there because it is staying.
How, may you ask, did I discover the epic bonding power of epoxy clay? Well it wasn't from reading the instructions or any warnings. I didn't so much as peep at a blog post about it. Nope. I jumped right in and started making stuff. I ruined my folding work table in the process. It looked like it had broken out putty grey acne. No zit cream will help epoxy acne! But the best part was the glob I got on my left thumbnail. It was an amorphous blob hanging right by the cuticle. I did not wash my hands frequently enough and it set up on there.
It looked like the tiniest hinkypunk took a crap on my nail, and I had to let it grow out. Worst. Nail art. Ever. So avoid my tragic mistakes: learn about the media, wash your hands, and protect your work surface.
So here are some things you'll need to get into working in epoxy clay!
One of the wonderful things about epoxy clay is that it holds sharp detail well. It will brilliantly hold detail from a silicon mold. You can see above my absolute favorite and my least favorite 2 part silicone molding compounds. The purply-pink stuff is what Michael's and other craft stores tend to carry. Don't be fooled by it. It is garbage. When it sets up it's limper than a pancake in the rain. Soon as you begin to press some clay in there it flattens out like a pancake in the rain under my truck tire.
The larger containers are the best 2 part silicone molding compound I have ever tried. It's called Alley Goop and you can get it from Clay Alley. These molds are firm, not limp; a firm mold is better (wink). They are firm enough to not completely distort as you press clay into them, yet flexible enough to easily pop your casting out. They really take a detailed impression as you can see from the crow original next to his mold. If you plan to mold your epoxy, get some goop!
Finally, the same tools you feel comfortable using for polymer clay tend to work well for epoxy. Just remember to wash them often. Soap and water does the trick. I often rub the mineral oil over them before I work and after a wash to give an added layer of protection from having that clay set up on my tools.
Next up, blending and working with the clay and some tips on coloring it yourself! There is an art to timing here, you won't want to miss it! If any questions have come up for you, pop them below and I will answer them! In a short time I'll have the newsletter exclusive project up for newsletter members, you can sign up below!
I've been nursing a growing dissatisfaction with polymer clay for a long time. I still like part of what it lets me do, but I think it has become too constricting. It's brittle, it will fade out in sunlight, and it has to bake all the way through to have a long life. Proper curing is a science of its own.
My mind is filled with bird feeders and fountains. I want to make wispy and delicate jewelry. I have fallen in love with lights and want to make sconces and chandeliers. Very different things from my past work, and polymer clay is not well suited.
I've been using Epoxy for some time now, specifically Aves Apoxiesulpt. My customers have really loved their pieces and my students have been asking me to teach the medium. So here goes! Over the next few weeks I'll be working on some blog posts discussing how to use epoxy. Today we'll discuss the many kinds of epoxy clays and the pros and cons of the epoxy vs. polymer. In the next week I'll show you some tools and other things you will need to work well with epoxy. I'll post a few tips and tricks, like how to color the white epoxy clays. At the end of the basics, I'll pop up a simple project to get you used to the feel of the clay. You'll want to be on my newsletter, because I am doing an exclusive tutorial right in the newsletter using epoxy. Sign up to the right or on the bottom of the page.
This is my favorite kind of epoxy clay. Aves Apoxie Clay I have tried a few others, Crystal Clay and Magic-Sculpt among them. I like the Aves better because the Clay is firmer and holds detail well. Epoxy clay works very differently from polymer. Polymer clay is PVC and a plasticizer that hardens when the clay reaches the right temperature for the right amount of time. Epoxy is a self-hardening clay. Like liquid resin, two parts are mixed together, beginning a chemical reaction. Over a 24 hour period the clay hardens. No kiln needed, no oven required.
Let's get down to the real nitty gritty. What are the key differences between the clays.
Next up, the dos and don'ts of epoxy! What I want you to do now is to comment or e-mail me with anything you want to know about epoxy clays. I'll answer as many of them as I can!
Ever have a period of time in your life where you just get knocked for a loop? You have to use so much energy and brain power just to keep your head above he crashing waves all else falls away. It was like that for a while. There were times I gave serious thought to getting in my truck and just leaving. Driving to that magical land called 'Away' that exists somewhere between the well worn crap you're sick of and the edge of the mythic wood. I mean, I got a bug out bag in there, I can make it work.
During what I'll forever refer to as the "Three Ring Shit Show" period of my life I couldn't pull together enough motivation to doodle a goblin face on my calendar. But it seems down there in the murky parts of my mind I can't always see, stuff was bubbling away.
I find I don't really feel like making the things I made before. Some things I definitely want to keep making. But I found myself wanting to bust into that big box of Mysterious Crap I think every artist has. It's kind of a parallel dimension (the same kind of place all the single socks get to in the dryer). Stuff appears in there and I have no recollection of ever owning it. So it was with a sizable bag of leather and other animal type bits. I've never worked with leather beyond adding it to an accent on dolls I've made. I'm not crazy about using animal pieces since I'm pretty close to being vegan, but it would not honor the animal to let it go to waste. So I made a small bag.
I like those magical pouches they sell to keep a small collection of items meaningful to you safe. I also wanted to make something that can bring a touch of magic to the necessity to carry your cell phone when you are decked out in your finery at a festival.
It's been painted with metallic acrylic and sealed. Of course I bedazzled the living crap out of it. I had to. I try to go simple. I just can't do it. Simple is DULL. It's for the sheeple, not for us. (rant over). It's got natural pearl, tangerine quartz, and peruvian opal stone on it. Brass and copper findings I think add some interesting textures to the leather. Of course there are sparkly Swarovski crystals on there and a hint of glitter.
I won't likely make many leather ones. I'll use the leather till it runs out. But Matt (my partner) and I are working on a collaboration making vegan wood and mixed media handbags. The seeds that sprouted during the darkness are taking off! And that fire is back. I'm excited to make something again!
My challenge to you, dear reader, is to go on an archaeological dig through your art mess. Get down into the bedrock of random bits. Challenge yourself to make something out of materials outside your comfort zone. I'd love to see what you come up with.....
I didn't want to ruin the surprise. I've had a really packed commission queue for the past two months. So much so it has taken most of my attention. The best part, most of them were surprise gifts! Now that they have arrived in their new homes I can finally share them!
This crow necklace inspired the best feedback I have received about my work. Ever. : "OMFingG! It is here!!!! And holy sh&^% balls, I LOVE it!!!!!!! Totally Amaze balls! Are those labradorite beads? I love them so much! Just Wow! Love the way you braided the chain, eh gods I worship you!"
When Josey's husband contacted me with a super-secret commission for their anniversary, I was seriously pumped. Josey has taken my classes before and has always been such a consistent support for my work....even when I felt like they were misshapen lumps of poo-doo. Josey loves mermaids and looks amazing in blue. I am grateful I could be a part of her anniversary celebration!
Yes, it is a second crow. Hence the attempted murder! At the launch of my latest Amazon sculpting book, I offered 3 commission slots for mailing list subscribers who wanted a crow necklace but did not want to make their own. This customer wanted a gentler, less deathy crow....
is kept in a dark basement and fed a diet of mostly green peppers.