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....
I remember when I was in graduate school going to hear one of my personal heroes, Joyce Carol Oates, speak. Her short stories are like literary chocolate. Rich, sweet, and you can never have enough! The part of her lecture that really stayed with me was the idea of an artist needing to "lie fallow" in service to greater creativity.
A good farmer knows she can only plant crops in the same space for so long without giving the land a rest. The soil gives and gives to nourish the plants, every so often it needs a comfy blanket of mulch pulled over it and a season to incubate all the tiny microbial lives that allow it to play it's role as mother to us all. Every mom needs time off.
After that season of lying fallow the green creativity that springs from the land is unbridled. The earth has recharged, became capable of more and it is ready to bloom.
It has been 2 years since I sculpted a fairy. Like overplanted soil, I became fatigued. The things I created were leggy and lacked vitality. Somewhere along the line in the hustle of selling and trying to survive I became disheartened. And whether intentionally or not, I was fallow. My family and partner have nourished me during this time. After a particularly hard winter, many of those struggles and setbacks have decayed, fed my creative soil, and as the snow melts, it's time to sprout! What better a theme than a Green Fairy. Fiery hair and greenery suggesting the joy that comes when the fires return to the land. She is up for auction ending Sunday March 22, 2015 at 10 PM EST. You can find many more photos by clicking this sentence. May your spring bring you joy!
One of my newsletter members asked me what is the best polymer clay for beginners. There is no simple answer for this question. Really it boils down to two factors: Cost and Workability.
There are several kinds of polymer clay available at your local craft store. Sculpey III, Premo, and Fimo are the big three. Each of these is a good bet for color selection. They are all similarly priced at $2.39-$2.79. There are some newer, less expensive clays appearing. The Craftsmart is the cheapest at $1.25 per brick. Sculpey's newer Bake Shop brand comes in near me at $1.79
The Craftsmart clay was for me brittle and cloudy after baking. The Bake shop was better, but still got a whitish film on in after curing. If you can afford it it is probably best to stick with the big three clays.
My ultimate favorite for durability is Kato Polyclay. It is much harder and less brittle than the others. Problem is it is not widely available. I have to order mine by searching ebay for it. It is super firm and holds detail like tiny noses and leaves like a dream. Main problem is it reeks! Your craft area will be rocking that new shower curtain smell for sure!
Back when I was a beginner it was more of a Goldilocks and the Three Clays dilemma. I was sculpting a lot of detail. So one block of clay might be too hard. Another was way too soft to hold any detail. But I learned some skills to make my clay just right! Any of the big three brands will be great for a beginner and each packet varies in its firmness. For clay that was old and crumbly the clay softener above was just the thing. a couple drops, some kneading, and it was as if the clay had come back from the dead. But not in a zombie sort of way. For clay that had too much plasticizer, hence too soft. I learned to use a clay roller or pasta machine to roll it out in 1/4-1/8 inch sheets and place it between a couple sheets of plain white copy paper. Pop a couple of books on it and in a couple hours some of the softener leaches into the paper and firms up the clay. The video has more information and more detailed instructions. Be sure to subscribe for upcoming video projects and other tips and tricks!
I just love those necklaces that feature a tiny terrarium scene in a small dome or glass vial. But most of the time I find myself dissatisfied with the little sculpted critters inside. They are cute to be sure, but I crave more believability and detail even in tiny polymer clay pieces. Dryads seem a perfect addition to a faux terrarium. So I stretched out my eyeballs and set to work making teensy teeny tiny dryad.
My eyes are crossing, but here she is. I could not resist adding in ludicrously tiny bracket fungus and moss.
Susan B. Anthony watches over the super small mushrooms I made. So my dryad will be a fungus herder. The other little bits I'll be adding, some plastic greenery, some semi-precious stone chips (amethyst, jasper, rose quartz, carnelian). Now comes the best part, getting dizzy from the glue fumes as I glue faux moss all over this thing!
I had to battle an attention seeking kitty, but I got all the moss on there and added the resin to the little pool at the base of her roots. I've got little bits of faux moss in my hair and glued to my arms. It's always fun to find hunks of that hours later. Now I need to glue on the plastic dome, perhaps add some epoxy details over it, and make a chain.
She is permanently a resident of her plastic dome. It's OK, she'll stay warm and properly hydrated that way. I decided that the dome looked sort of chintzy and it really didn't fit the feel of the teensy sculpt within. So I worked some woodsy motifs along the base. Now to decide on the chain!
Many of my Facebook friends suggested I use a beaded chain to accent the colors. So here is the completed piece. There will be an e-book on creating these tiny wearable worlds coming soon!
I am positively obsessed with making the perfect wing jewelry. I experiment all the time in my mad scientist wing lab. Oh don't misunderstand. I don't have fairies and bugs in cages, ripping their wings off to make diabolically glittery necklaces and such. I choose to believe they shed them naturally in the fall and spring to match their seasonal outfits. Or you can make them for your OOAK art dolls, Monster High or My Little Pony clothes, the possibilities are endless.
But I digress. Here is a way to craft some detailed little wings to wear anytime. My step by step instructions will make these sparkly creations a breeze to make! And after you are finished learning this technique, you can add some really expert tips in my Filigree Cicada Wings Tutorial.
If you love this project, why not expand on your skills and try a mystical, magical Mermaid Tail project? Available as a PDF via Etsy or on your Kindle!
Just because it is the kind of day where I am really not sure the sun ever came up, doesn't mean I can't take a stroll in a beautiful polymer clay flower garden. I swear there are more than 50 shades of grey out there. Maybe that is why I seem determined to cram as many pretty little flower beads as I can onto this commission I am finishing! Got my fuzzy lounge pants on, got my hot chocolate, and plenty of cat help.
I'll add more pictures as it takes shape today.
Almost time to bake some flowers!
I just couldn't stop adding flowers and leaves. But isn't that how nature is really? Nature isn't shy. Nature doesn't say, 'hey this could do with way less flowers and leaves'. No. Nature explodes in color and diversity. So I did too :). The piece is all sculpted and dusted with magic fairy dust (known in the mortal realm as Pearl-Ex). I added an earthy brown acrylic pant wash to really pop out the detail. Ready to make the beaded chain!
Anna's commission is complete and ready to fly to Idaho! Just in time for snow here in PA.
My newsletter peeps are my favorite people anywhere! A few times a year I host a giveaway for subscribers as one way I say thank you. This year I chose one of my favorite pieces, this beautiful LED lit crystal necklace from my Will O'Wisp collection.
Most of you know there is a strong streak of crystal waving hippie in me. I love to study stone metaphysical meanings and work that meaning into my pieces. Well this is sort of the necklace of universal love! Let's take a walk on the magical side and check out the meanings of the stones in the necklace.
ROSE QUARTZ: The crystal of Unconditional love. This rock oozes pink fuzzy dreams of love and understanding. It is believed to dissolve old fears and resentments and open the heart to love. In European countries it was a stone of nurturing and was known to strengthen romantic relationships. Who knew a hunk of silicon dioxide crystal could pack such a wallop?
RHODOCROSITE: I am not generally a 'Pink" person. Pink makes me think of saccharine Barbie smiles, but I love rhodocrosite and work with it a lot. I LOVE Colorado and this is the official state mineral of Colorado. Rhodocrosite is a stone of love and balance. It paves the way for true love by calming the passions and eases inner conflict. Maybe that is why I used to keep a big chunk of it in the office I did family therapy in.
CHERRY QUARTZ: Hah! Tricked you! Cherry quartz is just colored glass. No properties except that the color is pretty awesome and it goes really well with rhodocrosite.
PERUVIAN OPAL: This is a gift from Pachamama, the earth mother to the peoples of Peru. It is very helpful for those who feel overwhelmed by life (everyone?). It increases the love of the earth and an awareness of the need to heal the earth.
SUNSTONE: Associated with Ra, the sun god whose rays bring forth the potential of life within the earth. It is a stone of optimism, of expanded consciousness and benevolence.
And then the coolest thing is the necklace lights up! Many kinds of love are represented in the stones; love of self, motherly love, romantic love, love of the earth. And the balance of the Sun and the Earth, what greater love affair than this?
So if you are not on the newsletter list, you can join in the upper right and the goblins and house cat will do their dance of joy and welcome you to our crafty, creative tribe!
is kept in a dark basement and fed a diet of mostly green peppers.