Making polymer clay from scratch

Posted on

Happy Wednesday! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie.

For those of you that use polymer clay, have you ever thought about making your own version? I have researched and tried out several different recipes. I don’t recommend any salt based recipes, as they can be extremely poisonous to pets. Most of the ones out there are air dry clays, can be tinted with food dyes, or painted after dry. The one below is a baked recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups corn starch
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1¼ cups cold water
  • food coloring (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a saucepan and stir while heating over medium heat. It will start to thicken. Take it off of the heat and let it cool.
  2. When it’s cool enough to work with, knead it as above. You can add a tablespoon of oil (baby or mineral oil works) and a teaspoon of liquid vegetable glycerin to make it more smooth.
  3. At this point, you can pull off small pieces and color with food coloring. You can also wait until its baked to paint it.
  4. Form pieces into desired shapes. Bake at 250°F for 15-20 minutes. This is not an air dry clay.

This recipe is a great idea, especially if you have kids that want to try polymer clay out, and you may not want them working with the chemicals. Have you tried it? Let us know how it works!

 


Fall and polymer clay

Posted on

Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. I live in the South, where fall is very definitely not in full swing yet- today its so humid that pea soup comes to mind. However, it is October, pumpkin spice and apple cider are everywhere, so its time for me to get with it!

There are some great pumpkin themed items on Etsy right now. I have a set of pumpkin earrings and a pendant available here. They are available as traditional pumpkins, or as glow in the dark pumpkins.

I saw these adorable acorns- they are clay, and could be used as pendants, keychains, or even added to a fascinator! You can find them in Sweet Birch Designs Shop here.

 

Selena Jewelry Bijoux has these amazing leaves, so perfect for this time of year. As a pendant, or added to a wreath, they are breathtaking and reasonably priced.

 

I am always a fan of clay food, and I adore pumpkin pie! CMYKlays has some adorable pumpkin pie earrings. They are fun, and look entirely edible.

 

If you are feeling crafty, I do have a pumpkin tutorial that was published here on Crafthackers last year. Its simple, and takes under an hour from start to finish. It can be found here.


Tutorial- Polymer Clay Hearts

Posted on

Hey everyone! Happy Wednesday. This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. This week I have a simple clay tutorial for you. Its on creating a steampunk heart.

Supplies

  • Sculpey III in Dusty Rose
  • Sculpey III in Gold and Silver
  • Optional- Pearl X in Rose Gold

Tools

  • Mini Screwdriver
  • Needle Tool
  • Straight Blade
  • Pointer Tool
  • Clay Roller or Rolling Pin
  • Tweezers

Steps

  1. Condition your clay. You do this by kneading it in your hands. It needs to be soft and malleable.
  2. Pull off a piece of the Sculpey Dusty Rose Clay. You want a round ball the size of a quarter. Roll it into a teardrop shape, then flatten it.
  3. Use your blade or a wedge tool to divide it down towards the
    center. Gently shape to form the top lobes of your heart. Curl the tail of the heart.
  4. Make a hole in one lobe. This is for you to attach a jump ring in after the piece is baked.
  5. Run the gold clay through your clay roller. If you don’t have one, you can use an acrylic roller or a rolling pin. Cut out a rectangle, about 3/4 of an inch by 1/2 an inch, and another much smaller one.
  6. Gently place the patches on your heart.
  7. Now its time to add the screws! Make a handful of very small balls out of the Sculpey III silver clay. Place them around the hole for the jump ring, and one more on top of your patches. You can impress the screw shapes with the mini screwdriver, or a butter knife.
  8. Add more detail- small dots or texture to form a frame around the heart with a needle point.
  9. Optional- dust heart with Pearl X in Rose Gold.
  10. Use your straight blade to move your heart to a baking tray, and then bake at 275 Degrees for 30 minutes. Allow the heart to cool completely before adding your jump ring and chain.

Let me know how they turn out!


Completing Custom Orders

Posted on

Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. Today I wanted to mention how to handle orders you receive both online and in person. We all get excited when others like what we make, and it translates into a sale. then the panic can set in. What next?

If its in person at a show, you make sure you get a full description of the order, and that the customer pays for both the item and the shipping. Make sure the shipping includes the cost of your time dropping it off at the post office, as well as the shipping boxes and wrap. This is called a handling charge. It would be a good idea to give them an estimate of when to expect their item, and discuss a way for them to approve it. I offer to email or text photos of them completed design. If this is an online order, make sure the listing specifies wait times. Give yourself enough time to complete the item, and if the customer is on a waiting list, they need to know this as well.

Once home, its a good idea to stick to the timeline you gave your customer. A good customer, satisfied with your service and quality of goods, is a repeat customer. If there is a delay, communicate it to them. Make sure you take well lit, accurate photos of the finished product for your own portfolio as well as for the customer’s approval of the project.

Once the project is completed and approved, you will need to wrap it securely, and mail it. I recommend purchasing postage online either through Paypal, or directly from the Post Office website. Both offer a discount from buying it in person, and will include tracking that you may have to pay extra for otherwise. Unless the item is small or not easily damaged, it is advisable to ship Priority if in the US. It provides included insurance up to $50, and an additional minimal amount for more expensive orders. You can use flat rate shipping, or use a small kitchen scale for shipping by weight. A digital scale is a small investment that will last a long time. My $20 Walmart purchase is more than six years old and still ticking!

Its not necessary, but adds to the overall appeal to make the wrapped package attractive and appealing. Our customers are buying handmade goods, and you want to make them feel as if they are getting a gift, and something with more meaning than a mass produced item. I once ordered a purse that arrived in a lovely clear bag, with ribbons, confetti, and a thank you card. It made such a big impression on me! It doesn’t have to be expensive. Bubble wrap, tissue paper, a business card/thank you card nicely wrapped can do the trick. I use ribbon and tissue, and then wrap the whole thing in bubble since my items are breakable. Some makers use cute stickers, or include a coupon code for a future order.

If the item is to be a gift, you can also include a small gift card for them to use. Vista Print and other online printers offer these in bulk, and they are a nice touch.

Once shipped, make sure if you have a tracking number you send it to the customer, and follow up to make sure it arrived. If you treat all your customers as if they are special, they will feel that way.


Fall is in the Air

Posted on

Happy Wednesday! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. Fall is in the air here- I can smell it! While it doesn’t get as cold this early in the season here, I still love fall. Pumpkin spice everything, leaves changing, sweaters and crisp evenings. I have been searching Etsy, and these are some of the things that reflect my love of the changing leaves.

This leaf handbag is the perfect blend of autumn tones. LA Boutique Art has this gorgeous felted bag. The colors are vibrant and the bag looks soft and cozy.

The Leather Fan Shop on etsy has gorgeous, brightly colored fans in multiple shapes, including fall leaves. They can do custom fans as well. These can be hung on your belt, or carried to your favorite Renn Faire or ComicCon.

 

Folk Owl has some amazing felted leaf belts. These would be great with a gorgeous skirt or a maxi dress. I love the colors, the texture. It can also be a headband or tied around a leather top hat.

This Leaf Shawl is amazing. the work, the colors and the shape is really pretty. NatKaLV on Etsy has some lovely things.

What makes you think of fall? Let me know!


Using glazes, seals and top coats on polymer clay

Posted on

Its Wednesday, and I’m back in my studio. This weekend I had the privelege of being a vendor at DragonCon. We had an amazing time, and it was so much fun to see everyone. I can’t wait for next year. Meanwhile, I am low on stock, and need to start working for my next show.

One question I am frequently asked is whether I seal my pieces, and what I would recommend for others to use. Polymer clay itself doesn’t need to be sealed. On its own, it’s durable and the color doesn’t change over time. If you have inclusions or a finish, then a seal or glaze would be recommended. The article I’m linking to does an excellent job explaining the different types, depending on your project. I recommend bookmarking it so you can experiment with them.

https://thebluebottletree.com/understanding-polymer-clay-glaze-sealer-varnish/

Once you’ve read the article, you can decide what finish works for you, or even if you need one.


Polymer Glitter Clay

Posted on

Happy Wednesday, and welcome to Crafthackers! Its been a couple of years since Polyform introduced their new Premo glitter clay lines, and they’ve been giving us some great projects and ideas on color combinations when working with it. They are a lot of fun, but also require extra care.

What is glitter clay? It is polymer clay that has had glitter or flakes added to change the color, texture or composition. The full list can be found here. 

The main colors I am talking about are opal, rose gold glitter, yellow gold glitter and white gold glitter. These have larger glitter inclusions. It is important to feel the clay before you purchase it, so I would recommend buying these clay variants in person. The texture should be softer, and allow indents when pressed. When not working the clay, keep wrapped in plastic or waxed paper. This clay must be completely conditioned before working. The glitter is large enough to make the clay harder to work. You can still combine it with other colors, just make sure it reaches the same consistency as the other clay or it will break while working it. Because of its stiff texture, its best to work the clay in one session. It seizes up easily, and projects can be damaged.

Have you worked with glitter clay? Let me know how it goes!


Etsy feature: gorgeous flower hats by FilcAlki

Posted on

Good. Opening and happy Wednesday! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. I’ve spent most of the last five weeks on the road going from show to show, and I’m finally on the way home for a few weeks of much needed rest.

Yesterday I felt in need of a pick me up. I wandered through Asheville, did some shopping, and ate at a few local little places with great food. I also browsed a bit through Etsy and debated getting myself a treat for my hard work. I stumbled upon an amazing shop with some gorgeous felted hats. The Shop is FilcAlki, and she is an artist based in Poland. Her work is vibrant, crisp and bright. She offers hats, gloves, and some felted scarves. It’s the hats that really shine to me.

Her flower hats are sassy and bold.

Also in love with these architectural gems.

I have worn felted hats with a great coat and scarf in winter, as an addition to a cosplay, or simply to celebrate the season. Reasonably priced, handmade and unique, I’ll be adding more of these to my personal collection!

Continue reading »


Meet the Hackers: Boston ComicCon

Posted on

It’s Wednesday again, and I’m on my third event in a row. This weekend I will be at Boston ComicCon, in Booth 514. We are traveling today, which for us is a twelve hour drive. We look at travel as an opportunity to see things we rarely have time for. Little attractions, museums, diners and local foods.

Our goal for Boston, besides the show, is some historical site seeing and possibly a whale watching tour.

Boston ComicCon is this weekend, Friday through Sunday at the Boston Convention Center. There are a lot of great guests this year, and an amazing vending and artist alley. I’ll be with New World Collectibles in booth 514, and sculpting live during the show! If you are in the area, come on out and see us!

Where: Boston ComicCon

When: August 10-13