After working with clay for about two years now, I’ve amassed a fair number of tutorials. This is despite being very discerning about what I buy. I read reviews and look at what others have made with the same tutorials to see if everyone is able to get close to the effect that the author achieves. Although the last part really depends on the skill level of the person rather than the quality of the tutorial, for the most part it gives me a good idea on how feasible the technique is.
Even with all this, I have several tutorials at this point. Many are written tutorials that I’ve bought off Etsy for a specific technique or effect. Some are cane tutorials: these have been piling up since I subscribed to Meg Newberg’s Cane Builder, where she sends out a new cane tutorial every month. I’ve also added several CraftArtEdu classes to my library and recently got myself a couple from CraftCast during a sale.
Most of the tutorials I mentioned are in PDF format or come with a handout to accompany video recordings. I was just saving all the files to a single folder imaginatively titled “Tutorials”, but realized that I needed a better system to sort through all of them. So I sat down on a Sunday night, put on the third season of Office in the background (how am I just watching this, the show rocks!) and set about organizing the folder.
About an hour later, the folder was nicely arranged with sub-folders and categories. But I was in shock!! There were so many tutorials I owned that I was yet to try! There were some that I’d tried a couple of times, gotten bad results and given up. Some that I’d just scratched the surface with and set aside for a shiny new project and some that I just hadn’t given a shot! This didn’t even take into account the multitude of Polymer Clay Tutor projects I’d yet to try. And here I was sitting with an Etsy cart full of more tutorials because I “needed more inspiration”.
I gave myself a stern talking to about buying any more tutorials and moved all my Etsy cart contents into my wish list (to reduce the temptation of buying any on an impulse). I decided that I wouldn’t buy any new tutorials till I’d tried majority of the ones I had already.
The first project I tackled was the Melanie Muir rock cuff bracelet from this CraftCast class. Though I’d been applying some of the tips and tricks from the class to several of my projects, and had tried making just the pattern, I hadn’t actually followed the project end to end. So I set about making a bracelet with a mokume gane veneer as described. And here’s the result!
Rock cuff bracelet made using Melanie Muir’s tutorial
I’m pretty happy with this! Melanie’s instructions are easy to follow, and there are little video snippets showing the exact process that are very helpful. I had some trouble with getting the surface smooth, and made the rookie mistake of getting impatient and baking as is. Once I started sanding the baked pieces, I had plenty of time to repent for it!
I made some notes on possible improvements on the smoothing process and gave it another try with some less experimental colors and shiny new templates I’d ordered from Cabtopia. This time around, my color choice wasn’t the best, but the smoothing process was easier. There wasn’t enough of the patterned sheet to make a chunky bracelet, so I made myself some pendants and earrings and things. Many of the pieces need to be sanded and finished. After I took some skin off sanding the bracelet pieces, I was less inclined to finish the rest! Some pieces had a veneer that was far too thin to withstand the sanding process, so I added resin.
Mokume gane pendants
I also took some time out to try some quick projects from old volumes of Polymer Clay Tutor. The newer ones are usually in the format of one big project split over 6 videos. But there are a bunch of older videos where there are smaller projects that are covered in ten minute videos. I made some mermaid scale pendants and used a DecoArt foiling pen on the sides. It’s so cool!! It looks like a strip of silver metal on the sides! I’ll be using more of that for sure.
The other thing I’m very excited about is this micro mosaic technique that I tried on a leaf shape. The colors are from a fall leaf cane gone wrong. This was a trial piece that I made rather large to make it easier to work with, but didn’t think to size it for a pendant. I think I’ll make it a pin or brooch or something. The technique uses very little clay, so I have plenty to make some pendant style ones.
While these fall themed projects are still ongoing, I’ve started to look at some Christmas themed projects. Remember the swap I was talking about? The November one has a holiday theme. So I decided to get an early start and I’m working on some assorted ornaments and other things. This will be a two person swap, so I’ll be sending stuff to the same person whom I’ll be receiving my swap from. I don’t know if that changes anything, but it’s different!
I have a few canes sitting on my table right now, waiting to be reduced. I’ll get back to that with the last of my weekend. Lookout for more tutorial based work!