Inspiration and thank yous

For my second blog post, I thought I’d talk about some of the people who’ve inspired me and supported me all this while. Consider this the equivalent of my Oscar speech if you will! Okay, I know deciding to write and share blog posts isn’t quite the same as winning an award, but still! I wouldn’t have taken the plunge if it wasn’t for a whole bunch of people, so here goes.

The people who’ve had the most influence on me and have been my biggest supporters: my parents! They’ve spent years admiring my “art”, patiently buying whatever supplies I wanted and showing off my creations to friends and family! Most of my experiments while growing up were with paint and paper (ahh if only I’d discovered polymer clay then!). They’re not the type to praise my work to my face, so I usually don’t get anything beyond a “Oh that’s nice” reaction. But both of them take the pictures I send and show it to countless friends and relatives and make sure to report back oohs and aahs that the pictures get.

One of my early craft experiments: paper mache piece to tell my friend I missed her!
One of my early craft experiments: paper mache piece to tell my friend I missed her!

Another big thank you should definitely go to my cousin Anu, who waxes rhaspodic over every clay piece I make and happily wears a bunch of my jewelry. She’s also my unofficial and unpaid publicist! I’ve had a few friends of hers come to me for jewelry from me after her glowing recommendation.

Now there are also a bunch of people who’ve inspired me and helped me in various ways within the polymer clay community. One of the things you’ll hear often about clayers is that there are lots of generous helpful people out there willing to share their knowledge. I cannot stress how true that is. One the main reasons I’ve been too lazy to attend my local guild meetings is because there’s so much information exhanged online via email, Facebook groups and so on. I’ll go into specific tutorials and techniques in separate posts, but I do want to talk about a couple of people in particular.

First one has to be Ginger Davis Allman. Ginger is an amazing artist who has a super helpful blog called The Blue Bottle Tree. Her site is a great resource for beginners and she has a number of in-depth product review and compatibilty tests that are really worth looking into. I stumbled onto her website one day and fell in love with her translucent clay pieces. I bought a couple of her tutorials to try out and that started a couple of super long email threads.

Over time I’ve bought all her tutorials and have loved every one of them. Her tutorials are impeccably formatted and very well laid out. There are also lots of pictures with clear instructions. I’ve learnt so much through all of them and made some lovely things.

Collection of pieces made using Ginger's tutorial
Collection of pieces made using Ginger’s tutorial: graduated color necklace, Holo star and pendants, faux glass beads, organic beads, rustic beads and mica pendants!

Apart from her (immense!) prowess as an artist, Ginger is also one of the nicest people I’ve talked to. She’s super responsive and so warm and encouraging! It’s a great feeling to have the person who developed the technique say nice things about your work.

Another person who I admire very much is Lynda Moseley of Diva Designs Inc. Her work is simply spectacular (take a look at her Flickr stream for some eye candy)! She has an excellent eye for color and all her pieces has a beautiful finish. I have her Masterful Faux tutorial and Controlled Marbling tutorial. Both are unique and interesting, but I love the results of the marbling technique. She gave me lots of tips and suggestions on working and experimenting with translucent clay and color. I went off and tried some red pieces (my favorite color!) and blue pieces and fell in love! Even more fun, the results from combining scraps from the two color ways!

Marbled earrings and pendants. The multicolored ones where made using scraps from the red and blue color ways and leftover green from a different experiment
First marbling experiments using Lynda’s Controlled marbling technique

Marbled earrings and pendants. The multicolored ones where made using scraps from the red and blue color ways and leftover green from a different experiment

I’ve made several pieces since, and I really like that the pieces are not quite the same even if I started with similar shades. Below are some of my favorites. These are fairly thin clay pieces coated with UV resin on both sides for added strength and bling. They’re still light enough to dangle happily and let light through.

Pieces made using Lynda Moseley's Controlled Marbling technique.
Pieces made using Lynda Moseley’s Controlled Marbling technique.

Another great resource: I have been following Cindy Leitz for a while now. I finally signed up for a membership a few months ago and haven’t regretted it. Cindy has tons of information here, as well as many product reviews. She covers a variety of techniques in her paid tutorials. My favorite so far has been the Reptile hollow beads tutorial. The mokume gane technique really shines (no pun intended!) with mica clay. She shows how to make a smooth and lightweight hollow bead. I made this pendant using this technique. I’ve been asked multiple times about it, the mica particles practically dance in bright light! Her Batik tutorial is fun as well!

Hollow reptile pendant
Hollow reptile pendant and Batik earrings made using Cindy Leitz’s tutorials

Hollow reptile pendant and Batik earrings made using Cindy Leitz's tutorials
There are lots of more people I’ve talked to and who’s work I admire. There’s so much information and inspiration out there via Pinterest and Flickr. If I’m ever in a creative rut, I just go to my Pinterest board and look through all the stuff I’ve saved and always find something cool to do. The board I have is mostly tutorials and how-tos, but I do plan to create a new one for inspirations!

P.S: My first two blog posts have been published in quick succession because I have so much more to share! I hope to maintain at least a weekly cadence. So stick around!

Hi there!

This is my first ever blog post! There will be some rambling, some random trains of thought and a bunch of fairly unrelated information about me. But bear with me, I promise I’ll get better!

First off, some background. My name is Krithika, I live in Washington state, USA. I’m from India (Tamil Nadu to be exact) and I came to the US about four years ago. Currently, I’m a software engineer by day and polymer clayer by night (sometimes it’s the other way round!).

I started playing with polymer clay a couple of years ago. I wanted to make my own magnets! I’m obsessed with fridge magnets. I have a ton of magnets from various places, but I wanted to add some food related magnets, but didn’t find any I liked. I saw a YouTube tutorial for a teeny little cup of coffee and was hooked! I went off to Joann (which was already my favorite store to browse) and bought some Sculpey III (I didn’t know better!) and made a coffee cup, cupcakes, some french fries and a bunch of other things!

Some magnets I made with my first few blocks of clay. These are all made out of Sculpey III.
Some magnets I made with my first few blocks of clay. These are all made out of Sculpey III.

I’m not going to go over how I got from brittle bloby Sculpey magnets to jewelry, but it’s been an interesting journey! I’ve watched hundreds of YouTube videos, looked at thousands of pins, bought many, many tutorials and bought more tools and supplies than I care to admit!

But for all the time I spend claying, it’s a fairly solitary endeavor. There are many times when I want to discuss specifics of techniques and things that work with people. I went off and joined a couple of Facebook groups for clay artists where people shared their work and discussed clay conundrums. I feel a real sense of kinship with all the folks that willingly post pictures of their work and provide tips and suggestions on mine. I’d like this blog to be a piece of that. I’m not sure how much value I can add to all the information that’s already out there, but I’ll try to talk about some tools, techniques and products that have been useful to me. I’ll also share pictures of things I’m working on, and pass on any piece of information I find interesting.

One thing I always like to see is how people organize their work space. So I thought it’d be good to talk about where I work in my first blog post. I still haven’t come up with a perfect storage solution for all the tools and supplies I use most frequently, but this is the setup I have at the moment.

I live in a nice compact one bedroom apartment, so I don’t have a dedicated studio. That said, since I live by myself, so I have full control over what I do with the space I have. I’ve reserved one part of my dining table as my clay area. Okay, clay usually takes over the whole table and I eat on my couch, but the IDEA is to have clay at one end and the dining space at the other! My initial idea was to pack away my work surface and pasta machine at the end of the day and set up again when needed, but it’s a big pain to re-clamp the pasta machine every day and it felt like I was wasting a lot of time in that. So I leave it alone now.

My glass work surface with pasta machine clamped to my craft err dining table
My glass work surface with pasta machine clamped to my craft… err dining table

I have an excellent Ikea kitchen cart to hold my tools and “basic” supplies. The top basket holds a hastily glued together PVC organizer (inspired by this lovely one by Dixie Ann Scott). The way it’s organized is with some tiny pipes holding frequently used tools at the edge that’s closest to me. The idea is that I can grab these tools easily. There are larger couplers that contain groups of tools. For instance, one contains all my silicone tip shapers and another contains a bunch of fondant tools from different sets (I’m a tools junkie, can you tell?!). There’s also a large coupler in the corner that contains paint brushes and any other tool that doesn’t have its own category, the miscellaneous one if you will. That one needs a major overhaul! But I rarely use any of those tools, so I haven’t bothered yet.

Front view of my tools organizer cart and a closeup of the top shelf.
Front view of my tools organizer cart and a closeup of the top shelf.

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I’ve attached a thread storage stand to the front of my organizer. I did this when I’d planned to place the organizer on my table behind my work area, but I chucked the idea when I realized it took a huge amount of space. Luckily the stand fits nicely over the lip of the kitchen cart, and I have easy access to all the cutters I use frequently. I also have some Kemper cutters and the Premo circle cutter set in a little box one shelf lower.

My blades are attached to the cart with a magnet. There are some hanging baskets to hold extra blades and my acrylic roller and a towel bar that holds my cotton towel for applying Renaissance wax and quick hand buffing. As you can see, I try to use every little bit of space available, and then some! Out of the remaining two shelves, one holds a big bunch of sanding supplies. This includes some bowls, various grits of wet-dry sandpaper, Micromesh pads and polishing paper and discs for my Jooltool. The final shelf contains baby wipes, alcohol wipes (just discovered these, they are amazing!), deli paper and deli wrap.

I also have a ton of clay stuff on this platform that separates my dining area and kitchen. There’s my dedicated clay oven, my Lucy slicer and a resining station with a UV lamp. Full disclosure: it never looks this neat! I had to clear up all my clay stuff off the dining table for some guests who came over for dinner. There are usually piles of baked clay beads waiting to be finished up, blended sheets sitting on assorted tiles and canes and mokume gane stacks waiting to be used for something.

Dedicated clay oven and Resining station
Dedicated clay oven and Resining station

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Most evenings and weekends, you’ll find me camped out on this chair playing with my clay and binge-watching some TV show. It’s likely that my oven will be ticking away with one batch of clay and the UV light will be on, setting resin on some or the other piece. Occasionally, my kitchen oven will also be working at baking some or the other dessert (I love chocolate!)

I think I’ve bored you enough for the moment! If you stuck with me till the end of this post, thank you!! Do stick around, I have ever so much to share.