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Great show!

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I had reluctantly accepted that our family calendar was just too rammed full for me to indulge myself with a visit to the Hobbycraft Show at the NEC, despite reeeeeeaally wanting to go.  And then as if a crafty-fairy God mother was granting me a wish a lady at my work had some spare tickets going cheap decided to sod the to-do-list and go and join the fun.

Anyone who’s been to an exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham will know how exciting…and tiring…that long walk is.  From the train station to the exhibition hall takes about 15 minutes to walk, anticipation building all the way.  You see others speeding ahead of you, eager feet propelling them towards the joys that lie ahead.  The mutual understanding with complete strangers, a kind of geeky obsessive urge to get right in the thick of it.  Just the joy of feeling that atmosphere of being among like minded people, creatives, crafters, addicts.

There was so much to see, so much to get sucked into, card making demos, sculpturing and painting, cross stitch (which I had to try and stay away from for fear of being wooed!)……but most importantly of all, jewellery making and polymer clay.  The main draw for me was visiting the British Polymer Clay Guild stand.  I’d already checked out their website, already knew I wanted to join their website members list but I wondered what kind of people they were, are they welcoming to new members? would they snigger at my feeble attempts at clay work compared to their professional looking pieces of art?

The Guild members I met were lovely.  Friendly and open, willing to share their techniques and tips and most inspiring of all….they had that same geeky excitement about polymer clay that I have.  So that settled that, I’m definitely going to become a member of the British Polymer Clay Guild………..can I get a whoop whoop!?!?

The rest of the Hobbycrafts show was good too, I visited two other clay related stands.  Which gave us two very different experiences.  The first were the new and only UK distributors of a make of polymer clay called Cernit.  The ‘Guild’ ladies had said that since Cernit changed their formula they have started to  recommend the Cernit brand for the type of ‘cane work’ I do, so I was intrigued.  I had a really long chat with the lovely couple and bought some Cernit clay to try out and I treated myself to a new pasta machine for my clay work as the one they were selling had extra wide rollers, something I’ve been looking for for a long time!

The other polymer clay stand we visited was run by a couple of clay artists who sold their jewellery and ran demos and workshops on various clay techniques.  Some of their work was lovely, I was interested in the high gloss resin finish they were using on their pendants.  But I found myself in a very strange situation standing at their table.  Some of their work didn’t seem to be as good as my own.  I couldn’t quite believe it, and looked very carefully at their work.  How can they be at this huge exhibition, visited by thousands of craft enthusiasts yet some of their pieces were, in my humble opinion, of fairly low quality.  The cane work was not very sophisticated, there didn’t seem to be much thought put into the design of the canes themselves, and the finish of some of the jewellery wasn’t as ‘fine’ as I would have expected.  Perhaps I am a perfectionist in my clay and jewellery work, perhaps that’s why I sometimes feel frustration and disappointing.  But having seen the fantastic quality if the work on display at the British Polymer Clay Guild, compared to the other pieces displayed….I know where I would rather be heading.

I’ve gone international.

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I’ve seen a bit of a flurry on sales through my etsy shop recently, the last few weeks have been pretty busy with new customers from all over the UK but most exciting of all, my first overseas customer.  A fabulous pair of purple cufflinks is currently flying over to Canada.  I’m keen to know how long it will take for them to arrive with their new owner and I really hope I get some positive feedback from them.

Handmade polymer clay cufflinks

I’m pretty sure the advertising coupons I used on Facebook and Google are the reason why traffic on both my sites has increased so much so I really need to think carefully about my marketing budget once my freebies have run out!!

 

comMission Complete.

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So here we are, finally I can reveal the finished commission pieces I’ve been working on day and night for 5 weeks.  My cousin Hattie asked me to make three unique gifts for her bridesmaids……of course I was happy to do so.  But when she also asked for cufflinks for the groom, it became a whole different ball […]

My July workbench

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my workbench covered in clay

looks like chaos, but it’s not

So I have 5 different clay canes on the go at once, all destined for a set of very special commission pieces for one customer.  I quite like the messy look.  I like that I can still lay my fingertips on exactly what I need, I can see beautiful colours and glimmers of ideas jumping out at me from amongst the piles of scrap clay and failed attempts.  At least if I’ve caused this much mess I must have been doing something!

At this point in the project I can say 4 our of 4 of the pieces have had to be started all over again due to some reason so while I’ve probably worked nearly 20 hours, I’d say about a third of that time has been put down to ‘a learning exercise’.

On to the next lesson…..

“do you do commission pieces?”…..ermmm??

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I’ve always said “no, sorry” in the past.

But this time I said “yeah, sure”.

Aaaaaagggghhhhh!

I’m honoured to be asked, proud that I was brave enough to say say yes and excited at the prospect of delivering something amazing to an eagerly waiting customer.

But I’m also terrified I’ve taken on too much, its not an easy job, 4 individual pieces for a wedding and only 4 weeks notice.  I can’t bring my self to charge as it’s for family but if I pull it off I’ll get quite a lot of exposure from it which is exactly what I need right now.  The thing is, I’ve always said no in th epast to commission work for a very good reason.  I prefer to work on a random, “let’s see what today brings” kind of free spiritted way, and never produce my best work when under pressure of trying too hard to conform to a pre destined design.

But never the less, I have done lots of sketching and plans for this and am ready to go it a go.  But the knot in the pit of my stomach tells me I am nervous that I won’t deliver the high standard of design and craftmanship that everyone, including myself, is expecting.  I can’t afford to mess this up, the opportunity is great and I don’t think my confidence could take a bashing like failing to deliver for a family wedding.

Everything to lose so got to go for it 100%.

An olive branch

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3 days left to prepare for craft fair………had a crisis 4 days ago when I discovered my last batch of jewellery glueing had gone wrong and all my pieces fell apart.  I think it was because the weather is so warm at the moment that the glue dried too quickly and became brittle.  So I had to sand the backs down and start again, this time on a ticking time limit…out in the cool evening garden to slow the setting time but before the sun went down so I could still see what I was doing!!

The rest of my prep has been going ok, labels and signs done, stock organised, float money collected……just need to iron my table cloth.

My dad gave me an old bare olive tree stump……I’m going to hang my necklaces off it on my stall…….it looks really cool and has spurred me on a bit.

Can’t help feeling I’ve forgotten something though.

Time will tell.

Craft fair countdown

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Less than 2 weeks to go til the big event.  haven’t done a stall since before Christmas, and not a public market for almost 18 months so feeling nervous and anxious.  I have enough stock, I think, last batch of cufflinks were baked today, will be doing a big glueing session over next few days so they have time to set.  Need to do a big organise of stock so it’s easy to set up on the day, also need to think about props for stall display.  My dad has a couple of old olive tree branches that I feel like I should use but not sure how best to use them.  Also need to finalize prices and labels, get kitty cash and decide what to wear….especially which jewellery to fashion on the day.

Aaaaaaagggggghhhhhhh!!!!

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