Sunday, 25 July 2010

My top five tips

I thought id share some of my experience so far mistakes i have made and what i did to rectify those mistakes.

One always use a strong armature ( wire skeleton frame ) if you are making your own twist and intertwine two pieces of wire together especially the trunk and the legs. I have found using only one wire for the legs leaves the legs more likely to bend during baking. As the clay is unstable while baking and will bed and bow with gravity. This means your sculpture will have legs bending inwards and the body leaning forwards. Strong legs equals strength while baking and of course afterwards.

Two ( rant) ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i hate fluff /dirt annoying particles that stick to your clay like magnets. Always always clean your hands before and after you use the clay. Never us a tool until it has been cleaned. Check the surface your using for dirt particles and remove . A trick i have learned is use a bit of junk clay to sweep over the surface this removed more fluff then a cloth would, also use that to clean your hands in between your crafting session. I wear man made fiber clothing while crafting as natural or mix blend clothes can cause fluff transfer onto your clay. Use a room that is away from the main body traffic and not near a window.

Three DONT mix colours under artificial light and always make more then you need of a mixed colour store and label in case you need it later. I have made mistakes with sculptures and needed to re do an arm of leg went to make another and realised i do not have any spare clay. Mixing clay colours to create the right blend is time consuming and hard to recreate the same blend a second time. I have also made the mistake of thinking two pieces of clay looked the same shade blended unbaked onto baked thinking they matched then baked the fresh clay on. Then in daylight gone ahhhhhhhhhhhhh when i've realised there not a match ones darker then the other.
I have no choice to do most of my crafting at night, but i now make sure to find time during the day to mix the clays store it and label the various shades separately.

Now for me this a rule hard to keep to due to time constraints but its a good one
Dont bake your model evening/ night under artificial light always check it during daylight hours . As any speck of dirt ,fluff finger prints, scrapes, cuts and marks will show up. You can then remove dirt, smooth down marks and finger prints. If you bake at night under artificial light you will be unable to remove mistakes like this, once baked your stuck with them.

Five Always bulk buy clay in various colours make sure you have a few of most colours. I found with my first topper i used a lot of black made a mistake with the legs needed to re do them ,but to my horror realised id ran out of black clay and had to rush order more. Having more then you need is better then finding yourself short. With polymer clay you cant just pop down to the shop and buy it so plan ahead and include extra clay as back up.

I will add more top tips at another time hope this helps other budding clay craftes out there :-)

Embossing baked clay

Ceramic tile to protect the work surface also its a great not stick suface for the clay
Heat gun, silver embossing powder and already baked clay wedding day plaque

Cover the whole plaque in sliver powder dont worry about overloading it go wild. Brush the powder into the groves.

Shake of the loose powder back into the powder pot

Heating the powder melts it into the groves ( wording)

Once cooled down varnish and bake the plaque for a second time to seal the powder
This is such an effective way of creating decorative lettering to clay :-)

Friday, 23 July 2010

Finished sweet miniture and wedding topper veil drama

The finished miniature :-)
I have meant to add more to this blog for days but been snowed under with finishing my topper. Cramming in a hundred other craft projects at the same time my heads spinning lol.
The lady and her daughter i crafted for received it this morning and loved the miniature. I am so please they not only liked it but it got to them in one piece. I have thought of buying a bulk buy of packing peanuts but i had a massive roll of wadding and gave that a try instead. It worked so i may purchase more wadding instead of peanuts. I still need to source a good place to buy a stock of good quality boxes to store and post my toppers in. I have yet to find the right boxes. I have also been busy trying to sell items like toys, clothes ect to make enough money to buy a new camera. I am looking at Nikon d40 on ebay fingers crossed i can raise enough funds. I need to have clearer more professional pictures to advertise my toppers to potential customers. At the moment the pictures taken do not show of my work of do it the justice it deserves.
I have set up a new FB profile under the name Ama Aqua Cake Toppers so other crafty companies and business can add me. So if you wish to add me please send me a message

Finally i am on the last piece of my 3rd wedding topper all that is left to do is bake the topper and emboss the wedding date plaque with silver embossing powder. Never tried embossing but i have come across a fab tutorial outline various ways to bake and emboss on clay. I bought a heat gun last week for the embossing but it has come in handy else where. I was struggling to flatten the veil material to fit nicely around the brides head. The netting i have chosen is a bit to firm for the job i need it to do, i tried a few ways to manipulate the material into place. Nothing worked till i used the heat gun to dry the glue on the rhinestones round the edge of the veil. I realised the veil has begun to more, reshape and shrink. I quickly realised with some manipulation of where i placed the heat gun and fabric the veil would be in the correct position. Result :-)

So my favourite tool of the day is my new heat gun

Thursday, 15 July 2010

My sweet minitures

I have decided to make a miniature range to sell on my folksy shop
This will be small basic versions of my wedding toppers as well as christening and birthday toppersI am part way through make a belated 2nd birthday present for my friend Jo's Daughter ( sorry hun for being so late)

I think my range will look similar to this ornament there quicker and easier to make. Therefore i can create more = more sales :-)
Of course i will not only make humanoid figures but favourite children's TV characters, toys
such as Waybaloo ,Thomas the tank engine, aeroplanes, slides, tool kit, dolls, the skies the limit.

As much as i love my larger more detailed toppers they are so labour intensive and due to time constraints i will never make enough to make a good turnover. I will still make them of course but with my sweet ornaments and basic toppers i can hopefully make a bit of revenue.

And talking of revenue i have now decided due to starting a folksy shop ( yet to add any products to this ) and more people requesting toppers. To officially register as self employed i know that a profit is a long way away and all funds with be ploughed back into the business. But i am so happy i am now at the stage that paying customers ,besides friends are asking me to craft for them :-)
I will update with further pictures when its compleated along with a few others i will be making in the next few days

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A sneaky preview of my third topper i couldn't help myself i had to share. I will show the wedding outfits when the full topper is complete

Id suggest buying one to create life like hair, also
I am so pleased with how the hair on both heads and the glasses on the male topper turned out.
Its all due to my new lovely tool, a clay extractor gun
recommend arm work outs as it takes a lot of effort to push the clay out lol. You can pick up a fab one like i did on ebay for under £5
I think i may make a post demonstrating all the tool i use and what jobs each one has in my crafting process. I want to pass on the knowledge i am acquiring to to help others who wish to learn
polymer clay sculpting

Again this ladies tutorials have come to my aid this time in sculpting the male face.I really must remember to post on her video and give her a massive thank you message.I found this second head much easier to do as i felt more confident in my abilities. Mind it took me just as long to craft due to time limitations. I am so glad my friend wanted me to try facial details and its been a delight to experiment with my crafting capibilities. But i have decided the topper i will make and sell comercially will have a simple eyes, button nose and smiling mouth like the face on Sharnes topper. I may do facial details as a custom one of for friends or special customers. A few years down the line when i am more established and my son is at school. I will be able to focus on 'stepping up' my business a gear and make more detailed, refined, expensive figurines well thats my goal and dream anyway.