31 December 2011

My last post of the year

One of my New Year Resolutions for 2011 was to "enjoy and prosper from my creativity". I have certainly “enjoyed” everything I have done with polymer clay – and have learned so much more in this last year. The “prosper” part has been a little more difficult in the current economic climate. Here I will take the opportunity to review my goals for 2011:

To expand my range of HANGAs in both surface decoration and shape, and to find more sales outlets – I have experimented with many different types of surface decoration and did try out some heart and square shaped HANGAs as well as the original circular shape. I have continued to sell my HANGAs through Craftworld (Westgate) but apart from trying Etsy.com on-line, have still only sold them through craft markets. I have not pursued other outlets, as I intend to wind down production next year, to concentrate on teaching workshops/classes.

Open an Etsy shop to sell my HANGAs, and other pieces of polymer clay art/craft work, to a wider audience – My Esty shop was launched on 1 August, however, I feel a lot more study is required to make this method work for selling, when so many others are selling through the same site. Next year, I may try www.trademe.co.nz (New Zealand website similar to Ebay) but I much prefer the physical interaction with customers at the markets/fairs, than waiting for an on-line sale.
To create some polymer clay mosaic artwork. (This was my original reason for trying this medium, which has somehow got lost as the Art-Brooches and HANGAs developed, when I had less time for creative work) – I have created several polymer clay mosaic pieces that I am proud of and have ideas for many more, which will gradually become realised as time permits.

To get some polymer clay art/craft work in a few selected galleries, to establish some credibility here in New Zealand – I have exhibited polymer clay work twice in the gallery at the Mairangi Arts Centre. Next year I will need to look at other galleries, particularly as the New Zealand Art Guild, with its exhibiting opportunities, sadly closed down last week.

Try teaching some polymer clay workshops, initially through the Mairangi Arts Centre, to introduce others to the joy of working with this fantastic medium – I am currently preparing material for two different workshops (Introduction to Polymer Clay and Polymer Clay Mosaics). I accepted a number of dates for Spring 2012, to do Saturday workshops at the Mairangi Arts Centre but for some reason (which they have failed to explain to me) these were not published in their brochure, so I am now working on running these myself and creating my own publicity.


06 December 2011

Six different methods for making polymer clay mosaics

I have sketched out this flower design to use in an excercise to show different methods for creating polymer clay mosaics. I have six different methods, which I will show to students who take my 'Polymer Clay Mosaics - Introduction' workshop. So, I am currently working on making this same design using each of the six methods, to illustrate and for comparision.

03 December 2011

One down, two to go

This was the first of three Christmas Night Markets, held at the Mairangi Arts Centre. (I still find it hard to get used to Christmas in New Zealand being warm, with light evenings - so different to the colder weather and dark nights in the UK). The market will also be on the following two Saturdays, 10th and 17th December, from 6.15pm - 8.15pm.

02 December 2011

Delay to start of 2012 polymer clay workshops

Last week I received a summons for Jury Service on 16 January 2012 and I could be required to serve for three weeks. My schedule of polymer clay workshops for 2012 was due to start on 7 February but due to me having to do Jury Service, this will now have to be put back a month, so will be starting from 6 March 2012. See 'WORKSHOPS' tab at the top of the page, for more details.

22 November 2011

My first 'Stroppel' cane

The 'Stroppel cane' has generated a lot of interest (in the Clay-Polymer Yahoo Group). It was introduced recently by Alice Stroppel, as a way of using up scrap canes - so I thought I would give it a try. I do not have many scrap canes but I just added some blobs of coloured clay as well. It was great fun to do, as you do not know how it will turn out. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos during the construction process, as I was having such fun. Here is my first Stroppel cane, which I am really pleased with.

The two slices are the ends of the long sides that I trimmed off, when making the cane a rectangular shape.

I  then ran all my trimmings through the pasta machine, so the pattern has stretched (see above); pieced them together and cut out a few shapes (shown below). This is just from the scrap - from a cane made of scraps!

I love this technique, as it is so easy to do. I will have to include it in my teaching workshops, giving full credit to Alice Stroppel of course. As for what I make with my Stroppel cane - I have some ideas but I am waiting for some more black clay to arrive first.

11 November 2011

Colour mixing experiments

After reading about colour mixing with polymer clay, I decided to make some sample colour wheels. I was particularly interested to see the difference in secondary and tertiary colours produced by using the primary colours of light as well as of paint.

 1                                      2                                      3

1. The left hand colour wheel has been made using the primary colours of light: magenta, yellow and cyan (using Premo polymer clay the colours were Fuschia, Cadmium Yellow and Turquoise). I was amazed that a better 'true' red could be created with the Fuschia and Cadmium Yellow than the Premo reds available in ready mixed packets.

2. The central colour wheel has been made using the primary colours of paint: red, yellow and blue (using Premo polymer clay the colours were Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Ultramarine Blue). [Note: it would have been better to have used Zinc Yellow but I did not have enough of this at the time].

I definately agree with what I have read, that the primary colours of light rather than of paint give a brighter, better range of colurs with polymer clay. If I decide to buy larger bricks of polymer clay in a limited range of colours, I will definitely go for the primary colours of light.

3. The right hand colour wheel has also been made using the primary colours of paint: red, yellow and blue (using Premo polymer clay the colours were Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Cobalt Blue). This shows the difference in colours created by, in this case, using a cooler rather than a warmer blue.

My experiments stopped here as I felt I was using up too much of my precious polymer clay. It is obvious that the warmth or coolness of a colour can have an effect on the final colour mix and I have also learnt that some colours are more intensive than others, so it is not necessarily a simple equal quantities of two primary colours = the expected secondary colour. I understand now why the books suggest making colour chips and recording the quantities of the various colours mixed. This could be a very time consuming exercise but one day I would like to create a comprehensive colour chart, showing all the colour combinations.

04 November 2011

Mairangi Bay Christmas Extravaganza - Saturday Night Markets

I will have a craft stall at the Saturday Night Markets, in the Mairangi Art Centre, on December 3rd, 10th and 17th. Here I will be selling a range of polymer clay items, which would make ideal Christmas gifts, including the HANGA brooch/pendant.

01 November 2011

Planning for 2012

Following on from my last post, the discovery that my trial 'beachwear accessories' became too soft when exposed to intense sunshine, has led me to rethink my way forward for the next few months. I have decided to halt the launch of the beachwear accessories, which I was intending to promote over the summer months, until I have done some more trials with different thinknesses of polymer clay in the hottest months.

Instead, I will concentrate on preparing material for teaching workshops, with the view of having these up and running for February/March 2012. Due to the Christmas/January holiday period, I will start promoting the workshops at the next Mission Bay Art & Craft Market on Auckland Anniversary Day (30 January 2012) with a concentrated effort during February.

To begin with I will do half day 'Polymer Clay Mosaics' workshops, using my own custom made mosaic tiles, while I accumulate enough equipment. Then I will also be able to offer a full day 'Introduction to Polymer Clay' workshop, which will cover all the basic aspects of working with polymer clay, plus an insight into the many techniques and uses; hopefully inspiring further interest in this wonderful, versatile creative medium.

24 October 2011

Labour Day Art & Craft Market at Mission Bay 2011

The weather was perfect for this years market but things were pretty quite during the morning - I guess a lot of people were sleeping in after celebrating New Zealand winning the Rugby World Cup last night. Despite the All Blacks Parade around the city centre in the afternoon, a lot more people came to the market later in the day.

I had a wide range of polymer clay items for sale including brooches, HANGAs, artwork and many one-off trial pieces. However, I made a discovery which was rather alarming, for my most recent line of 'beachwear accessories'. The intensity of the sun was so great it caused the sarong buckles, and other thinner items at the front of my table, to get so hot they became extremely soft and flexible (like when they have just come out of the oven).

After pulling the whole table into the shade, the pieces returned to normal once they had cooled down. It was only a nice Spring day, not the height of Summer, but because there is a whole in the ozone layer over New Zealand the suns rays are extra intense. This may put a stop to my range of polymer clay beachwear accessories. I will have to see what happens if I wear the sarong buckles and other items on the beach during the Summer.

11 October 2011

Labour Day Art & Craft Market at Mission Bay

I will be there, on Row 1, selling off a lot of stock at great prices (to make room for new designs) - so, start your Christmas shopping early.

Ready for Summer (in the Southern Hemisphere)

Ready for Summer - here are some Flip Flop Clips and larger Beach Clips, which can be used to clip a sarong or to decorate beachwear, a sunhat, beach bag or just be worn in the hair. I am still waiting for my special clip findings to come from the UK, so I hope they arrive in time for these to be completed for the forthcoming Art & Craft Market at Mission Bay.

04 October 2011

And just for fun...

This is my artifical garden of succulent type plants and pebbles, made from polymer clay - the fun thing is that it glows in the dark...

Glow-in-the-dark garden

Creations from clearing my cupboards

I have not posted for a while because I have been busy making and gaining more experience. As the Mission Bay Art and Craft Market it coming up towards the end of this month, I thought I would clear my cupboards of all the things I have bought and never got round to trying - hopefully I can then sell them off at the market and other events leading up to Christmas.

Here is a selection of things I have been doing:

Kiwi picture - polymer clay baked on canvas
Glow-in-the-dark bangles
Glow-in-the-dark brooch

Red Indian inspired mask

I have experimented with Sculpey 'Bake and Bend' clay, as I thought it would be good for making rubbery flowers and other decorations for flip flop clips. I know it is really a childrens clay but I was disappointed that it was so sticky as well as soft. Will not be using it again! Have not photographed these yet, as I am waiting for my supply of shoe clips to arrive, to complete them.

After reading posts on the Clay Polymer Yahoo Group about creating faux rocks and pebbles, I had a little dabble at that. Here is a piece of rolled clay with black pepper inclusions, a couple of pebbles (I think they look more like birds eggs) and a granite effect 'boulder'. I have used them in my 'artifical garden', which is featured in my next post.

Faux rocks and pebbles

I have also made eight more HANGAs that I started a long time ago and never finished. They were trial pieces, heart and diamond/square shaped. I will add photos of these to my HANGA website www.hanga.co.nz

While I may have got a little distracted, trying all these different things, I have really enjoyed myself playing and experimenting - but now I need to get focused on my next 'big idea'.

19 September 2011

The ideas keep coming...

and consequently I have had a few sleepless nights! It is a month since I first had the idea of 'Fairweather Beachwear Accessories'. I have been making some trial sarong buckles and flip flop clips to try out at next months art and craft market on Labour Day (24 Oct). At the same time I have also been working on the scarf ring idea, which has developed into a much more exciting project. I am waiting for some findings, which I have only been able to source from the UK and unfortunately they are going to take about four weeks to arrive. As soon as I receive these, I will reveal my lastest idea for a great fashion accessory.

11 September 2011

Trial scarf ring

I have finally found a use for my first curved piece, a scarf ring. I made a polymer clay strip to go across the back and baked it on – and it works!

This is much less time consuming than finishing the backs of my brooches (it never seemed right that I would spend longer on the back than the design on the front) and could be a different way to wear a ‘small piece of art’. I will do some more work on this, including looking at a ‘fashion clip’ version (this could be the modern brooch).

Trial sarong buckles

Since my idea last month for making some beachwear accessories, here are my first sarong buckles – they are prototypes because I am still experimenting with the overall size and the hole size.

I also decided to make a ‘Kiwi’ one, as I recently purchased a kiwi cutter and it seemed about the right size. This shows the double sided (patterned/plain) idea.

Then I thought it might be better curved and that they needed to be a bit bigger. Obviously if I make them curved they can not be double sided.

The curve on my glass teapot is too much for the larger size (I may have to find a different form) but the single thickness of the curved buckle was too light and did not feel right when I actually tried it with my sarong. So I think I will stick to flat double sided but larger sarong buckles.

04 September 2011

Baking curved shapes

I have had this left over piece of blue/purple marbled polymer clay for ages. I liked the pattern but was not sure what to make with it. I decided that I should use it, so I cut out a circle from it and baked it on a glass teapot (removed from the cheap plastic handle/body casing). It has made a perfect convex disc – I still do not know what to do with it but the dimension makes it look so much more interesting than when it is just flat.

I made some more curved discs, in pairs, to try putting them together to make hanging decorations. This is a precursor to perhaps making some Christmas baubles/decorations. Here they are applied to the glass tea pot (luckily it just fits in my little craft oven).

I joined the two baked halves together with liquid polymer clay and rested them on some fibrefill.

This was a scary experiment! I have heard of polyfill being used (in America) for supporting 3D shapes but I am not sure what it is. I was hoping that it is the same as this fibrefill that I bought (very cheap) to try. I guess it must be because it all worked fine – it did not melt at the clay baking temperature. What I was not expecting was for the fibrefill to fuse slightly in the supporting shape (I was expecting it to spring back to its original shape) but this could be useful if I bake the same shapes regularly.

And here are the finished items, complete with hanging ribbon/thread.

Email from Sydney (Australia) enquiring about classes

If you were the person who sent me an email enquiring about dates for my next classes/workshops, please can you send it again - it has disappeared from my email account, so I cannot reply to it. Thanking you for your interest - Claire Fairweather

02 September 2011

Experimenting with Pearl-Ex powders and lpc

I love the effect of Pearl-Ex powders on polymer clay but am concerned about it wearing off and it just does not look the same if you seal it with Sculpey glaze or a layer of liquid polymer clay (lpc). I have heard that Perfect Pearls actually bond with the clay and so they do not need a protective sealing layer – but unfortunately I have not found them for sale in New Zealand. For the first time, I have tried mixing Pearl-Ex powders into liquid polymer clay. I used it on the silver clay pendant (see previous post) but mixed far too much so, to save wasting it, I rolled out some pale scraps of polymer clay and pressed it onto the lpc containing Pearl-Ex (which was blobbed on a glass chopping board). When I pulled the clay off the surface, the coloured lpc left interesting patterns on the clay. I sprinkled on a little more powder and swirled it around with a cocktail stick. The baked samples are shown below.

I will definitely explore this idea further. The iridescent/pearlescent effect of the powders are captured in the lpc when it sets – it reminds me of the pearlescent glass paint sold by Rainbow Glass, which gave a great effect and I used it a lot when I used to do glass painting.

Polymer clay and silver clay

Finally I have got round to using the silver clay items I made at my first silver clay workshop, back in July. The recess in the silver swirl pendant design has been filled with different coloured Pearl-Ex powders mixed into liquid polymer clay (see the next post for what I did with the surplus). The two tiny silver clay moulded flowers have been used as the centres for a floral brooch and a dimensional floral pin/pendant.

23 August 2011

Crocus mosaic complete - with step by step photos

Here is the completed Crocus mosaic - it measures 8" x 8" (20cm x 20cm)

It started life as this...

And here are the stages inbetween...

1 - This is my sketch design of how the finished mosaic artwork should look.

2 - The Pro-Panel block board, that will form the base of the mosaic artwork, is sealed with two coats of diluted Weldbond glue.
3 - The outline design is transferred onto the board, using carbon paper, and then the edges and the back are given several coats of black acrylic paint.
4 - Custom colour blends are created, from the blocks of polymer clay, for the different elements of the design. I roll out thin sheets (2mm thick) of the different colours, using a pasta machine to ensure they are an even thickness. The sheets are then baked to harden the clay.
5 - Each piece of the design is cut from the baked coloured sheets of polymer clay. The edges are sanded smooth and the back is roughened with coarse grade sandpaper, to help create a ‘key’ for gluing.
6 - All the pieces are glued in place, using Weldbond glue, and left to dry for at least 24 hours. Minor trimming of some edges may be necessary to ensure neat, even joint lines.
7 - Acrylic paint is used to colour the tile grout, which is spread over the artwork, pressing it into the joints. The excess grout is wiped off with a damp sponge before it begins to cure. This process may need to be repeated to ensure all the joints are evenly filled.
8 - After the grout has dried for at least 24 hours, the tile surface is lightly sanded (with grades 400 through to 1000) to remove any remaining grout residue. It is then hand buffed to give a soft sheen.

11 August 2011

Two bowls ... and scrap clay

Here are two bowls I have made from polymer clay. I used a small glass bowl as a form and pressed thin pieces of clay to cover the outside. After baking, I carefully prised the moulded clay from the glass.

Autumn Bowl
Patterned Bowl

And here is the scrap! I thought I would use up some old Kato clay (I  bought it a while ago to try but personally do not like the strong smell it has) but it turned out to be a disaster.

The old Kato Polyclay was very crumbly
It still cracked after extensive conditioning

I am only posting these photos because I want something to show for having wasted a good part of the day trying to condition this old clay. In the end I gave up and threw it in the bin!

10 August 2011

Disappointing news - artwork sale retracted

I receieved the disappointing news today that the sale of my mosaic artwork, 'Our Future', has fallen through. The purchaser had problems with their credit card on the opening night of the exhibition and despite assuring that they were going ahead with the purchase, they have failed to pay. Perhaps I should not have been so hasty to post the sale on my blog - but I was told it had been sold. 

07 August 2011

Exhibition piece sold on the opening night

Today it was take down day for the NZ Art Guild Annual Members Exhibition. I was thrilled to learn that my mosaic artwork 'Our Future', created specifically for this exhibition, sold on the opening night.

05 August 2011

A new mosaic - step by step

I am currently working on my next polymer clay mosaic artwork. Here is the sketch design. I have used this crocus design before, many years ago when I was doing glass painting, but it will fine for this next exercise.

I have decided to take step by step photos, to document the different stages in the creation of this artwork, which I will post when it is complete. It will be useful to have on display, when I am selling my work, so people can understand how my polymer clay mosaic artworks have been made.

01 August 2011

26 July 2011

Close-up of my panel in the 'Light of my Life' collaborative project

NZ Art Guild Annual Members Exhibition 2011

This evening was the opening night of the New Zealand Art Guild's Annual Members Exhibition. I have two polymer clay mosaic artworks in this exhibition, as well as having done one of the 56 panels in the collaborative project 'Light of my Life'. 

'Light of my Life'

My panel is on the bottom row, second in from the right (see next post for a close-up picture). This large artwork will be auctioned on TradeMe and all the proceeds will go to the charity KidsCan, supporting disadvantaged Kiwi kids.

20 July 2011

Featured on Sandy's Creations in Clay blog

Today I have been featured on Sandy's blog


It is the first time (to my knowledge), I have been featured on another polymer clay artist's blog, so I feel very honoured.

18 July 2011

Our Future – mosaic artwork is now complete

Here is the finished piece.

“Our Future” by Claire Fairweather
30.5cm x 30.5cm, polymer clay tiles on canvas
Designed for the NZ Art Guild Annual Members Exhibition 2011

This mosaic tile artwork has been designed to show the different phases of love during the course of a lifelong relationship – the future for a couple in love

Key to the meaning behind each tile – start at the bottom left hand corner and work round in a clockwise spiral to the centre


The heart is a universal symbol of love, which is something most people want to experience during their life-time
The script style writing reminds me of old fashioned hand-written diaries, where young women often write about their thoughts and feelings for the future
The butterflies represent that feeling you get when you first fall in love, along with the dreams, hopes and wishes of how you would like the future to be
Is Cupid really responsible for the initial attraction to that special person in your life?
Flowers are often given as a gift of love
Romance – the word can be written with a flourish and it certainly brings happiness and excitement to everyday life
Your heart seems to be bursting with joy when you are in love
The blooming rose symbolises a growing relationship
The lace texture is evocative of lingerie, worn when a relationship becomes more intimate
Passion – this phase in a relationship can be very intense
The lips symbolise a kiss, which is often given with great passion
The tying of two ribbon ends into a bow, symbolises the joining of two beings as one
This tile bears my signature seal, which is incorporated into a pattern of hearts, hugs and kisses
Love – the word is impressed into the tile with strength like the emotion it conveys
An engagement ring symbolises the beginning of a lifelong committed relationship
Commitment – as defined in a marital relationship
Wedding bells ring out the joy of marriage
The linked hands represent the joining together of two people in holy matrimony
A loving background forms the basis of a stable, long-term relationship
Shelter and protection are symbolised by the house
The different layers within the heart reflect the different types of love
The tiny hand and foot prints represent a new arrival
Having children makes a family
Caring for your partner and family never ceases
Into grey, old-age two hearts should still be entwined as one