Archive for the ‘Polymer Clay’ Category

Dragon Lore

Dragon Queen 2For whatever reason my muse is not yet done with the dragons. The second one – a gold – is in the oven and in process of being made. The base for the third one is complete, waiting for the dragon to be born.

I’m seeing sea dragons – blues, greens, purples and aquas. The wings are much smaller – more fin like – the tail broader and flatter at the end. Still dubious about legs – would they have them? I’ll have to see how they evolve. I’ve been collecting bits of drift wood, huge shells, chunks of coral.

There are blue dragons, green dragons and purple dragons flitting around my100_2665 minds eye. Shimmering, sparkling flickers of colour and sheer strength in their lithe, limber forms.

Why? I truly don’t have a clue. I’ve read so much fantasy fiction and it all seems to be coming to life under my hands. My dragons are not based on any drawings, cover art or other media. This is how I see them, how I imagine they move and live. I somehow sense the skeleton and muscles beneath the skin and can picture so vividly how their limbs would behave in certain positions.

A friend said they’re a little bit scary. My husband did too. I don’t think so, but then I don’t picture dragons as cute, cuddly creatures. They’re raw power and beauty, sheer simplicity in their lines. Their eyes reflect truth and light back at you – which is why I’m using crystals for their eyes. They’re magic and mystery and I wish I understood why they’ve always been a part of our mythology and fantasy. Did these wonderful creatures truly exist and their memory lives on in our minds? I like to think so. Guardians of the past and of the future and all that is humankind.

100_2668Welcome to my world.


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Dragon!The Dragon – he is done!!!  What an adventure and learning curve!  Head breaking off and having to be re-attached, premature flying lessons, broken base, broken tail, broken neck spikes, broken wings – gads!  Anything and everything that could go wrong went wrong, BUT!  He is finished and I think he is gorgeous.  Just needs a name.

I’ld just finished the second wing and was carefully carrying him to the oven for the final curing, the darn thing slipped on the tile and I could not stop it falling!  Luckily it landed flat on the base.  Unfortunately – the base was glass!  Millions of slivers of glass all over the kitchen floor – I have stone floors! – the rock separated from the base and extreme profanity went flying in every direction. Didn’t know I could speak such fluid “french”.

The tail broke off – naturally! – since it was partially draped across the stone and partially across the base!  Two neck spines broke off, the tongue broke off (again!). I carefully put the dragon – wing miraculously still intact – into the oven and prayed!  While waiting for it to cure I salvaged the clay cover on the base – not without a shard of glass or two in my fingers! Found the bits of tail and other than the piece still attached to the base, gave them up as a lost cause!  Never did find the tongue or the neck spikes.  Grabbing the shark scrap and the pasta machine I quickly managed to fill the clay base and got it cured and painted.

Dragon came out the oven and I discovered that the second wing had cracked after all.  I wound up removing the upper section of the wing and rebuilding it. Re-attached the rock to the now painted base and started the re-construction of the tail.  Isn’t it lucky I had so much of the orange scrap clay?  Redid the neck spines and cured the whole thing.  I still hadn’t noticed the missing tongue at this stage.

One intact dragon later, I set it on the table to seal and do the final curing, which is when I noticed the missing tongue and a missing claw.  With those in place, Dragon got sealed and popped back in the oven. There is a tiny flaw on the back wing which I will attend to in the morning – now I’m simply enjoying looking at him and wondering how on earth I actually made him and shaking my head in amazement that I finished him despite all the mishaps.

If you want a closer look take a dander at my flickr album.


Hubby is adamant that this fellow will never leave home.  Don’t think  I could bear to part with him anyway.  Aside from that my daughter has laid claim to him – he matches her paprika and denim bedroom!  I’m eyeing my collection of rocks and wondering what colour the next one will be. Someone I know collects purple dragons…..

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The dragon grows

Dragon HeadSo this little adventure is not without it’s mishaps, sidesteps and curve-balls. During one of the curing sessions, having attached the hind leg and forearm on the one side, the head broke off. I promise you St George was no where near! No swords, no maidens in distress or anything of the kind!

I had a mild panic attack! Okay – so it was a full-blown freak session! However once I’d carefully recovered the head from the bottom of the oven, the body from the shelf it was perched on and got both back to the clay table I realised it might just be the best break dragon and I had. I could work on detail on the head which I wasn’t able to add other wise. That was pretty convincing till the lower jaw broke off. Sigh…… so back to the drawing board.

Set the head aside while I thought it over and continued to add the hind legAAAACK! and forearm to the other side of the dragon. Into the oven. Repaired the lower jaw, added “wattles” and cured. Got that out the oven and the lower jaw decided to part company again! Blow that – so complete reconstruction of the lower jaw and emergency surgery to repair a crack in the neck. Drilled a little hole, added a tiny piece of toothpick as “peg”. Drilled a tiny hole in the body end of the neck. BAD idea. It cracked and two little pieces chipped away.

At this point things are NOT going my way, however! Head is now out the oven and in one piece for the moment. Here’s hoping it stays that way. I’m happy with the shape of the body and the way the limbs are attached. Now to re-attach the head. I’ll wait till the whole thing is completely cool though before trying this.

I’ve still got to come up with a plan for the wings – I’ve mixed the translucent with a teeny tiny blob of orange. That’s been set aside and waiting for me to work with it.

With the addition of pearl-ex powders and gold metallic powder the orange is now glorious! Rich, vibrant and alive. Now to get life breathed into this creature.

Wish me luck!

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Dragon birthIsn’t it amazing how one’s muse can lead you off in a direction not of your choosing? First it was the scarabs – I’m not done with those yet. There are so many more I want to make! BUT!!!! and it’s a big BUT….

This morning I woke up and all I can see and think of is a dragon. Orange, red and copper – these are sooooo not my colours! So off we toddled to the beach to find dragon rocks. Several rocks, pieces of driftwood, a GORGEOUS shell and a couple of mermaids purses later, I am in front of the clay table, choosing which rock suits my purpose best. Finallydragon rocks chose 3 – or was it 4? – washed and sealed them. I want that lovely wet stone look with all the colours as rich and vibrant as can be. Naturally all the pieces of rock I came home with had rust and copper tinges in them. I did NOT choose them because of that – I chose them because of their shape! Understand – I am not in control of this adventure.

BaseNext question was the base – what to use? I just happened to have a round glass coaster, expressly bought to cover with a cane sheet and use as a coaster, but no! Muse had other ideas. Some grey shark scrap, a rock to texture and some acrylic paint later and the whole thing looks like a stone base. 🙂 Sealed and drying as I type.

The chosen dragon rock has an orange dragon growing on it! Body shaped, head sculpted, crystal eyes inserted, spines done, tail spiked and draped and arranged over the rock as she – he? – is comfortable. Next I’ll position it on the base and texture the body, then add the legs. Once all that’s done there are some gorgeous pearl ex colours screaming to be used.

What do I do about the wings? I want them looking transparent and delicate, but strong! Hmmmm…….. Thin sheets of translucent clay over copper ribbing? Light dusting of pearl ex? Possible. Need to give them some more thought.

I’m not going to fight my muse – not worth it! I’ll ride this roller-coaster and see where I end up! 🙂

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The Essential Porcupine QuillWhere would I be without my collection of porcupine quills?  I think I have about 20 in varying sizes and thicknesses.  Some I’ve picked up, some I’ve bought.  They stand in a clay covered jar on my table within sight and easy reach.  There isn’t a single project I’ve done that they haven’t come into play one way or the other.  I don’t have clay shapers and the rubber tip brushes I do have are huge, bought to work with plaster of paris in big art projects and a long way from being suitable for clay at this stage.  My cake decorating tools – jem tools – are wonderful, but in some cases too big.  The porcupine quills enable me to work really fine and get far greater detail.


The first photo (far left) shows the barb end.  In mature quills it’s fairly broad and blunt, but in the tiny quills it’s dangerously sharp!  The wedge shape allows me to use it the same way as a clay shaper, smoothing joins, making indentations into the clay – as in impressed flower and leaf images – and in the100_2435 case of the tiny quills, lovely clear sharp stitch lines for the embroidered clay.  They also play a vital part in the formation of the embroidery stitches.

The middle photo shows the tapered edge.  I often use those to do coin edge finishes to jewelry mountings, tiny pinprick holes, hatching lines, textures and if used flat, to emphasis and smooth indentations in items. I’ve tried doing some fine writing with them, but they tend to “drag” pieces of the clay up.  That’s a job best left for tiny ball tools.  Phoenician style “wedge” writing though is lovely to do with the quills.100_2440

The next picture (far right) shows the similarity to the cake decorating tools I work with, at the same time showing how much finer the quills are.  I use the tapered end for veining petals and leaves, the barb for shaping and cupping petals – especially in the tiny blossoms.  I use the barb end in some of the finer quills to actually position the petals of the flowers100_2446 and also use the barb end to position and indent tiny balls of clay in the flower centres.  It gives the appearance at times of tiny little beads.  In the photo on the right you can see a combination of all the different things – cross hatching as in a basket weave, coin edging, stitch lines, “frill” on the one end of the square, the tiny flower centres and the petals of a flower, veined and being positioned.

It’s a truly versatile tool and my favorite.

The next series of photos show an example of how I would use the quill in combination with various cutters to make a daisy earring.  The backing is a simple post finding and the clay is attached with some Fimo Gel.  I’ve used a piece of scrap clay to support the post which makes it easier to work when assembling the flower and also supports the flower while being cured. Remember that once cured said scrap clay support can be re-used for many pairs of earrings. 🙂


Photo 1:  A selection of flower cutters.

Photo 2: Daisy cut out – the dime shows the size. Each petal is split in half using a craft knife.

Photo 3:  Using the tapered end of the quill to vein and shape the daisy petals.

Photo 4:  The daisy base shaped and attached to the earring post.

Photo 5:  Next flower cut out.  It’s small! 🙂

Photo 6:  Cupping the petals using the barb end of the quill.

Photo 7:  Positioned on top of the daisy base, using a little fimo gel.

Photo 8:  The tiniest cut out – 1/8 inch diameter!  That’s the centre of the flower.

Photo 9:  Using the barb on a smaller quill to cup the petals.

Photo 10:  The tiny flower in place and position a tiny ball of clay at the centre using the barb on a small quill.

Photo 11:  The completed earring.

Photo 12:  The earring and everything used to make it.

So…. now you’ve had a glimpse “behind the scenes” as it were and can understand why I absolutely LOVE my porcupine quills.  Can’t have enough of them!

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Faux Dichroic Glass ExperimentI’ve always loved dichroic glass and I’ve been wanting to try and make it in polymer clay for some time now. I couldn’t find a suitable tutorial anywhere on the internet, that gave the effect I was looking for. I know I’ve seen one, I just don’t know where!

I decided to go ahead a try anyway – after all, I have all these gorgeous foils and glitters just dying to be played with. So what if I don’t have Kato clear medium (yet!) – right? I’ve got other stuff and where there’s a will, there’s a way. Of course there’s the right way and the wrong way too, but these are the things you learn in the course of an experiment. <grin>

First off I hauled out the black clay, got that conditioned and rolled out onPrepared and cured dichroic pieces the thickest setting on the pasta machine. Then came the fun part. Some pearlescent inks randomly applied in patches, some gold and silver leaf even more randomly applied. Jones Tones foils – rubbed on. Some worked, some didn’t. Those were re-assigned to the stamping stuff! I rolled the sheet through the pasta machine first in one direction – 1 setting thinner – and then in the opposite direction, another setting thinner.

At this stage it was looking pretty awesome with bits of black showing through nicely. Hmmm…… getting where I wanted it to be, but!… the layered look was still missing.

The craft knife came out and I started cutting random shapes from the sheet and cured those on a flat ceramic tile. The next challenge was to get the layered glossy look. I’ve been sitting with a bottle of Polyglaze forever. It didn’t work out for the minis, but maybe it would work for this experiment. It got hauled out and I applied the first layer of glaze to a piece of the cured sheet. It was rather like doing flood icing I found. Pipe the outer edge then carefully fill in the centre, making sure there were no air bubbles and that the application was even. When it was almost dry I hauled out my glitters – holographic silver, fine blue and ultra fine gold. I used a paint brush to scatter glitter onto some areas of the piece. Then I applied a second coat of the polyglaze and let it dry completely.

faux dichroic glassfaux dichroic glassFaux Dichroic glassfaux dichroic glass

Some of the pieces I surrounded with a rope of clay and cured before applying the glaze, since the pieces can’t be baked again once the polyglaze is applied.

In the course of researching the polyglaze I discovered that if you touch theOOPS! glaze while drying and before sealing, it reacts to the oils from your hands and goes cloudy. I’ld been warned, but got to see the effects first hand! So we learn!! I used fimo varnish to seal the pieces. In the photo you can see the cloudiness in the centre of the “k”.

Dichroic scraps used to make the base of a note standAll in all I’m happy with the way they turned out. I want to experiment with different colour backgrounds to see what happens. It’s fun! All the little scraps that were left over when I cut the sheets also resulted in some lovely little desk accessories for myself and the kids.

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Lighter covers & Bottle openersOkay, I’m caught – hook, line and sinker!!! I’ve been making more lighter covers and covered bottle openers. Even tried the screenprinting today. It’s awesome!

I find myself looking at little tins and containers in a completely different way. I even went shopping this morning to find things to cover!! Couldn’t find more bottle openers – drat! – but I will prevail. Someone is bound to stock those somewhere in this area!

Having made the lighter covers, I’m eyeing my container of beach stones and wondering which one to play with first. I’ve got a couple of inros in mind as Xmas gifts too, and there are a few ideas knocking around inside my skull as far as textures go. (Found some of my roller wheels this morning and the one is VERY appealing!)

…..and I think I’ll make a couple of ring boxes too! Mom could use one of those. Kerry too. Enjoy the photos !  I’m off to play some more!!

Kerry's lighter coverRobyn's Lighter coverRobyn's bottle openerScreen printed lighter coverPolymer lighter coversScreen printed lighter coverRobyn's Christmas Gift

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