Friday, May 9, 2014

Filling the Well: Polymer Clay Jewelry Workshop

I've purchased a huge-bin's worth of materials for working with polymer clay, and have read just about all the books on the subject offered by my local library.  Yet, I've never taken the leap and really worked in that medium!  A polymer clay jewelry workshop offered by Tyler Arboretum on Thursday evening helped me "take the leap," and see how easy and fun it can be.  I think it's time to get my bin out of the basement and start playing around with all of those supplies!
Samples of Denise Pettit's polymer clay jewelry
Our workshop instructor was jewelry artisan Denise Pettit (who I found out, by the way, lives in my neighborhood!)  She provided examples of her work for us, and generously shared her supplies, including polymer clay in multiple colors, ink pads, mica powders, clay cutters in a variety of shapes and sizes, and jewelry tools and findings. 
Polymer clay jewelry artist Denise Pettit
After showing us how to condition the clay in a pasta machine and demonstrating the basic process for working with the rubber stamps on the clay, Denise allowed us to play around, experiment with our colors, and create as many pieces of jewelry (necklaces, pins, and earrings) as we desired.
A polymer clay artisan's work space
Denise prepared a comprehensive packet for us to take home with information and tips for preparing our work surface, conditioning the clay, mixing colors, cutting and baking the clay, and cleaning and storing our materials.  I tend to be a crazed note-taker during workshops, because I need to have things in writing, so having this handout freed up my focus and attention. 
The oven Denise used to bake our pieces
It was also helpful to have three full hours to play, so that we never felt rushed, and there was plenty of time to bake the clay and create multiple finished pieces.
Amy, the Director of Public Programs for Tyler Arboretum, was my pasta machine partner.
We had fun squashing together our color combinations to see what came through the machine.
My table-mates were fun and helpful, too.  Many of the participants were beaders, who already make jewelry but were interested in the possibilities for polymer clay in their craft.  A few of us tended more towards paper and general crafting.  Everyone kept a positive attitude, and seemed to be having fun, which I attribute to Denise's good instruction and encouragement. 
Participants get down to business stamping and cutting their clay.
The polymer clay jewelry workshop was a great way to "fill my creative well" this week!
My finished pieces:  The square ones are either pins or pin/necklace combinations. 
The bottom two rectangles will be earrings, and the other shapes are both pendants.
My daughter Katy wore one of the pins and necklaces when we returned to Tyler Arboretum
this morning for National Public Gardens Day!


Jewels said...

Wow good for Andria - and your pieces turned out really well!

iHanna said...

I have no comments for the fun workshop, I just have to say: ooohiii what a cute daughter you have!

Parabolic Muse said...

Okay, can we talk?

That little girl is STUNNING! Of course, with a mom so lovely, it makes Perfect Sense.

You're doing good work! I have been addicted to polymer clay in the past, and will NEVER say never again to that creative avenue. It is so full of variety and beauty and reward. If I weren't trying to hard to learn to draw better, I'd be making clay tiles and beads. Love it.

Carin Winkelman said...

That seems like a lot of fun!

Denise said...

So glad to have met you in the Tyler workshop, Andria! Hope you continue to explore polymer clay and include it in your mixed-media art! Keep in touch - Denise

Sarah said...

What a great post, and welcome to this amazing medium. Denise is a valued member of the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild. Our website is Would you like to cross post this blog entry on our Wordpress Blog? I know our members would be interested. You can contact me through the website.
PAPCG Head Cheerleader.