Monday, January 17, 2011

I Tried Something New...

For awhile I have been admiring the work of several artisans, many I've gotten to know via ArtFire, PLURK, and Facebook. I often listened as they discussed their medium. I was even brave enough to ask a few questions and all the while I took notes.

Most of the artisans that I have admired, followed, and spoken with are members of a highly gifted and talented members of a guild on ArtFire known as Polymer Clay Smooshers. Sometimes this bunch of inspirational and creative artisans are referred to as smooshers. 

Once a month from January to September these smooshers are set a challenge. The challenge is for each individual who wants to participate  to make an item or items out of polymer clay and other bits (if needed) that shows their interpretation of a given theme. At the end of the month, those who participated have their creations unveiled for the world to see on the Polymer Clay Smooshers blog.

The last challenge that the Smooshers were given was mythology. There were numerous creations and a nice variety to the myths. You can see who participated and just what was created here

After a long time of following this wonderful group, I started to think it might be possible for me to give this medium a try. Although several of my notes went MIA and I have nightmares of my time in art class, I eventually worked up the nerve to ask Santa for some clay and some tools. I figured no pressure that way. Well the big guy listened and delivered several useful items for me to do something with. But, to do what? I wasn't sure. I was advised that inspiration could be found if I was patient and open to whatever might be whispered in my ear or seen out of the corner of my eye. I waited. I looked through books and magazines. I reviewed the Artfire shops of several of the Smooshers and I followed closely the talk, sneak peeks, trouble shooting, brain storming ideas that various smooshers included me in and nothing happened. Then as the ending of their challenge drew nearer to a close and I was about to start listing everything in a destash shop and idea came to me.

I had been talking to someone earlier in the day who had known many of my family members. This led to me thinking about the various stories that one particular family member told me to pass the time when I was so sick. Suddenly it clicked. I could do something small that wouldn't be too hard for me to create. It even fit in to the theme of the smoosher's challenge. I could create something in the Mythology category based on a story that my Great Aunt had told me and I could show it to my Smoosher friends. If I had a problem or concern, I could talk to them without being too much of a distraction as everyone was working on something in Mythology. 

For the record: I am not a Smoosher. I just hang out with several of them on PLURK and Facebook. They motivated me to try this project and their theme plus reminiscing about a loved one gave me the inspiration to do this piece.

Step One was to Google everything I could about my myth. 
Step Two was to gather together my supplies and notes.
Step Three was to condition the polymer clay colors. This was a very therapeutic and enlightening step.
Step Four was smooshing the clay into some shape

Step Five was panic and see who was online to answer my questions. Thankfully Into the Dawn and Haffina were available to assist me.
Step Six was to assemble it.
Step Seven was to add the finishing details and touches.

Step Eight was to panic again as I was missing my notes on how to prep it for the oven. Again Into the Dawn and Haffina were able to help me figure out what I needed to do for the piece to come out.
Step Nine was follow the instructions given on the clay and from them. Baking soda, tinfoil, oven thermometer, timer, etc.

Step Ten was to bake it in the oven and monitor the oven. Lesson learned that the oven isn't that accurate. Thankfully I knew the importance of having an oven thermometer and timer for this step. That was one thing that was a constant refrain from all my observing. I'm also very thankful that I was reminded to use them.
Step Eleven Pull it from the oven and let it cool.
Step Twelve take pictures. My pictures are in the rough as I was just too excited to share my piece. Soon as descent lighting conditions happen I promise to take better pictures.

Well there you have it. That's my finished piece and my interpretation of Thor's Hammer. I'm very surprised and pleased with how well it turned out given that I haven't attempted anything before in this medium. It took  me about 6 hours from start to pulling it out of the oven to cool. Had I been a smoosher I would have just made the cut off time by a hair using the not so great photos above.

The following is a list of a few of the artisans and members of the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild. (click on their name to be taken directly to their ArtFire studio).
For a complete listing of the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild Members and their studios, please visit their blog here.


  1. I second that. When I think of my first attempt, uh-oh!
    Looks like there is a Smoosher hidden in you who wants out! :-D

  2. The Smooshers are wonderful, helpful, encouraging group! I've learned so much from reading their blog, and chatting with them online. I'm just starting out, too! Let's grow in this medium together! Remember: Sand is always blue!!!!

  3. Thors hammer looks fantastic! Loved the post!