Clay Connections in Connecticut

02.Conn Retreat

Patty and I headed up to Connecticut this week to attend Clay ConneCTion 2016, sponsored by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild. We left Philadelphia and the Democratic National Convention behind us as we sailed up I-95 to the Connecticut  College campus, replete with beautiful trees and the occasional skunk.

03.Conn Retreat 1

We had a big work room with plenty of space to spread out.  Demos, and there were plenty of them, were held in a separate space.   Pasta machine motors are allowed at the Connecticut retreat which, although I didn’t bring mine, is fine by me.  The room was so large it hardly mattered.  Someone thoughtfully  provided ear plugs.  Another thing I love about the Connecticut retreat is the Oven Anarchy.  Anarchy does not mean no rules, only no government.  So there were no oven monitors, no baking schedules, and everyone was responsible for his or her own project.  I think this is the best way to handle baking at a retreat.  Some might disagree: I know that  ovens lose heat when you open the door, but oven heat cycles when the door is shut too.  But unless you are baking a temperamental soufflé or  a wedding cake, it hardly matters and it is certainly not mission critical to a successful polymer baking.  Besides, retreats are supposed to be relaxing and fun.  So, there.

I tried my hand at making a Bottle of Hope and I made some geometric cane tiles for the Left Right Center game on Saturday night.  I met some lovely new people, rekindled relationships and hung out with old friends.

Here are some pictures


Thank you Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild!



Take the Highway to the Artway!



Last month, I made a long-awaited trip to Polymer Clay Express at the Artway in Laurel MD. My ostensible reason was to see my friends Rob and Wilma Yost but we all know that’s not true. I wanted to shop.

IMG_8943_newThe Artway was easy to find.  I just set the GPS and the car took me there.  How can you miss it?

IMG_8944_newThe place is huge as you can see and this is only one room!

IMG_8948_newLots of magazines and videos to peruse


 They have a big, bright classroom with lots of tables and lots of ovens.    Scheduled teachers include Jana Roberts Benzon, Kathleen Dustin and Jeff Dever.  Check out the Class Schedule



IMG_8955_newSome of the inks PCE carries


All kinds of craft supplies

IMG_8962_newMore ink including the popular Tim Holtz line


All kinds of stringing materials, cording, grommets, thread and findings

IMG_8985_newThe carry a full line of Genesis Paints


IMG_8993_newSome of your favorite old polymer clay videos are now on DVD and you can get them at Polymer Clay Express




IMG_9014_newRob hard at work

IMG_9022_newWilma packing extruders to fill orders


Check out the 3D printer! 


But wait, there’s more!  Laurel MD is a charming little town with quaint shops, restaurants and historical sites.  There’s plenty to do after you finish your shopping.  For more information, press here.  And things are always happening at the Artway.  Besides getting the classroom up and running, Wilma continues to improve the Dream Machine and other tools and I hear that a shipment of motors is due in the near future.  To keep up with the latest happenings:

Visit Polymer Clay Express’s Facebook Page

Follow them on Pinterest

Check out their YouTube channel

And if you can’t make it to the Artway in person,  you can always shop on the  new and improved website! 

Clayathon 2010

I don’t know what I enjoyed more: watching Wilma Yost of Polymer Clay Express demonstrating the Dream Machine and trying it out for myself, watching Melanie West’s demos, catching some of Arlene Groch’s enthusiasm or having uninterrupted time to continue working through Polymer Clay Color Inspirations.

I clayed, drank whiskey, sat up until 7:00 am one night (morning?) claying and chatting, made new friends and saw old ones.
Everyone had a wonderful, relaxing time.  See you in 2011!

More Metal Etching Experiments

Last week   I said that I would post some pictures of my etching experiments.  Here they are.  DSCF0267

 This is a piece of brass etched with the  Edinburgh etch  solution.  I copied the image onto a transparency and ironed it on to the metal before etching.






 This is copper etched with ferric chloride.  I drew the design with a Sharpie marker.





 These are pieces of a brass charger plate I cut up.  I stamped the image on the left with a rubber stamp and Stayz on Ink 




 This is a black and white image I reproduced onto a sheet of label backing with a laser printer  then ironed on to copper.  I used Edinburgh etch  solution.




 Here, I inked a rubber stamp with a black Sharpie pen and etched the copper with ferric chloride.





 I made this resist pattern with a silk screen and thick acrylic paint.  It worked well, but I  found it difficult to get a paint that would not bead up on the metal.  

Try making findings, components and texture sheets for polymer clay.                  DSCF0217DSCF0261DSCF0287


New Products and Old Favorites

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Pardo Clay and Precious Metal Paint from German Company Viva Decor. At the time, no one I knew of in the U.S. carried Precious Metal Paint. It looks like that is going to change. Poly Clay Play has limited quantities now and hopes to have more available for sale in the future.  Check the web site for more information.

Some Poly Clay Play shipments from Europe were delayed, but will be available as soon as they arrive. Trish Hodgens of Poly Clay Play is taking pre-orders on the large 480 gram (about 1.05 lb.) jars of Pardo Clay for $21.95 each and the small jars 75 gram (2.6 oz) for $4.95 each ($1.00 off the suggested retail price.) For more information, check out the web site or email Trish Hodgens.

No one sells brass or copper bezel wire. If you don’t have a rolling mill to make it, you can make your own from 28 or 30 gauge metal. Even that is hard to find unless you want to do a roof. But I found a supplier!!! The Whimsie Studio carries 6″ X 12″ sheets of 30 gauge copper and brass. The price and shipping were reasonable (even by my cheapskate standards). And the stuff comes pronto.

You don’t need a saw to cut the bezels. I use Fiskars Utility Scissors I bought at Polymer Clay Express. They work like a charm,


except I still can’t cut a straight line. That’s why God made files.

Speaking of files and all sorts of cheap metal working tools, if you are just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot of money, try Harbor Freight. Besides hammers, files, anvils, Helping Hands for $2.99 and other goodies, you can buy stuff, take it home and figure out what to do with it. I used their Body and Fender Set to make bracelets from spoon handles. If you want, but can’t afford a disk cutter, try their Hollow Punch Set and a sturdy hammer. It really works.

What I Learned from Susan Lenart Kazmer

Mike Models Susan’s Bracelet

If you read this Blog last week, you know that I was heading down to Damascus, MD to take a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer at Polymer Clay Express. The two-day class was fantastic. Here’s some of the things I learned:

I learned how to drill a hole in a stone.slk4
I learned how to fabricate a cone out of metal.
I improved my torch enameling skills.
I learned how to make and use different kinds of rivets.
I  learned a cool way to put a red patina on copper.
I  learned how to preserve found items like paper and twigs with resin and incorporate them into my jewelry.
I  saw an ingenious way to make hinges that I’m going to try because now I am more confident in my sawing skills and I think I can do it!
I  saw how to make dapped forms to turn into cool rings and pendants.
I  learned new ways to incorporate fiber with beads and metal.

slk5 slk2 slk1

Now every day the sidewalk holds more treasure than ever before.

sklclass13 sklclass18

Thanks Susan for teaching this class and Terri for telling me about it and giving me a ride! 

Appointment in Damascus (Maryland)

I’m off to Polymer Clay Express at The Artway Studio to take a class in Creating Objects and Elements in Jewelry with Susan Lenart Kazmer. If you’re not familiar with Kazmer, she wrote  Making Connections A Handbook of Cold Joins for Jewelers and Mixed-Media Artists.

I’ll let you know about the class in a later post.   In the meantime, check out Kazmer’s Blog  and her on-line store, Objects and Elements where you can buy her remarkable book, supplies, and watch her great instructional videos.