Archive for the ‘polymer clay’ Category

Project #145 – Donut Cake Topper

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

I’ve had this crazy fixation on donuts lately. I’ve been seeking out independent donut shops in Pittsburgh. The general consensus in the city is that Better-Maid Donuts is the best, but I prefer the yeasty, soft confections sold by Big Daddy’s Donuts. Plus, Better-Maid is usually sold out by 9:00 am; Big Daddy’s is open 24/7. Oh, and they have really good chili. Winner.

I made some cake toppers to celebrate the miracle of donuts out of my stash of Fimo clay. I left them in the oven a little too long, so the surface developed a few cracks. Oops.

Project #114 – Sorta Magnetic Pizzas

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

I lurve miniature food and I lurve magnets, so I put some tiny pizzas together that were supposed to act as refrigerator magnets. Above is a pepperoni pizza, a mushroom and green pepper pizza (my favorite), a black olive and hamburger pizza (Clark’s favorite), and a green pepper, tomato, and pineapple pizza.

Sadly, my plan to encase the magnets in the clay didn’t work out too well. I swear that the magnets have only a millimeter or two of clay between them and the outside air, but they can’t even attach themselves to the fridge without sliding to the bottom, let alone hold up the 3-4 sheets of paper that I expect from my fridge magnets. And this was with super strong neodymium magnets! It’s an outrage!

I tested the magnets using some magnetic film, just to see if they maybe got demagnetized in the over or something. Two of my pizzas are to the left and top and a bare neodymium magnet is to the lower right. So, there is some magnetism there, but I guess the field is too diffuse and weak to be useful. I glued some magnets to the outside so now they will finally stick to the fridge, but I liked the concealed magnet better.

Project #98 – Cardinal Cake Toppers

Monday, April 13th, 2009

I’ve never understood why wedding cake toppers are so effing expensive. Even the boring plastic ones run more than $30 for a set. Plastic birthday cake cowboys, however, are about $1 each, further proof that anything involving the word ‘wedding’ comes with a premium attached.

That’s why I like making wedding cake toppers; it’s almost like performing a public service. Today I made a set of cardinal cake toppers out of polymer clay. After I placed the two bright red birds side by side it suddenly clicked in my head that only male cardinals have that kind of coloring. The females are more of a dove gray.

I looked up cardinals to see if there were any sub-species where the females exhibit the same bright red feathers, but nope, it’s sexual dimorphism all the way down. I also realized that that means that the queen from my earlier chess set is actually a dude.

So, I made a female bird with the correct coloring. She’s sparkly, just like her male counterparts.

But they don’t seem to be very interested in her. I don’t know, I guess the two male cardinals match the picture in my head better.

Project #88 – Eulogy for a Frog

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Yesterday, after I got home I looked in my frog’s tank and for the first time she didn’t run away and hide as soon as she noticed me. Not good. I buried her in the backyard before my husband had the misfortune of seeing her like that. There was one uneaten cricket who gleefully jumped out of her cage when released in the backyard, the lone survivor of an insect Battle Royale.

I’ve never owned a pet that actively disliked my presence the way that Skinny did. She spent almost all of her time squatting in her cave, trying to hide as much of her body as possible. She would only leave it at night and if she thought we weren’t home, although it was possible to catch an unsheltered Skinny stalking crickets if we approached quietly. Skinny always looked completely busted when spotted and any sudden movements would send her scrambling back to her hidey-hole.

Skinny was 3 years old when she died. We raised her from a fat, constantly pooping tadpole into a silent, shy adult. We started out with two tadpoles, Skinny and her gluttonous brother, Fatty. He died after eating too many crickets at once. Skinny never made the same mistake. She only ate when she was hungry and some crickets would wander terrified around her pondscape for days until she was ready to finally partake.

It’s weird to live again in a house with zero pets. I suppose this is a sign that we shouldn’t be pet owners…or parents.

Project #83 – Hidden Chamber Hamburger

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Lent has passed the 1 month mark and I’m starting to really fantasize about meat. Why do I do this to myself every year? I guess it’s good for the environment to eat less meat, but it’s so tasty that I have a hard time following through any other time of the year.

I miss hamburgers so much that I kind of want to hide little hamburgers instead of eggs this Easter. I made one today out of polymer clay with a little hollow chamber to hide a (generous, maybe) monetary prize.

I started out by forming the bun and meat patty (*drool*) parts. I used an old serger cone to measure out the hollows, but anything circular like a bottle cap will do.

I then added lettuce and cheese to my burger, rolling each flat whatever chunky markers I had handy. The cheese will go on top of the paddy, so I cut out the middle.

I used tiny neodymium magnets to hold the top of the bun in place. I pressed a stack of them into the unbaked clay on the bun top and on the cheese slice. I wiggled them around to make a depression slightly larger than my magnets. Polymer clay shrinks a little after baking, so this assures that the magnets will still fit.

Clark suggested that the hamburger would be a good place to hide a wedding ring, but that might be too rich for a regular Easter.

Project #81 – Mini Gargoyle

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I learned something new today: the term ‘gargoyle‘, used in a strictly architectural sense, only covers decorative figures that function as downspouts. Those stone demon figures that I think of when I hear the word ‘gargoyle’ are called ‘chimeras’ or ‘grotesques’ by architects to distinguish the downspout type from its decorative counterpart. I guess I should call my little sculpture a ‘Mini Grotesque instead’.

This little guy is supposed to be a tax-time demon, the good kind that helps you find receipts and discover new deductions. If I were to make a bad tax time demon it would probably have a big vacuum cleaner and an audit dartboard, which would be funnier if our taxes were already done and filed.

Here is a view of the wings and tail in the back. I like putting high, male-pattern-baldness hairlines on my polymer clay creations. I have a hard time sculpting the clay to look like hair, so in this case less is more.

Projects from the Past – Cardinals vs. Penguins Chess Set

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I’m a bit under the weather today, so I’ll be posting a project from last year. I made a bird-themed chess set as a surprise for a friend. I’m terrible at chess, but it was a little hard to give away after I spend so long crafting the pieces. Still, my birdies are in better hands now. Six months later I’m better at parting with things I make, especially because now I have more than ever before.

The queens are the taller ones with smaller crowns.


I ran out of red clay so the cardinals had to hire mercenaries.



Project #48 – Fake Poop

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

My brother-in-law Jon bought us a copy of What’s Your Poo Telling You? for Christmas. You can probably guess what this book is about from the title. Jon went through some rough medical times last October and a copy of this little book would have saved him a few blood transfusions by helping him recognize an upper GI bleed. Truly, WIYPTY is really worth it for the illustrations alone. It’s been sitting on our coffee table for a few months, and every time friends visit poop ends up as a topic of conversation. Some people like to share.

I got the idea to make my own fake poop and it was almost as if I couldn’t not make it.

I rolled out little balls of Fimo polymer clay and stuck them together to give them the right shape. Usually, this is the point where I would look up a picture of whatever I was making so that I could have something to work from. However, the internet is too powerful for this topic and I’m scared of what I would have seared to my eyeballs. Instead, I used the power of my imagination.

I added a few little lumps of transparent clay on one side to get some texture, but I’m not sure I like the effect. (Update: it looks much better with a coat of gloss!)

I sealed it in Mod Podge to get the right sheen. So, that means that I spent 20 minutes this evening carefully stippling a fake turd with a sponge brush so that the texture would be juuust right. Nobel Prize, please!

The Mod Podge isn’t quite dry, but it will have all night to cure as it sits on my husband’s car seat.

*Update* Clark’s reaction: “Actually, that scared the heck out of me this morning until I saw the glaze and immediately associated it with you. Then I laughed about it. So whatever you were trying to accomplish, you succeeded.”

Project #46 – Abraham Lincoln Spoon Holder

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Today is President’s Day and Abraham Lincoln just had his 200th birthday. There was no day off for me today, but I decided to celebrate by making my own Abraham Lincoln, one that would be able to help out at work or in the kitchen, or sit on my computer monitor and hold on to my only pencil.

I shaped his arms by placing a measuring cup in place while the figurine was cooking.

I do really admire Abraham Lincoln, but James A. Garfield is my favorite president despite being assassinated after only four months in office. I’ve been trying to learn a little about all of the presidents, but some are easier to get to know than others. I I can’t remember anything about Rutherford B. Hayes other than that he was from Ohio and not keen on civil rights. I can name all of the presidents, but not quite in order and there’s nothing like a good anecdote to help me remember someone. Research!

Project #33 – Penguin Cake Toppers

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I’ve made penguins like this at least a few dozen times now. They’re one of the things that I have no problem selling in my Etsy shop and they’re pretty fun to make. I also had a whole flock of them on my own wedding cake. Today’s set is the largest so far. I made them for someone who requested penguins of a certain height.

These penguins are easy if you want to make a set for yourself. Just start with two spheres of polymer clay, one about four times as big as the other. Shape the larger sphere into the body by rolling it and narrowing a little bit at the top. Now, stick the head to the body; it doesn’t take much to make polymer clay bond, so you can add it without scoring or pressing too hard. Next, roll out two spheres of equal size for the wings. For penguins 3.5 inches tall I used two marble sized pieces. I flattened them both into wings and attached them to the side by pressing gently.

I always take a few minutes at this point and wash my hands. The black clay will usually stick to you and make the beak and tummy look dingy. No matter what I do I always leave a slight residue, but it’s much better after soap and water.

Next, I rolled out a ball about half the size of a marble and flattened it into an oval to make the white tummy. I pressed this to the body taking care to press the edges into the penguin body.

Last is the beak. If you press your thumb, pointer finger and middle finger together you’ll get a natural three-sided pyramid shape. I just press a marble sized clay into the space created by my three fingers to form the beak. After I pressed the beak to the head (I like to angle them so the penguins are looking at each other), I used a ball point pen and simply poked in two dots for the eyes.

Following the directions on the polymer clay, I baked the figurines for 30 minutes. Done!