Working With Clay -- My New, Hot Thing!!
So....  I see that it has been a long while since I posted something here!!  But guess what?  I've been busy working my little hands off.  Drawing, painting, sketching, learning to work with new media and tools, making clothing (as always) and now, I'm working on a few jewelry pieces.  Hence my new fascination with clay!

The only reason I have not posted any of my painted or drawn works here is that I can't get a good shot of them with my camera!!  I have tried different lighting, different rooms of my house and even have photographed a few things outside in the daylight, but the detailing still gets lost.  I'm tired of then trying to adjust the lighting of my drawings on a photo editor because that takes away from the basic integrity and originality of the piece. I'd rather not show it at all than to just show it in half its glory or edited. I have a really good mixed media drawing/painting that I did a couple months ago that totally loses its intended impact unless you can see all the textures I used, which won't pick up in photos.  But no worries... now I have found a good print shop in The Village that does scan everything, including art, so more of my stuff will soon be showing up here!  Yay!  I can't wait to show off my latest works!

In the meantime, I am trying to fill my Etsy store, and part of my inventory will be jewelry, which I am working on as we speak.  In working on the pieces for my collection, I am not just going the typical route by using store bought beads, charms and notions, etc to make my stuff.  Yes, I will use some of those elements to complement my pieces, but most of my parts are being made by hand by Moi (that's French for 'me').  I am using a variety of materials, some which will need a filler of some sort to give the jewelry parts some weight.  In trying to figure out what I could put inside a hollow jewel piece to achieve that, it came to me that I had bought some sculpting clay awhile back, intending to play around with it.  Well, VOILA!! -- there's my filler!!!  I began to work on the stencils and patterns for my pieces and then realized - hey!  Not only can I use clay as a filler, but I can also make some other parts for my jewelry pieces out of the clay!! - Duhhh....   Sometimes it takes a minute or two for the whole picture to pop in for me, but it always eventually does - ha!  So, I decided to experiment around with the clay and make a few pieces just to learn how to really work with this stuff successfully.  In the midst of this clay brainstorm I also remembered that I have cookie cutters.  Well, damn, there's nothing better to make precise clay figures with than a cookie cutter!  So, on I went on this little adventure...

The clay I used is a cheap polymer clay that is not meant for really serious work.  I found that out a minute too late, but this was a good learning experience nonetheless.  I used my cookie cutters to make stars and a penis.  Um, yeah... I have a penis cookie cutter.  Doesn't everyone?  :)  I actually have 3 in ascending sizes since they came in a set!  I took a heart pendant and traced it to make a heart charm.  Inside the heart I drew 3 smaller hearts and then cut out the hollows with an Exacto knife.  Above is my first batch of clay works, pre bake.  Below is the detailing on the first penis - I plan to paint it black and accent it in gold or silver, so I etched a design in ahead of time:

There's also a second penis, you say?!  Haaa!  Yeah, there is!  The one above came from the cookie cutter I had.  Well, after I made that one I was like "damn.  I know I can make a better penis than THAT!" So, I did!  And that second penis, ladies and gents, goes down in history as the first thing I've ever in life sculpted with my two hands.  No stencil, no pattern, no directions.  I just broke off clay, balled it up and made the parts, joining them together as I went.  And I'm damn proud of the result!   My first body part!  A penis!! Ha ha haaaa!  Here is the underside, so that you can appreciate the full 3 D-ness of it:

Yeah, it's tiny.  Well, what do you want, eh?  I won't go into whether or not I've actually seen one that size in real life - this ain't that kind of blog.  But man, if I told you.....  you would die! :D

So, after reading around online, I learned the proper temperature and amount of time needed to "fire" the clay to make the figures harden.  (no jokes on that, please... )  Here is the result:

WAAAAHHHHH!!!  What the hell?!  My larger penis shriveled and deflated!  HATE when that happens!! LOL!  But, yeah - for some reason the firing process - backfired here.  And my heart expanded. (insert another joke RIGHT there..! ;) )   The perfect, precise heart within a heart I made enlarged so the original design is kaput.  The other pieces came out fine, though.  They did harden, although the hollow star is a bit fragile.  I learned from this to double its thickness next time.  It's too thin to use for a jewelry piece or anything that I plan to sell because it will easily break.   However, I am pleased with this first attempt at making clay figures!  I will now troubleshoot and find out what I can do to make my 3 dimensional and larger pieces retain their shape.  One thing I already know I is that I need to use better clay.  I'll be using Sculpey clay next time, as I've since learned that that's the best.  I will also play around a bit with different baking times and temperatures for various pieces.  It's all a learning experience.  However, I am very proud of this first work, although it was not completely successful.

After doing this I got the bright idea to also make some clay beads, since some of my jewelry pieces will be having beads as accents and extenders.  Here are my first clay beads.  They look huge, but they're actually 3/4 inch wide and 3/8ths of an inch high:
Once again, I am pleased.  The beads came out of the oven decently hardened, so success on that one. I plan to be making a ton more beads now that I know how to do it.  The great thing about making your own base materials is that you can put your own unique designs on them.  I will also research on the best way to fire, glaze and finish all my future clay products.  I plan to use my drawing skills to decorate and design them my way.  Me and clay - it's ON!!  And I can't wait to see all the cool, new things I'm getting ready to make! It's gonna be fierce! :D