Have you ever tried painting your own pottery? I’ve noticed quite a few ‘paint your own’ places springing up across England and I can see why they’re a success. Not only is it very relaxing, it’s good for all ages and abilities.
I finally had a go during a trip to Birmingham where I was visiting a good friend of mine, Abi. We took her nine-year-old step-daughter, Orla, and honestly, I don’t know who enjoyed it most.
Coincidently, the place (All Fired Arts) is run by another friend of mine, Annie, who I know from living in Brum for a few years. It was great to see her doing something so fun and creative – although she has always been that kind of gal.
A painted Optimus, before he was fired and glossed
It can be a bit expensive (especially if you take little ones who are both enthusiastic and quick at painting!) I also wanted to paint everything – especially the cute cups and saucers and the ceramic slices of cake, but I opted for Optimus Prime for my fella because he says I never make him anything (he fibs).
The trick to this is to paint at least three layers and in fairness to the lovely ladies who work there, I was told! Somehow – with all the girl chat and concern that I was getting Optimus’ colours wrong (Mr. Lola is a bit of a geek so would certainly notice) – it took two hours just to do one thick coat. So, it’s a little patchy but I like that it doesn’t look shop bought.
The most painful thing is waiting for the thing to be fired and handed back – especially when you don’t live anywhere near the shop! But I now have him and he’s happy sitting next to the geek-porn books on our shelves. Here he is…
Optimus Prime in pottery and badly painted form!
I have a bit of a thing for rings. I change mine everyday and I’m always on the look out for more. It’s an expensive habit so making them is that bit more rewarding.
This black asymmetric ring was easy, if a bit fiddly to make. Here’s how I did it…
I primed a piece of black polymer clay, warming and rolling it until it was malleable. (I wrapped the rest of the clay in cling film to stay soft). I then cut a quarter of it and rolled it to 2mm thick. I then cut a strip and wrapped it around my finger, slid it off and smoothed the edges. I then baked it at 150C for 30 mins. This gave me the ring base from which I could sculpt the finished project.
Once cool, I primed the rest of the clay and worked it into a rectangle and smoothed that on to the base ring. Using a sharp scalpel blade I cut the clay at irregular angles and then worked it smooth with my fingers and the flat surface of a table.
I then baked it again at 150C for 30 mins.
Obviously, once you’ve done the base, you can create any shape and chose any colour. I know I’ll be coming back to do more as I’ve already worn this ring lots!
There are lots of great ideas for plant markers on the web, from re-writable chalkboard ones to hand pained ones. These are very cheap and easy to make – all you need is oven-hardening polymer clay, paint (which is optional) and an indelible pen.
Roll out your clay so it’s flat, even and large enough for your shapes. Score a mark every 1cm with a sharp knife at both the top and the bottom making enough to suit – I did five.
Cut out your shapes, then cut a V-shape at the bottom of each one and round off the tops of each one too.
Cook these at 150C for 30 mins.
Once they were cool I decided to paint them using white gloss paint to make them just a little brighter and cleaner. I then wrote on the names of the herbs I needed to mark (yes, I should have been a doctor with that handwriting).
Whoop, I’ve rediscovered polymer clay and I feel like a kid again! Here’s one of many bits I’ve been working on…
To make this skull brooch, I pressed polymer clay into an ice cube tray and baked on a low heat. It’s as simple as that, but before you try it yourself here’s a few tips.
What you will need:
Silicone ice cube tray (or mould specifically for polymer clay)
Polymer clay (I used Fimo in pearlised white)
Varnish, clear nail varnish will do — optional
Glue (I used two-part resin, Araldite)
Tips for using polymer clay:
- Warm the clay by rubbing between your palms first — this will make it more pliable.
- Push the clay into any cracks of your mould and smooth over using an orange stick (or cuticle stick).
- If you’re using an ice cube tray, don’t fill the mould all the way — unless you want a very thick brooch!
- Check that your ice cube tray is okay to use in the oven. Be warned crafters, not all that bends is silicone — and if it’s not silicone it’ll melt when you cook it! (As I’ve found out myself!) Check the pack but if you’re not sure, bend it — if it looks clear or looses colour it isn’t silicone and is likely to melt.
- If you’re careful you can use the ice cube tray as a mould, turning out the clay before cooking.
- To harden the clay, cook on 110C/ 230F for 30 minutes and leave it to cool.
- I prefer the matte effect but once cool you can varnish it. Fimo produces its own hardening varnish, though other crafters often use clear nail varnish to the same effect.
Once finished, I attached the brooch back and covered the reverse side in felt. Here’s how to do this bit:
- Place the skull on top of felt and place both on your cutting mat. Trim round the skull using your rotary trimmer (or scalpel blade) so you have a piece of felt the same size as the brooch.
- Cut two small holes large enough for the hinge and clasp of the brooch to fit through.
- Pass the brooch back through the holed felt and stick both to the reverse side of the skull. Clamp with clothing pegs and leave to dry.