On Waffling and Lessons Learned

Working this blog like a blog instead of like Crafter’s Paradise has done strange things to my brain.  I’ve talked about inspiration and piles, and I have spent the last three weeks in sort of a dither of self doubt and confusion.  Soul searching is awesome once you get to the result, but it sure sucks while you’re right in the middle of it.

If you have been with me during this whole process, a couple of weeks ago I talked about inspiration and worrying about copying and showed you how much junk I have.  Last week, I showed you specific piles of junk that were weighing heavily on my mind.  This week I have spent more time than usual screwing around on the internet, looking at other people’s art rather than making my own.  In the meantime, I am trying to figure out how I can manage to consistently make stuff that makes me happy and feel fulfilled in the process.  This is turning into a way bigger project than I had ever anticipated.

First, let me show you a few lessons I’ve learned this week!

broken head

Lesson ONE:  Glass Breaks.

This is sort of a no-brainer, right?  Glass is breakable.  Especially delicate little glass Christmas ornaments.  SUPER BREAKABLE.   When you’re distracted talking to a 5-year-old and fiddling with wire, maybe don’t be standing with four feet between your little glass ornament and the floor!  Luckily so far I haven’t learned the “glass shards in the foot hurt really bad” lesson.  I did learn the “accidentally kicking the door frame sucks” lesson and “wearing clompy snow boots with four bruised toes also sucks” lesson, but that is completely unrelated.

wire is cool

Lesson TWO:  Wire is cool.

This is not really a lesson I learned as I already knew that wire was totally awesome, but… wire.  Cool.  Look at that funky little framework!  Once I replaced the broken ornament head, that is.

floopy floppy

Lesson THREE:  Polymer clay is surprisingly heavy!

I made my little wire skeleton… I held him by his feet with his ornament on, and he was strong and sure and stood upright like the happiest of happy soldiers.  I firmed up his body with wool roving and gave him something to stand on.  I sculpted him a pretty little head, and WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT, he bent over backwards for that head.  Literally.  I ended up having to make him a new head.

your highness

Lesson FOUR:  Neck Ruffs rock.

His new creeper moon (instead of grumpy moon) head worked out all right, but man.. that neck ruff is making me very excited.  Last week when I was talking about how I was baffled about my attraction to folk art, part of that attraction is all about the neck ruffs.  I love them a ridiculous amount!  They make me giddy with the happy, so I’m glad that with all of this waffling and nonsense that I’ve at least figured THAT out.

I’ve also learned that I hate paper mache, and I hate paper clay.  I actually already knew that but just forgot about how deep that hatred goes – it’s just gross on the fingers.  All that messy sticky ack.  It’s the same issue I have with polymer clay – it just feels so nasty-oily!  I am going to have to get used to that as I am relenting more and more to the gods of polymer clay who are demanding tribute.  The aggravation I’m feeling as I ignore that demand is winning over the guilt I am feeling as I start to move away from other stuff.

And here we come back around to the crux of my waffling.  I have all these piles of crap and feel like I should be USING them.  Even if I don’t want to, even if it’s a struggle and a complete pain in the ass and I end up throwing away and/or hating 80% of what I make, I still feel like I should be doing something with them.  I’m trying to fight past that, but it’s hard.  It’s anxiety-ridden and panic-causing.  I’m on the cusp of a breakthrough, and it’s making me very nervous.  If only selling all of this crap weren’t so much work!

I think a lot of my issues of fulfillment will be resolved, though, if I can just figure out how to give polymer clay the rougher texture of paper clay.  Any suggestions?

I have been posting progress pictures through the week on instagram, so if you’re into that kind of thing, you can find me at http://instagram.com/strumppet .

For now, though, I’m going to muddle through.

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7 Comments

  1. shuckclod

    I think he is so cute! I also think he looks like a Billy Elliot Bug. He just wants to do ballet, so he gave up his shell. Thank you for the update.

  2. So neat! Neck ruffs are the shizz!

    I've read that you should wick polymer clay between sheets of paper before using it so it's not so oily and more malleable.

  3. All types of polymer clay must be conditioned before use, but some require more work than others. The purpose of conditioning the clay is twofold: to soften it and make it more malleable (easier to work with), and to activate the PVC particles, strengthening the clay and making it less likely to crack or break after baking.

    Fimo can be very hard and even crumbly, so it may have to be broken up into chunks and then chopped up in a small food processor for a few minutes before running it through a handcrank pasta machine. Softer clays can be conditioned by hand (kneading, rolling, and manipulating it like bread dough), but to speed the process, run it through a pasta machine about 20 times.

    Should you accidentally over-condition your clay by too much manipulation, rendering it too soft to work or sculpt, allow it to rest for 20 minutes.

    Also…all of that.

    • Thanks for the tips 😀

      I use Super Sculpey almost exclusively, and it's pretty low on the conditioning scale, thankfully! I do need a pasta machine, though!

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