Practice Makes Perfect

Early Steampunk Wings Pendant
Early Steampunk Wings Pendant

Practice makes perfect? Well, maybe not perfect, but practice sure as heck will help you get better. I remember hearing comments last year that I couldn’t possibly be a beginner with polymer clay. I didn’t understand that, because like everyone else, I see all the flaws in my own work. But you keep at it and you don’t even realize how much better you are getting until you go back and look at your old photos. Check out the differences in my steampunk wings to the left and right, the same design, but how different.

Steampunk Wings Pendant
Later Steampunk Wings Pendant

In working on this site and adding galleries, I find myself looking back at those first pieces I did and I can see how far I’ve come. You get better at working without leaving the flaws and you get better at fixing the flaws you do make. My work really requires a few flaws, though, so I’m not too into perfection, but what a difference time and practice makes.

Early Industrial Steampunk Pendant
Early Industrial Steampunk Pendant

And then of course there are the dog hairs that are in all my old photos. Cannot imagine how I missed so many dog hairs, but they’re there, and that really makes me cringe. I just hope I’m catching more of them these days…for the record, he is no longer allowed in this room lol

I see people asking and wondering how I get my work so,…. I don’t know what word to use, it’s not perfect, but I think probably the biggest thing is that the details in my pieces are not smooshed. I’m not sure what to say to that really but that I use Kato primarily and it’s a firmer, denser clay that holds it’s shape much better than Premo. It stands up so much better to handling while working on it so that you don’t ruin what you’ve done in working on another spot.

Industrial Steampunk Pendant
Later Industrial Steampunk Pendant

A lot of the quality of my work has to do with planning. I try to plan the construction and building of a piece carefully so that I don’t put a lot detail in first, those tiny details that get smooshed easiest,they have to go on last. That’s my woodworking coming in handy, too, how I build my pieces is a direct result of my work designing painted wood crafts….3 dimensional pieces that were layered, this is the same thing but with clay. I have no doubt I’d be useless with clay without that, that experience gave me a true advantage I think.

But I do get my details smaller now! Look at the huge faux screw head on the urban chic pendant in the upper left and then a similar piece to the right. I do get better at smaller details, as much as I would declare I wasn’t doing miniatures in the beginning, I do try to shrink things smaller now, see how small I can get and still execute fine detail.

my first clay piece
my first clay piece

The best thing that I’ve gained over time, though, is the courage to use the sculpting tools that I have. I’m actually learning to use them and it’s an awesome thing. I felt very strange trying to use them at first but over time they have become true necessities.

One new thing I’ve started doing to help smooth flaws is a brush that has a bit of clay in it. I think this was a tip I picked up from Christi Friesen’s mixed media book, if I’m wrong someone please correct me. While I read about this last year I’ve only just started doing this and it was accidentally at that. I was using a brush with some alcohol at times….at some point that brush got some clay softener in it, and eventually it ended up with black clay worked into it. Works great as a smoother and I love it.

I remember wondering last year where I might be in a year or two. While I’m disappointed I don’t have very many new designs to show off this year, I am proud that the general quality of my work has improved and that’s an accomplishment for me.

2 thoughts on “Practice Makes Perfect”

  1. I enjoyed reading about your crafting journey and how your earlier woodworking experience had been translated into your current innovative poly clay work. You certainly have made a speedy trip through the PC learning curves. Thanks for reminding me about smoothing with a paintbrush with a bit of clay worked in. I originally learned that from Maureen Carlson’s books where she calls it a Claybrush Tool and recommends a #2-#4 good-quality sable filbert paintbrush with some clay worked in, but there is so much sharing in the PC community it’s hard to know where an idea first emerged. It will be interesting to see where the coming years take you and your very creative muse!

    1. I am ever amazed at the wealth of information you are Anita, you are amazing! And thankyou for your kind words, you’re becoming part of my support structure =)

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