Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fun at the Arizona Polymer Clay Guild Meeting

 Sunday was the last day of Sandy Camp and there were many hugs and goodbyes shared all around. For me it was particularly sad as the trip is so far that it would probably be two years before I could spend time with them again. 

Monday morning Joe and I loaded the RV and by noon were headed north east toward I-10 and then east toward Arizona. Our son Ron and his wife Kim live in Phoenix so a family visit was in our very near future as was a visit to the Arizona Polymer Clay Guild Meeting on Saturday.

Bonnie Kreger
Bonnie Kreger, a talented polymer clay artist who lives in the Phoenix area and I have been communicating back and forth for some time via email and facebook. She is an enthusiastic customer of our products, Best Flexible Molds, and won the "Name the tool kit" contest when we began production of our originally designed "Penni Jo's Clay Tools" kits. Bonnie is a member of the Arizona Polymer Clay Guild and invited Joe and I to attend the meeting as we would be in town the week of the meeting.

I was also asked to demonstrate part of the "Faux Ribbon Embroidery" technique I've been developing over the last two years or so. It is the same demo that I did at Sandy Camp.   

However, at this guild meeting, the group would be a bit smaller and I'd have a bit longer period of time in which to teach. Shown left is the lavender version of the design demonstrated.    

Below right are other color versions. Note how the feeling of the design changes vastly when  different colors are used for the design and the background.
 In addition to my demo we were asked to bring along our molds and tool kits. When we arrived at the guild meeting place around 9:30 Saturday morning we were met with many smiles and helping hands. Joe brought up the booth segments and put them on the three tables, provided by the members, at the back of the room. 

The guild members had a good time trying out the molds, using some clay provided and un-packaged molds on the tables. 

Looking at PJ's molded and sculpted goodies.

They also enjoyed seeing jewelry that I'd created and embellished using molded parts.

For a brief time we were both busy helping the members with their purchases then the guild meeting began and I joined the group at the tables.

Joe enjoying writing receipts and using the Square.

 Since we now have the "Square" we can take credit cards at shows and events like demonstrations. The little square card reader plugs into the top of a smart phone or I-Pad and allows the seller to take credit cards. Only a small fee is taken from each sale and the money collected goes into our account every night.   

The demo begins. 

After the business meeting was over I began my demonstration using steps one, six and seven of the faux ribbon embroidery 'stitches' and T'nT (Tips and Tricks from 30 years of claying) #7. 
(I'm currently writing a book with 10 T'nT's and 16 'stitches' plus projects.)
To begin I gave the members step by step hand outs and covered the notes quickly. They would see the steps covered during the demonstration and the hand outs would be able to remind them of any forgotten steps at home. The tools from Penni Jo's Clay Tools used in the demonstration are stainless steel Peej Pics, large and small, small Peej Shaper, Peej Scraper and a razor blade.

When doing demos I try to have the basic parts of the steps laid out in advance so that I can show the start of a step, pass it around and pick up the finished part. The paper plate has a number of different steps and a finished item.

They are as follows beginning with 0. the lump of clay that was to be molded. Sometimes folks struggle to make a satisfactory molded part and since we all wanted to get to the decorating stage of the demo, step 0 (zero) is a quick demo of our molding technique. The steps show how to level an overfilled mold, how to nudge any excess clay back into the mold 'cleaning up the edges' before demolding and how to de-mold a perfect part. As a bonus, I showed how to seamlessly add a slight bulge to the top of an other wise flat top of a cabochon. 

A variety of steps to completion
The steps to an embroidered design followed.
  1. A molded cabochon in choice of color and style. Shown are solid off white cabochon and a pearl to gold Skinner blend Cabochon.
  2. The pattern outline done in two pieces of clay.
  3. Adding leaves.
  4. Planning and adding flower petals
  5. Adding buds and swirls.
  6. Adding jewels and baking. 
  7. Showing the tiny bits of skinner blends that were used to make the pin/pendants.

 As the steps were started, demonstrated and passed around, the rest of the morning flew by as we laughed, learned and grew to know each other better. 

Shown in the photo, left to right are my McDonald's coffee with a shot of espresso, the paper plate full of steps in waiting, a work area with tiny bits of Skinner blended clay and a razor blade, ceramic tile, and the open Penni Jo's Clay Tools kit.

Adding the frame work lines to be filled with ropes of clay.

Beginning with the end in mind, the framework of the design is marked onto the clay and then filled with tiny ropes that blend from light to dark green.

Left: Cabochon with the rope frame work in place and a few leaves added to the design using the small Peej Pick.

Rolling tiny segments of Skinner blended clay into ropes from which tiny sliver leaves will be cut and shaped. A small Peej Pick, shown on the table under my hands, is used to lift and shape the tiny slivers of clay into leaves.

The technique is very tiny so whenever a 'stitch' would be demonstrated, I would then create it using larger ropes of clay and the larger Peej Picks to lift and move the parts so that the watchers could better see it.
Applying a large leaf to a large stem.

This large leaf is shown being applied to a large stem on a scrap of clay. 

Also demonstrated was how to shape the leaf and add veins using the large Peej Pick. 

The demo continued for the next hour or so

Cutting the tiny leaves

Leaves are cut from light to dark clay. 

Tiny branches receive tiny leaves.

The tiny leaves are applied to the branches.

Flower petal slices and segments are cut

 After the branches are filled with leaves, the flowers can be added.

Slices and segments are cut from a block of flower colored Skinner blend and rolled into ropes. 

Flower petal slivers are cut and shaped.

Tiny slivers of  flower color clay are cut and rolled into petal shapes and applied to the design building onto the framework of branches and leaves.

Not shown are the additions of the bud, sepals and jewels.

 Left is a taupe heart embellished using the steps demonstrated. The hand out shows how to make this heart. 

After treating us to lunch, we came back to the clay room and I answered questions and demonstrated a few more 'tricks' learned over the last 30+ years of claying. 

Our most hearty thanks to the Arizona Polymer Clay Guild for their many kindnesses and support. It was a delight to meet face to face so many of the polymer clayers I've met and communicated with on the web over the last few years. How nice to have faces to go with the names. 

My thanks to Lupe for the great photos and to the person who took the great closeup of the adding flower petals step.

 If you would like for Joe and I to visit your guild to demonstrate this or a number of techniques or teach a workshop/class, please contact:
me at:
(remove NOSPAM before emailing me)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sandy Camp!!!!!

After a trip of over 1300 miles, we rolled into Temecula California for the 14th annual Sandy Camp. 

This is our second trip out here. We are vendors in the Sandy Camp store so Joe manages the inventory and keeps the store stocked. Even though we are traveling, we are still filling orders so he frequently pops in, picks up the needed molds, packs and ships them. So even though we are not home, you can find our molds on our website Best Flexible Molds.

We have our new mold PJ046 Deep Cabochons that makes cabochons for some of the Amate Studio best selling Bezels. I've shown how the molded cabs make beautiful rings when set in one of Amate's fabulous Bezels. 
The mold package has the numbers of each of the bezels it fits.

I get to play for days and demonstrate once.  On opening day, at 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, I demonstrated two of my 'stitches', smooth ropes and Sliver flowers and leaves. See above. The large pendant was molded using our PJ004 Dominoes and More mold. By molding the pendant first I quickly had a smooth cabochon ready to apply any design desired. I've found that molded cabochons are a quick and easy way to get started on a project.

The technique can be used on any thickness of clay to create a number of shapes like flowers, birds, plants, dragonflies, etc. 

The The demo was a quick, half hour lesson on how to make the pendant using scraps of skinner blends.The attendees seem to really enjoy the demo and many have made a number of projects embellished with vines and flowers including some wonderful bottles of hope.   

Jana Robers Benzon did a great demo on making a round cane and then turned it into a Kali (Kaleidoscope) cane. She always takes a slice of the finished cane and saves it.

Marie Segal's Demos were great and very insightful in color mixing demo and a second demo on cane building. 

Kathi Briefer-Gose's lesson on fractured Rainbow and Stones was a blast. The finished stones gleamed like polished gems.

Kathy Davis showed us how to make a super fun Robot with an Altoids tin body. Wire, found items and clay completed this clever project.

Syndee Holt did a darling demo making polka dot bracelets and showed some variations on the technique.

Trina Williams' demo was making dyes similar to alcohol inks. The samples she passed around looked like lovely water colors. 

The last demo was a very interesting Glue Panel. Three people showed the glues that they have used and added tips and information that was valuable to me and others as gluing can be a very challenging.  

Now, Back to the fun!!!

Penni Jo
Creator and designer/sculptor of