Saturday, December 28, 2013

Free Tutorial: Embellishing a Boudoir Lamp

When it comes to home decor some folks like primitive, some like modern, some edgy, some traditional, but for me, I love pretty! An environment that falls somewhere to the right of Victorian with the organic smoothness of Art Nouveau.

A plain, simple boudoir lamp from Wal-Mart seemed to need ''' something '''. At the same store I bought a package of beaded fringe in colors that I loved. Both were pretty. :-)  Soon small amounts of soft colors were mixed and molded into flowers in shades of pale lavender, pink, off-white pale yellow and leaves in a soft soft green.

The parts that were molded were then shaped to the side of the lamp that was laying on its side on a big fat towel. They were laid out in the pattern in which they would be glued onto the lamp base after baking.

I knew that wouldn't be possible to put the lamp itself with the clay on it into the oven so by putting the clay on the lamp first to create the curved pieces for the design pattern I was able to gently remove each unbaked piece and lay them on some Fiber-Fil batting in order to preserve the curve on the back of each piece.

Parts were baked for about 30 minutes and allowed to cool on the batting before removal if there was any little tiny pieces of the fiber fill batting on the pieces it was removed before gluing. Once again the lamp base was laid on the big fluffy towel on its side and I laid out the design using the baked pieces.

Using E– 6000 glue and following the instructions, I applied a small dot of glue where a pieces to go on the lamp and applied some of the same glue to the back of the piece that would go there and laid them both out for about a minute to cure. By doing this the E-6000 in would be able to grab the individual surface like the glass of the base and the back of the baked piece of clay. After this short curing time the molded piece was placed onto the base and press firmly into place.

We used to take this lamp with us to shows and put it on the table with the light on so that people could see how pretty it looked with the molded flowers and leaves beaded edge and decorated shade because we were selling the mold that was used to make it.

The mold used to make this lamp was PJ 025 Summer Blooms. It is one of the very first molds that we made when we started making our original urethane rubber molds. You can find this mold on our website:

However this project works equally well with any molded parts of polymer clay or even hand sculpted polymer clay pieces that are shaped and baked in the same shape as the base of a lamp, photo frame or vase etc.
For the full tutorial, you can go to Pinterest:
Thanks For visiting my blog again. Have fun!

Yours for a prettier world,
Penni Jo Couch

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Free Tutorials for some Winter Fun

 It's winter again and, in many parts of the country it's snow time. 

Growing up in northeast Missouri, as a kid, I loved the snow. Chilly, fun, and, overnight, without a noise it would blanket the world in white.  I'll never forget getting up in the morning to a scene that had changed completely overnight.

The trees were wearing white bonnets, bushes became round white balls around the yard, my wagon took on the shape of a carriage, a poofy big round ball with wheels, and small plants looked like all the 'whack a moles' were sticking their heads out from under the ground at once.

To a kid, it was clean, fun magic. Plus, the warmth felt after coming inside from making a snowman was heavenly.

But, since we could not play outdoors for long in the cold, and there was no TV, arts and crafts were our primary indoor fun.
  • We painted with Prang watercolors, 
  • Cut construction paper shapes, but never with granny's good scissors)
  • Used flour and water paste to construct little Christmas and snow scenes
  • Colored with Crayolas, and 
  • Created beautiful paper snowflakes from any piece of clean white paper that we could find.
  • And..... If there was hot chocolate, all the better!

Today I'm sharing two of my favorite "grown up" snowy projects and one Christmas tree earring project.

To download PDF file click here: Winter Birdhouse:
Above left: A simple, inexpensive wood birdhouse from Hobby Lobby painted using chilly colors sets the background for this fun outdoor scene. The Snowman, cardinal and snowflakes were created using polymer clay molded parts from ---

This single page downloadable PDF tutorial 
Designed by Jane Linn

To download PDF click here: Fun in the Snow Winter switch plate
A switch plate from Wal-Mart covered in glittery blue polymer clay with a fun scene of a snowman and snow puppy playing in the snowfall will bring the cool and fun of winter inside. 

Included in this three page tutorial are free instructions for making "Faux Knit" a technique I developed in the late 80's for my line of PenniBears for sweaters, scarves and stocking caps. Like the birdhouse, this switch plate project uses molded parts
  from  PJ017 Let it Snow! mold.

To download PDF click here: Christmas Tree Earrings: 
Last year's polymer clay Christmas Tree earrings are now a free tutorial. Quick and easy to make, require no molds, these earrings are light and easy to wear.

The three page tutorial outlines step by step in full color on how to make, bake and assemble them. The only polymer clay needed is translucent. You'll also need ultra fine glitter, green PearlEx powder, circle cutters in four or five sizes and your favorite clay tools.

If desired you may eliminate the green PearlEx powder. The resulting may be a more sparkling effect. To be sure bake a small sample of your translucent clay with glitter only to decide which you like best.

One friend made a bunch of these and sold them at bazaars during the holidays.

May you have a wonderful Christmas and may you always stay safe and warm this winter (and maybe have a cup of hot chocolate). 

Yours, Penni Jo

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty! mold

Painted parts.
This original Cute Kitties bead and embellishment mold is filled with a variety of six different Kitty faces.  The painted parts are shown left.
The three 'dressed' or embellished kitties are boy, girl and an I You Kitty. The remaining three are kitty faces shown in different poses.  

The mold includes a free tutorial showing how to mold the kitties and paint eyes. Also included is a photo idea of a simple project. (see below)

The six kitties and the two smaller elements in the mold can be used for a number of applications such as beads, dangles, earrings, buttons, button covers, embellishments and more

The mold is ready to ship and is available through our website:
Best Flexible Molds  

Mold is made of tough, long lasting urethane and can take temperatures up to 150°F.

Not rated for food safety
There are eight openings in this mold~ six are kitty faces, three are embellished and three are not embellished, just posed cutely. They are:
Mold with Info
K-1 = girly girl Kitty
K-2 = I You Kitty
K-3 = plain Kitty
K-4 = sweet Kitty with paws up,

K-5 = dapper guy Kitty and
K-6 = happy Kitty.

Below are the sizes of the openings.
Compare the sizes to the openings right.

K-1: 13/16 by 1 1/16 inches (21 by 25 mm)
K-2: 7/8 by 1 3/16 inches (22 by 30 mm)
K-3: 1 by 7/8 inches (21 by 28 mm)
K-4: 1 1/16 by 7/8 inches (22 by 28 mm)
K-5: 1 1/16 by 7/8 inches (31 by 37 mm)
Unpainted, pastel parts.
K-6: 1 by 7/8 inches (23 by 27 mm)
Fishy Toy 7/8 by 3.4 inch (25 by 20 mm)
Paw Print 9/16 by 9/16 inch (12 by 7 mm)

    We have measured the clay for you and provide a circle measuring chart with the mold and a list of the size of ball needed to fill each opening.

With the purchase of our molds, tutorials or stamps, you have permission to make one-of-a-kind pieces in any quantity to sell at fairs, bazaars, Etsy, Artfire and craft shows; However, you may not hire employees to make items from the molds or tutorials to sell through commercial accounts without permission.

All of the kitties, fish and paw print were sculpted by Penni Jo Couch.
Project idea. Can be a refrigerator magnet, pendant etc. 

©2013 Penni Jo

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Happy Kitty, harder than it looks

 For this little bead, 1 18" tall, the idea was for this kitty bead to have that funny look when a kitten puts both paws out in play or when 'attacking'.

As the title suggests, things are often much harder than they look.

The face went fairly well. The happy eyes expression a bit tricky and the open mouth and tiny chin took a long time to be 'just right.

Adding the texture to a sculpture sometimes would distort the details and it would be "start all over again". Accustomed to these little struggles when sculpting small items, perseverance paid off, and when it made me smile to look at it, it was finished. 

The paws with outspread toes were an entirely different story. In addition to being very time consuming and exacting they had to match.

Finally, two little paws emerged from the raw clay, same size, same level but too short. Cut away the paws from the chin, add a bit of clay to the bottom, raising them to the proper lever, smooth the joins, texture the new clay and quit for the day.

But, something was still bugging me about the design. 

Funny thing about seeing something with fresh eyes.... you can see immediately what was bugging you earlier.

The perfectly finished paws were WAY to big for the happy, little face.


After some more work one little paw was finally scaled better for the face. Tomorrow I'll start on the second paw, reducing the size of all the pads and surrounding 'fur'.

The beads are very thick at this time. They are sculpted thicker than needed so that they can be sized if needed by sanding the backs of the beads down. This allows for any textures and details to remain constant throughout the design and the finished beads can all tweaked so they are all the same thickness.

Below is the first photo of the kitty with big paws.

By Penni Jo Couch
Designer/sculptor of 

Friday, October 25, 2013

I (Heart) Kitty Work In Progress

Before beginning to create a variety of themes on the 'kitty' the original one was first scanned and the image pulled into photoshop where it was converted to grayscale. The resulting image was enlarged and repeated on a page so a number of designs could be tested.

To the left is a photo of the resulting images on my worktop. Two pages of reference of kittens, playing kittens, startled kittens were also put together.

Male, female and popular themes were tried. These were the ones chosen to begin.

This is an image of the I (Heart) Kitty in progress. It's since been baked. The heart is of pink clay.

The photos in the back are reference for the next bead, happy kitty.

A close up view of the bead.

Tomorrow, Happy Kitty and Sweet Girl will be on the work top for finishing. 

The same bead, different angle and color tinted.

By Penni Jo Couch
Designer/sculptor of 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!

In a high falsetto voice my grandmother used to call her old cat, Leo, with these words. From the time I was little I learned many things from her and one of the earliest was how to call the cat. :-) Little did I think that in later years I'd be sculpting them and spend many an hour designing and sculpting the little enigmatic creatures through the years!
Kitty bead shown with my hand for scale

Fast forward to the present... a kitty bead was on the list of items to sculpt so I tackled it with the usual enthusiasm.

Only now, with the sight gone from one eye, the task is a bit more challenging so after a lot of struggle I decided to sculpt a single bead, have Joe mold it then take several pressings for the final designs.


Mold and pressed part
After the first kitty bead was baked a flexible rubber mold was made and the original was removed.

By pressing clay into the mold I made several pressed clay parts that I had planned to modify to create individual beads or expressions. One with a heart to create a 'message' or gender, obvious boy or girl bead.

After a bunch of sketches, the girls and hearts were easy, but the boy bead was a super challenge. How do you make a sweet kitten into a little guy? After viewing a bunch of images the dapper guy began to take shape.
Dapper Kitty sculpt created in colored clay

With a crisp collar, a snappy bow tie, hat with a hat band to match the bow tie texture and a very, very tiny fish on the hat band the little dapper kitty was finished.

He is baked and needs a bit of touch up before molding but, with the toughest character done, it will be downhill all the way now.

Just for fun I added color to the sculpt with a layer of color in photoshop.

This sculpt is just under 1 1/8 inch tall.

by Penni Jo
creator and designer of 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

From Michigan to Home and out again

September was a big month for us. We had two shows booked, one on the weekend of the 14th and the other on the next week, the 21st. Only one little problem, the first one was in Imlay Michigan, an annual gourd festival, and the second in Houston, a polymer clay retreat.
We left on Sunday September 8th before noon and by 5:00 in the afternoon our RV transmission quit.

One truly amazing thing, we broke down less than two miles from one of the two places in the state that could work on an Allison transmission!

We were pleased that Good Sam (RV tow insurance) sent a two truck in less than half an hour to tow us to the nearest place United Engines where we spent the night in their front parking lot. Even without a transmission, the generator worked just fine so we were comfortable.

The next day they said they'd try to get it in to see what was wrong so we stayed in the Ramada Inn, a fabulous hotel and very pet friendly Sunday night. On Monday they still could not get to it so we headed home and decided on the way to drop the fur babies off at Joe Paul's house and headed back to Tulsa and spent another great night at the Ramada inn.

The next morning we drove to the RV, loaded everything we could into the car, see pic left, and headed out for the 900 mile drive to Imlay.

One sad thing, we failed to get the samples for my class, the finished gourds.

The drive was beautiful and we passed farm after farm with corn fields and other crops ready to pick.

It is easy to see why this part of the country is called the breadbasket of the world.

Along the way we would stop for the night, sleep and pull orders the next day. If the hotel had a printer or office center we'd print out the orders and I'd write out the addresses, Joe'd take them to the local post office and we would be heading north again.

We arrived at the Michigourder Annual Festival the night before it opened.

Polyform had donated the clay for my classes and shipped it to the director in Imlay so my clay was there when we arrived.

I taught two classes on Polymer clay basics and two classes on making a fitted lid for a gourd.

Everyone seemed to be having a great time learning and having fun playing in clay!

I had a great time and while we were there got a call that our RV was fixed and ready to go.  We headed home with many wonderful memories, picked up the RV and had a few hours to do some laundry before heading to Houston.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

More gourd work and fun

It took a few days to finish an intricate, fancy and complicated base and lid and shoot all the photos for the step by step instructions.

I liked the fancy designs but not everyone likes ornate, fancy and frilly.
(See almost completed fancy lid left.)

The knob just needs to be screwed tightly to the top and the clay antiqued to be complete.

The design curved from the top of the lid into the base at the bottom.

This bottom base is as fancy as the top.

Since the students in my up and coming classes may not be fond of ornate and fancy, a new, simpler design seemed to be in order so that they would have a choice.

The new, simpler lid design has a domed top, beaded edge and the flower on the edge matches up with the half flower design peeking out from under the lid. The base is a plain ring of clay.

A playful flower lid handle has an embedded screw in it and the domed top is threaded allowing the  handle to remain secure when lifting.

The 'key' in the lid allows it to close exactly the same each time. No looking for 'just the right way' to close it, ensuring that the flower parts always line up. The base is a simple circle of clay. No embellishments.

Because we will not have time in class to paint the gourd before adding the swirls, I've chosen to leave the raw gourd showing.

Here are some pics of the freeform design that flows around the gourd. Patterns are repeated in a variety of forms.

Post by Penni Jo Couch
Creator, sculptor and designer of 

The Premo® polymer clay for this class project supplied by Polyform. 
Thank you very much!

This was a great project for me, challenging but I learned so much while doing it. 

These shots of the design from different sides were done so that I can use them to draw a pattern that can be traced onto similarly sized and shaped gourds. 


You can find us at the 
September 13-15, 2013

Hope to see you there! 

BTW, you can take my
CLASSES  (Click the word CLASSES then scroll down to find my two polymer clay classes) even if you are not a gourder!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Gourd Work In Progress

Teaching at a gourd festival is a first for me so this week I began a new, free form design.

The lid is done except for the ball on top and today I worked on the base to set off the lid design. Both are designed so that the lines go from the lid to the base.

Challenging but lots of fun!

Penni Jo
Creator and sculptor of 
Best Flexible Molds

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beautiful Gourds with Polymer clay

 We've recently became aware of the gourd craft industry and have been asked to teach polymer clay classes at the Michigan Gourd Festival September 13-15-2013. When mentioning this, my clay friend Lisa Heller told me that she not only has been working with polymer clay and gourds, she also grows her own gourds!!

We have had a lot of fun discussing basics, tools, techniques, and more over the last few months. But, happily, today she came to visit and brought some of gourd vessels.

We had a great time looking at the clever way she has with gourds.

Many have puzzle tops that will only go together in one way. Needless to say it was a great time. These are just a few of the designs we oohed and aahed over today.

 Lisa also generously gave me a cleaning tool to help as we clean out 30 cannonball gourds which I'll be using in my classes next month as each student will receive a cleaned, opened gourd for use in class.

This is a round gourd that is a box. The background is gold polymer clay in a textured filigree technique with sculpted grapes and leaves. 

The same box open showing the beautiful shimmering, metallic looking gold interior. 

This gourd has a knotted tail, with sculpted leaves, flowers and a charming turtle watching over it. 

Makes me smile.

This lampbase is a work in progress with sculpted multicolored leave, flowers, vines and a turtle that can be hung from any number of leaves.


For some reason the color is best in the photo.

I shot the pics on the kitchen counter that has a 4 foot florescent light over it.  This one was very close to the high intensity lamp that was on the counter so maybe it gave truer colors.

Lisa demonstrated how to make polymer clay gears at our retreat last year. Her work has been featured in the  Steampunk magazine. This is a lamp base, a work in progress. 

Lisa also writes for PolymerCAFE.

This incredible gear box is an amazing box that she gave to Joe.

Thank you so much Lisa!

This exotic puzzle box is also filigree style with a delightful dragon keeping an eye on things.  

This tall gourd is done in multicolor, textured filigree style clay and finished in the inside with brilliant metallic green paint. Note the repeated design inside of the lid. Stunning. 

Things that are functional seem to have more value to me so you can imagine how exciting it was to see this nightlight. The cut stars are repeated in a variety of sizes on the exterior. 

It's great learning what can be done with gourds, how they can be cleaned cut, baked, finished, mica powdered, varnished and more.

This intricate bowl is covered with dark clay and antiqued with rich red paint that has been wiped down revealing the multiple textured filigree style swirls that cover the body of the bowl. Wow!!

Many thanks to Lisa as she has been extremely helpful and encouraging as I prepare for the classes I'll be teaching next month.

Penni Jo 
Designer & Creator of 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Another new Caboshape mold

From the beginning of our little mold company, our customers favorite molds have been our cabochon molds. Evidently when making jewelry, if they can mold a cabochon quickly they can get to beading faster. So, we created several cabochon molds with mostly traditional shapes.

Later on I needed an unusual smooth shape for a project and had to sculpt it by hand. It took a lot of time and after it was gone, if I'd needed another one, it would have to be made from scratch.
Enter the mother of invention : Necessity

I've always figured that if I'm needing something there must be a couple of others out there that wanted it too.

Brainstorming with Joe on the way home from Sandy Camp in 2010 the term Caboshape came into being. Smooth shapes with slightly rounded edges in non traditional cabochon shapes became Caboshapes.

As soon as we got home I sculpted our first Caboshape mold.

It was an immediate hit and continues to be a top seller. The project instructions that come with the mold is how to make a Bali Silver bezel for two of the Caboshapes. See below.

 The triangle mold came about as customers asked for new Caboshapes and it was one of the most requested shape.

The project instructions that come with this new mold is how to add sculpted sprays of leaves to the face of the tapered Triangles. All of the four triangles are scaled to be a specific length shorter than the longest triangle to give a pleasing effect when used  as shown.

Any of the triangles can be used to make a bracelet with the parts in juxtaposition. With stretchy bracelet cord and beads a stylish bracelet can be created with triangles all the same size and your favorite colors.

We love to see what our customers make using our molds. If you have any photos to share please contact me either from our website or by email.

Penni Jo Couch
Designer and sculptor of Best Flexible Molds
Below  PJ038 Mold, left
Project Right