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