Saturday, November 20, 2010

And Yet another NEW Mold!!!!

On the way home from Sandy Camp, we reviewed our sales and the notes of people's requests for future molds. It became clear that folks really liked the cabochons. There are five of them in our line but they are all common shapes, circles, ovals, squares/rectangles and one odd shape. All of them are asymmetrical.

Little sketches were drawn on a number of pieces of paper, sketches for possible new designs but what could we call an odd, distorted or asymmetrical cabochon?


Similar in depth, style and size, these Caboshapes could be used in any mix or singly.

For instance, you can mold a caboshape using about 2/3's of the clay called for. De-mold it and set it aside. Now cut a thin slice of your favorite Mokume Gane. Line the mold, press in the thin, molded caboshape. Press firmly to bond, trim the excess and demold a beautiful, smooth shape, ready to bake and use.

The same can be done using a slice of a Kali cane, or a group of small cane slices. etc, etc.

The first Caboshape mold is fairly simple with eleven unique, hand sculpted Caboshapes.

Three Shield-like shapes,

Four Triangle-like shapes,

One Cube / square,

Four Curved shapes.

Most of the parts have flat fronts and are about ¼” deep. Some of the parts are curved. The depth of the smaller parts is from 3/16” to ¼ inch deep.

For the project, I used two different shapes, the curved shield and a narrow football shape. After baking the shapes, a faux Bali Silver Bezel is constructed around the two shapes.

The response to this new format has been great. Thank you all.

Stay tuned, there are sketches and plans for five more caboshapes.

Sandy Camp Review

Sandy Camp was absolutely delightful. There were four and a half days of fun, fellowship and clay play. It was truly a retreat. Except for watching a 30 minute demonstration two or three times a day, all our time was spent making things of clay. With each demonstrator, we learned something new that we could take back into the tent to try out.

The store was only open a couple of hours a day. This allowed the vendors and staff to play along with everyone else. Left is a photo inside of the store. In the background, left a gentleman is standing in front of our booth.

At school we learned to give a "book report" a most dreaded task to say the least. However as the years have gone by I have learned to enjoy book reports and will often share with our guild the goodies I have gleaned from one book or another.

This is not a book report, just an overview of the wonderful demonstrators at Sandy Camp. (OK, I may not be so wonderful, but I loved doing the demo. )

Sandy Camp Demonstrators & Demo Notes:

1. Jill Kollmann: Jewelry, pendant with wirework.
Excellent demonstration with a handout. Her demo was, what she calls, “Fusion of Wire and Polymer Clay”. A clay cabochon is captured in wirework with swirling wires, beads and tiny sculpted details. You can see some of her work on her Etsy site.

2. Victoria Hepfner: Boxes made using cookie cutters.
This was NOT what I expected. It was so much more!! The lids on her boxes went all the way to the bottom of the inside, bottom box. Like a candy box. The long lids allowed for both a nice, snug fit and the ability to have beautifully decorative sides. The Technique was developed accidentally by Brenda Urquhart and demonstrated by Victoria.

3. Penni Jo Couch. I showed how to make clean molded parts that are ready to use immediately after molding, how to de-mold, ideas for using molded parts in a project and how to make cabochons with embedded slices of millifiori canes. Everyone got a copy of the cabochon project. Left: a sample cabochon.

NOTE: A video of molding an de-molding is on our website's home page .

I also demonstrated how to sculpt a calla lily and gave everyone a pattern.

4. Patty McElhiney: Wow, Incredible hollow beads! This demo was loaded with all kinds of info, from all sizes of lentil beads, styles of hollow beads, to hollow spool shaped beads. She showed some of the home items that could be used to make the lentils and how to treat a dowel rod to make a form for the spool beads. Lastly, she showed how to make a filigree bead over cornstarch packing peanuts squished into a bead shape. Wonderful demo, filled with info and fun.

5. Dawn Schiller: Fun faces in bezels.
She had a super layout of the shapes needed to make a face. She also had a simple way of putting the shapes into the bezel and then blending them together to make a face without a nose. The nose was last and added great character to the face. A most amazing demonstration. -- She only used a nail tool to do all the sculpting. cool. She was amazing.

The clay was a polymer clay from Brazil called bozzi. It evidently is super to use and easy to condition, and strong and is available here.

6. Marie Segal: Extruder Fun:
This was also unexpected. It always amazes me at how much I don't know. She showed how many of the shapes we might never use go together to make fabulous patterns. Also, if loading more than one color into the barrel, the last color that goes into the extruder will be on the outside of the extrusion until it is all gone. The potential of the stacking is really exciting as are the patterns that can be formed using the extruder.
Ideas- plaids, quilt blocks, etc. Lots of ideas a-brewing in my brain and a few notes.

7. Christi Friesen: fun and a great demo, a koi pond.
This project was done as a stand alone tiny artwork or as a pin or pendant. The project was a tiny “pond” with lily pads, stones, a koi fish and resin water. She does not spend much time conditioning clay, just using it as it comes from the block. I'm guessing it is premo but could not see the brand from where I sat. She is a fabulous teacher and such fun. 'Can't wait to try this one.

8. syndee holt (no caps on purpose) Mosaics using polymer clay and glass drops. A very, very informative demonstration from preparing the background, creating the clay tiles, gluing the parts, grout tips from choosing the color to mixing and spreading it into the spaces, and finishing the piece. Polyform supplied a frame and tiny cutters to make clay tiles and decorate the frame for a contest.

9. Tony Aquisto, creator of Kato Clay. Fun, tongue in cheek history of polymer clay, a 40 minute power point presentation. Very clever and informative :-).

The retreat was relaxing, encouraging and I came home rarin' to get clayin'!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dr. Laura's show 11-1-10

Over the weekend Oct. 30-31,2010, an order for some of our molds came in from a customer named Dr. Laura Schlessenger. As I read the name on the order my mouth dropped open. I have listened to a Dr. Laura on radio for nearly two decades! Could this be that Dr. Laura? After a bit of research, we discovered that, indeed, it was THE Dr. Laura.

Joe normally picks the molds for orders, but, knowing that I had been a fan of hers for years, he handed me the bin and read off the numbers so that I could pick the order. So many of them were my favorites, molds I continually go back to over and over again.

I started to write a
'thank you for your order' note to her when I remembered that the reason I started sculpting in the first place was so that I could continue to stay at home with my children. We had been transferred to Oklahoma in 1981. Our financial circumstance had changed greatly but I had been a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) since the birth of our first son in 1963 and wanted to continue to do so.

The first email I wrote was the "War and Peace" version. Too long and WAY too much detail. During the day I would pop back into the studio and pick away at the email, trying for the best "Reader's Digest" version possible.

Someone once said about writing: "Don't use too many words, but, use all the words needed to tell the story." or something close to that.

After much typing, retyping and thinking, I finally sent a thank you letter to Dr. Laura. She wrote back and asked permission to read it on her show and I said yes. Here it is below.

"Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you so much for your order. Our little mold business started in '81 because I wanted to continue to be a stay-at-home-mom. I just had to write to tell you how tickled I am that you have ordered our products. How they came about is right up your alley.

In 1981 we were transferred to Oklahoma. In our previous home, I had been a stay at home mom since 1963, raising our kids and loving it.

My mother had to work from the time I was 3 as our father and mother had divorced. Times were extremely tough in the 40's and 50's. My mom had to work. Dad, a physician, lived 1700 miles away, remarried and raising his new wife's son. Mom struggled to keep us fed and warm. Fortunately, her parents and her maiden aunt helped to raise my sister and myself. As you can tell, so many of the stories I hear on your radio show (I've been listening since the mid 90's) and in your weekly emails ring true to me. My heart goes out to the children of the self centered crazies.

From the time I became a mom I was determined to stay home with my kids.

When we moved to Oklahoma, it was a tough time for the economy. Houses were expensive, loans had double digit interest and my husband had to take a cut in pay to keep his job. We did all we could to allow me to stay home.

In a miniature club meeting in the winter of 1981 I found polymer clay and fell in love with it. Turns out, I could sculpt, who knew?

A few months later, I signed up for a small local craft show, to try to sell my hand crafted miniatures to earn enough for new winter coats. To my surprise, I made $700.00!!! You could have knocked me over with a feather. The kids had warm coats and we paid some bills. It seemed that I was in business.

For the next seven years I stayed at home with my kids while making miniatures, sculpting doll house dolls and eventually ended up with a little signature line of tiny teddy bears called PenniBears.

I taught polymer clay classes in my home, at conventions, (the kids went with us) local stores and eventually had a few dealers who sold my miniatures and PenniBears all over the country. Soon our kids were back in Christian School and I had a decent car.

In '89, my skill as a miniaturist came to the attention of Gary Clinton, owner of United Design in Noble OK. and I was offered a position of designer/sculptor with their company. Since my husband worked nights and I would be working days, there would always be someone home with the kids were home from school for the next two years until they were grown and gone. For the next 15 years I was a master sculptor designing giftware, angels, home decor, and animal figurines for home and garden. Eventually the company was sold and moved out of Oklahoma so I started a design studio in my home.

After retiring we decided to market our line of rubber molds. I sculpt, design the project, write the tutorials, measure the clay and take the pictures. Hubby Joe makes the molds, creates and maintains the website and ships the
orders. We are having a great time, staying busy and enjoying life.

And, it all started with me trying to find a way to stay home with my children. Ain't life grand???
Most Sincerely,
Penni Jo Couch

Designer - Sculptor - Writer"

Dr. Laura read my email on Monday Nov. 1 2010 that I had written to her on her show. I mentioned this on facebook and have been asked "What did your email say?" from those who did not hear the show.

She mentioned our website before reading the email and our server lit up, stuttered a bit but did not crash!

We've gotten some nice emails and are encouraged by the response.

If you are reading this and are a SAHM or want to be, I encourage you to keep trying. Budget both your time and $$, plan meals around items on sale, start cooking from 'scratch' rather than buying pre-made meals. Most neighborhoods have free sale fliers, check out the weekly sales and coupons.

Look around and try to see what skills may be needed and wanted that you could do while home with the kids. I have a friend who irons for people. It's amazing how many people would like to have their clothes ironed and are are willing to pay.

Check out websites for all kinds of recipes and helps for stay at home moms.

My DIL's favorite laundry soap recipe is on this page: -- I still make my own laundry detergent. I guess that thriftiness gets to be a habit.

Left: PJ037 Settings (bezels) for standard oval cabochon.

Thanks for stopping by and have a most wonderful day.

Oh, and if you would like some molds, please visit us here at