Saturday, December 22, 2012

May 2nd 2013 I'll be teaching a Pre-Conference Class at Fandango!

Using four colors of polymer clay (Lft) & translucent a millefiori cane is created that, when cut, creates a faux eagle feather. (Rt.)
Students will learn to mix the ivory color and then create a Skinner blend from from the ivory, white, brown and black polymer clay using an original blend layout designed to create the blend, striations and shaded split barbs in the feather.

Class is $50.00. May 2, 2013 10:00am to 3:00pm at beautiful Lake Yale in Florida. This is a pre-conference class at Fandango.  For more info about the Orlando Clay Fandango, dates, location and more click this LINK.

Designs from tiny feather charms to a large 'jeweled' feather are possible using a single polymer clay cane. I'll show how to reduce the cane with no packing and how to create a variety of sizes. 

Each student will receive a kit containing:

• Full color lesson with step by step pictures including earring pattern.
Retail Value $14.95
• Tiny laser images for optional “Painted”
• Sheet of sketches - how to lay out designs
•Single Edge Safety Razor blade
•Small square of Card stock for baking

One sheet of Candy Paper
Two Sheets of printer paper

 Materials needed:

•Clay needed: •Strong Polymer Clay: My choice is Pardo - White, Translucent, Brown, Black, & Yellow.  A small part of the Yellow and Brown will be mixed with some of the white to make the Ivory color in the feathers. Other strong polymer clays are Premo, Kato or Fimo Classic.

•Scissors  •Scotch or masking tape  •Pasta Machine for making the Skinner blend. In the instructions PM will stand for Pasta Machine.  •Long, flexible tissue blade or other flexible blade  Rigid Blade for cutting slices

Instructions to make the feather earrings shown will be included. Materials needed for the earrings are:

•2 ear wires, 2 eye pins. If you have no eye pins you will need approx. 5 inches of 20 gauge wire. Beads: two 4mm hollow metal silvertone beads, two large red glass seed beads, four 8/0 glass seed beads and two 6mm glass turquoise beads (or beads of your choice).
 I love Painted feathers so, just for fun, these tiny 'painted' feathers were created using laser images on the tiny clay feathers. Slight modifications were needed to get an effective "painted" image. 

Each kit will have a few copyright free laser images so class members can try out the technique. If there is no time in class, I will be a demonstrator for three days at Fandango and will be glad to demo the technique if requested.

 Demos by Linda Hess and Penni Jo Couch.
For more information on my class or to sign up please contact me. 
Penni Jo Couch
claylady43 (at) G m a i l (dot) com
(please remove spaces and add symbols)

Check out my website Best Flexible Molds if you have time.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday fun! Free Christmas Tree Earring Tutorial

 These Christmas earrings are simple to make, require very little clay and are light weight, easy to wear.  The tutorial is a pdf downloadable file and is only 612 Kb.

Left is a picture of the same pair of earrings. One shot from a top angle, the other shot straight on. 

Each earring is made of five layers of shaped and baked polymer clay, eight goldtone seed beads, one 6 to 8 mm bead and a 4mm AB faceted bicone for the top trim.

Making the earring 1.
 Materials Needed:

•Polymer clay: Pardo Translucent
•Micro Glitter: Green
•Fimo brand Pulver: Green
•Safety Mask: Pulver is powdered metal and
should not be breathed into the lungs.
•Kemper cutters: 5/8”, 1/2”, 7/16” & 3/8”.
Specialty tools: Large Peej Pick (or round tooth
pick with one end flattened and sanded to form
an edge) Small and large Peej Shapers, (or a
knitting needle) Peej Scraper (or razor or tissue
blade ).
•Jewelry Findings: Two Ear wires; two small
'gold' jump rings; two 6mm
faceted 'gold' beads; two

To finish the tree, add a loop at the top.
 4mm AB Crystal Faceted
beads; 16 gold lined seed

beads; 2 head pins (gold
•Two each of five baked and
cooled green clay disks sizes
5/8”, 1/2”, 7/16” & 3/8”.
(see instructions).
•Tools: Clay and jewelry
tools, brushes and your favorite
•Optional: Pasta Machine

(PM in the instructions)

add the Christmas tree to the earring.
After completing all the parts and baking them the earring is assembled beginning with the largest bead and 
the largest clay disk.  

Top View  and assembling
Get your free Christmas Earring tutorial here:

Created by Designer/Sculptor

Penni Jo Couch
as a gift to our family and friends. 

You can find more free tutorials on this page. Free Tutorials. All are downloadable.

Side view, finished earring.

Side view of the earrings. 

Have fun!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fantasy Feathers

 As I mentioned on facebook, the old "What if...?" bit me today. 

So many times, the best successes I've had began with "What if I .......?"

Left is a photo of my work table.  The faux eagle feather cane is upper right, a project I'll be teaching next year. It is a traditional feather and so far a favorite.  But, what if... I used the same technique but very different, non traditional colors? Note the two feathers to the left of the eagle feather. They are the answer to "What if I...?"

There were three colors on the work surface (black glass) today, Turquoise, pearl white and a soft coral color, leftovers from some project. 

Also on the work surface was a small Stroppel cane that Jane and I made together on our last play day. 

Shaft ready to be added to the feather halves
Using the three colors a Skinner blend was created. Turquoise on one end, soft coral on the other and the pearl white in the center. The resulting blend was fan folded into a block from which a feather would be made. After cutting the corners away the feather shaped block was cut in half leaving two sections of 'barbs' ready for splits.

The side splits in the 'barbs'  were finished and I had reached the point where the shaft needed to be wrapped in black to separate the shaft from the feather barbs but it seemed to me that black would be harsh and not fantasy like. 

After holding a number of colors up to the shaft and parts of the feather I pretty much gave up. Actually I was hoping for one of those "Ah-HA!!" moments that often come after I give up trying. 

 That's when the Stroppel cane caught my eye. "What if I were to wrap the shaft with a slice of the Stroppel cane???  If lengthwise, then it would be the same problem as the black clay but if vertically then the shaft would have dozens of tiny color bits as we'd be looking on the cross section of a very thin slice. 

Would it work?  A thin slice of the Stroppel cane was put through the pasta machine on a thin setting. #7 in a machine where #1 was the thickest and #9 was the thinnest.

After covering both sides and the ends the shaft was inserted into the feather halves. 

They were pressed together leaving the thick end of the shaft sticking out of the feather cane about 1/4 inch. 

A small vertical slice of the Stroppel cane was placed from the tip of the shaft to the tip of the feather.

The cane was then tightly pressed together, shaped and reduced slightly.
 The cane provided about a dozen slices from large to small. Left are shown some of them. 

The lines around the shaft appear almost 'sparkly' due to the darks and lights.

Left is a close up scan of a Fantasy Feather.  

Original Design by
Penni Jo Couch

Designer and sculptor of 

Designer of

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fun with Jane

My friend Jane and I are fellow junkies and Polymer Clay is the object of our obsession (of course after faith, family, and friends). When we have a chance to play in clay it is always more fun to play together as our ideas are enriched by each others insights. Since moving over 30 miles away, we do not often have a chance for a clay play day but managed to squeeze one in on Thursday this week.
 Jane is an excellent designer and brought with her a polymer clay necklace she'd made using our newest mold, PJ047 Conical Seashells shown left. 

The tiny seashells are brightly gleaming 'gold' on a back of matte, hammered 'gold'. The added glass beads in ocean colors accent the pendants. Each pendant/charm is hung using a trio of oval jump rings.  

A tiny bit of antiquing around the molded seashells gives extra depth to the pendants/charms.
Very, very nice!! Thank you Jane!!

  She has often encouraged me to write a polymer clay book and I've finally taken the plunge. Faux Ribbon Embroidery (or great fun with tiny bits of Skinner Blends) is currently in the works.

Since I've become a fan of Pardo Clay, and plan a number of color schemes for the projects in the book using this clay the first step was to obtain all of the colors including translucent and make samples of each color.  Metallics will follow later.

Above is a yellow ceramic tile with all but the blue color teardrops of clay and one teardrop of pearl clay (12 o'clock on the tile).  There are two different translucents. The Viva Decor label translucent and the Lisa Pavelka (upper left corner) label translucent.  I wanted to be sure they behaved the same. 

The samples on this tile are covered with candy paper and will be the control group. Two sets of the colors have been baked and these unbaked ones will be compared to baked colors to check for any color changes. 

Jane and I conditioned about half a block of each color and cut a number of the teardrop shapes. It's so much more fun to condition clay for a long time if you have some one to visit with and help.  The colors conditioned easily, the clay was pleasant to use and in a very short time we'd finished and the colors were put away.

After we finished up the conditioning, and on a whim, we tackled the exciting Stroppel cane. (Alice, thank you for sharing your technique!) 

Having very few canes not being used I gathered up a bunch of colored scraps from projects. While I chopped the scraps with a blade, adding a slice of ivory and an old patterned cane, Jane started making sheets of black clay. We did just like the video suggested but maybe not quite so neatly added the colored bits and lumps to the first sheet, then added a sheet of black clay. Again a bunch of bits, slices and lumps and more black clay. After one more layer we packed the stack down, cut it in half and re-stacked the stack. A couple more cuts and stacking and above is the resulting cane. It looks like a happy summer day to me. :-)

If you would like to see images from artists all over the world of items made using this technique, check HERE. Amazing, right? 

The mold used by Jane to make the necklace above is the PJ047 Conical Seashells, shown below.
PJ047 Conical Seashells.

This seashell mold is filled with 17 different sizes of shells. All have a conical shape. 

Some are created with the 'opening' of the shell showing. This open area allows for beautiful pearly 'inside' finish contrasting the outer shell. 

All of the shells were natural shells but had to have clay added to make them able to be molded.

Jeweled Seashell Pin/Pendant

Free instructions to make this beautiful jeweled seashell pin/pendant (shown left) are included with the mold. 

This and other original molds are available on our website:

Penni Jo

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 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wonderful Greek Food

Yummmm, great food!
My friend and I were going through the south side of Oklahoma City, on the I-240 eastbound frontage road heading for I-35 to go south to first Norman, then Maysville. We had been up to the city and, on the way home, needed to stop at Budget Box and Bags for some studio supplies. It was just after lunch and we were debating where to go to get some take-out. The box store is in the 74 South Shopping center on the far west end. 

Next to it was a small Greek restaurant Anna's Famous Gyro's, 2228 Southwest 74th Street,  Oklahoma City, OK 73159. 

It had been years since I'd had any Greek food and since it was close we went in and ordered takeout as we would be stopping for lunch at a friend's house in Moore and told her we'd lunch. We chose the chicken ka-bob with extra rice and some Baklava.

Wow, what a great lunch. We all commented while eating as to what great food it was. The flavors were superb and cooked 'just right', the grilled veggies (they came with the Ka-bob) were very tasty and the rice was the finest I've had in years. 

If you ever get to the south side of Oklahoma City near mealtime, I think you would like Anna's.  

Oh, and if you ever need bins, boxes, gift boxes, etc. Budget Box And Bag has a good supply for organizing any room of your home, shipping, and tiny jewelry gift boxes with cotton in them. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Polymer clay color recipes

  One of the problems that can happen with polymer clay, well, actually about any hobby is the need to keep track of your own custom colors. With polymer clay the following problems can arise.

  1. What color is the baked clay? (sometimes it is very different from the unbaked clay.)
  2. What colors were used to make a new color?
  3. What were the proportions used?
  4. What does the mix look like?
  5. What does the baked mix look like?
  6. What are the differences in the brands of clay? 
  7. How do the different clays respond to being mixed?

For a long time I have kept pages of colors that were mixed for tutorials.  It's really easy. 

Start with a sheet of three hole pages for a notebook, print out the numbers and begin.

These pages show how the colors turned out, their names and the recipes.

I began with pages that only had--

"Color 1", "Color 2" etc (They were all in numerical order). 

When the new color was mixed it was given a descriptive name and the recipe was written down on the page after the number. A chip was created, baked and glued to the page.

When all of the numbers were filled in, the original numbers and recipes were typed and printed on cardstock. (The reason for this is that my penmanship was hard to read!) The chips were removed from the original and glued to the now, readable finished page.

The recipe pages grew and as they did I got better about keeping the chips with the recipes.

As you can tell, I like some gently muted colors and lots of shimmery ones. 

These colors were made of what ever brand had the colors I needed to make a custom mix. Some are very beautiful but can never be perfectly re-made as the different brands were not listed. But, the recipes are a start.

Now I try to stay all in one brand of clay. I've chosen Pardo.

By Penni Jo

creator and sculptor of 

Best Flexible Molds