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Friday, December 11, 2015

Save a Bundle on Clay - Secret Tools Series: Pt 5



I Adore Polymer Clay.What a fantastic versatile medium. IF we can dream it, polymer clay can make it reality! But, it sure can be a costly. I'm always looking for ways to increase my skill & productivity while cutting costs.

So, How do I Save a Bundle creating Masterpieces? 
Here's my Secret Weapon #5



I use Premo as my clay of choice for all my caning & primary color work & translucents, but Sculpey Original is THE weapon you must keep on hand (& in large supply)! It is essential because ...

# 1 - It costs a fraction of what the other higher quality clays cost
Higher quality should of course, be defined. Original Sculpey is extremely strong when compared to Premo, very similar. But, because it is a softer clay it is Horrid (useless) for caning. But because Sculpey White (Original Sculpey) IS very strong & can be yours for under $4.00 a pound (depending on the quantity you purchase) it should be explored. It has a LOT of uses beyond caning & for many techniques is a much better clay.  

# 2 - It is essential to create the type of landscape works you see above
The 'Landscape Techniques' you see above are so easy to do & so beautiful completed... & they can't be done without Sculpey Original. This is true for several reasons. Landscape pieces are created by putting a medium thick layer of Softer quality clay & then placing your 'cutouts' on top of that. Soft is essential so your top artwork layer adheres firmly without any distortion. And, if you do large pieces as I do, or you can only play in your clay for short periods of time, you are going to need a clay that doesn't have to be reworked after the initial condition & rolling. You can do a bit here & there without starting over every time you return.

# 3 - It can be used for bead cores & other areas you would use 'mud'
I think many of us have assumed that our wasted clay, those horrible color blends - & even worse, MUD, serves no purpose other than bead cores or a pendant back that won't be seen. We've all mixed that ugly 'muddy brown' or bland gray that seems to have no other use. Now you can put that 'inexpensive clay' where you may have used your mud before & I'll be showing you truly wonderful & easy techniques to show off that mud in it's best light! Did you know mud could be this beautiful?







Click HERE for PDF of All the Slideshow Photos Above

# 4 - It makes petite filigree, embroidery & other surface techniques a breeze
Having a 'soft clay' base to build your surface techniques on makes strong & secure adhesion easy without investing extra money in liquid clay additives. It colors easily with chalks, paints & other colorants when you need a deeper colored base. And, I mix it with Premo quite often for petite surface work when I need a clay that's a bit more pliable & easier to work.

# 5 - Place your thin canes on sheet of Sculpey Original to make canes go farther.
Placing our cane slices solely on top of sheets of our higher priced clay can really add up price wise & most of the time is unnecessary. Of course, there will be times that it makes more sense to build your sheets on the 'firmer' clays, but you will find many times a Sculpey Original White base is just as good at a fraction of the cost. And it is soft enough, you can add, for example, a pretty good amount of chalk as a colorant & still have a fairly pliable base. 

#6 - IF you work in larger piece work... Sculpey Original is a must!
I do larger piece work, & the process is simple, quick & affordable if you follow this simple procedure...Coat your piece with your white glue as a base to work off of. Cover you entire work surface with an even thickness coat of Sculpey Original, either white OR after tinting. Then cover with your sheets, canes, etc. IF you have an 'add' that is very fragile & you don't want to risk 'altering' or damaging it - simply place another coat of white glue between the layers. 

I'm going to be posting just a few more articles on this 'Must Have Tools Series' & then will be starting a section on 'Unique Techniques' like the Landscapes shown above where I'll walk you step by step through the entire process. I wanted to finish with tools 1st so I don't have to stop in the middle of a technique to explain the logic of steps like this. Granted, many clayers are blessed to be sitting pretty on a nice nest of bucks... they can enjoy the luxury of claying without a 2nd thought to the 'investment' side of our passion. But, for those like myself that have to make the hard choices, say... buy clay or pay all those pesky bills - there ARE ways to cut corners without sacrificing the quality of our work.  This 1 is a Win Win!


On a Final Note

Many artists ask about the 'best' places to buy their clays & materials. I can only speak for myself & my location. Also bare in mind, quantity will greatly affect your prices. As with just about everything you buy, the more you buy the cheaper it is. I built my initial stock up & now only buy in bulk. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States, but buy predominantly online for the savings.

1: MunroCrafts.com   
  • Orders $50.00 to $100.00 discount is 25% off retail prices
  • Order over $100.00 discount is 40% off retail prices
  • Order over $200.00 discount is 50% off retail prices.
$200.00 is a lot, but you are actually Only spending $100.00 + shipping. Plus they sell ALL accessories you may need, so it adds up quick. They do quick shipping & their clays are fresh. Make certain the items you are purchasing are qualifying purchases.

They run fantastic sales, including small quantities of clay & accessories. They also offer 'flat rate' shipping deals so whether you are buying a little or a lot, you'll get a great deal on shipping. They also offer a few products MunroCrafts doesn't carry. For example, they carry a 3.75 lb of Original Sculpey White, that may be perfect for your needs. As an awesome extra perk, they have a 'Rewards' program, so Every purchase, even sale priced items earn credits for FREE certificates. 

Accumulate Rewards Points and use them to earn Gift Certificates to be used on anything in the store!
  • -- First create an account by clicking the My Account link at the top of the page.
  • -- Then make purchases to accumulate points, one point for each dollar you spend.
  • -- When you log into your account, scroll down to the Rewards section and click "Redeem."
  • -- You'll be able to redeem 250 points for a $10 Gift Certificate, 500 points for a $25 Gift Certificate, or 1000 points for a $50 Gift Certificate. 

I click the items desired to put in my 'shopping cart', but Don't hit pay... instead I finalize by phone. IF you complete order online, be Certain to type 'Flat Rate' Shipping' in the comments box.

3: Michael's Hobby & Craft Store 
I guess they offer mail order, but I've never used that. They offer a coupon online that you can print any time for 40% off 1 item, so if you are making a larger purchase single item... that's great savings. They also have several sales a year where they offer 2 oz clays for .99 cents. That's $8.00 for a pound of clay - sweet! I try to keep a little 'Michaels nest egg' set back for just these occasions.


I did try EBay & Amazon for clay purchases in the past. I found that neither was an 'earth moving' great deal & both times the clay were old & very hard. Beware IF you decide to go that route.

Time to trot here.
Happy Claying... and Saving!