Polymer Clay Canes for Beginners

27 videos, step by step, beginner cane workshop beginner Cane Tutorial What people are saying about this tutorial. jennifer rose Just finished this first workshop on how to make canes, and I must say I learned so much. This is exactly what I have been looking for, someone who could explain cane making in a step by step that process that I could replicate. I watched the videos, went into my studio and began to create all of the canes Alice showed. I finally have results I can be proud of, and I say thank you so much for doing this workshop. My only question now is when do we get more workshops. If you are only going to take one online class let it be this workshop. Thank you Alice for your hard work, and your dedication to helping others learn the joys of polymer clay.

Online Workshops with Alice Stroppel


[caption id="attachment_102" align="aligncenter" width="100" caption="Member IPCA"]Member IPCA[/caption]

New Background Ideas

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my photos for Etsy. Cutting each bracelet out in photoshop, from each angle mind you, that equals five separate pictures. Then creating a background etc. I feel like I spend as much time with the pictures as making the actual piece.

Many people have pieces that lend themselves to soft  backgrounds or they are just great at picture taking. I want to clay…..not spend hours trying to get ready to sell.

I had this digital collage that I worked on awhile back and it was back and white checks with the saying , “treat me no differently than you would the queen” When I made my “Alice  in Wonderland” bracelet, I thought of it and printed it out and used it as the background.

I thought it really worked for this bracelet. So I tried a piece of fabric that I had for the next bracelet that day.

And this wasn’t bad either. At least I didn’t have to spend the time preparing it for Etsy. But we’ll see how it’s accepted by my customers. Translation…will it sell????

I have a really great big book of clip art and I found some pretty neat backgrounds and will be trying some of them as well. I liked the words in the background of the “Alice” bracelet, maybe I’ll play around with that some too.

If you don’t have clip art, you can make your own background with regular copy paper and markers. I’ll be trying that too I think and I’ll let you know.

Process vs Product by Suzanne Ivester

When I opened my International Polymer Clay Association newsletter this morning, our president  Suzanne Ivester greeted us with a timely article about selling our work. She brings up some very interesting points. She made me look at the process a bit differently and I think you will enjoy reading what she has to say.

If you are already a member of IPCA, perhaps you’ve already read Suzanne’s article, let me know what you think. If you aren’t a member, you might consider joining this wonderful supportive group. Visit the IPCA website and take a look at all they do for our clay community.

With Suzanne’s permission, I’ve printed her article below.

Suzanne Ivester - President - International Polymer Clay Association

Suzanne Ivester - President - International Polymer Clay Association

Process vs Product

by Suzanne Ivester

I meet often with a group of friends to clay and share our ideas, hopes and frustrations. None of us is what we consider a “professional” artist, but occasionally we all offer our work for sale.

When we talk about pricing and selling, we often lament “Don’t they (the customers) understand how much work goes into each piece?” Then we click our tongues and shake our heads in solidarity as undervalued artists, united in dismay at the ignorance of the shopping public.

But is this fair? And is it helpful? Maybe there’s another point of view to consider.

The Value of  Process

As my friends and I work/play together (and, to a lesser extent, when each of us works alone), we revel in the process. We develop and share techniques, testing them by trial and error. Our focus is not on the finished product. In fact, most of what we create ends up in bags of “loose parts,” to be completed or discarded later. This activity has tremendous value to us–educational, recreational, social–but it can’t be translated into dollars or Euros, except insofar as it helps us to gain skills that will enable us to make products that have monetary value.

A piece of my artwork represents to me the history of the process of its making. I know that it took me three hours, I burned my hand taking it out of the oven, and I tried four different surface finishes before I was satisfied. But do potential buyers know these things, or care? And should they care?

The Value of a Product

When I approach buying, for example, a piece of jewelry, my primary focus is on the product I’ll receive in exchange for my money. Is it beautiful? Does it fit comfortably? Will it be durable? Does it reflect my personal style and complement my wardrobe?

In judging the product’s value to me, I may also consider some process issues. If the item is handmade, are the design and construction superior enough  to similar manufactured goods to warrant a higher price? Was an artisan in a developing country exploited in its production? Will the hand-crafting process of this piece provide me with interesting information to share with those who compliment me on it?

Resolving the Dilemma

In my opinion, while an artist may be concerned mostly with his or her process, the primary focus of a buyer will always be the product.

Therefore, an artist intending to sell pieces of art must concern him/herself with the finished product as it will be viewed by an objective person.

A few simple rules may be derived from this conclusion.

  1. A  difficult or time-consuming technique won’t necessarily result in a more valuable product than a simple technique that the artist has fully mastered and can use creatively.
  2. The elements and principles of good design are flexible enough to inform artistic decisions based on comfort and fashion.
  3. A clever artist will develop a narrative about his/her process that will enhance the value of the product by providing a “conversation-piece” factor. This narrative may be shared via demonstration, conversation, or merchandising.


Let me know your thoughts on what Suzanne has written. Leave a comment. And take a look at my series on selling your work and how Suzanne’s thoughts add another layer.

Part 1 Selling Your Polymer Clay Artwork
Part 2 Pricing Polymer Clay Artwork to Sell Wholesale
Part 3 Mermaid Bracelet Listed on Etsy
Part 4 Inventory Lists for Your Polymer Clay
Part 5 Display Cards for Polymer Clay Pins and Necklaces
Part 6 Creating Tags for Your Polymer Clay Creations

Etsy Bound Bracelets, Card Cases and Bottle Stoppers

Polymer Clay bangle braceletA funny thing happened. I was so happy that the shop I stopped in while I was in Tampa wanted to buy some of my pieces. So happy I shared it with you. Now I have to tell you that I emailed the shop and haven’t heard a word since.

Polymer Clay bottle stopper front

polymer clay bottle stopper  back

Because of that shop, I realized that there were so many other possibilities out there that I wasn’t looking at. So It’s okay!

I began to look at dress boutiques and other speciality shops. I found quite a few and have emailed several. I’ve heard back from one, but she only carries local artists. she still was a bit interested and asked for some time to think about it.

As you can see, I am still stuck on Zentangle canes. I really have had fun with them.

Polymer Clay business card holder

I did my emailing on Friday and this week end was Halloween, so I’m not discouraged yet. Besides, I still have the whole United States and Canada left….and I’ve started receiving commission checks from Julia’s Art Gallery on Pine Island.  I told you about that trip in September.

Blue Skinner Blend polymer Clay braceletSo all of these items are now listed in my Etsy Shop with more to come. Life is sweet.

Other Shops To Sell Your Polymer Clay Art Work

New Work for New Shop

New Work for New Shop

When I went to Tampa to visit The Creative Native and take some of my work for Pam, the owner, to feature.

Earlier in the day, I had lunch with my son, and we stopped by The Red Herring, a delightful shop with “curious goods for your home.” I thought I would ask inside if they knew of any art galleries or funky crafty gift shops that might be interested in my work.

I showed the woman behind the desk the bracelet I was wearing and told her what I was looking for, she asked me to wait while she found the owner. She thought the owner might be interested in my  pieces.

And she was. She would have bought all my wine stoppers I think, but I had promised to take them to The Creative Native. I told her I would make her more and send her a picture of them once they where complete. She also showed an interest in the business card holders and the bracelets.

So the picture above is of the new work that I did for her. I emailed her the picture and a price list. I’ll let you now how things turn out.

My point is, you shouldn’t limit yourself to just galleries or “craft” gift shops. I really didn’t realize that this shop might be interested in my pieces.

I knew that they had wonderful things and I loved just walking in the shop, but it didn’t cross my mind to put the two things together…”Curious goods for your home” with my wine stoppers, but I should have at least considered it. Her shop is full of well used and loved items that, once placed in your home will feel like it’s been there for years and belongs.

So I learned something very valuable and I will have to widen my circle when looking for more outlets.

A Successful Trip to The Creative Native Gallery

The Creative Native

The Creative Native

I went to Tampa to meet with the owner of The Creative Native Gallery, Pam Moody. She really liked my work and I left everything that I brought with me. But I already knew that she would like my things because I had found Pam’s gallery website and emailed her the link to my flickr site.

She told me that she really appreciated the way I introduced her to my work. She said that when artists simply stop in the gallery, sometimes it just isn’t convenient. Pam is a ceramic artist and in addition to running the gallery, waiting on customers, etc., she is working on her things as well.

So she was happy that she could look at my work when it was convenient for her. She emailed me and asked me to bring my things and meet with her. She has a very nice gallery with lots of wonderful art and funky fine crafts as you can see by the picture above. That’s the front page of the The Creative Native’s website.

The gallery has a great feeling about it and it makes you happy to have walked in the door. Pam is friendly and fun, and creates wonderful ceramic pieces that you will enjoy. If you are in the Tampa area stop in and take a look, you might just find something you can’t live without.

I’ve added this post to the Selling Your Art Category. It works, it’s working for me. I also stopped into another shop on Bay to Bay in Tampa before going to The Creative Native. The owner wanted to buy some of my samples. I’ll tell you all about it in the next post.

Interview with Tampa Area Gallery

Salt and Pepper

Salt and Pepper

I spent part of an evening last week searching out and emailing galleries that are close by. I emailed three and have an appointment to visit one with my work. Another road trip, that’s good news. I just wanted you to know that I am actually doing what I suggested you do in my post Selling Your Polymer Clay Artwork. I need to sell my artwork, so I’m taking my own advice. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Have you contacted any galleries or shops? Tell me about it in the comment section so others can here how you have succeeded. they’re out there just waiting for your work!

Oh, and I sold two bracelets last night during our downtown artwalk. Sold them right off my wrist. That felt good for sure.

Free Photo Background for Your Polymer Clay

Bracelet on Graduated Background

Bracelet on Graduated Background

There are many ways to take pictures of your Polymer Clay artwork and I’m sure you have figured out how to get the best picture. Staging is popular now, making the item shine in an environment. I’m all for it and think it really show items to the best advantage.

But for an easy professional looking photo, here’s a quick way to get started. I’m giving you are free pdf of a graduated background. The background goes from white at the bottom to black at the top. It doesn’t use that much ink, and can be well worth the cost of printing it.  It is only 8 1/2″ x 11″ and will only work for small items.

I printed mine on card stock and have used it over and over again. Sometimes I use Photoshop to create a background like this after I have cut the item out. But sometimes, to save time, I use my gradient sheet.

If your printer won’t print on card stock, then print it on regular paper. Tape another sheet behind it when you are taking pictures to prevent the light shining though.

Down load the pdf gradient background now. Save a copy to your computer or print right away. Before you print, make sure the heads on your printer are clean, you have enough ink, and you might want to choose black ink in your printer settings.

I take my pictures on my porch in the brightest part of the day. You could set a small table outside in the shadow of your house. The key is for it to be a bright sunny day, but your item is in the shade so that there are not shadows yet plenty of light.

Tape the top (black part) of the background to the wall of your house or a box and the other end to the table. It just needs a slope so that the background goes up behind the item.

Place you item on the background, turn off you flash and take your picture. If you have a photo editing program of any kind on your computer, download your photo into it, make any adjustments and crop it.

Hope it helps those of you who have been wondering how to get started. You can always do something different as you become more experienced.

Creating Tags for Your Polymer Clay Creations

Tags Layout

Tags Layout

I always include a gift card with any purchase online. It just makes your item look more professional and it is a great place to promote your name and contact information.

I begin by laying out several tags to be printed on one 8 1/2″ x  11″ sheet of card stock. I use 90# weight. Again, I use Adobe InDesign, but I know you can do the same thing in word.

The tags are 2″ x 3″ and will be cut and folded in half to equal 2′ X 1- 1/2″. The picture of my “girl”, my logo,  is on  the front and any instructions and contact information is on the back. This makes a very nice gift tag for the customer if they are giving the piece to someone else.

I also send these along to the shops, it’s a nice place for the retailer to put the price and inventory numbers. There is one difference, the retailer usually doesn’t want your contact information anywhere on the item. The customer has found your work because of the gallery or shop, the retailer wants that customer to return to them to buy again. You can’t blame them and it’s good for you if you sell more items in the retailer’s shop.

If possible, use your name or the name of your online shop or blog as your business name on the tag in some way.  Or the other way around, name your blog or online shop after your business name. That way, if a person doesn’t live in the same town as the shop, perhaps a tourist passing through, and really wants to find your work online, she/he will google your name.

Tag Before Folding

Tag Before Folding

This is a tag before folding. I would have all my contact information on the back for an internet sale, ask the retailer what they prefer. On the back of this one, I’ve included instructions that came with my perfume pens. It is a perfect place to add this kind of information or a story about the item, an explanation about polymer clay or whatever might engage the customer.  Retailers really appreciate this kind of service and so do your direct customers.

I was somewhere the other day, showing one of my mermaid bracelets to someone and she asked, did you paint the bracelet? I know many of you get the same question. Boy do we need an explanation on the our pieces!  In fact I think that I need to do that right away for my next batch of tags. We have to educate the public and let them know the time and skill it takes to create something in polymer clay and more important, that if they purchase this item, they will have a unique piece and something to start a conversation.

Tag Folded

Tag Folded

I fold my tags in half, punch a hole only on the top back side and add a bit of stretchy cord. I attach it to my item and off it goes.

You could make the tags a single piece and not fold it over, you could make it smaller. There are so many things you can do with this idea. I’d love to see what you already do or what you come up with after reading this.

Oh and by the way, don’t forget to add a few pennies to the cost for paper, ink and time to produce the cards and tags. Yes you have to have them for promotion, but it is the cost of doing business and you have to recoup the cost through your sales.

So there you have it. Lots of items to get you on your way to a clean, smart look for your masterpieces in polymer clay. Good luck and remember please, to have some fun along the way.

Part 1 Selling Your Polymer Clay Artwork
Part 2 Pricing Polymer Clay Artwork to Sell Wholesale
Part 3 Mermaid Bracelet Listed on Etsy
Part 4 Inventory Lists for Your Polymer Clay
Part 5 Display Cards for Polymer Clay Pins and Necklaces
Part 6 Creating Tags for Your Polymer Clay Creations

Display Cards for Polymer Clay Pins and Necklaces

Card for Pins

Card for Pins

I put my pins on cards that I create and print on my printer here at home. I lay out several cards in Adobe InDesign to fit an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of card stock. You could use word, or other programs instead.  I cut the cards to size, using a paper cutter to make sure my cards are even and look professional.

Then I punch two holes for my pin. I have a hole punch that I bought from a scrap booking company that has a longer reach than a normal punch. The trade mark on the handle is, Close to my Heart. I use the 1/8″ circle. You can custom fit each pin to the card.

Fish Pin on Card

Fish Pin on Card

Then I thread the pin through the two holes and fasten  to secure. Normally, I would have my website, my blog, and my email address on the card. On the card above, I don’t have any contact information, because this pin is going to a gallery that doesn’t allow the artists to attach it to their items.  But I have the name of my business on the top and my name on the bottom. If the customer really wants to find me on the internet, they could.

However, the smart  and most honorable thing to do is to ask where the customer heard about about you and your work and see if you can’t work with the retailer to offer this customer more of your items. It will cement your relationship with the retailer and it’s the right thing to do.

If however the customer live too far away from the retailer and would not be able to buy your work any other way, then be happy she took the time to find you and see if you can find just the right piece for her.

You could also use this cards for necklaces, simply punch one hole in the middle and thread the chain through to the back and secure with tape. You can suggest to the retailer that they could punch a hole in the center top and hang these items.

Next Post, gift tags.
Part 1 Selling Your Polymer Clay Artwork
Part 2 Pricing Polymer Clay Artwork to Sell Wholesale
Part 3 Mermaid Bracelet Listed on Etsy
Part 4 Inventory Lists for Your Polymer Clay
Part 5 Display Cards for Polymer Clay Pins and Necklaces
Part 6 Creating Tags for Your Polymer Clay Creations

Inventory Lists for Your Polymer Clay

Inventory Sheet

Inventory Sheet

I add pictures of the items to my inventory sheets that I send to galleries with my items. It takes time, but makes things a lot easier for all of us. Especially if the work is on consignment, there won’t be any question about what you sent, what you get paid for and what comes back to you if it doesn’t sell.

Shops and Galleries are going to want item numbers too. You need them for your records as well. You could just name everything if you don’t mind that sort of thing. But I have a hard time thinking of clever names.

The shop owner can list the inventory number on your item and be sure you get proper payment. They’ll be delighted that you have prepared your work this way.

I make my lists in Adobe InDesign, just because I like working in that program. Not everyone has that program, but you can make a list in Filemaker Pro, Word or Access or Excel. In fact the data base programs are probably the best way to do it. If you don’t know how, ask a friend to show you.

First thing is to make sure the name of your business, your name and your contact information is listed clearly on your inventory sheet. You should have a place for the retailer’s business name, their name and contact information and a place for them to sign acknowledging that they have receive all the items listed. You might have them initial each item as well.

For my inventory numbers, I use letters and numbers. The letters usually say what the item is. The top item on my list above is –

1. Item # – BRWF-210 (BRacelet With Face)

2. Description – 2″ Bracelet With Face.

I’ve assigned the 200s to 2″ bracelets with face canes. The next BRWF will be #211. So all 2″ bracelets with faces will have the prefix BRWF and they will be in the 200s.

3. Wholesale price is next. In this case the gallery will be marking the items up by 40%.

4. Quantity

5. Retail Price   –  For the owners use, they actually may want to mark it up even more. A long as they pay you what you agreed to, they can sell it for whatever the traffic will bear. Just make note of the price  they are getting,  so that you can adjust your wholesale pricing if you see a trend. Make sure that they  actually sell the item at the higher price before you consider raising your prices.

I take this one step further. I provide display cards and tags with all my items and I’ll show you how I do it and some sugestions to follow in the next posts.

Part 1 Selling Your Polymer Clay Artwork
Part 2 Pricing Polymer Clay Artwork to Sell Wholesale
Part 3 Mermaid Bracelet Listed on Etsy
Part 4 Inventory Lists for Your Polymer Clay
Part 5 Display Cards for Polymer Clay Pins and Necklaces
Part 6 Creating Tags for Your Polymer Clay Creations