Festive pins, decorative buttons---these accessories can add so much character and personality to an outfit. So rather than sifting and sorting through thousands of buttons and pins at second hand stores and other places, why not make your own? Lisa Clarke, a Craftsy designer whose shop is called the Polka Dot Cottage, does just that; and she’s got some awesome (and popular) patterns that show you just how to make great stuff with polymer clay. But she doesn’t stop there; she’s also got impressive sewing and fiber art patterns, too! We had a chance to chat with Lisa and find out more about her. Check out what she had to say (below), and check out her pattern store, the Polka Dot Cottage.
Here’s Lisa discussing the relationship between her polymer clay work and fiber art, and which came first.
The polymer clay came first. I've been working in polymer since 1996. I found it so fulfilling, that I had no interest in learning any other craft for many years. In 2007, though, I discovered the craft blog community, and it gave me the itch to learn to sew, knit, and crochet.
Over the last five years I have learned these things, and despite the fact that the clay came first, it's no longer the driving factor behind my creativity. I am finding my involvement in fiber arts is what inspires me to try new things in polymer. I would never have been interested in making buttons or polymer-covered crochet hooks, if I hadn't learned to sew or crochet.
Here, Lisa gives us her views about how she came to create patterns for polymer clay (which we think is certainly a unique craft).
I was writing tutorials and patterns for some time, and aside from the occasional magazine article, most of them were available for free on my website. At one point a few years ago, I was asked to write a project for a book. At the last minute, the project was cut from the book, leaving me with a publishable beginner tutorial on my hands. So I made it available on my website. And that led to publishing a few more.
At this point, I still like to post freebies on my blog, but when I do that I also will make a paid eBook version available. These are handy for those who like their patterns in a more convenient format, or for those who just like to show a little financial support.
Finally, Lisa delves into the “nuts and bolts” of polymer clay work and talks techniques.
I work mostly with the millefiori technique, which was borrowed from the glass technique of the same name. I build "canes" of clay that have a pattern running through them, and I use slices from those canes as veneers to decorate a variety of objects. You can think of a millefiori cane like a tube of slice-and-bake holiday cookie dough. When you slice through it, the image on the cross-section is the same no matter where you cut.
My canes are nearly all square-shaped, and feature repeating patterns, which makes them great for tiling thin slices together into a large patterned sheet. I can do several things with this sheet. I can set it on top of a thicker solid-color clay sheet and cut into it with cookie cutters to make buttons or pendants. Or I can take the sheet and apply it to the handles of crochet hooks, loom knitting tools, or stick pens.
Once the objects are cured, I spend a lot of time sanding them and buffing them to make them super smooth, and give them a satiny shine.
If you’re interested in polymer clay, we think you’ll also be curious to learn more about a different (but similar) medium: precious metal clay, taught by PMC artist, Jenny Vestal. Check it out!