Here at Anything But Cute we love to see all the seasoned and expert mixed media artists, but we also want to encourage those who are just getting their feet wet. Our design team will always be on the lookout for these exceptional artists, and you just never know when we might be giving out something special to a talented mixed media newcomer.
Make sure to put 'newbie' after your name in the linky so we know who you are.
(new refers to 'new to mixed media' NOT 'new to our challenge')

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Spotlight Artist - Niki is molding and sculpting with polymer clay

Hello lovelies! I do hope that today finds you all well and good. As some of you may know, I like to experiment with different products and learn new ways to use said products. Today I would like to share some different ways to use polymer clay with your mixed media designs. There are so many ways to incorporate oven bake clay or air dry clay into your designs. I am sharing polymer clay techniques that I find the most fun!

1. Cornstarch is a great way to get moulds to release and also can help get out fingerprints left in your clay.

2. When using colored clay it will leave a lovely colored residue on your hands, an easy way to get this off is to use a hand sanitizer.

3. DO NOT use Sharpie's on your clay, Sharpie's are solvent based and over time will bleed and the dye will blur leaving your design a hot mess. 

4. Add acrylic paint to your clay to create any color you would like, although not as vibrant in color as clay that is already colored.

5.  An acrylic rolling pin, sculpting tools and a slicing blade are some essential tools when working with clay.

I don't really have a specific clay I use, basically any oven bake clay that is on sale is good enough for me but not all clay is created equal. The only clay that I have found I don't particularly like is DAS air dry clay. When shaping clay I like clay that will stick together, even when you have to add some extra clay, the DAS clay did not do that. It crumpled and the pieces did not stick together.

I prefer to use oven bake clay for most of my designs. Oven bake clay tends to not shrink and stays true to form whereas air dry clay WILL shrink and then you may be stuck with a piece that isn't exactly what you were going for.

One of the more easy ways to create with polymer clay is to just roll it out and make a flat piece then use your handy dandy stamps and stamp into it. Easy peasy and this adds wonderful depth and texture to a design. This technique is shown in the altered paper mache book photo below. The entire background panel is made from polymer clay that I stamped into. When you add your colors (in this case I used LSG sprays) it pools into the recesses of the stamped clay and adds nice contrast. I used oven bake clay for this design.

The blue "tiles" under the torn paper above the butterfly are air dry clay that I stamped into. I used these leftovers on this design because the tiles cracked as they were air drying and I couldn't use it for my intended project. That is how I learned about the difference between air dry and oven bake clay. 

Another way to use polymer clay is to sculpt little accessories for your design. For this idea I usually use white clay that I can paint any color I would like. I use acrylic paints on the clay. You can also paint parts of the sculpt you are doing, then bake it, and continue to add to your design after baking. The paint will stay where it should on your sculpt. The picture below shows some small little elements I added to my skeletons. The little top hat and the bow tie on the gentleman is made from clay. The necklace and bracelet on the lady skeleton is made from clay. There are also two pumpkins that are clay and the tombstones are made from clay.

Or you can go a bit bigger and create an entire model sculpt from clay. The wonderful thing about clay is you can keep changing your sculpt if you don't like the result that is happening. For my Jack Skellington (my first attempt at a full sculpt) I wasn't liking his head so I re-designed it about 3 times. Make a wire armature if you are going to do a full sculpt, it helps with the overall shape and provide nice support. I used oven bake clay for Jack and Zero. Another technique that you can achieve with clay is to use it in molds. I have 3 different molds on the Jack Skellington design. The clock is a mold, the frame around the tombstone and the pillars by the pumpkins are molds. For the molds I used air dry clay and would have to say that I was not happy with the results. In the future I will be using oven bake clay for my molds.

One of my absolute favorite designs included the paw print of my beloved German Shepherd, Raj. I created the design around her paw print that I had made when she was about 7 years old (I lost her to cancer in 2014). The vet clinic I worked at was wanting to give clients a memento of their furry loved one and I got to experiment with different companies paw print kits. I wasn't too keen on most and bought some polymer clay and had my girl step onto it thus creating her print and viola! I used that print from years ago and pushed polymer clay into it (very gently) and created a reverse paw print. The reverse print let me feel the texture from her paw pad and it was like I was holding her paw again. The picture below is right after baking the clay.

The close up paw print picture below shows the texture from Raj's paw and I can feel the texture! It is amazing and such a lovely way to incorporate your furry critters into your art.

I do hope you have enjoyed, and maybe learned something from this post. Feel free to ask any questions, I am still learning as I go so if I can't answer something I will find someone that can! :) 

Don't forget to check out our current challenge "Celebrate Your Style" that runs until June 4th! And remember we have some fabulous prizes from amazing sponsors like The Funkie Junkie BoutiqueEmerald Creek Craft Supplies and Alleystamp

Hugz and Carpe Diem!


  1. Great tips and awesome creations, I love especially the Halloween ones, fabulous and so cute!!!!! Coco xx

  2. What a FAB tutorial Niki. I have never used polymer clay so this was very interesting to me. YOU are extremely talented in your creative adventures with the clay. What wonderful projects to see. Xj.

  3. You are right on point with this tut with DIY embellishments being on trend these days. GREAT ideas and pointers, so appreciated! Your creativity never ceases to amaze me. Your projects are always 1st class! Way to rock the spotlight, sweet girl. Hugs, Autumn

  4. This is an amazing tutorial, Niki!! I need to play with my sadly-neglected polymer clay!! Your inspiration is amazing!! That first piece just blows me away!! They are all spectacular!! And I got teary with the paw print...I wish I had thought to do that with my beloved Dakota before I lost him a few years ago. I'd love to have that memento to hold his paw again. Love, love this post and I'm bookmarking it for future reference!! Amazing!! Big hugs :)

    A Mermaid's Crafts

  5. Niki, I have learned so much from your absolutely fantastic tutorial, thank you so much for sharing this with us. I too am bookmarking it for future reference! Love your wonderful creations too, especially the wonderful paw... Hugs, Anne xx

  6. Niki, you do know your polymer and air dry clay, and your post is full of information and inspiration! I love every piece, but my favorite is the Halloween clock, because I have it to hold and admire every day! But I do love that book cover, too! Great tips and definitely a book marked post! I can't wait to try some of these ideas out! Love Raj's paw, and I know you do, too! Thank you so much for all your hard work on this! Big hugs!

  7. Wow Doc, this is just amazing!! There are so many great tips here that I never would have thought of! I sure do love your paw print, how perfectly Niki-ish!! Thank you so much for putting this together for everyone, you certainly have given me some inspiration to pull out my molds and clay again!! hugs :)

  8. I always say "Wow!" when your page loads. This is no exception!

  9. Thank you for the tips. These are some cool and amazing work. Have you got any tips about mold making and mold making supplies as well?

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